Help Out A Mate, Share These Hard Lure Fishing Tips!
I know, this is a wooden lure making site, but this looks like an article about fishing…. Well, here’s a revolutionary thought: Lure making isn’t actually about making lures. It’s about catching a better quality of fish, more often. But the great thing about making your own lures is that you learn how to fish them incredibly effectively.
Ever heard the saying that the guy who walks into the hardware shop and buys a drill doesn’t actually want a drill? Nope! He wants holes. And a drill is the best way to get them….. if he knows how to use it!
Lure making is the same. Few people make lures just because they’re pretty. And even though it’s a lot of fun to make them, we wouldn’t bother except that we want to catch more fish. We don’t go to work filling our tackle boxes just so they can collect dust in the shed. No! We want incredible lure fishing! Big suckers……
So in this article gives some “How To Fish” tips for popular types of lures. They’ll help anyone who uses hard bodied lures. But they’ll be especially helpful for those who make their own. I hope you find them inspiring!
1. How To Fish Craws
Craws, crawfish, crayfish, call ’em what you like. They can be found in most freshwater bodies and are a favorite food with many species. But tying on any old lure with a craw paint job is not enough. You need to know how to fish them properly to connect with craw feeding predators.
Here are some tips:
- Real, live craws aren’t usually mid- or topwater swimmers. They cling to the bottom and often to structure. And so should your lures. You need to bump your lures constantly on stumps, logs, rocks and other structure. If you’re not getting hung up on the bottom occasionally then you’re not in the zone. Snag more lures, catch more fish, simple as that!
- Craws have distinct sound that can switch fish into feeding mode. It’s the sound of their hard shell (carapace) bumping against rocks and other structure. The lip of a deep diving crank against rocks does a good job of mimicking this. Design your lures so they swim a little head down so the lip can make noise but the hooks are kept up and out of trouble.
- Lipless cranks can be effective on craw feeders, if you know how to fish them properly. Designs that sink head-down also tend to keep the hooks up and out of trouble, allowing you to jig them over the structure.
- A large, single knocker rattle is ideal for mimicking the sound of a craw, but is hard to find in commercial lures, especially lipless lures. As a custom lure maker you can modify designs to include a single low pitched rattle instead of multiple smaller rattles. I strongly recommend that you do this if craws are a key part of your fishing.
- I normally choose flat sided or chunky lure styles to imitate craws. These tend to give off a strong vibration like the beating tail of a craw.
- In learning how to fish craws, noise, vibration and getting your lures close to structure are the most important things. If you’ve satisfied all of those factors then the color of your craw patterns can also play a part. Craws can vary tremendously in color from dull browns, greens and black to bright blues, deep reds and oranges. The color depends on species, water temperature and season, so get to know your local species and paint your lures accordingly.
In some circles the term “jerkbait” is used to describe hard bodied lures without diving lips. In other circles these are known as gliders, sliders or stickbaits. But the jerkbaits I’m referring to in this article are slender, minnow style lures with small diving lips. Suspending ones.
Suspending jerkbaits have been weighted such that when you stop cranking they just “hang” mid-water and neither float nor sink. Not many people really know how to fish them well.
- Suspending lures are deadly because you can fish them exactly like an injured mid water baitfish. Lots of twitches, jerks, small movements and, very importantly, pauses. Let these lures sit motionless for 5, 10, 20, even 30 seconds on a slack line. These baits need slack line to do their thing. But the trick is to not let so much slack into the line that you lose touch with your lure. That’s a recipe for missed strikes.
- There is no such thing as a true suspending lure. The density of water changes with temperature. So a lure that suspends in warm water will slowly float in cooler water. And one that suspends in cold water will slowly sink in warmer water. One of the tricks to knowing how to fish suspending jerkbaits is to adjust the buoyancy using small weights, hook changes and so on.
- A slow floating lure is better than a slow sinking one. It’s easy to add a little more weight to get the lure to suspend than it is to reduce the weight.
- Suspending jerkbaits are about maximum action while staying “in the zone” a long time. If you just cast and retrieve with constant speed you won’t be doing them justice. It’s one style of lure where the fisherman has to be 100% thinking and active.
Crankbaits are surprisingly snag resistant, despite all those trebles. But most people don’t know how to fish them to full effect in the woodwork. Here are a few tips:
- Squarebill crankbaits are considered more snag resistant than other styles. They’re often the go-to choice for lobbing deep into brush piles. But actually, coffin and round shaped diving lips are at least as good, sometimes better. Squarebills tend to deflect off structure, sometimes jumping a foot or so to the side when they hit a branch. In heavy structure this can get them hung up on the next branch. Round lips tend to bump along, hugging the structure and getting a smaller deflection, often making them a better choice in heavy cover. Coffin lips are somewhere in between. Read my article on lure bibs for more info.
- The name of the game is noise. Not rattles in the lure so much, but the clatter of the lure against the snags is what wakes the fish into action.
- Expect to get hung up. Lose a few lures, pull out the tackle retriever, re-position the boat or kayak or jump in to recover snagged lures. That’s the price you have to pay to get connected to a better class of fish! And it doesn’t matter what style of hard body you toss in there, it’s gonna get hung up sooner or later.
- Chunky, very buoyant lures work well. When you feel them hit a branch just pause your retrieve momentarily and then start again. This lets them float up and over the snag, then start working on the other side.
- If you’re casting (as opposed to trolling) and the structure is near the surface you want to choose a fairly shallow running lure. Deep divers only increase the risk of getting hung up in the myriad of branches.
One of the most important lessons in learning how to fish deep diving crankbaits is not going too deep.
I know this may sound a little weird. But ask any experienced fisherman what happens when you drag a lure beneath a school of feeding fish. Answer? You’ll catch less. Fish are far more likely to move upwards or sideways to nail a lure than downwards. So if you go too deep you can miss a lot of fish!
An exception is when they are feeding on craws, as we’ve already discussed. Then you need to be fishing tight to the bottom and making contact with structure often. Here are some more tips on how to fish deep diving crankbaits:
- Thinner line gives greater depth. If the leader and line are too thick the drag will pull your lure upwards and reduce diving depth.
- When it comes to depth, it’s the length of the diving lip that matters. Long, almost horizontal diving lips cause the lure to not only dive deep but to dive fast, too.
- Deep divers should ideally sit slightly “head down” when they are floating at the surface. This angles the lip for fast and deep diving. Plus, it fights the drag of the leader and line pulling the lure upwards
- Deep diving lures can cause a lot of drag. A relatively fast taper rod is the best choice for fishing this style of lure.
Sometimes fish are dotted around large expanses of shallow water. Shallow running lures can result in spectacular, splashy strikes and are a lot of fun. Here’s how to fish these areas:
- On flats with sparse structure the fish are often mobile and scattered about. The best lure options here are wakebaits and other shallow swimming, relatively fast moving lures. With these you can cover a lot of water quickly, increasing your chances of connecting with a fish.
- Shallow running square bills are ideal if you are fishing flats that are dotted with occasional stumps, logs or rocks. In these areas the fish tend to congregate around these features, so it’ worth peppering fish holding structure with a few casts. You’re aiming to have the lure deflect off the snags.
- When fishing shallows, it’s a good plan to fish the windward shore. The lee shore might look calmer and more inviting. But the fish will be accumulating on the windward side where the waves and currents are pushing plenty of food items.
- I like dark colors for a strong silhouette on shallow flats
Of course, these tips are barely a scratch on the surface of how to fish with your custom lures. But I hope they help you design lures that work brilliantly for your local waters and figure out how to fish them to perfection! Good luck and tight lines!
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