Contrary to what the title may seem to be suggesting, this is not a piece about what causes or entices one to fish but rather what lures one uses to catch fish.
I got to thinking about this topic when someone just getting into fly fishing asked me if a half dozen flies would be enough to get started. When I got to thinking about what lures one needs to be successful on our lakes and streams, I began to realize how complex a subject it actually is, so I tried to break it down into various categories to help simplify things.
There are several basic things to consider; first, what species of fish are being targeted, secondly what type of equipment is being used and finally, where in the water column are the fish being targeted?
The more you know about what the fish you are after likes to eat, the better your chances of hooking up.
For example, you would have almost no chance whatsoever of coaxing a 17-20 inch largemouth bass to take a number-16 blue-winged olive dry fly, but it’s entirely possible to hook one or more 17-20 inch trout on that same fly on any given day.
Of course, another important factor when considering lure selection is what works best with the type of equipment being used. Size and weight are very important factors. For example, you can’t cast a 6-inch Rapala minnow lure with a flyrod, and you can’t cast musky-sized lures with an ultralight open-faced spinning rod and reel.
While the first two considerations in the previous paragraphs are rather obvious, the one regarding where in the water column you intend to fish may be a bit more complicated.
Fish can be found anywhere in the water column at any given time. What makes all of this more complicated is that different species of fish behave differently. For example, I would almost never attempt to catch crappies on the surface of a lake with some kind of surface lure. Why? Because crappies are not known to feed on the surface, they are more often found suspended farther down in the water column. The same is probably true for yellow perch.
On the other hand, if I were after bluegills on a summer afternoon, I would be checking out shallow bays with some kind of surface lure like a popper on a flyrod.
Understanding the behavior of the fish you are pursuing and where to find it under different circumstances can go a long way toward more hookups. Obviously, having a good selection of lures that are made for being utilized in each of the various parts of the water column is important as well with the vast amount of lures available today, that can be a real challenge.
Fish will feed at various parts of the water column depending on the season or time of day. For example, largemouth bass will often feed in shallow, weedy flats in or near bays late in the evening, after dark, or in the early morning. If I want to work the surface of a weedy portion of a lake for largemouth bass, I’ll use a floating lure like a Jitterbug or maybe a floating type lure with spinner blades front and back. If I decide to pursue bass in deeper water-say 15 feet down on the bottom, I’m switching to a Texas-rigged soft plastic worm. Before the day is over, I may search the mid-depth range with a spinnerbait type lure. Trust me, there are plenty of lures made for every situation, so finding what you need shouldn’t be a problem, and if fact, the problem is usually limiting yourself.
So, what’s the bottom line? Know the fish’s behavior and know what lures will work where in the water column and when, and you will likely end up with tackle boxes full of lures like the rest of us.