Flicking for fish. Part 3: Moving up to Hard Body Lures.
The method for provoking a fish to strike using hard body lures is not the same as those required for soft plastic grubs described previously. With hard body lures, the lure will only sink based upon the speed of your retrieve, a slow retrieve and the hard body lure will shallow dive or skip along touching the surface, to dive the lure further down into the water you will need to increase the pace at which you are making the return.
The faster the retrieve, the further the lure depth, and with experience, you will be able to alter the rise and fall of the lure all in one single retrieve, but take it slowly at first, or you may end up spending more time replacing lures than you gain in experience using them.
The bottom of many rivers contains old twigs and branches from trees which have fallen in over the years. You will encounter these types of snags more often than you encounter open waters. Diving the lure too far in these areas will often cause a lure to become tangled and lost, however snags can easily be avoided provided you follow some basic guidelines.
Do not dive the lure too deep too quickly, if you encounter a snag below the water and your lure is travelling fast enough to be below this depth, continuing at this pace will first result in the fishing line hitting the snag. The momentum of the lure will often bring it past the point where your fishing line has stopped on the snag itself, and after this point whether you stop or continue the retrieve, the lure will shoot upwards and usually tangle itself around the branch under the water. From here it is basically impossible for you to retrieve the lure, and it will be lost to the river.
So, thinking about this most common situation where a snag will occur, how would you alter this information in order to help you scope for snags at the same time as doing your cast and retrieve? This is where some professionalism comes into it, instead of simply casting and retrieving by choosing a fixed speed, what you should be doing if you are new to hard body lure fishing, is to scope the area out by retrieving at a steady pace, each cast getting a little quicker which will drop the lure a little lower every time.
Now if you understand, or can picture, the fishing line is on an angle between the lure at the lowest point and your fishing rod tip at the higher distance, should you encounter underwater driftwood, you will likely brush the branch first with your fishing line before the lure below has had a chance to tangle. To avoid the snag, you feel for a very slight movement on your rod from the fishing line brushing against it, at the same time as you detect this feeling, pause for a second, then continue to retrieve. This will allow the lure enough time to float up another foot or so and drive itself over the snag, once past, you can begin to retrieve faster to lower the lure again. Provided you keep trying to detect this feeling on the fishing line to alert you to a snag before it is too late, you will be able to negotiate the waters a lot easier.
A big mistake new hard body fishermen encounter is that they will feel this brush of the line and immediately assume it is a fish on the other end, which leads them to either continue at their previous pace or most often increase the pace significantly, sometimes even jerking the rod upwards to set the hook. This is the worst thing you can do, as often there will be no fish on the end and instead it will be a snag. The over eagerness to catch a fish rather than thinking in terms of scoping out what your lure is actually doing, will be the end of your hard body. For the most part, loosing your lure to river snags is entirely avoidable, remember though, patience is essential.
Smart hard body fishermen first learn what the feeling of the line touching a snag is, when they encounter this feeling they will then know to raise the lure by pausing slightly, and then proceed over the snag slowly before diving the lure further once again. After knowing what this feeling is, you won’t be tempted to immediately try and set the hook thinking it is a fish. When a fish does bite, or even when a fish brushes your lure, you will then know the feeling is very different to that of a snag, and you will be able to make informed decisions as whether to pause and proceed, increase the pace of the lure, or even try and set the hook, each at the correct time.
Although this is a brief introduction to fishing using hard body lures, it covers the most basic aspects most new lure fishermen either will not think about, or will disregard when first entering the waters. Loosing lures shouldn’t be a common occurrence, but at first it is often inevitable and part of the learning process.
When using any type of lure, sometimes snags are unable to be avoided (such as when using the methods required for soft plastic grub fishing, hence their low cost). The information in this article will hopefully help you to keep more lures, and teach you how to build up a sense of what the lure is doing, therefore increasing your chances of a catch.
Many people who employ lure fishing as their main catch method often prefer diving hard bodies due to the fact with the correct knowledge, you can regularly divert them from snags and out of trouble, saving you money in the long term, and providing the ability to cover more ground, but most importantly, the skills required.