Am I a bit of a tit for not having given this “family” of hard lures some proper water time?

There is nobody else to blame but me for not having given these hard lures some proper water time, and I put the reason for reigniting my enthusiasm in them firmly at the door of (soft plastic) senkos and that rather nice (soft plastic) Fish Arrow Flash J 5’’ SW. So how on earth do soft plastics get me looking at a whole “family” of hard lures in a completely different light? Well that’s just it if you ask me. An increased use of soft plastics I think helps to open up one’s fishing mind even more, and catching good bass on a senko has shown me once and for all that a lure doesn’t always need to be doing very much - if anything visible to us at all - for bass to sometimes switch onto them, and that bass do seem to like that sort of lazy wiggle/slalom soft of action that you can get with the Flash J on a belly-weighted weedless hook retrieved nice and slowly.

Lipless minnows, pencils, sinking pencils, stickbaits, whatever you want to call this big “family” of hard lures - I feel like a bit of a tit for never having got into these sorts of hard lures for my bass fishing. Sure, I have fished with some over the years but to be honest given them very little time because I tended to go back to something with a far more obvious action, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I have been missing out. What’s not to like about these lipless minnows? (or whatever you want to call them). For the most part they cast like missiles, they swim nice and shallow, their action is subtle, they tend to be silent, and I wonder why on earth I haven’t been giving them a proper go! If you do use and trust these sorts of hard lures, please tell us a bit about it. I’m going to give some of them a proper go this year and see how I get on - I’ll detail some of the lipless minnows (or whatever) that I will be trying below, and if I am missing out on something completely deadly then please let me know! Please also bear in mind that I am at less than day one of learning how to properly fish these types of lures.

I have had this little IMA Calm (110mm, 11g, sinking) here for so long now that IMA have stopped making it in this colour! Why oh why have I not given this little stunner a whole heap of love? I love the idea of this little missile on a lighter lure rod in calm conditions, estuaries, early mornings, around weed beds etc., and the action is just sublime when you retrieve it. So subtle, so quiet, so lifelike……...

The same with this incredibly long casting Maria Blues Code Slim (125mm, 21g, sinking). The box actually had a bit of mould on it due to such a distinct lack of use. This lure is a bit like a slightly bigger, heavier version of the IMA Calm, and that subtle sort of wiggle/slalom action is really interesting me. I am sure you could work these lipless minnows in all manner of different ways, and I am very much open to advice, but I can’t help but be drawn to a simple slow to medium retrieve via my newfound confidence in a senko doing so little - yet sometimes smashing bass. I wonder if this family of hard lures might work well at night for example?

Now I have fished with this lovely little IMA Honey Trap 95S (95mm, 25g, sinking) before, but back then I was very much into the idea of it working for me solely as a “fluttering on the drop” soft of hard lure - and to be honest I can’t even remember if I went and fished it any other way. This thing is unreal when you retrieve it slowly - such a tight little wiggle and I like how it does move a little differently to the longer lipless minnows that have more of a sandeel sort of shape. I have seen people catch bass on this lure, but for too long now it has sat here at home, unloved and uncared for.

I have heard a bit over the last few years about how deadly the Hart X3 Pencil lure is (115mm, 26g, sinking), and I now own one (thanks Jamie!). It seems to cast well if you go at at say ¾ power, and then it can really fly, and whilst some of you here who have essentially zero experience of these types of lures (me!) might be scared off by the fact that they sink, in fact they come straight back to very shallow almost the moment you start retrieving them. I love how this Hart X3 Pencil swims.

This North Craft BMC 120F (120mm, 20g, floating) is an interesting variation on a lipless minnow, because it floats. Dial down the power and it gets out there pretty well, and I really like the idea of this floating lure for areas where you simply can’t really let a lure sink at all - it’s got a very tight rolling sort of action on the retrieve that definitely gives me a different option to the lipless minnows above.

Ok, so many of you here might well have been fishing these types of lures since before I was born, but I make no excuses for talking about them here. Out of all the lads I am lucky enough to fish with, nearly all of them/us simply do not fish with hard lures like the ones above, and I wonder either if we have missed a pretty obvious trick, or otherwise if they simply don’t work that well on our bass. I love playing around with stuff and I can’t wait to put these lures in front of fish come spring, indeed I wonder if the quieter, more subtle approach that these lures come at the bass with might work well in the early season?

And of course, it’s a monster game of rugby tomorrow. England v Ireland. Dare we English rugby supporters begin to dream once more, or will our hopes yet again be dashed? Have a good weekend and I sincerely hope that your own cabin fever has not reached the proportions that mine has!