Frank Manuele - I've been fishing since I was
8 years old and began fishing artificials 25 years ago with Cotton
Cordell's Big O crankbait and Bill Norman's Snatrix plastic worm.
I've read hundreds of articles that gave reasons that fish attack
lures, but my experience tells me that there are abstract qualities
in a lure that cause it to be seen, tracked and bit. Anyone who
believes that fish bite because of traditional reasons, (i.e.
'match-the-hatch' or simulate-the-forage), may be completely
right based on their experiences and confidence in lures that
support those concepts. But, there are too many lures that resemble
nothing in nature and that catch fish when the forage looks like
something else. The fish-catching characteristics of a lure that
I want to relate to you, concern lure 'contrast- qualities' that
account for it's year-after-year success.
A lure has basic physical
qualities that appeal to a fish. Vibration is key when distance
is a factor; visual is key when a lure moves close, especially
in murky water. Fish biologists have confirmed that fish can
track a living thing in the water by its lateral line even with
eyes blinded. In nature, fish with cataracts have lived to healthy
old ages via lateral line tracking. Lateral line tracking works
because of a still object's reflected vibration, not inherent
vibration. A bell is heard when rang. A submerged bell can be
'felt' by the lateral line's, nerve receptors that pick up sonar-like
reflections off of its surfaces. Fish 'feel' the size, direction
of movement and swimming characteristics of a living creature
within a fish's detection range of many yards. Color in clear
water supports what the lateral line 'knows' and stimulates a
response similar to a hungry person looking at a steaming steak
through a restaurant window. Keeping this in mind, I believe
that the simple, elementary, physical characteristics of light
(color or flash) and sound vibrations (inherent and reflected)
make a lure effective.
Lures that look like the
real thing may contain those characteristics, but unrealistic,
looking lures that display abstract qualities of one or more
of those characteristics will at times do as well or better.
Color contrast, (not a specific realistic hue), is what gets
their interest and provokes a bite. A drab colored (i.e. black)
lure in drab colored water is drab, period, but it is the object's
reflective surfaces, that indicate size and motion, that cause
a 'contrast stimulus', and which causes it to stand out from
other edible objects that may be near. The flash of tiny, silver
flakes, a florescent color combo, a sound chamber, or a jerk-jerk-pause
retrieve, may provide the needed 'contrast' to provoke a predatory
strike. Again, I'm not talking about color, although color confirms
shape, contrasts with the background and which is very important
at dawn and dusk and in stained water. I've used many colors
to catch fish in one day such a sapphire blue, ruby red, florescent
colors, silver, grape, purple and black. The color didn't matter
as long as the lure did! I use Fish Formula on my soft plastics
because an oily surface reflects light better than a flat, dull
surface. (I also like to smell anise on my hands.)
Realism applies to people,
not fish. Some anglers fall for a realistic finish and spend
big bucks for it. They want to believe that a fish is interpreting
the visual image the same way a human does. HooDaddy worms don't
represent any living thing, that can be proven, but they work
superbly in all colors and sizes due to moving surfaces that
enhance reflectivity and color and that are felt by a fish's
lateral line. Try working a no-weight, Texas rigged, 6"
Hoo across matted weed or pads. The fish will target the 6"
lure without seeing it and will repeatedly hit that lure until
it 'kills' it. Note, it can't see it, but it feels its bulk and
creature-characteristics, (kind of like when you 'get the creeps').
Compare the hackles of a dog that go up when it see something
it doesn't like but would like to kill or attack and fish's dorsal
fin as it goes up just before it attacks.
in a lure, are what I look for before buying it. If it looks
like the real thing, great, but it must reflect light and color
a certain way that is enhanced by the lure's action and inherent
or reflected sound . A Rapala that swims in a steady retrieve
is not natural or realistic. Fish do not 'wobble'. A twitch or
jerk-and-pause retrieve simulates a dying minnow being attacked.
The Raplala's 'realism' is in its flashes of reflected light
and the water dimpling as it floats to the surface and not what
the lure looks like physically. What the lure and angler causes
to happen, namely realistic light-flashes and water disturbances,
provoke the fish's bully response. The gliding action of a small
Fin S Fish on a 1/16 oz. jig head, is exactly the way a minnow
looks gliding or darting through the water. My point is that
both lures and many types of retrieves applied to those lures
will catch fish, and for the same basic reasons.
The major point I'm trying
to get across is that a successful angler can find 'triggering
contrasts' that will provoke strikes. Total realism cannot be
exactly achieved, but an abstraction of life, (like a painting),
can be, artificially, and exaggeration through light, sound,
and motion combine to compel a fish to bite even if hunger is
not a key reason.
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