With so many different species of fish worldwide living in all different ecosystems, there is no one lure to suit all fish. Take a trip to your local fishing shop and you will be amazed at the hundreds of different styles of lures available. Big lures, small lures, metal lures, plastic lures, shiny lures and lures so realistic they look like real bait. So what lures are best to use?
Well firstly you have to decide what fish you are fishing for, then secondly, select a lure that is a good match for the type of food that fish will eat. This may be small baitfish like softplastic lures, realistic lifelike prawns or crabs or large shiny metal hardbody lures. Most fishermen will be equipped with a range of lures for all fishing situations whether they are chasing large pelagics in open water or specific estuary species such as bream, flathead or mangrove jacks.
When fishing for smaller fish species in rivers and estuaries the most common lures used include smaller hardbody lures such as cranks or diving minnows. These lures tend to have internal ball bearings which cause a rattle which acts as a fish attractant. Their small shape and strategically designed bib allows them to dive to different depths with a side to side wobble, which often proves irresistible to a hungry fish. Hardbody lures are typically rigged with treble hooks at both the rear and midway points on the lure. This increases the chance of a hookup at different stages of your lure retrieval. There is no right or wrong way to retrieve or “work” your lure when fishing. A constant slow retrieve may work well with some fish, whereas a stop start stop start approach may work for others. Try multiple methods until you find one that works for the area and species you are targeting. Hardbody lures are very durable and easily thrown right up along snags, rock walls and other structure. The bib causes the lure to face downwards slightly keeping the treble hooks away from getting snagged as your retrieve your lure. Hardbody lures come in a range of sizes with the most common size for crank bait being 40mm to 60mm. This represents most baitfish sizes found in creeks and rivers.
A popular method of fishing is called surface fishing. This involves the use of a lure that floats on the surface and imitates and injured bait fish or other source of food. Lure companies are getting creative these days and there are now many styles of surface lure available including frogs, cicadas, ducklings and mice/rats. Surface lures work well with mid to top water feeding fish species such as pelagics. In rivers, small poppers or stick baits can be used along river banks and structure to entice a fish to the surface and take your lure. A slow twitching motion is used to give life to the lure and create a splashing motion on the surface. Including a pause every few metres can assist in creating more curiosity amongst the fish and increase chances of a hookup. Large poppers are commonly used in open water situations where pelagic fishing are targeting bait near the surface. The easiest way to use a popper is when surface feeding fish have been located, simply cast your popper lure into the feeding school and proceed to retrieve with fast jerks to cause a large displacement of water in front of the popper. Feeding fish will be attracted to the surface activity and attack the popper lure.
Metal lures as the name suggests are generally small solid metal lures shaped to represent small bait fish. They will often have an outer colouring or mirror like appearance to represent scales and reflect sunlight back into the water. Metal lures can be fished in a similar manner to poppers. They are often cast into feeding schools of fish and then retrieved quickly to represent a fleeing bait fish. If at first you don’t hook up, simply cast again and again as quick as possible as bait schools and the feeding fish can be there one minute and gone the next. Micro jigs are fished in a similar fashion however it’s best to let them sink to the bottom and then retrieve as quick as possible. This action is then repeated. They can also used like the name suggests as a jig, bouncing off the bottom several metres and then allowing to return to the bottom. This works well in a drift situation where you can cover a large amount of ground.
Soft plastic lures are a great alternative to baits. Not only are there a huge variety to choose from, but they are often scented, conveniently packaged and easy to use. Their lifelike appearance to bait such as minnows, shads and prawns makes them a go to lure option for recreational and professional fishermen alike. It’s not uncommon for anglers to have 10 to 20 different packs of softplastic lures in their tacklebags, ready for any fishing situation. Soft plastic lures come in a range of different sizes and colours so they can be fished in small creeks or even offshore for large reef or pelagics. For species such as bream or small reef fish, the smaller grub type plastics tend to work well with their small body and wriggly tails, whereas larger shads are great for tailor, tuna and mackeral.