Do some lures just not work as well in different areas?

I was talking to a very talented bass angler I know the other day, and he was telling me again how he just couldn’t buy a bass on the cotton candy IMA Salt Skimmer, whereas when he chucked out say his beloved Lucky Craft Gunfish the bass were all over it like a rash. And there’s me saying (again) how if I was to take only one surface lure out bass fishing with me, it’s always going to be the Salt Skimmer, and most likely the cotton candy colour. So why does this particular bass angler who has been at this kind of fishing far longer than me feel zero confidence in a lure that I feel 100% confident when I have it clipped on?

This is but one example of course. I am sure that like me you speak to other anglers who rave on about some kind of hard or soft lure that they absolutely slay on, and there’s you wondering what on earth you are doing wrong because you can’t find a starving bass to take pity on you and just chow the frigging thing when you are fishing with it. Why on earth does this happen? There is no possible way that I am doing anything remotely unique with say that Salt Skimmer when I am bass fishing with it, but it’s a surface lure that has done really well for me and I would feel kinda naked without at least one in my lure box. And I know that the lad I was talking to would feel lost without his beloved Gunfish. I have read a few times online that some anglers find bass will only slash but not commit to the Skimmer, yet there’s me having to kill a bass in Kerry the other day because it had inhaled the lure so deeply and I just couldn’t get it out.

Is it a simple case of some lures working really well in certain areas but not in others? Or is it a mixture of lure and technique that suits certain parts of the coastline better than others? If there is one kind of fishing that is so wrapped up with the whole confidence thing then it must surely be lure fishing, and as much as we can tell ourselves that most of the lures out there can and will take bass at some point, you and I both know how good it feels to be fishing with a lure that you have taken a bunch of fish on. This is a damn good reason why if I ever get amongst a bunch of smaller bass on the feed like I did the other day, pretty damn quickly I will unclip the lure that’s smashing them and put on something else that hasn’t got as much of my confidence invested in it. If they were 10lb+ bass behaving like that it could be a different story though!!

But how on earth can a guy who has caught far more and bigger bass than I will most likely ever catch be failing so miserably on a lure that I know to be an absolute killer? And conversely, I wonder if this guy thinks me and the people I know who rave about the Skimmer are all full of horse poo because it just ain’t cutting the mustard for him in the area he tends to fish. It is of course very easy to simply dismiss something that isn’t working, and it’s not as if there aren’t a bunch of other lures out there to try, but how on earth does a lure that I reckon is awesome simply not behave for somebody else? Do bass really prefer different lures in different areas?

Take the good stuff from social media and it continues to fascinate me how we share and access information these days, whilst at the same time doing my head in occasionally when I am trying something out with my fishing and wondering why on earth it isn’t working for me when I know that other anglers in a different part of the UK or Ireland are doing roughly the same thing and are slaying fish. Yet again I come back to how lure fishing has taught me so much about not dismissing something out of hand. It’s entirely up to you how you go about your own fishing of course, but wow does this lure stuff keep my mind open to different lures and techniques. White senkos at night? My head says no way, doesn’t make sense, but the proof for me was in the pudding - check here. And if you hadn’t already guessed, the old grey cells are a bouncing this morning!!

Lost my first bass hooked on a single hook rigged surface lure - bloody typical!!

I couldn’t have had the whole confidence with fishing thing rammed any harder down my throat than at about 6.45am yesterday morning - nothing’s happening but there is a good looking bit of rip current forming a fair way out, and whilst my go-to surface lure is for the most part the long-casting IMA Salt Skimmer, I will often also carry one of those slightly heavier (20g) Tackle House Vulture surface lures. Catch this thing right and it’s like a frigging missile, and yesterday morning I was able to put that particular lure just over the back of the rip and then work it back and across the current……

A few chucks later and my rod tip slams straight down. No messing around with the fish slashing at the lure and me having to control the adrenaline/not fish like a twat (me? Never!!), and almost “ease” the fish onto the lure. Nope, this one just smashed the Vulture, and whilst I can’t claim it was a monster of the deep, I knew straight away it was at least a half-decent bass. Because I want to get at a certain part of the rip and because I can’t help myself, I have whacked the Vulture over some partly submerged rocks to get at it, and I have to put some decent pressure on the fish to “encourage” it around or even over the tips of the rocks.

And then the sodding thing came off. Now I accept completely that fish sometimes coming off is a part of fishing (and especially on surface lures), but bear in mind now that I am really into the idea of giving these specialist single lure hooks a go (check here) - and whilst I have caught bass before on regular minnow-type hard lures rigged with singles, I am now trying out my favourite surface lures rigged with singles. I have a few different types here to see how they might work and last in saltwater, and I happened to have put the good looking Seaspin Gamu SW 1/0 single hooks on that Vulture. I know these things work on surface lures because I saw a lad absolutely smash one with them on a Skimmer over in Kerry last summer.

Talk about a very sudden crash in confidence though!! Of course my mate Mark did not remotely take the piss about me trying singles and losing bass because of it, but that aside, there’s me gutted at a decent bass coming off, and then doubly gutted/knocked sideways because the lure the fish got off was a surface lure rigged with a couple of single hooks. I am no different to any of you reading this blog. I need confidence in my fishing, and especially when I am trying something different to what I might usually do - and as I noticed via a couple of sniping remarks on a forum, nope, I am not trying to reinvent fishing here with deciding to give single hooks on lures a proper go. I credit you lot with enough intelligence to kindly read my blog and realise that at heart it’s often no more than my learning curve in fishing (and lure fishing especially) - and if it helps any of you? Well that makes my day, but rest assured that I will continue to try and learn from the many anglers I am lucky enough to fish with and spend time around. Surely fishing is so much about humility? Fishing to me is life after all.

I keep fishing away but inside I am beating myself up. Have I made a mistake rigging up a bunch of different hard lures with single hooks? Why then when I chuck out a bright yellow Fiiish Crazy Sandeel that is of course rigged on a single hook jig head do I not worry at all that it’s only got the one hook? Are we conditioned to seeing hard lures festooned with treble hooks, and does a lack of them then lower our confidence levels? The next bass I caught may only have been slightly larger than the lure I caught it on, but I can’t tell you how happy I was yesterday morning when that basslet smashed into my cotton candy IMA Salt Skimmer that was also rigged with single hooks. I think I might have jumped for joy, albeit it was difficult to even put a bend in the rod the fish was so small. But in it came, the rear single (barbless) hook sitting neatly in the basslet’s bottom lip. Phew.

I am going to keep at this single barbless hooks on hard lures thing and see how it goes. I am finding that a couple of what I would term ultra-shallow minnows just don’t seem to swim properly at all with singles on them - the Feed Shallow especially - but for the most part, to my eyes the bibbed minnows especially look just fine to me in the water. And as I said earlier about some fish just coming off whatever lure or hooks you are using, Mark hooked an ok bass on a DUO DC-12 - which then promptly came off!! He had a couple of treble hooks on the lure (middle one removed) yet still the fish got off. Food for thought? Whatever the case, I’m giving it a go whatever the slight blip in the old confidence levels……....

My first attempt at a lure rod casting video

I am trying out a new camera system to see how or if it might work for me as a fishing photographer, and it happens to have the ability to shoot video on the camera - so I thought I’d give it a quick go the other day when I was shooting some stills of one of our clients over in Ireland. Now of course it helps that Nathaniel can cast and fish very well, and of course I very much “see” as a stills photographer, but I thought it would be interesting to put together a short lure rod casting video. Off to get my tux ready for the Oscar’s ceremony……

Rest assured that I am not going to be telling my two professional film-making brothers that I have had a crack at filming and editing, but above is the result of my first ever go at a bit of (very basic) editing especially, indeed I got it into my head when I woke up at 4am yesterday morning with my bouncing brain syndrome that I should have a go. By 4.30am I was watching a really exciting? How To video on using iMovie, and a while later I had put this rather dodgy excuse for a casting video together.

If you read this blog then you will know I am obsessed with lure fishing rods, and whilst I only have so much time I can devote to this unpaid blog (indeed I could not do it if I didn’t have slight sleeping issues!!), I thought it might be helpful to show a lure rod being put through its paces during a couple of casts. The rod in question is the awesome Major Craft Skyroad 9’ 10-30g (review here) because we have some available for our clients to use on these Irish co-guided fishing trips, and Nathaniel was so smitten with the rod that he ended up buying one off Cian at Absolute Fishing while he was with us last week. I am pretty sure Nathaniel was casting the IMA Komomo II when I shot this dodgy video, and it weighs around 15g I believe.

I don’t know if you realised, but now is a good time to buy fishing tackle from a Euro country like Ireland. Yes, Cian is a mate, but nope, I have no arrangement with him if you buy gear from Absolute Fishing. I believe in good customer service, advice and selling via personal experience, and as such I have all the time in the world for what he does with his business over in the middle of bass country on the south coast of Ireland. I am back to that part of Ireland in a couple of weeks and I am trying to work out how I can go into Cian’s shop but at the same time resist my growing urge to drop some wedge on the higher speed Daiwa Certate 3000 spinning reel. Do I need one? No, but I want one.

Anyway, your thoughts on my first attempt a little video are most welcome, but before you collapse with laughter at how wildly exciting and professional it is(n’t), please bear in mind that whilst I know what I like when I watch something, I have essentially zero idea how to go about putting this sort of stuff together. It always fascinated me when we were filming how the process went from being out and about shooting the stuff to ending up on screen as a finished article as such, but I was the bloke talking crap to the camera and the talented people would then take that footage and make it into something. You all have a good weekend. Does the recent weather we have been getting here in south east Cornwall mean that what passed for summer is over? Roll on the next few months, I love this time of year for bass fishing.

Coast HL44 Dual Colour LED headlamp review (under £30 delivered)

Via my increasing interest in lure fishing for bass at night, I have been on the lookout for a headlamp that would do a few specific things for me - I want it to be lightweight, I want it to run off AAA batteries (I always have plenty of them lying around), I don’t want it to be very expensive, and above all, I want a red light on the headlamp that doesn’t require me to recycle through a hundred and fifty different white light variations to get to it. I can’t tell you whether bass really do run for cover if they see a bright white light come on when you’re fishing, but the general consensus seems to be that if you need a bit of light to change lures etc., you’re better off using a dimmer red light to do so.

Go looking for a headlamp like this though and it’s not easy. Sure, you can find any number of them that have little red lights, but now find one that has its own dedicated switch to turn that red light on and off - am I the only person who wants this facility? I asked around on Facebook for some help with this, and I ended up buying a couple of different lightweight headlamps and then returning them because they didn’t have the red light switch and having to go through god knows how many lighthouse-like white light options to get there drove me mad from the off. And then somebody recommended that I take a look at the Coast HL44 Dual Colour LED headlamp - my profound thanks.

Any of you who here who have been shore fishing for many years now will I am sure remember those old headlamps we used to use that had those great big, heavy battery packs we had to wear on belts around the waist, plus of course the expensive halogen bulbs that would blow at any time. LED headlamps have been a godsend if you ask me, and whilst this pretty cheap Coast HL44 Dual Colour LED headlamp doesn’t feel quite as well put together as say my very impressive (and more expensive) LED Lenser one, it’s doing me just fine. It’s pretty lightweight for a headlamp with a 3xAAA battery pack on the back of the strap, and I have used it in some serious rain without any hassle so far. Gone are my days of shining a headlamp on reflective rod tips for hours on end, and for the most part I can easily get where to I need to be on the dimmer white light setting (and the brighter setting is very bright). I haven’t changed batteries yet although I always keep a spare set of three in my camera rucksack.

The clickable switch for the red LED sits underneath the actual light part of the headlamp - with the white light switch sitting on top - and for close up work and moving around a bit over rocks etc., that red LED is doing me just fine. So simple to turn on and off and I love not having to cycle through the various white light options to get there. I can’t think of anything I don’t like about this Coast HL44 Dual Colour LED headlamp, and for the price it won’t bother me hugely if it does end up failing on me. So good so far, and for under £30 delivered I reckon it’s good value for money - I bought mine here if that is any help.

I have put a gallery together of a bunch of photos from those two co-guided Ireland trips I did over the last couple of weeks. When I look at these photographs I am reminded of just how much fun these trips are, and I hope that comes across. 


Below is a look at my features in the new issue of Sea Angler which is out this week.