Lure Allure

By , July 6, 2011

There’s an old joke about the effectiveness of fishing lures, the punch line asserting that the lure caught the fisherman. I am the butt of that joke. I love fishing lures, and have a hard time resisting them—a far harder time than many fish, it would seem. My tackle box overflows with lures, some of which are still in their original packaging. Every one of them assures me it’s “deadly” for all fish. Few, in fact, have proved to be.

I’ve found only a handful of lure types to be truly effective off our rocks. The best, like my beloved BuzzBomb, are expensive and fragile. Using them represents considerable risk for our low income, but the rewards can be great.

"cheap" fishing lures

A "buck seventy-five arsenal." The pink one in the middle is my killer. I've already had to replace its treble hook after a big tom cod bent it up. Note that I've added rings and swivels to some of them. All of them have been carefully sharpened before fishing (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

I’ve discussed the BuzzBomb’s effectiveness before. They are highly recommended by Charlie White, my main fishing “guru.” I’ve recently read elsewhere that the BuzzBomb stimulates a fish’s lateral lines, prompting it to strike. I’ve caught Dolly Varden char and salmon within the first five minutes of fishing; many days I hook them on the very first cast.

The successful fishers tell us that we should switch lures often, to test a variety to see what attracts the fish on a particular day. I’ve always been reluctant to do that, but this summer I’m trying it, and I’ve discovered something that’s revolutionized my family’s fishing.

I made the change when I realized that some days, the fishing is so good that I’ve caught dinner long before I’m ready to stop fishing. With no freezer or refrigeration, there’s no call for us to catch more than one or two fish at a time, unless we’re set up to can or smoke that day. After catching the day’s fish, I’ve been experimenting with untried lures. This works especially well on days when the water is clear. I can fish a lure and watch the response it gets. I can even avoid catching the fish that follow it if I choose.

I’ve been systematically testing a set of lures that I purchased a year or two ago. A local sporting goods store (Oleruds, for those of you who are in Haines) put out a couple of tin washtubs full of Blue Fox spoons in 3 different sizes and a variety of colors. They priced them at 25¢ each! I bought a handful (the lure catches the fisherman once again) and threw them in my tackle box, passing over them for tried-and-true lures. This year I noticed the remaining lures are still on sale, so I thought I should try the ones I own. If they work, I reasoned, I should buy more.

That led me to testing each of the different styles. Not surprisingly, the hot pink ones worked well, even to the point of a couple of first-cast catches (in my experience, the hot pink BuzzBomb works the very best here). But the other styles attracted fish, too.

I suddenly realized the economic sense here: these are 25¢ lures that are proven to be effective! They may not be as deadly as my BuzzBombs, but at the price I pay for them, I can lose almost 20 of the cheap lures for every BuzzBomb I lose. At those odds, I can settle for slightly less effectiveness. In fact, because I can afford to fish the cheaper lures more aggressively—deeper, closer to the snags—the effectiveness might actually balance out.

For the money, even the least effective color combinations are worth using. If not, at these prices, I could spring for a can of hot pink spray paint and “upgrade” them all to the best color. If I need a fish right away, I can use a BuzzBomb, but for those days when I want to spend a little time fishing, it makes sense to use the cheaper lures.

If you don’t live in Haines, and don’t have access to lures this cheap, the same principal still applies. The original prices of the lures were less than $2.00.

Of course, the caveat here is that fish can be fickle feeders, so no lure is ever effective all the time in all conditions. I’ve been skunked plenty of times using BuzzBombs, watching large fish follow the lure repeatedly, even dive on it, but refuse to strike. But for my money, literally, it makes most sense to use the cheap spoons whenever possible.

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