With the current weather and the forecast looking absolutely atrocious I had to turn my attentions elsewhere. A bit of planning for the year ahead and a look at what gear I am going to need for it seemed to be the best option. Fishing in freshwater and saltwater presents opportunities to take and challenges to overcome and a year of splitting between the two takes a bit of organisation and planning.
One thing that I really enjoy in both fresh and salt is chasing predators, be they pollock, bass and wrasse or pike, perch and trout. A great way to target predatory fish is through the use of lures. Making inanimate objects ‘come to life’ through manipulation delivered through rod and line to the extent where they mimic nature and invoke an attack from a predator is a skill in itself. The thrill of fooling Nature in this way cannot be understated and I think is one of the main reasons that lure fishing is increasing rapidly in popularity.
Some of the lures that I am going to play with this year come from Sakura. They do a range of hard and soft lures but for this piece I am just going to look at the hard bodied lures. The first thing that strikes me about these lures is the quality, from the design through to the construction and then on to the finish. There is something for every angler and species of predatory fish in the range and they are designed to mimic a range of baitfish and work at a range of depths.
The detail and paint finish on these lures are fantastic and very realistic. They feel well balanced and feature quality trebles that look like they are well capable of holding onto fish. One other feature that I particularly like is the inclusion of ball bearings inside each lure. The action of them rattling together on the troll or retrieve will send sound and vibration through the water and will make them appeal to predatory senses other than sight; this is especially useful in dirty or coloured water.
The range is vast and in this review I am going to take a look at the few types of lure that have caught my eye and what I intend their applications in Irish waters to be for my fishing.
The Rush Divers come in a range of colours and sizes. There are options for 50, 60, 90, 110, 130 and 150 mm sizes which will dive to 1.5, 2.5, 3, 6, 8 and 10 metres respectively. The 50 – 90 mm sizes are suspending versions, the 110 – 150 mm sizes come as a floating version. They are slim and streamlined with wire throughout the bodies to connect to the hooks, a rolling, wobbling action and painted finishes that are nothing short of perfection, I imagine that it will not be long before these beautiful looking lures are battle scarred from repeated attacks from pike. The red eye and internal rattle finish off a great looking bait. A lure for casting or trolling at sea or in freshwater, the couple of larger Rush Divers that I have will be used to target pike in deeper waters. The smaller versions should make great lures for a host of predatory species from trout to perch to pollock and anything in between.
As with the Rush Divers above, the Golem Crank also comes in a range of sizes and colours. The build quality is the same with fantastic paint jobs utilising vibrant colours that really jump off the flanks of the lures. Also a diver, they are available in a variety of colours and sizes including 45, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 86 mm diving to 0.3, 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8 metres respectively and all sizes are floaters. Again, they feature wire throughout for strength and quality components to finish the lures. A crankbait, you just cast it out and crank it back in as the name suggests and I am very much looking forward to using the larger sizes that I have on deeper waters. I doubt they will have much trouble attracting pike and perch.
A suspending lure with a maximum diving depth of 0.80 metres, this is a lure to be fished over shallow coastal waters and rough ground in search of bass. Available in two sizes, 120 and 130 mm, this lure comes in a range of natural baitfish imitating colours. The internal rattle will give a little extra attraction when visibility becomes diminished in the foam and fizz. Slim and streamlined they should be able to work perfectly between rocks and gullies. The sheen off these lures cannot be conveyed by my photography skills; they really are a beautiful looking lure, shiny and shimmering. I have no doubt that bass will absolutely smash these lures a little bit later on in the year and I can’t wait to get to see them strike.
The Naja is a floating stickbait that is designed to work the surface. The sizes range includes 45, 65, 85, 105, 125 and 145 mm lures. These are out and out surface lures and the quality is, once again, off the scale. The paint finishes are immaculate and the attention to detail is incredible. Wired throughout and with an internal rattle, I think these lures are going to provide some serious fun in the year ahead. I intend to use the larger sizes to hit bass and pike. Some of the smaller sizes should be absolutely ideal for sea trout. Pretty soon there won’t be a fish safe in the country!
Available in two sizes, 130 and 152 mm, and six colours, the Wafer is a suspending jerkbait that will work depths well down to the three metre mark. As with the rest of the range, the craftmanship is second to none with immaculate paint finishes, internal rattles via ball bearings and a construction that sees wire throughout to ensure that the hooks stay exactly where they should. For me, the Irish applications for this lure will be in the shallower waters when they warm up just a little bit and the pike are more inclined to chase a bait that is moving through the water erratically.
The Phoxy Minnow range come in a couple of sizes at 40 and 50 mm and all fish within the top metre of water making them some of the more ‘petite’ lures in the range. I am starting to run out of superlatives to describe this range of lures, suffice to say that the Phoxy Minnows match the larger lures in their finish, quality and attention to detail. What I most certainly can think of is a few applications for these lures and I think that they will be real winners for tempting perch, trout and sea trout. I expect some big things from these small lures and I am sure that they will not disappoint.
Monarc Spinnerbaits and Queen Rana Frogs
Monarc Spinnerbaits are one of those oddity lures that most people have seen at some stage or another. Representing nothing in particular, the double willow blade creates a lot of flash and vibration to stir the senses of aggressive predators. The Sakura Monarcs come in four sizes – 7, 10.5, 14 and 17.7 grams with the smaller of the two utilising a 2/0 hook, the larger a 3/0 hook. Left to fish as they are they are a fantastic commotion creating lure. What I have done in the past with spinnerbaits to great success is to dress the hook with a soft plastic grub or twintail. This is completely optional but can inject a bit of extra movement and colour to trigger a strike on harder days. I am very much going to fish these lures around emergent cover where I think pike will hit them like a train.
The Queen Rana frog baits are technically a soft bait but I added them to the spinnerbaits because I see them as an oddity also. Many Irish anglers look at frog baits with amusement and figure that they are probably not worth a go. For much of the year they would be right but for a few weeks in the spring wild frogs congregate in numbers to spawn. Scientific research has shown that on many waters at this particular time the vast majority of a pike’s stomach contents will be made up of frogs. Use that piece of information as you see fit!
I really cannot wait to get going with this selection of lures which, along with others in the range, will provide ample opportunity and arsenal for targeting a plethora of predatory species in Irish waters. 2015 promises to be a busy year for me and a dangerous year to be a fish!