Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Survival Fishing: 4: Lures

Artificial lures include PLUGS, SPOONS, JIGS, SPINNERS, and SOFT PLASTICS.


Plugs can be made of various materials such as plastic, wood, and sometimes cork. Plugs are sometimes classified as surface and subsurface (shallow diving, medium diving, and deep diving). Either 2 or 3 treble hooks are attached to plugs to cover the fish's striking area.

Exactly how deep a plug will dive depends on several factors. As a rule, plugs with big lips dive deeper than those with small lips. Some manufacturers, including Bomber, Cotton Cordell, Mann's, Rapala, and Rebel, produce what are known as "series" plugs.



Stickbaits (e.g., Heddon Zara Spook)
Propbaits (e.g., Smithwick Devil's Horse)
Crawlers (a.k.a. Wobblers) (e.g., Arbogast Jitterbug)
Chuggers (a.k.a. Poppers) (e.g., Arbogast Hula Popper)


Crankbaits (e.g., Cotton Cordell Big O)
Vibrating Crankbaits (e.g., Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap)
Minnows (e.g., various models by Rapala)

The length of plug for a crappie might be 1 to 2 inches, whereas a plug for a largemouth bass might be between 2 and 6 inches.

Most plugs imitate baitfish, or perhaps animals such as mice, frogs, or crayfish. Other plugs attract fish merely by their action and flash. All plugs produce some sound that draws the attention of game fish.

Some plugs are designed exclusively for surface fishing. Surface plugs work especially well when fish are spawning or feeding in shallow water. But they will sometimes draw fish up from deeper water.

SURFACE PLUGS are most effective in fairly warm and calm water. They generally work best in the early morning or the evening. Surface (topwater) lures are best when you're fishing small, defined locations, such as along the edge of a weed bed, a significant drop-off, or a shallow bay. Topwaters are generally too slow to be of much use when you have to prospect for fish and cover a lot of ground. However, one type of surface lure – the buzzbait – is a notable exception.

Surface plugs fall into the following categories:

Stickbaits – These are slender floating plugs, generally cigar-shaped, without lips or propellers, and with no built-in wobbling motion. They need to be jerked or twitched to give them some action.

Propbaits – Propbaits (propeller baits) are similar to stickbaits, but these lures have a little propeller at one or both ends.

Crawlers – The large faceplate on a crawler makes the lure crawl across the surface when retrieved steadily. This kind of motion allows them to produce a constant plopping or gurgling sound.

Chuggers – Chuggers are designed to imitate frogs, mice, little birds, insects, and other non-aquatic creatures. A lure of this type has a large indented face that catches water when the plug is jerked across the surface. The result is a chugging or popping sound. Some chuggers have a slow, swimming action when retrieved steadily. Chuggers should not be retrieved in a steady motion, but rather with a series of jerks and pauses. They are excellent for bass.

SUBSURFACE PLUGS are used at depths of 1 to 20 feet or even more. They are much more versatile than surface plugs. They work well in either calm or rough water and will catch fish at any time of day. You can select either shallow- or deep-running models, depending on the depth of the fish. With many of these plugs, the faster you reel, the deeper they dive.

Subsurface (deep-diver) plugs go down quickly and stay down there. They allow you to cover a lot of water, letting you go after fish near the bottom or at least suspended fairly deeply.

Subsurface plugs fall into these categories:

Crankbaits – Some crankbaits float at rest, some some sink, and others are neutrally bouyant. All crankbaits have a lip, which makes them dive and wriggle.

Minnow plugs – These are designed to imitate baitfish. Like crankbaits, minnow plugs have lips and may float, sink or be neutrally bouyant. They wobble as the move through the water.

Vibrating crankbaits – Unlike other crankbaits, these thin-bodied plugs do not have lips. Most types sink, but some float on the surface when at rest. The body is thin, and the attachment eye is on top of the head. The result is that the lure wriggles rapidly.

SPOONS (e.g., Eppinger Daredevle)

Spoons are metal, spoon-shaped lures made to resemble a swimming or injured baitfish. You can jig them (jiggle them up and down), cast and reel them, or troll them behind a boat. Many anglers attach a swivel to the spoon to prevent it from twisting their line during retrieval. A spoon will not wobble properly if fished too slowly or too fast, so you must experiment to find the right speed. Spoons work best for large predators such as largemouth bass.

Because they're made from metal, spoons sink rapidly. This makes them a good choice when you want to fish at some depth, or in a heavy current. Their weight also makes them popular with shore anglers, who often need as much casting distance as possible.


A jig is simply a piece of lead with a hook molded to it, but often with a body and tail made of rubber skirts, feathers, soft plastic or animal hair. Sometimes jigs are tipped with a piece of real bait. There are many sizes, colors, and patterns to catch many kinds of fish.

Jigs can be fished slowly, so they work especially well in cold water. The rapid sink rate of most jigs makes them an excellent choice for reaching bottom. But jigs can also be effective in water only a few feet deep. Most jigs have compact bodies, so they are ideal for casting into the wind or for casting long distances.

Fish seldom hit these lures as they do a crankbait or surface lure. Instead, they inhale the lure gently, usually as it settles toward bottom. If you are not alert, you will not notice the strike.


Spinners have one or more blades that rotate on either a straight wire or a ''safety pin'' type of shaft. Nearly all spinners have tails made of rubber skirts, animal hair, soft plastic, feathers, or other materials.

A typical in-line spinner is a metal shaft with a hook on one end, an eye on the other, and a blade rigged so that it spins. Spinners create lots of flash because of their plated metal finish, as well as throbbing vibrations that attract fish from considerable distances.

Spinners spin, and so they tend to twist your line. The solution is simple: when using a spinner, always use a snap swivel.

Spinner-type lures have 4 basic designs.

– Standard spinners (e.g., Mepps Comet Decore) have a blade rotating around a straight wire shaft. Most have a weight behind the blade to make the lure heavy enough to cast.

– Weight-forward spinners resemble standard spinners, but the weight is ahead of the blade.

-- Spinnerbaits (e.g., Strike King Rocket Shad) have a shaft like an open safety pin -- a V-shaped piece of wire. They have a lead head on one arm, with a hook and a cluster of rubber fingers, and 1 or 2 spinner blades on the other arm. Spinnerbaits are generally considered bass lures, partly because of their ability to swim through weeds without getting snagged.

– Buzzbaits (e.g., Strike King Elite Buzzbait) resemble either standard spinners or spinnerbaits, but have a special kind of propeller, a bent chunk of metal that looks like the blade from a windmill. You reel it across the surface at high speed, and the metal blade makes a lot of noise as it splashes.


Soft plastics are pliable lures made into worms, grubs, lizards, crayfish, minnows, shrimp, crabs, and many other creatures that fish eat. They are available in different sizes and colors. They can be used with or without bullet sinkers, jig heads, or spinnerbaits.

Soft plastics offer several advantages over hard-bodied lures. They have lifelike texture, so fish will mouth them patiently, giving you extra time to set the hook. Many soft plastics can be rigged with the point of the hook buried inside a little, where it cannot catch on obstructions.

Soft plastics began with plastic worms. These worms are still considered excellent for bass, and they come in many lengths and colors. A plastic worm might be grabbed as it lands, as it drops, or while it is bounced along the bottom.

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