Be the bait

The fishing bug doesn’t discriminate. It bites people from all walks of life.

The result is a wonderfully diverse collection of people, sharing the same passion. The smartest among us dedicate their lives to outwitting fish. They think like fish to catch fish.

I’m not in their league. So I choose to think like the bait. It’s easier to outwit a shrimp than a bass.

I do think that in the modern world of lure fishing, the basics are sometimes forgotten. And thinking like the bait is one of them.

After all, the goal is to present the lure in a way that fools the fish. Which means presenting it naturally. And the best way to present a lure naturally is to understand the bait you are trying to mimic.

It sounds like common sense, but sometimes you forget the simple things when you’re out on the water. With a box full of 132 lures, most of your concentration is spent choosing what to use, rather than the right retrieval technique.

I can think of two examples from personal experience. The first is fishing surface lures for whiting, to imitate fleeing prawns. I assumed a slow and steady retrieve would work best. Nothing too fast or aggressive.  This was despite seeing prawns skipping across the surface quickly.

My fishing results were average as a consequence. Then one day I read an article on prawn behaviour based on scientific research (not something I regularly do, just to be clear). The article noted that prawns had been observed moving at 1 metre per second when fleeing a predator. Since then I retrieve my lure a lot quicker and have much more success.

The other example is fishing a soft plastic worm. At first I used to flick it around like I would a paddle tail, with limited results. Yet the marine worms I’d seen in the water weren’t going to win any 100 metre swimming races. They moved very slowly. So I changed the way I fished soft plastic worms, using a dead slow roll.

The next time you choose a lure, take a moment to think about the bait you’re trying to imitate. Develop a retrieval technique to replicate the bait and you’re well on your way to being a more successful angler.

In 2013 I mastered the art of being a prawn and this year I’m making great progress in walking like a crab. Things are looking up.