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Quest for the Magic Lure and Color

Mike G

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Rather than hijacking the Swim Jig color thread, I thought I would comment here. The thread was evolving away from the color topic anyway.


How much time do we spend looking for the magic lure? I have spent a lot, buying something new every year often buying a several of the season's new creations. In their turn, Lazy Ikes, Mepps Spinners, Rapalas, Spinnerbaits, Power Worms, Sluggos, Jig and Pigs, Senkos, Crank Baits, 3 X Lizards, Swim Frogs, Chatter Baits, and Swim Baits have held this magic position in my tackle box. I have a similar list for flies. Did I mention Spoon Plugs?


I write this knowing full well that there is no magic lure though I keep slipping back to that childish way of thinking when I walk into a tackle shop. A more adult way of thinking about lures is to follow a well thought out theory like the one that Buck Perry came up with 50 years ago. Lures are tools. They are good if they achieve the goals of controling depth, speed, size, color and action. These controls are listed in descending order of importance. Of course, first you have to know the habits and location of the fish you are after. That is another pattern. A $20 lure cannot do that for you. In other words I cannot replace homework with a fancy bait. In fishing I have to reduce the number of baits I carry and increase the thought I put into the process. This is not to say that a White Thumper and a Black Hula Grub is all one ever needs though it may be more in the right direction.


So right now I probably have all the lures I will ever need in all the colors I will ever need. What do you think.

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The mental aspect of fishing is much more important than the lures. The most important tool you have is between your ears. That's why I have been writing articles on that theme lately as well as talking about in in posts on multiple websites over the years.


If they ever invented a magic color or lure it still would be worthless unless presented in the proper location at the proper depth and even though it would be magic I still suspect the proper speed would be necessary. After all if they don't know it's there it won't get bit.


Color is more important to us as fishermen than the fish. Having confidence in a particlar color is much more imprtant than matching the hatch. As far as variables go in selecting what to use[an article I'm working on] color is way down the list.


The type of lure you choose should be more a function of current condition and fish mood and confidence than anything else.



I'd rather use a less than perfect lure in the perfect location than the perfect lure in the wrong location.

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I'm making it a point to follow the fly-fisherman mentality of matching the forage a little more in my future endeavors on the water.

Red hooks, because Gamakatsu makes them and I developed confidence with them.

Are the crawdads molting? Throw in some blue, otherwise orange where I can fit it in.

There is a 3 week window where hellgies are on fire.

Those Case plastics work quite well in that window of opportunity.


More later as I think of it and read responses.

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Fish do become accustomed to seeing the same baits over and over again and they stop being effective. I know a lake where when Senkos first came out and for a few years after, they were the magic bait. Now, the bass ignore them there.

Tomorrow, another new bait will show up that the fish cannot ignore because they look like food to the fish and it isn't something they associate with danger, yet. Rapalas, in-line spinners, Big O's, plastic worms, there are a lot of baits out there that when they were new were outfishing everything else. When plastic worms first came out, there was a lot of talk about making them illegal because they caught too many fish.

Obviously, no bait is any good if you don't put it where the fish are and location is the most important factor in catching fish. But there are baits that at times, will out fish everything else you throw that day.

Having a lot of different baits to throw and choose from is also part of the fun of fishing. I use senko type lures the majority of the time because at least for now, they nearly always catch fish. I do get bored throwing the same lure, day after day so I like a change of pace once in a while.

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i read somewhere, (will never forget this and can't remember where i read it), that you could catch a fish with a stick and a hook tied to it if presented at the right time at the right place and the right presentaion..now i don't know about that but everyone has they're confidence bait or baits. mine are the chartruese/white spinnerbaits and the bomber 2a in crawdad. this year though after everything i've read on here this past winter, i think my goal is to WHERE I FISH more than WHAT I FISH..if that makes sense.



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Scott, do fish become accustomed to a bait? A tiny fraction of them get caught on that bait, so how do the rest know? More than likely conditions that made it effective changed. They'll change back at some point as well.


There is a magic lure many times. One with a special ability to cast a long way and not get hung up, deflect off cover just right, disturb the surface in just the right way. Most of the time it is one of about a dozen different baits. Sometimes there is a magic topwater and a magic bottom bouncer both. I'll switch quickly between them to clean up depending on the target.


Always throwing one bait, at one speed, in one spot is the biggest mistake anyone can make. Spending too much time in some areas and not enough in others.


Certain actions and cadences draw strikes. Many lures are not capable of drawing out strikes all the time because of the mood of the bass.


I recommend full year smallie chasing in streams because of what it teaches you about their behaviour. Then you can track them throughout the year. Time spent in December- March will continually surprise you. Smallies eat when they need to, not when the water is down, warm, or the day is sunny.



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I believe for certain bass that see the same baits over and over learn to ignore them. If you've ever been on a southern impoundment like Bull Shoals Lake or one of the dozens of other reservoirs, you've seen the endless parade of boats spaced every 200 yards all the way around the lake. Most of them are throwing spinnerbaits, crankbaits or plastics. By 10 o'clock in the morning every fish in the shallow water zone has seen dozens of baits. If you are throwing the same thing as everybody else you don't have much of a chance. In Japan, their waters are some of the most heavily pressured waters on earth and success depends on showing the fish something they haven't seen before. Japanese bait companies have hundreds of new lures every year to keep up with the demand for different baits.

As stream fishermen the pressure is considerably less even in heavily populated areas like here near Chicago. Most of the fish we are fishing for don't see as many baits as in some bodies of water so they are not as conditioned to ignore popular baits.

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One of my favorite subjects!


You would think that relatively few bass in lightly pressured streams get caught on a particular lure enough times to make that lure lose its effectiveness after a while. But I've seen it happen a number of times on my favorite stream. On the other hand, there are some baits that are truly magic, because they have stood the test of time and still catch fish just about everywhere. Could it be that when a particular new lure comes out, only a certain percentage of the bass are genetically programmed to be attracted to that lure in the first place? Say that only 20% of the fish are susceptible to the profile, action, and vibration of that lure when it first comes out. Those 20% get caught...maybe caught and harvested, maybe caught so many times that sooner or later they die of delayed mortality. So eventually they don't pass along those susceptibility genes to their offspring. Maybe that's why some lures are hot for a while and then go cold.


On the other hand, maybe the lures that have been effective for many years have characteristics that attract nearly all the fish in the population.


I too look upon lures as tools. My selection of lures is fairly limited, but covers the water from top to bottom, fast to slow, quiet to noisy. I try new lures based upon whether I think they might cover a need a little better than my current lure in that category does. I choose lures for the day based upon water conditions. On the other hand, I'm always looking for "different" lures, those that I KNOW that nobody else in my area has been using, and I also modify existing lures to make them somewhat different from what the fish have been seeing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

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I don't think there is a magic lure or color but I bet we can all think of at least one body of water we fish where a specific bait or color is just the bomb-diggity. I've fished a river for years where color makes a big difference when grub fishing. Smoke with red and black flake outfishes any other color on this river and has for as long as I've fished it. I've fished multiple colors from the same manufacturer, at the same time, in the same holes and drew blanks, switch to the smoke red/black flake and fish on.

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