YOUR GUIDE TO CHOOSING WHICH LURE FISHING OUTFIT IS BEST FOR YOU
Choosing a Lure Fishing Outfit
Lure fishing has been growing in popularity in the UK for a number of years and is a simple yet effective way of targeting a huge variety of species. The main difference between lure fishing and fly fishing is that with a fly outfit it is the weight of the line that casts the fly, but with a lure outfit it is the weight of the lure that casts the line. Just like fly fishing, there are a range of different rods, reels and lures to suit different needs and this brief overview will help you choose the right set up for your target species.
A major advantage of lure fishing is that you can stay mobile and cover a lot of ground quickly and easily. A range of lures will allow you to explore the water column from the surface to the bottom and around any features that may hold fish.
Here are a few key questions you should ask to select the right lure.
- Species - fresh or saltwater?
- Season/tide/moon phase?
- Will you be fishing night or day fishing for your selected species?
- What tackle will you be casting with? Rods length/weight and the type of reels line weight/capacity?
- Location eg. boat - offshore/inshore, lake, river, beach or rock.
From answering these simple key questions, we can get started on the techniques and lures for the destination and target species, then determine the best baitfish or crustacean lure patterns to use to imitate their prey at that particular point in the season. Remember bigger lures don’t always catch bigger fish!
Lure Rods and Reels
Lure outfits can be broken into two categories: spinning outfits and casting outfits. Spinning rods and reels are the most common outfits used here in the UK and are the easiest to get you started. They’re user-friendly and ideal for fishing a wide variety of lures, especially smaller lures in the 1in to 3in size range – some of the lighter models are very sensitive and help detect finicky bites.
Casting rods are designed to be paired with a multiplier or low profile baitcaster reel – the main visual differences are that there is a trigger grip on the reel seat and the guides (eyes) face upwards as the reel sits on top of the rod rather than underneath like a spinning reel.
I find that casting rods are more suited for fishing lures over 3in in length (or 14g), especially for freshwater fishing, as using a heavy spinning outfit can be quite tiring, whereas a casting outfit is a lot more comfortable to use over the course of a day’s fishing. When you cast a multiplier or baitcasting reel, you have to control the speed the spool spins otherwise, if the spool overruns, you can end up with a ‘birds nest’ – an angler’s term for a bad tangle!
Rods are available in a variety of different sizes and lengths. Some are as short as 6ft and some are as long as 10 or even 11ft. As an all-round length, I like a rod of around 7ft to 7ft 6in., they’re not too long that they become tiring to use after a long day’s fishing and not too short that you have less control of the lure and less leverage when setting the hooks. But bear in mind that depending on where you’re fishing and what you’re fishing for, you may require a longer or shorter rod.
When it comes to casting ratings, I like to work backwards by thinking about the size of the prey your target species eat before choosing what size rod, which I will talk about later.
Generally, the heavier the rod, the bigger the reel that is required to partner it. Spinning reels are categorised in size ratings - the lightest spinning rods are normally paired with a 1000, 2000 or 2500-sized spinning reel, whereas the heaviest spinning rods (for example if you’re targeting giant trevally or big tuna) may require a reel as large as a 20000! Baitcasting and multiplier reels also vary in size, the lightest casting rods will suit a small baitcasting reel, whereas for casting big lures for big pike or muskies, a larger baitcaster or multiplier is required.
For most lure fishing tactics, using a non-stretch mainline such as braid has a lot of advantages. Braided fishing line is much thinner than monofilament in the equivalent breaking strain, allowing you to cast lures further, store more line on your reel (which is especially important when targeting big saltwater predators), and has greater sensitivity. Braid will also help you to feel the tiniest of bites, and because of the zero stretch, will help you set the hook effectively, even into bony mouths. Spooling your reel up with a hi-vis braid will also allow you to see where your lure is once you’ve cast it out and help you to detect bites, in much the same way that a floating fly line does.
The heavier the braid you use, the less sensitivity you’ll have, but the larger the lure, the heavier the braid you’ll need. This is because if the braid is too light, there is a risk of ‘cracking off’, where the strain from loading the rod as you cast the lure becomes so great that the braid snaps at the knot. Lighter braids (between 8 and 20lb) are ideal for fishing lures in the 1in to 4in range, whereas for bigger lures (6in to 12in) you may need braid as heavy as 100lb, to avoid line breakage.
You’ll then need a leader, which is a short length of wire trace, fluorocarbon or monofilament, to tie on to the end of your braid. Fluoro and mono leaders are transparent and also act as a shock absorber when targeting big predatory fish that hit lures like a steam train! Some predatory species such as pike and barracuda have sharp teeth, which require a wire trace to avoid them biting through the leader.
There are a huge variety of different types, sizes and colours of fishing lures, but there is an easy way to break them down and decide which ones you’ll need.
Lures can be broken down in to three categories – hard baits, soft baits and hybrid lures. Hard baits are generally made from wood, metal or hard plastics. They include many traditional-style lures such as spinners and spoons, but also a variety of floating, suspending and sinking lures such as crankbaits jerkbaits, and poppers.
Soft baits are made from a flexible plastic material – some of my favourite types include shads, curltails, twintails, creature baits and twitchtails. Most soft plastics are sold without hooks, so you’ll need to rig them on to a hook suck as a jighead (a hook with a weight fixed at the front).
Hybrid lures are part hardbait, part softbait (often with a softbait tail, which gives the lure a lot more movement).
Top water lures
These are lures that float and fish in the surface of the water column. They may imitate injured or stunned baitfish or even other creatures like birds, frogs or mice to name a few. These lures have a popping/splashing and gurgling effect in the water when retrieved and cause a lot of noise/splashing and visual action that attracts predators.
Fish striking surface lures offer the most exhilarating and visual form of fishing around, you can often see them chasing, eating and hitting the lures. This is heart stopping stuff! Lures suitable for this area of the water column are poppers, stick baits or weightless soft lures.
These lures skim the surface of the water column when retrieved and imitate injured or fleeing baitfish and even animals swimming. Subsurface lures have a great variety of actions like sliding, jerk, splashing, suspending or slash to name a few.
Lures suitable for this water column are called skimmers, crank baits, slash baits or weightless soft lures.
These lures mimic baitfish and as the name suggests once you stop retrieving the lure doesn’t float to the surface or sink to the bottom, but hovers, flutters and suspends like an injured prey fish. Fast or slow retrieves after a pause can entice great strikes from predators and these lures are especially effective for Sea Bass and Pike.
Suitable lures include jerk baits, crank baits, slash baits and soft plastics.
Diving or Sinking Lures
These lures have a vast range of actions, as a general rule of thumb the faster you retrieve the deeper they will dive. These lures may come with or without a lip (or diving vane/bib)and some manufactures like Halco give you a set of interchangeable bibs to adjust the diving depths of the lures yourself accordingly to conditions. Some lures sink with fluttering motion imitating injured fish fleeing a predator or damaged in an attack.
Jigging lures are either heavy solid metal lures or soft lures molded around a jig head. They can be cast long distances or dropped down into wrecks or reefs to get down to feeding fish. They are either wound back fast or jigging up and down at the optimum depth.
Lures suitable for this water column are called divers, crank bait, jerk bait, soft plastic lures, jiggs and butterfly jigs.
Final Outfit Advice
When choosing a lure outfit do think about what species you’d like to target and what prey they eat. Looking at the size of prey they feed on will help you to choose the right sized lures. For example, if you’re targeting perch, their main prey are small silver fish, crayfish and insect larvae, which mainly live close to the bottom - so sinking lures in the 1in to 4in size range work well. An example of some types of lures to try would be crankbaits, spinners, shads, and creature baits. Normally, lures in the 1in to 4in size range weigh anything between 3g and 30g, so this will help you choose the correct rod.
We find GOOGLE EARTH a vital tool in showing customers the terrain they will be encountering, and you can also plan where to look for the best fishing spots in the area according to tides.
If you are unsure about anything, our in-store team will be able to help you choose the right outfit to suit your needs.
For more help and information on purchasing new lure fishing equipment, please contact Farlows on +44 (0) 207 484 1000