Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

Have you ever caught a bass that’s smaller than the lure you caught it on?

Big lures for big bass? Logic might say so, but wow these fish never cease to amaze me with their aggression levels - cold water fish might not generally fight as powerfully as warmer water fish, but I’d put bass up there as one of the classic predatory fish, and sometimes the sheer brazen balls on them just makes me laugh. As much as I am sure we all catch only monster bass (in our dreams?), I am pretty positive that you may well have gone and hooked a few tiddlers in your time - but have you ever caught a bass that’s smaller than the lure you caught it on? Well I have, on Wednesday afternoon in fact, and the little fella left a real impression on me………

I don’t tend to lure fish for bass very much with lures much bigger than say 140mm, but I keep hearing about using bigger lures in autumn especially, and I keep meaning to give it a go. From my limited experience with the larger Japanese hard lures I don’t tend to subscribe to bigger lures automatically giving more distance, indeed I firmly believe that many lures from a range where there are various sizes available in fact seem to have a kind of optimum size as regards distance - accepting of course that distance is never everything in bass fishing. But what about a bigger lure sometimes having more eat-me appeal to bass? Look at the mouth on a bass and it’s pretty obvious that they can chow some big prey if they need to.

Anyway, it seems that autumn has finally hit us. From last Sunday afternoon spent on the beach with my wife and girls (shorts, t-shirts, girls swimming and rockpooling for hours etc., about as good as life can get if you ask me) to the distinctly autumnal weather that is now hitting us down here in the south west - it ain’t remotely cold yet, but the whole feel is very different now. Bass time. Time to have a play with some bigger lures and see if I can’t nail some decent fish.

The two biggest hard lures I own are a DUO Tide Minnow Slim 175 (175mm long) and a Daiwa Shoreline Shiner SL17 (170mm long), and they happen to fit in one of those Snowbee washable lure boxes that has the compartments running lengthways. Anyway, second chuck with the big Daiwa lure and a miserable little swine of a garfish jumped on the end. I was using a brand new Major Craft N-One 9’6’’ 15-42g lure rod for the first time, and whilst the rod is very interesting indeed (so, so easy to wind up and get bigger lures out there) and the lure looks lovely in the water, I don’t reckon it’s going further than the smaller Daiwa Shoreline Shiner SL14 (140mm long) if you go and catch it just right. This isn’t a criticism of the lure, because I know what a reputation the SL17 has in Spain, Portugal etc., rather it’s me not having much experience with the larger lures.

Anyway, one lure that I have owned for a while but given virtually no water time to is the larger IMA Komomo SF-145 (145mm long, 26g), and I had stuffed this in that Snowbee lure box as well. Time to give it a workout. Mark and I have got some absolutely classic bass fishing conditions on the last of the ebb tide, indeed it’s looking that good I would consider throwing my gear in the tide if we didn’t at least see a sign of a bass. I must admit to being surprised at how well the larger SF-145 can cast, but it does seem critical with these larger lures that you hit them just right to get them flying out straight, with none of that tail-wobble that kills distance. This thing is flying - when I get it right.

A few casts later and blow me down if a fish doesn’t go and jump on the end of the SF-145. Now it’s pretty obvious that line ain’t going to start pouring off my spinning reel, but when I get the bass in after a long and exhausting battle (ok, perhaps not), I have to admit to a degree of fascination that the fish is actually a little smaller than the lure. I didn’t photograph it as I wanted to get it straight back, but I am not exaggerating here - seriously, the little bass was smaller than the 145mm long IMA Komomo SF-145 lure. How’s that for aggression levels? Big mouth or not, how on earth did that micro-bass ever think that it was going to swallow that lure? A case of instinct overriding any sense of logic I must assume.

Anyway, we caught a bunch more bass after changing over to surface lures - does lure fishing get more fun? I am pretty sure that I have never cast my Tackle House Vulture surface lure (120mm, 20g) on anything other than a lure rod rated around the 10-30g mark, but I don’t recall ever seeing it fly out so far as it was doing on this new, heavier rated 15-42g 9’6’’ N-One. I kept seeing new braid on my reel, put it that way. Once I had sorted out the timing of the rod and also the right drop-length that the Vulture seemed to want - shorter than I initially thought - holy cow it was flying, but to be honest the bass we caught were taken at all ranges. Nothing of any great size, and whilst the light was perfect for bass fishing but pants for photography, what left the greatest impression on me from those hugely enjoyable few hours was that tiny little bass which was smaller than the lure. Big lures for big bass?