Author Topic: Finally connected the dots between lures and the fish they catch  (Read 858 times)

Offline senkosam

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This post is in memory of a fellow fishing fanatic who passed recently that was of the same opinion why fish strike lures. This is only one man's opinion so please don't shoot the writer. I don't expect any replies considering the various reasons we believe certain lures catch fish such as color and designs we have confidence casting.

I've been fascinated by lures that catch fish and spent thousands of dollars in the past buying lures I hoped would do well. Once I got into making many of my own such as spinners, spinnerbaits, all kinds of jigs and now mostly soft plastics, did I finally discover a central theme of why many caught fish after so many decades. Simply put:we poke the bear or in fish terms: poke fish senses so that they respond aggressively. So, how do lures do that?

Keen sight and/ or sound (vibration) detection is what fish depend on to survive. A simple brain is the conduit between those senses and the body for responses to the actions of live animals and lures once detected - but only at a particular right moment in time. Fish may watch a moving object such as an insect on the surface or a hair jig under a float, but it must be in-a-mood to strike. Plus when it comes to lures, not all lures have the same potential regardless right place/right time.

So many good combinations of lure characteristics make lure choices easy, from hair jigs to skirted bass jigs and spinnerbaits to the thousands of soft plastic shapes and actions that consistently catch fish every year. IMO, those characteristics simply irritate fish into striking regardless of color choice. Fish are triggered by lures in such a way that is involuntary - kind a like us slapping at a stinging insect that just landed on our skin which became hyper-sensitive to the lightest touch especially after getting bit a moment ago.

Once I discover a particular combination of lure action/ shape/ lure material/ and size that catches fish, I document it with photos taken of fish caught that day and any day after. Just a few caught fish is all it takes to have confidence in a combination that I'm convinced will always catch fish hypersensitive to being poked. Better yet is believing it possible that slow-moving lures can raise fish sensitivity to a hypersensitive level from the usual inactive, energy-conserving state when suspended.

« Last Edit: 08/31/22 06:27 UTC by senkosam »

Offline Les Young

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Some very good points. I believe hunger, reflex  from  the element of surprise, being territorial & pure aggression are all reasons they bite & using artificial lures happen to  bring these out which means getting bit.

Offline senkosam

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Catching fish on modified lures is a whole new challenge to catching fish and emphasizes lure action and whatever enhances that action such as specific retrieves and color. If I catch fish on newly designed mods, fantastic! I don't care how small the fish as long as it catches over a dozen and the more species the better.

I started modifying soft plastic 6 yrs. ago and still do almost daily. It's like when I bought hundreds of lures decades ago - most that never worked well - hoping for that special, catch-all magical lure that would produce fish whenever and wherever cast. At least small soft plastics have more chance of being that though there are a lot of factors that determine what fish bite or even if they bite. Lure actions proven to provoke fish aggression are these:
body waddle
flapping tail (like a flag)
tail quiver
body darting-with-pauses
body quiver
Plastic worms and sticks (Senko types), plastic jig trailers, Zara Spooks, poppers, crankbaits and spinnerbaits each have unique actions though a spinnerbait's flashing blade also adds to the vibration a fish feels with the lateral line.
You can imagine the unique actions of each of these two lures that caught fish on the same day:

« Last Edit: 12/25/22 03:59 UTC by senkosam »

Offline senkosam

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I believe hunger, reflex from the element of surprise, being territorial & pure aggression are all reasons they bite & using artificial lures happens to bring these out which means getting bit.

We are on the same page!
Recently while catching fish, words popped up: motive and motivation.

Motive implies a reason for doing something that requires a thought process. Fish being on the dumb side kinda negates the ability to have a motive. Making fish predictions based on human imagined motives may or may not be practical.

Motivation on the other hand is simply the process, event or thing that initiates particular behavior such as an attack - any attack whether on prey or a lure. A subtle twitch from either may be all that's needed at that moment to bring out the JAWS in a fish. Anger or hunger may motivate an attack, but apart from asking a fish why and getting a response, remains a moot point IMO.

Another idea popped up - the meaning of artificial lure. Artificial means imitating something such as flowers. Few lures imitate anything in shape or action and especially certain colors or bright flashes. I guess I think of lures simply as moving objects defined by their shape, action, size and color.

The last time I fished, the open water bite over 5-10' allowed me to catch 40 fish. Some lures in the same category did well, others hit-or-miss.

« Last Edit: 09/23/22 08:19 UTC by senkosam »

Offline senkosam

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Two others of about a doz. or more:

The actions varied but most important, curl tails didn't work as well as on another water a few days before. Curl tails in open water require a more or less steady retrieve. The lures shown benefited from a rod-imparted twitch & pause retrieve producing a dart & glide action thereby keeping the lure in place to do its motivate'n to strike. The strikes were either a slight tick or a blast - especially on the next retrieve after a miss.

I even had fish strike a bunch of times all the way to the boat and then vertical jigging the lure at the boat and still got bit. It's like some of the fish were overdosing on uppers!
Ahhh, a fisherman's dream scenario.......  :D
« Last Edit: 09/23/22 08:35 UTC by senkosam »

Online ctom

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I'm still of the school that until we, as humans, can find a way to directly communicate with fish, we are stuck with supposition and assumption. As humans with the ability to think and decipher little clues that fish show us regarding why they hit we are really just putting together ideas from a human perspective. Observations we make [color of a lure or action or size] are solely from our perspective and we can adjust to changes that the fish like to make, however the why's and what's that fish toss at us anglers is still a fish focused mystery.

I'm sure we've all seen a great bite just flat out stop while electronics show that the fish are still right there. Swap out a color and sometimes we can get right back in the game. Maybe it calls for a profile change to spark things up again. Sometimes though, nothing we do seems to matter, and the fish simply have a bad case of lockjaw. Fish are fish and while they appear to have a much lesser ability to think things out because they have a much smaller brain for their size when compared to us, they still seem to have that innate ability to stump us.

My tackle pail has been narrowed down to maybe 6 different bait profiles, but each comes in a bunch of color combinations. Jig weight is the least concern as is head color.... all of the heads are either bare lead or purple. Whether the jig/bait is suspended under a float or cast on a free line is a matter of what the fish seem to prefer at the moment. For a long time I have paid a lot of attention to scent. I, at one time, was convinced that PowerBait minnows were the kingpin of crappie baits among the scented products at the time. Making my own baits sort of steered me away from worrying about scent until Gulp came along. If there is any one thing that has come along that has changed my ideas about scent and home-spun baits, it's Gulp juice, the stuff you get in a spray bottle. Literally every bait I make for panfish is kept, 50-50, either in a dry sealed ziplock or in a ziplock to which Gulp spray has been liberally applied. On way more than one occasion I have seen fish absolutely shut down on a plain, un-Gulped, bait even though they're still right where I was fishing but by changing to the Gulp version of the same bait, same color combo and fished in the same identical fashion, the bite went 180 degrees immediiately. I've seen baits soaked in Gulp spray that got fish going when nothing appeared to interest them. Yes, I know the Gulp juice isn't supposed to permeatethe plastic baits were use, however my personal observations on this are not in line with that thinking, so I'll just say don't knock it until you've tried it.

Senkosam, you bring a lot of food for thought here with much of your posting...its good to think.
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Offline senkosam

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Good reply ctom! and thanks for the compliment.
I visited a forum at, a southern Calif. freshwater and saltwater forum, and one angler only makes beveled tubes. He showed photos of the large number of species that struck them in both types of water. That is proof that a good lure design presented in the right place, at the right time and with a good presentation can catch fish galore! (Of course I would never cast such a blah design LOL!)

I myself am fascinated by the various shapes and actions that provoke fish to strike - none imitative of any prey animal except maybe coincidently. As for myself, only casting a few lures would be boring regardless of fish caught and most likely would not work as well all the time as well as other shapes/actions where I fish regularly. 
« Last Edit: 12/25/22 04:02 UTC by senkosam »

Offline senkosam

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Another supposition came into my head about lures in general:
A fish's brain is tied directly to the senses which flip an on/off switch of aggression. The type of stimulus, whether animal or lure, pre-determines the type of response.

It's been pounded into angler heads for half a century that fish recognize objects and strike based on that. But when has a fish seen an earthworm or maggot wriggling on a hook or any one of a thousand lures that look nor move like nothing that ever lived? Fish senses know/feel the difference between the two and depending on their current state-of-potential aggression, may strike or tolerate annoying intruders interrupting its yoga-like calm.
Lures, unlike animals, range in categories ranging from those thattickle the fish's senses to those that thump them. Fish got to be pretty aggressive to strike thumpers such as large colorado blade spinnerbaits, deep-dive with-rattles crankbaits, Zara Spooks and large poppers on the surface, large swimbaits with boot tails, Chatterbaits, etc. The lateral line takes a pounding when those lures invade its territory.

On the other hand, small, finesse subtle-action lures tickle the senses when worked slowly near fish. They kind of irritate fish into striking like us humans scratching an itch or swatting a mosquito that lands on our skin. Small-blade short-arm spinnerbaits, small curl tail plastic alongside with many other finesse action tails that I've shown in many posts, hair/silicone skirts, small crankbaits and their clicking split-ring hooks and small poppers and balsa floating crankbaits (Rapalas), make fish curious and aware of objects that its senses tell it are not edible but that must be shown who's boss!

Colors and flash can also be visual ticklers or thumpers to the fish's eye. Bright fluorescent colors with or without black spots for contrast, the metallic flash of a spinnerbait or crankbait and bright white against a dark background are eye-catching and eye-holding. Used with sonic lateral line thumpers, you got a super thumper!

On the other hand, clear plastic hard or soft lures, use subtle light refraction and reflections that twinkle like stars in the night - or in the weeds. Black and dark gray(whether opaque or translucent) are easy on the eyes of a predator along with its other senses forever-tuned to what moves. No emotions are involved or hunger in the sense that it's time to eat this thing that just splashed down or is hopping slowly off bottom. (What prey hops for Chrise sake!)
« Last Edit: 03/16/23 06:28 UTC by senkosam »