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Bass Lures

Bass lures have changed a lot since 2010 when we first opened our lure fishing shop in St Merryn. Gone are the days where millions of shiny plugs lining the walls and in are the days of the soft plastic and metals. For those who were around at the time, the early days were great with lots of experimentation as we began to bring more and more Japanese lures to the UK. Over time we found what did or didn't work, until we've reached today and those that have stood the test of time remain. During the past year however there's been new explosions in to fishing with metal lures, and our experimental periods are back!

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There are loads of types of lures that we use today. In the shop I quite often simplify them for customers to ensure that they get a range of products that gives them some genuinely different presentation options. There is no point in buying four shallow diving plugs for example, when most of them do roughly the same.


#1. Shallow Diving

My own favourite way of lure fishing. There's something nice about the relative simplicity of a hard lure. While they can't all just simply be cast-and-wind, a lot can be successfully fished in this way. 

When would I use one?

The shallow diver excels over shallow, rocky areas with a bit of chop.

With complex internal weight shifting systems, you can be assured that a modern bass plug will cast well. They are also very stable in choppier conditions. These features along side the shallow diving and floating properties make them a safe bet in snaggy areas when you also need a bit of distance. This is a bit counter-intuitive considering that they're also some of the most expensive lure types, but if you're a little careful you'll lose a lot less of these than you would a metal, sinking or weighted soft plastic in such conditions.

Top recommendation: Apia Ailed'Ore 115F

We say: "This is the longest casting shallow diver available. The action is superb too! Brilliant lure."


#2. Surface Lures

One of the most popular bass lure types. Surface lures have moved a long way from what used to be the traditional "popper". Many people still ask for Poppers in the shop, but there is a far wider variety of surface plugs available today. Each will have a varying degree of aggression in the water - with the "popper" being most frantic, while the sliding style lures are much more subtle. Size and style could be dictated by the water conditions. Big and brash for rough conditions; smaller and quieter for the calmest days. Rules are always there to be broken though...

When would I use one?

Surface lures are great in all but the coolest or roughest water when the fish are in an aggressive mood.

They do tend to be better once the water has warmed up a little bit and the fish are a tad more active. Although this can carry on through until Christmas here in Cornwall, it may not start until June or July. It doesn't matter if the water is a bit choppy. The right lure choice can give you a lure that will still sit and fish well when being bumper around - the large Patchinko 2 for example.

There is no more fun way of catching bass than watching them swipe at and engulf a surface lure. The fact that you have such a great view of all the action as it unfolds gives you a level of genuine interaction with the fish that isn't achievable with other lure types. They're a great lure for searching an area to see if there are any fish present at the start of a session. Bass will often come up to take a slap at a lure if they're there. At least if they're in the mood.

Top recommendation: Xorus Patchinko 125

We say: "This is the middle size of the three Patchinko lure models. If you just buy one surface lure to cover all eventualities, go for this one."


#3. Weedless Soft Plastics

This style of fishing has really taken over in the past few years. The hook point is effectively hidden with this way of rigging a soft plastic lure, so you can retrieve through rock and weed without catching up. One of the most frustrating things about lure fishing for bass can be the inevitable re-rigging after you've failed to retrieve a snagged lure. It can still happen with a weedless setup but is far less likely. So much so that it is now possible to target the rockiest, weediest areas you can imagine (and never could before). Successfully too! Bass love snags. It's in these areas where they hunt and if your lure isn't near some kind of snag or feature, the chances are there will be less bass there too.

The term "weightless" can be deceiving. It's not that the lures don't weigh anything, but that you're not adding any EXTRA weight to the lure. Most bass fishing soft plastics weigh between about 10g and 15g by themselves - with no weight added. So there exists enough weight to successfully cast these lures some distance.

When would I use one?

Unbeatable in shallow, weedy conditions.

This way of rigging - with no additional weight - makes most sense in calmer conditions or in the shallowest water. However, I'm constantly amazed by the rough conditions that other bass anglers will cast them in to. Cast and leave one swirling around in the white-water and you'll still catch. There's a lot about these lures that is quite counter intuitive, but they just can't stop catching. If there is a lot of floating bits of weed in the water column, you're fishing a very shallow, rocky reef, or you're on the fringes of an estuary where you have dense beds of weed close in, this lure style can be deadly.

Top recommendation: Doomsday Laggin' Dragon 5.4" in combination with hook Owner Twistlock 5167 - 5/0

We say: "A slightly smaller, fat-tailed version of the OSP DoLive Stick. Cast great with no added weight and swim superbly. The locals have had a lot of BIG bass on these."


#4. Weighted Soft Plastics

The most versatile of lure available in my eyes, it's often the type of lure that I sell in the shop when an angler typically comes in and asks, "what's your best bass lure?". Lures like the Savage Gear Sandeel, Black Minnow and the like, with their weighted heads, soft, wobbling tails and single hook (weedless or not) make them a lure that you can take almost anywhere and catch. By changing your retrieve speed or rod action you can have the lures fishing anywhere from top to bottom, and fish love them.

When would I use one?

Most often over slightly deeper water (6'+) and when there's a bit of swell or tide running.

The weighted heads - which vary in weight - keep the lure very stable and in the water where you want it. Retrieved like a plug with the rod tip high you can keep them running very shallow; whilst by slowing down and fishing more of a sink-and-draw action you can cover a lot of water. Even bounce them along the bottom over clear sand. You have a lot of options with these lures, hence the easy recommendations from my part. We have more of these types of lures in the shop than we do online, but they're very good. In reality you can match any jighead (weight/hook combo) with any soft plastic lure. I'd usually recommend the paddle tail (shads) with this setup, but you could use ANY soft lure.


#5. Metal Lures  & Jigs

It's funny how things go around in circles. Albeit more refined each time when it comes to lures. We've fished for bass with metal lures like the famous Abu Toby and Dexter Wedge for decades. With bass anglers now wanting to target more fish in the surf, these lures (or modern versions of them) are making a huge resurgence in the UK.

When would I use one?

Use one in rough conditions over relatively clean ground.

For casting ability and outright stability, these lures can't be beaten. They may need to be fished quite fast to keep them out of bottom debris, but this is where weight selection can come in to its own. In the shallowest water, lighter lures will be easiest to keep on the move with less speed involved (slower is usually best unless the fish are feeding especially confidently), but you then may also not achieve the distance you want. So there's always a compromise. If you aimed for 30g and 40g options you'd be well covered though for the majority of situations. If more distance is necessary but the fish are lethargic, a "Slow Tuned" jig style may be better than the usual wedge option as the lure is skipped more than cranked for the duration of the retrieve.

Top recommendation: Kilty Catcher 32g

We say: "The Kilty catcher is a brilliant lure that is incredibly simple to use in the surf. Just wind! Bass love them and we do too."


#6. Other Bass Lures

There are a few lure types that are fairly hard to categorise. Not that it matters what they're called or what they look like - it's obviously what they do that counts. The ones I have in mind are kind of a hybrid. Lures like the Samson range. These lures tend to sink, be quite weighty, cast miles yet still work well on the water's surface. A sinking surface lure. But they're more versatile than any normal surface lure...

When would I use one?

When long distance is important in the shallowest water.

These lures tend to have more grip and reliability in rough conditions that any normal surface lure. The fact that they sink means that you can also fish the majority a little sub-surface; either by keeping the rod tip down or by allowing them more time to sink. This sinking feature also gives you a few more options when fish may be chasing a lure but might not be committing. Naturally if you stop winding it's going to sink back down towards the fish below. It's when twitched erratically on the surface in rough conditions that they can come in to their own though. In the calmest conditions I'd still recommend a normal surface lure, but if things get bumpy, try one of these.

Top recommendation: Samson Slim Minnow 30g

We say: "A lovely slim, white sandeel imitation. Cast like missiles but still have a little finesse about them. Not the Samson lure for the roughest days, but my favourite of the bunch."

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