Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

I can’t believe how excited I am getting these days about what are essentially “straight sticks” that do so little in the water, but to me needlefish are changing our bass fishing for the better

So much of this lure fishing stuff and whether you accept and adopt different methods and techniques depends on timing to me - when and where you are if you like in your lure fishing progression or curve, and whether you are far enough along to accept for example that you don’t always need lures that are doing a whole heap of stuff in the water to catch bass. It took me a long time to accept this with some of the soft plastics I use so much now, it then took another leap of faith to accept catching bass at night on lures, and then it took another “jump” as such to end up feeling so supremely confident chucking needlefish out at night……………

Which let’s face it are doing next to nothing in or indeed sort of on top of the water depending on how fast you wind a needlefish in, and whilst I would urge you to search “guest blog post” via the search facility on this blog and read Keith White’s outstanding and very generous guest articles on bass fishing with needlefish, I find it mightily reassuring that if you are in the right place at the right time (the whole crux of fishing, surely?) then whacking out a straight stick kind of hard or indeed soft lure and doing nothing more than winding it straight back in seems to be an increasingly deadly way of catching bass at night especially.

I don’t know about you, but this lack of any exaggerated action on a lure such as a needlefish or indeed a white senko or DoLive Stick wound in at night sure gets me thinking about how bass so often seem so willing to respond to lures that aren’t in fact doing very much. I’ve got a load of hard lures sitting here that do any number of things in the water when you wind them in, but as much as I will continue to turn to them for a lot of my bass fishing, I feel so confident in calmer and quieter conditions these days when my lure is in fact doing very little.

If we take out a few very forward-thinking bass anglers who have been using needlefish for many years now, it continues to fascinate me how we can keep on learning so much about our bass fishing and how we might better approach it. Never in a million years when I was eying up all manner of shiny and good looking hard lures did I ever think I’d end up obsessing about straight bits of wood and plastic that aren’t remotely exciting or sexy looking - but I am.


I also find it absolutely bloody brilliant that there are more and more anglers disappearing into their sheds and actually making their own needlefish which they then go out and catch on. Hell, I used to get an incredible buzz collecting my own bait and catching on it, so I can imagine how exciting it is to create your own lure and catch on it, but with my well documented lack of DIY skills I shall be leaving this side of fishing well alone! I fancy not losing my fingers or hands or arms or ending up with another DIY disaster related bill. It staggers me that an angler can make something as professional as the needlefish above for example, with a big thanks to this kind soul. 

A year or two ago and I’d have struggled to point you in the direction of places where you might buy a few needlefish, but times are a changing and I thought a directory of sorts of off the shelf needlefish that are available to the likes of you and I might help a few of you out……………….


I bought a couple of the 180mm/28g Yankee Lures needlefish when I was over in the US at a striped bass show, but on their stand they didn’t have any of the slightly smaller ones. Well I got a bit of a shock to find that there is now a UK stockist of these plastic (ABS?), long-casting needlefish, so obviously I have ordered a couple of the smaller 150mm/21g size to see how they might do for me. How could I not?! There is also a great big 195mm/42g version as well. I don’t know what the hooks are like on the smaller 150mm/21g size yet, but I changed those heavy duty trebles over to lighter hooks on the two 180mm/28g needlefish that I bought in the US (amendment - my 150mm/21g Yankee Lures have just arrived, damn they look nice, but change the hooks that come with them, they are crap! Blunt, huge barbs, and poor quality metal).


Jim’s Lures are handmade here in the UK, and whilst they are not particularly cheap and do not come rigged with hooks or split rings, damn these things catch bass! I know that Marc over at the excellent South Devon Bass Guide service loves Jim’s Lures as well. I have found that some of his designs cast better than others, but they just seem to catch fish.


What technically is or is not a needlefish? I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter in my mind, and whilst it was fascinating to hear from John Quinlan over in Ireland that his most successful two guide lures of 2018 were the OSP Dolive Stick in the 6’’ size and also the 19g Savage Gear Line-Thru Sandeel (perfect for a lot of the surf based fishing he will end up doing through the course of a season with his clients, more to come), I also find it really interesting to hear of more and more anglers doing well with the different sizes of Line-Thru Sandeels at night for bass - fished like a needlefish, i.e. whacked out and wound straight in. Does it need to get much more complicated than that? Right time and right place notwithstanding of course.


I really like those simple, plastic Spofford’s Lures needlefish that you can find here, but I am not sure that they have remotely caught on here in the UK. Simple bits of plastic that cast like bullets and catch bass. 


And I have only just noticed that those Lurefishingforbass.co.uk purveyors of fine filth are doing Super Strike needlefish here in the UK. I did a Google search for these lures this morning and hey presto like a shot of something illegal to a junkie the link popped up and spoke to me! I affiliate link with this website but I still struggle to keep up with the new gear they keep getting in, and please read my disclaimer at the bottom of this blog post. It has always struck with me how reverently so many of the striped bass lads talk about Super Strike lures.


Is the Westin Kongestobis a kind of needlefish? I am sure some would argue against this, but it sure can work like a needlefish does in my eyes - whack it out and wind it and it catches bass. For sure you need to work it a little faster over shallow ground because of how it can sink relatively quickly, but it’s essentially a straight stick of a hard lure that doesn’t do very much yet it catches fish. 


If there are more off the shelf needlefish that I should be aware of here in the UK then please let me know. Help me abuse my wallet even more! If I take that selection above and compare it to what was available only a year or so ago I reckon it’s an interesting development. And then you’ve got a magician like Hendrik Strydom who you can contact through Facebook who handmakes and sells wooden lures for anglers. I bought a couple of needlefish off Hendrik and they are works of art which also catch bass, indeed the lures are so good looking that I’d be sorely tempted to commission a range to frame up for my office wall.

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