OK, so let's get the giggling out of the way !! I can picture various friends of mine reading this blog post title, laughing until they cry, and then sending me some mildly abusive emails. Henry, finesse ? Got to be joking right ? But I know what I need to do in my lure fishing - I need to learn more and more about the lighter, more subtle side of things. There is no getting away from the fact that shiny, rattling hard plastic lures have almost instant appeal to somebody (weak) like me. I can think of all manner of fishing "problems" that can successfully be overcome via any number of different hard lures miraculously finding their way into my expanding lure box, but the simple fact is that I know that I need to work more on becoming a more rounded lure angler.
There's a whole world of lure fishing out there to be enjoyed, and if this requires me to try and find more of my inner "finesse", then so be it. Go back a few years and think about what might have been the accepted species that we could catch on lures here in northern European waters, and then look at things now. Who on earth would have ever thought we would be reading something like the outstanding guide to deliberately targeting wrasse with soft plastic lures - check here. Honestly, this stuff is just mind-blowing. I even crossed the Tamar back into Plymouth the other night to go and meet/photograph a bunch of guys who were doing this ultra light lure fishing. This lure fishing thing I suppose is so appealing partly because there are so many anglers challenging the accepted ways of doing things, and by doing this they are catching a lot of fish. Who can argue with that ? And the one thing I am hearing more and more is that by learning to lure fish for all manner of different species, their own bass fishing tends to improve exponentially - mostly I am surmising due to the increased "feel" that is required and then naturally brought into their bass fishing. Who would not want that to happen ?
Whatever the case, I can't get away from the fact that banging out hard lures off the rocks is something that turns me on hugely. The excitement I get say from heading over to Ireland to intensively lure fish with a few mates is off the scale, and I actively look forward to getting out on the rocks and getting right in amongst it. And when it works, it works big time. Plus of course I have a thing for nice shiny bass lures. But more and more over the last few years I have witnessed how effective it can be to scale down and fish with soft plastics. I feel comfortable in various but admittedly limited situations when I turn to plastics, but in reality I know that there are any number of other times when I should be getting the plastics out a whole lot more and fishing with a load more finesse than I once believed I might be capable of. I am honest enough with myself to be able to admit to my shortcomings as an angler (and there are many), and I spend enough time with and around all manner of different kinds of fishermen all around the world to get a very broad take on the whole thing.
OK, so there are of course plenty of situations where you and I might go bass fishing where the whole "finesse" thing most likely ain't going to cut it. I can think of a few guys I know for example who tend to take most of their fish at range, and they need relatively powerful rods and various hard lures to be able to get at the fish. It has happened to me plenty of times, and especially when conditions are on the edge and you need something to get out there and stay stable. But on the flipside I would also argue that all of us as anglers are never going to stop learning about lure fishing, and I can't help but think that sometimes we convince ourselves that there is only one single approach to a certain set of variables - when there could well be another more effective approach that might catch us a few more fish. Who knows until you try it out ? Personally I am very interested in learning more and more about how to adapt to different situations.
Now of course not all plastics are "finesse". That is not the point at all, and I am not remotely in favour of fishing light just for fishing light's sake. Use the most gear you can to get the fish in nice and fast is my personal belief. But you can't get away from the increasing number of lure anglers who are scaling down and using the smaller, lighter soft lures in ways that might not really have been practised a lot before. And they are catching fish. Not everybody is fishing locations or conditions that are that conducive to a more "finesse" kind of approach, but then in another few years time say, will we be approaching these sorts of situations with a different cap on ? One thing I have no time for at all is this kind of thing - "but this is the only way to fish my spot and nothing else really works" kind of thing. Absolute garbage. I think I might scream if I ever hear the argument "but you need heavier gear to land the bass I am hooking" again. Absolute garbage. Bass are awesome, but there is not a bass out there that could not be landed on the lightest gear that any of us might fish - if you had a "clean" fight in open water with no current or structure about. Think about it. It's the location, conditions and methods we need to fish that tend to dictate the gear we use - and not the fish. Bass, wrasse, pollack etc. - they ain't giant trevally. I know what I need to do, and I intend to keep on trying to improve as an angler..........