The moon and bass on lures at night - what’s the story?

I was out in the early hours of Saturday morning, and whilst my experience of night fishing for bass with lures is at best limited, conditions seemed to be as good for where we were fishing - save for the fact that there was a great big full moon shining down on us. We had a couple of hard hits on white senkos from what I am assuming were bass, and we were also bumped a bunch of times by cuttlefish, but as much as it was a beautiful night on the beach, from the off I could not help but suffering from a lack of confidence with that moon shining so brightly……….

Should I be worrying about a full moon when going night lure fishing for bass? I can’t help but think back to say my bait days chasing something like bull huss, and bearing in mind that I was fishing mostly shallowish rough ground, a visible full moon was the kiss of death. I actually had some my best huss fishing on full moon tides, but it was either very cloudy or pissing it down, and of course you know that on a new moon set of springs it’s going to be dark anyway. Are there parallels to bass fishing with lures at night?

I simply don’t know enough about lure fishing at night for bass to be able to say yet whether I have found any patterns as regards a full or a new moon, but I can’t pretend that it feels great to have a great big bright moon lighting things up so much that you can pretty clearly see your white senko when it comes in closer on the retrieve. Now it was particularly calm and clear in the early hours of Saturday morning, so I wonder if perhaps a load of current (estuary etc.) or at least some wave-chop would lessen that influence of a bright moon? If that bright moon does actually affect the bass fishing at night anyway, because save for those couple of hard bangs on the rop tips, might it simply have been one of those nights when there weren’t many fish around?

Any of you out there with some proper experience of chucking lures at night for bass? What are your thoughts on a bright, visible moon when you’re out fishing? If I think back to the bass I have caught and seen on lures at night (as I said, my experience is limited), I can’t recall a great big full or near full moon shining down. I remember when I first saw night lure fishing “done properly’ by Keith White and his brother Kevin over in Jersey (check here), it was drizzling and they were fishing in a strong current. I can think of various nights out on the rocks chasing huss and ray when it was all fishing fine until the cloud cover broke and the moon lit up proceedings - and the fishing just died. Is a bright, visible moon having a similar effect on lure fishing for bass at night? I love how lure fishing throws up so many questions, and I would hazard a guess that some of you here have some interesting information and thoughts that you might be willing to share via the comments section below. My thanks in advance.

How is fishing tackle tested before launch and are our expectations of it too high?

As much as we would love to believe that the fishing tackle we buy and use is rigorously tested before we ever get our hands on it, sometimes I can’t help but wonder if this is actually the case, indeed via working within the industry I can safely say that on a few occasions I have been, how should I say, a little shocked? I remember seeing a brand new range of spinning rods at a show and then asking the company what they were like - only to receive the reply that they didn’t have a clue as nobody had tested or even fished with them………

Is this a normal occurrence? Of course not, but on the flipside I do get the impression that many anglers believe the development and testing of fishing tackle is a far more rigorous, logical and even scientific process than it sometimes is or indeed can be. Please, I am by no means having a pop at the tackle industry here - many tackle companies have thorough R&D programmes that successfully bring some serious gear to market, but without doubt some gear failure must to lead us to the conclusion that some R&D programmes sometimes ain’t exactly so thorough.

Two questions stand out in my mind here - as anglers, are our expectations of what fishing tackle is meant to be able to do verging on the unrealistic? And from the business point of view within a tackle company, how long and hard does a testing programme need to be before the product goes to market? I was trying a pair of waders out earlier this year for example, and from the off I thought they were hugely impressive - a good price, extremely comfortable, they felt good and tough, and they did not leak whatever I did with them. Over two months in with them and I’m starting to feel really, really good about the waders, until that is I suddenly started to feel that telltale damp feeling around the groin area when you’re deep wading. OK, I’m getting older, but I was very sure it wasn’t me!! No warning, just one day the waders started to leak, and on closer examination I found that the tape on the internal seams was starting to come away in some areas. I kept on with the waders for a few sessions more and then they started to leak somewhere around the foot area as well. Enough was enough, they had failed (but wow they’d be such good waders if those issues are sorted).

So let’s say I gave those waders a proper thrashing for at least two months, and I didn’t have one single issue with them. How long were those waders tested for before they came to market, indeed how long can a potential new product be tested for before it then makes no commercial sense because it needs to go on sale. Bear in mind here that whilst you and I might think that stuff is designed and then tested in that sort of order, in a bigger company there might well be launch dates/product range “refreshes” planned way before something has even been properly developed if that makes sense? Sure, it doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense if one thinks about the logic (or lack of) involved with potentially bringing something to market without a rigorous testing period, but business is business and I don’t pretend to understand that sort of stuff.

Let’s imagine the waders I eventually found fault with were rigorously tested for a couple of months before they were brought to market, and no faults were found - then somebody like me gets hold of the waders, has a perfect couple of months with them, but into the third month things start to come apart. Now I have no idea how the waders were actually tested by the way - I am merely plucking figures out of clean air to illustrate various points, but I guess you get my point. How long does stuff need to be tested for before it’s launched? And bear in mind as well, what is “rigorous testing”? Can any tackle company out there afford to be paying full time members of staff to do nothing but “rigorously test” potential new products? Think about computer software and the endless updates we need to keep applying to patch up various bugs, security issues etc. - something like fishing tackle can’t have that luxury as such. Once it’s out there, it’s out there, and around saltwater especially it’s getting used and abused in one harsh environment.

Take my Shimano Sustain 4000FG spinning reel as another example (review here) - it’s a bit of kit that I really like fishing with, but over time and indeed after I wrote that review of it, I found out that to keep it running nice and smoothly you need oil it up fairly regularly. Now does the need to put oil in various parts of the reel make it any worse a product, or should we be looking at ourselves and how we use gear like this, and simply accept that we need to keep on top of this sort of maintenance? What about anglers who know squat about reel maintenance? Well to me the need to oil a spinning reel is part and parcel of owning it, although it’s interesting to note that the Daiwa Caldia 3000-A Mag Sealed reel I have been using for a fair while now (review here) feels pretty much as smooth now as it was when I first took it out of the box - something to do with the Mag Sealed thing perhaps? How long was a reel like the Shimano Sustain tested for, and in what sort of environments? Would Shimano have tested the reel for long enough to have found out about the need for regular oiling?

Of course you also have the problem with anglers using gear for something it wasn’t intended for. I think of my punt on the Simms Vapor wading boots and how they performed so badly for me, but was this partly my fault for using them how I did, indeed could a company such as Simms ever have envisaged somebody like me buying those Vapor boots and using them how I did? Should a company come out and say that so and so product should not be used in so and so environment, or does that make no business sense to admit to that sort of thing? If you read my blog then you will know about my views on (freshwater) breathable waders and so many of us putting them through unintended use in a harsh saltwater environment, but with the growing use of waders like this, should tackle companies be stating that their waders are not for use in and around saltwater? Which of course then puts the onus on us as anglers to decide whether to buy them or not, and then accepting that if they fail and it’s proved that we used them in saltwater, we have no leg to stand on with repair and potential replacement.

I am trying to see all sides of the argument here. I am an angler first and foremost and I want my gear to last me for a reasonable time (whatever that is), but having worked within the industry for a long time now I get to see the other side of the coin sometimes. As an angler I want to believe that the gear I buy has been rigorously developed and tested, but how can a tackle company ever be expected to launch the perfect product as such, as in once it’s out there, who really knows how it’s all being used and looked after or not? Wouldn’t it be fascinating to track a new product from a reputable fishing tackle company and understand more about development, testing and then launch? As a consumer I want my stuff to last forever, but how realistic are we? And of course, is there too much duff stuff out there?

Have a look at this trailer to a short bass fishing film that James from Absolute Fishing over in Ireland is putting together. Bumping soft plastics in a bit of surf always floats my boat and I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product. I believe this footage was shot just after the recent Irish Bass Festival - nice one James, and if it helps, I know how hard it can be not to fish at times!!

What’s the most valuable lesson that lure fishing has taught you?

I never had even half a clue that there was so much to lure fishing, indeed I cling to the odd bit of spinning I used to do as a mere add on to my bait fishing as a kind of comfort blanket when my brain starts to bounce with how much lure fishing has taught me - and with how much I have yet to learn. But what’s the most important thing that lure fishing has taught you as an angler? Can you break it all down and think of one single lesson as such that fishing with artificials has really sunk home and perhaps affected your whole outlook on fishing in general?

I could come up with a number of different things if I had to, but at the end of the day I tend to come back to something that continues to bang home to me - never say never. Wow it’s so easy in life to close yourself off to new experiences and wrap yourself up with the knowledge you already have as a kind of protection against forging ahead and opening up those grey cells to new stuff. Lure fishing without a doubt has helped reinforce the whole “never say never” ethos to me, as in the more I unravel and learn about this whole lure fishing thing, the more I realise how easy it would have been to dismiss so much of it because it requires thought, effort and an open mind.

Take something as simple as chucking a senko at a bass or indeed pollack or wrasse - if you had told me say ten years ago that I would be obsessing about a simple soft plastic “stick” which seems to do hardly anything in the water I’d most likely have laughed at you. I remember the first spool of the Varivas Avani Sea Bass Max Power PE 8-strand braid that I ever got, and how it sat on a shelf because I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that a line that thin and supple could work for our lure fishing. How about the gradual realisation that we don’t actually need poker-like lure rods to catch most of the species we might be able to realistically target from our coastline? Not going out without a range of lures that can fish in ways I never could have imagined were a part of say bass fishing, catching wrasse on lures, the sheer range of locations that can throw up bass, and of course, night fishing for bass with lures - carry on doing the same stuff all the time or never say never and open up your mind?

The easy way would of course be to do what you always do, change nothing, and carry on fishing as you have always done - nothing wrong with this, of course not, but the day that fishing sits still for me is the day that I walk away and do something else. Fishing is my life because it offers me so much, and learning new stuff for me is the key to loving fishing more and more - but if I didn’t adopt the “never say never” mantra then I am not sure my obsession would be so consuming. I will never understand people who don’t ask questions and don’t have that desire to learn more, just as I can’t sit still with all that there is to learn about fishing and of course lure fishing. I hear about and read some things sometimes that a part of can’t help but want to simply dismiss and move on, but then that never say never part of me catches myself and I wonder where I might be with this fishing thing another five years down the line……

And of course, come on England!! The third Test starts today - can we put that shameful drubbing behind us and draw on the fight we showed at Cardiff? Hell yes. Never say never!!

Infernal b%&$$y weed

You know when you’re watching a forecast because if it’s right, it’s promising so much for a certain spot you have in mind that can take the weather and often fish well when it’s fairly pounding in? Well that was me watching the weather for yesterday, and the first glimpse of the water had us essentially running down to get started - only to have our hopes dashed upon the rocks like the walls of white water rolling in……

Weed. Infernal b%&$$y weed - along with dirty water, surely it’s the bane of a lure angler’s fishing life? I’ve got it wrong with this spot a few times as regards the weather and it hasn’t even been safe to get on the rocks and fish, but yesterday was looking pretty damn good, and I was also pretty happy to see some misty, murky conditions when we arrived. For the life of me I can’t remember being weeded out down there in heavy yet fishable conditions, but yesterday was just a lost cause really. The three of us tried all manner of lures and techniques to try and keep on fishing through the weed, but sometimes you just know when it ain’t going to work. Bumping the (weedless) Black Minnow along the bottom didn’t even work yesterday, so I guess that the weed was choking the water from top to bottom.

It’s not one of those shallow marks where you would expect the kind of onshore conditions we had to go and blow it out, indeed this place can take some bit of weather and keep on fishing - just not yesterday, and I am hearing of plenty of lure anglers suffering plenty of weed problems at the moment. Save for rough weather kicking it all up, so much weed around is I guess down to warmer weather and plenty of weed growth, and the problem we had yesterday was that it was one mark or bust for us on that forecast. Of course things will get better, and of course weed can be a very localised thing, but walking away from that spot yesterday with those conditions was a heart-breaker.

Are you currently suffering bad weed problems where you fish? We can all expect plenty of weed in estuaries especially at this time of year, but how about the open coast? This distinctly autumnal weather we are currently getting down here can’t be helping with breaking up all that new-growth weed, but does anybody actually know what is happening when you see this much weed around? It can’t all be broken up new-growth, surely? Or is it? Things will get better of course, but holy cow it breaks my head when I have so got my hopes up on a forecast……