Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Do you ever think about the kind of sound your surface lures make, and does it affect your catch rates?

This blog post is entirely inspired by a short post I read over on the consistently excellent Labrax Squad blog - if you read this blog of mine then it’s always a big thanks from me, but I would urge you to bookmark the Labrax Squad page as well and make sure to read their blog posts. Those Dutch bass junkies seriously know their stuff and I have been lucky enough to meet some of them over the last few years. Anyway, check out a recent Labrax Squad blog post here, but I am hoping the lads don’t mind me copying and pasting the text into this post of mine here (sorry but thank you!). I can’t pretend that the actual kind of sound a surface lure makes has really crossed my mind. Is a rattle simply a rattle, or are all rattles not equal? And what about silent surface lures? Help!

From their blog: “Variety is the spice of life. This saying applies to bass fishing with surface lures as well. The stories of anglers who noticed that different ‘tunes’ from the internal rattle in the lure had effect on their catches are not new. Initially we just used to take note of these accounts – until Jelmer experienced the exact same thing. During my holiday on the French isle of Île de Ré last year, I noticed that I couldn’t persuade the bass to attack my go-to surface lures like the Sammy 110 and Patchinko 100. No matter how perfect the circumstances were, the fish just wouldn’t have these lures that normally always produce bass. It wasn’t until I switched to the IMA Skimmer an hour later, that I had found the key to success. Then attacks on my topwater lure followed, one after the other. At first the penny didn’t drop, but it sure did after having changed surface lures several times. It turned out that all successful lures had a low pitch thumping sound. The ones that didn’t report success were all equipped with a high pitch rattle. You might think this is just a matter of coincidence, but during some more topwater sessions in the next few days I encountered the exact same phenomenon. Sure, bass can be very unpredictable and sometimes have very specific feeding habits. But also think about the fact that a lot of surface lures sound the same. And about how often bass hear that familiar sound. I wouldn’t be surprised if bass become conditioned to more popular sounds and profiles over time. Changing profiles or sounds – high pitch rattle, low pitch one-knocker or even completely silent – could be the key to improving your catches. So be prepared and stuff your tackle boxes with a variety of surface lures!”

If you have noticed this kind of thing and work with it as part of your lure fishing then please tell us more. I am not about to pretend that the specific kind of sound that a surface lure might emit has ever got me thinking much - like you I am sure, I have a few surface lures that I really trust, but I am now going round shaking any surface lure I can find in my possession to try and hear the different sort of sounds they emit. And yes, my wife thinks I am even more tapped than ever! My go to surface lure for a few years now has been the regular (non-Silent version) IMA Salt Skimmer, and of course this little beauty emits a rattling sound when you get it walking. But I speak to a few anglers who just can’t get on with the Skimmer at all, yet they clip on something else and catch. I can’t believe this because I trust the Skimmer so much, but could it be something to do with the specific kind of sound and the bass perhaps not turning on to it at a certain time or in a certain area? Or does it come down to good old confidence again?

Sorry, I don’t mean to get all technical about all this, but that Labrax Squad post made for some interesting reading if you ask me. The regular Xorus Patchinko slays bass for any number of anglers and of course it makes one hell of a racket when you work it (I think in a few specific situations it can be too noisy sometimes), but it’s such a successful lure that there must surely be something to both the action and the sound that this lure gives off which so does it for bass. Then you’ve got a surface lure like the Tackle House Vulture which I know does so well for some anglers (and it’s got a regular place in my lure box), but this missile is essentially silent - sure, it makes a disturbance on the surface when you work it, but there is no internal rattle designed to give off extra sound. How about the Lucky Craft Gunfish which has accounted for so many big bass over the years? I could go on. And what about the surface lures that you’ve tried yet they just don’t seem to work for you?

Have any of you ever had an experience like the one highlighted in that Labrax Squad blog post? What are your thoughts? Nobody is asking for locations etc., so please give us some info and feedback in the comments section below. All this has got me thinking and I am sure I will be spending too much time listening to different surface lure rattles while winter rages and this tedious hole in my leg heals up, but there is one specific fishing session we had a few years ago on the Copper Coast that continues to fry my brain. We absolutely smashed them in some very lively conditions where I was absolutely convinced that a rattly surface lure was the way to go. I stood next to Nick Hart and we caught decent bass one after the other, but it wasn’t until we were forced off the rock and sat around kinda dumbstruck by the fishing we had just experienced that I realised Nick had been using a Silent Skimmer, and there was no difference in size or amount of bass that either of us had just caught. Noisy lures making a difference? I’ll think and think about fishing until the cows come home, but for all my thinking I am also content to know that I’ll never come remotely close to sussing this fishing thing out. We’ll try though. Have a good weekend and my thanks to the Labrax Squad lads for my bouncing brain!