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Do you know the difference between “hunger lures” and “reaction lures”? I suppose I’d call this one of the lure fishing basics…. yet lots of guys don’t have a clue.
Hunger lures are great for catching fish that are actively feeding. They imitate whatever food items the fish might be taking on the day. Fish assume they’re food and take them out of hunger.
But reaction lures can get strikes even when fish are not hungry. They do this by surprising the fish into action and causing an instinctive aggressive or defensive response. Of course, hungry fish will often take reaction lures and vice versa, but the above is a good general rule.
Reaction Lures Work When The Fish Aren’t Playing
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of reaction lures. We tend to think of fish as being eating machines that are always on the hunt, but they’re not always. Fish can attack lures from aggression, self defense, curiosity, territoriality or by mistake. Hunger could be the last thing on their minds!
Reaction lures are great when the fish just aren’t playing ball. You have a couple of options: annoy them into action, or surprise them into action! Either way, you’re looking for….. a reaction!
Annoying fish is pretty self explanatory. Pepper repeated casts, create noise by smashing your lure through structure, use a particularly loud or colorful lure. It’s about getting their attention and causing them to smash the lure out of sheer aggression.
Using the element of surprise is different. It’s about stealth, knowing where the fish will be and putting the lure right their nose. Sneak up with an electric motor, kayak or wade quietly to get close. Then catch them off guard by splashing your lure in their face! When it’s done well this quite often results in an instinctive response – and hopefully a solid hook up.
You can use many styles of lure for reaction fishing, but I especially love super silent lures for surprising fish. They can’t hear them approach until suddenly they’re right there. The results can be spectacular.
Designing Reaction Lures
- Try some garish colors or flashy finishes to shock them into submission. Fluorescents are good for reaction lures. So are metallics, bright, contrasty color combinations and foiled finishes.
- Play with the noise factor. Extra rattles can be included in the body when you are making reaction lures to create annoyance. Or you could go silent for getting the element of surprise.
- Snag-resistant crankbaits can be really smacked into the woodwork to stir fish by creating a commotion.
- Give your reaction lures over-sized eyes that the fish can really home in on.
- Reconfigure the diving lip so that your lures have a stronger, pumping beat and more intense vibration.
Creating A Territorial Strike
And finally, there’s one secret of custom lure making that you might not have heard before…..
Making lures that look like a mini version of your target species can be amazingly effective in some cases. For example, if you are fishing to shut down bass, try throwing a lure that looks like a bass in color and shape. Schooling fish have a pecking order – larger fish keep the smaller ones in line. So if a small bass has the audacity to swim casually past, a larger fish will often show aggression towards it. This really works, give it a try!