How easy is it, to simply cast and retrieve a lure, or cast and swing?
OK, go and find a fly fisherman's guide to presenting a dry fly. Why is presenting a needlefish any different? Well, it isn’t. You can go on a river and strip a lure back just like you might on a stocked small still water. However...
Go and watch the specialists, the dry fly men, the wet fly men, the salmon men who are still fly fishing yet, it’s all not always so subtlety different. Go and read some stuff on night time sea trout fishing for example and you’ll start to see a picture building. In fact, one book I always recommend to any potential night lure angler around currents and flows is ‘Sea Trout Fishing’ by Hugh Falkus.
Look at how a river coarse angler is asking the float to deliver a small bait in-line with the flow of the river or a stillwater waggler setup delivers a bait hopefully falling at the same rate as free offerings. This float fishing also works with lures, in rivers regards float jigging for the mighty steelhead and yes, even hanging a plastic crab or a shrimp under a float for wrasse, maybe even redfish in the Carolina’s USA.
Many top anglers from these branches of the sport have developed methods and skills aimed at reducing drag, getting baits to move in-line with currents and flows and they recognise, some area’s in any given water course are ‘better’ for X, Y, or Z reasons.
Sea lure anglers seem oblivious to much of this and many don’t even realise, or care to learn that the seas actually flow, and tide doesn’t come IN and go OUT, they know nothing of the rule of 12th’s, how water temperature affects lures and lines, how land affects winds, how waves move, how features and which features determine how bass or target species behave so ask yourself, WHY would such a person care, even remotely, about how and why a lure, representing x,y,or z bait, behave in a,b, or c water?
Turn your reels handle ONCE and how much line gets moved? Do you know? If not, why not. Do you realise that in a cross wind AND current, a lure may be acting like a car driving the wrong way up or down the motorway, do you know, that in faster flows, bass generally run deeper.
In the case of the latter, yes, it’s a fact, bass might indeed be deeper in strong flows because the water at the bottom moves slower. You have to THINK. I believe everyone has the ability to process data like this at incredible rates. Look, I don’t carry a science book around with me, you just do stuff, like I do stuff but my stuff is clearly influenced by what knowledge I carry inside. Imagine I am fishing a gutter running left to right. To the right is west. There is a strong F5 westerly blowing and this gully is say, 10ft deep along it’s centre. It’s flowing at 3mph. The bottom is rough and strewn with mixed sized boulders.
I’ll guarantee, there will be at least 3 layers of water speeds. The surface 2ft might be moving 20% faster, if not more. The middle depths might stabilise before friction slows the lower foot or so. In the case of some boulders, they might create layered eddy currents in which water may in fact, for a period, be flowing (from your perspective), backwards or the ‘wrong way’. Not the wrong way of course because it’s completely natural but your lure, simply retrieved, will of course, not take ANY of these flow nuances into consideration.
Lures with bibs are of course, affected more. Soft lures with a paddle tail are also, affected, far more than a simple, symmetrical lure like a needlefish. In the case of tails and water/retrieve speed, you can almost shake the tail off if you retrieve such a lure too fast, or against currents. In the further case of a bibbed, plastic style minnow lure, there is a point at which the lure becomes useless and ‘rolls out’. Literally, it gives up, rolls on it’s side and comes back skipping the surface with all the grace of a wet carrier bag. Not good you might say. Consider the ratio of involvement regards speed : lure type: sink rate: water depth: temp : etc.
Your reel might say, retrieve 80cm of line, per turn of the handle. Someone else’s, 90cm, another, 105cm. You might have 20lb braid, your friend 15lb and someone else, something different. The point is though, turning that handle at 1 turn per second, it’s rare you’ll exceed a lure speed that would challenge a brisk walking pace. YET...
Paddle tail lures kick like mules and many minnow style lures ‘will’ roll out as described. And this is in normal waters. You add moving water and stuff simply stops working as you may imagine. Needlefish and lures without extravagant actions and intention, are in many ways, immune to overwork unless YOU apply it. If you know how to swing the lure, where to cast into strong flows and how to maintain contact, the needefish will look natural in water conditions where many other lure types are simply the clown at the party. They stand out, too much.
Know your colours... or NOT
Imagine now, in the midst of trying to fathom a million ways to present a lure in as natural a way as possible, you start adding 25 colour variations and 3 size variations into the mix. You could forget it and learn from the dry fly angler who instead, chooses to match the hatch or offer something that ‘looks and behaves’ in a natural manner and concentrate instead upon presentation. You could choose to restrain yourself and have reasons, any reasons for using X or Y coloured lure or, like me, you could simply use whatever takes your fancy at the time as long as previously considered criteria like size, contrast, weight, action and profile are met first.
In fact, to prove a point rather than guessing, I threw together a small yet functional python3 script to work out a much smaller set of possible combo's using just 2 needefish types, 6 colours, 4 lengths, 4 weights and 5 sink rates. I cannot print here the results as in just that amount of choice,
you are left with 15360 permutations. Crazy right? It's incredulous to imagine 15360 permutations of lure before you even start fishing and then of course, you still need to be on fish.