It's amazing what you learn.......
My head is fit to burst with all the stuff that I have learnt about during these last couple of trips over to Ireland and Jersey, indeed it continues to amaze me firstly how little we actually know, and secondly how fast it is possible to adapt to new methods and techniques. But only if you have an open mind. Anglers who remain resistant to adaptation and change are missing out on so much in my opinion.
I took a bunch of "new" lure rods, lines, reels and even lures over to Ireland for testing and evaluation purposes. Nothing beats relentlessly using and abusing fishing gear for days on end, and pretty quickly I began to really, really like some of the bits and pieces, and a few items I thought might be perfect in fact turned out not to be. It's all very well waggling a rod, spinning a reel handle, or feeling a new line, but actually fishing with the stuff is the important thing. Obviously we can't all do that very easily, and of course we rely on various opinions, reviews and snippets of information we can get our hands on. I am the same, but through my work I do often get my hands on different bits of gear to try out, and I would hope that by now you have come to the opinion that I say it how I see it. The gear we like and don't like is a personal thing, but at least I am learning all the time about what seems to cut it in the rapidly evolving world of lure fishing. More to come in due course.............
We caught bass on all kinds of different lures over in Ireland, but the lure of the week for me (note me, not us) had to be the IMA Popkey. We fished a spot a few times where we had no real choice but to use surface lures - if you ever end up fishing this particular mark then you will instantly see what I am on about. I liked the IMA Popkey the moment I first saw it, and with the sheer numbers of fish we saw moving around on our first morning, I saw this as the time to start really seeing what it might be able to do. It's all very well chopping and changing lures when the fish aren't playing ball, but the time for me to actually experiment is when the fish are defintely there - as we could see plain as day (see my blog post here).
OK, so by "playing" around with lures, of course one risks catching less fish, but I have never been that interested in catching nothing but "numbers" of fish. Fishing for me is about the whole experience. There are a few reasons that I really fell in love with this IMA Popkey very quickly - it casts very, very well. Not the out and out distance of the freaky-long Xorus Patchinko, but the Popkey does fly. It also lands softly and does not sink much when it actually first hits the water at the end of the cast. Important for where we were fishing. The IMA Popkey is a "quiet" surface lure, in that there is no internal rattle to transmit a load of extra sound down through the water. Does this make much difference ? I have no real idea, but the lure just works really well.
You can of course work the IMA Popkey virtually as fast as you like, but I found very quickly that on the various times I used it over in Ireland that slowing it right down and working it very deliberately was the key. Granted, that is not always going to be the case, but the Popkey just seems to come "alive" a whole lot more when you the angler are more deliberate. Walk it, slide it, pop it, this is one versatile surface lure. You can get a loose idea of the lure's action by looking here. As I said in my first blog post from the Irish trip, I did in fact find that first morning in particular that the fish seemed to be keen on swirling behind the lure, but then they would actually hit it when you let it go static after that first swirl. Bang. Gets you every single time. Now a surface lure that is not going to leave my "go to" box. I can't tell you much about colours, because I only have the lure in the colour you can see above, but I know that Graham smashed a load of fish on another colour. How much does colour actually matter ?
Other lures that worked really well were the MegaBass Zonk 120 Gataride. Yes, I know the bib is a weak point, and yes, I did smash one when I was over there, but the simple fact is that this lure just keeps on slaying bass. I know of no other shallow diving minnow/jerkbait that casts so well, plus it is just incredibly stable, and the Gataride just smashes fish big time. Ask Cian above how much he rates this bass lure - better still, drop in and see him in his new tackle shop in Tramore and watch his eyes roll around in his head when you say the words "Zonk Gataride". You can contact Cian here, plus make sure to keep an eye on his new blog here. The Irish lads we know are doing well on the ultra-shallow swimming IMA Komomo II as well, and Andy took a nice fish on the MegaBass X140SW, as well as the DUO Tide Minnow Surf 135 (killer in rougher conditions).
Andy caught a lot of bass last week on all manner of different lures, but I know he would put the Xorus Frosty and the Z-Claw right up there on his successful surface lures list. I also took some fish on the IMA Skimmer surface lure (casts like a bullet, good for calm conditions, I would love to see the Skimmer "Salt" version - slightly heavier and I presume a little more stable into the bargain ?).
We did also fish a couple of locations where soft plastics reigned supreme, indeed I can't wait to get back there when there is less weed about and really go to town with the plastics. At night we well - I reckon the results could be mindblowing. Much as I would have loved to "Czech nymph" or literally bump the bottom with MegaBass XLayers, the weed would not let us, so Andy and I turned over to retrieving various shads/paddletails like the MegaBass Spindleworm, the Delalande GT shad, the Xorus Rolling Shad, and the Sawamura One'up shad. We fished these on jig heads that allowed us to literally retrieve them rather than bounce them up and down. I have soooo much to learn about this !!
One particular soft plastic that I was determined to catch fish on was the Sakura Snoop - take a look at it and I am sure you will immediately where the "ideas" for it have come from !!, but it is much cheaper than an XLayer and I think this is potentially really important. I know of no other plastic that kills as regularly as the MegaBass Xlayer, but there is also no way around the fact that they ain't exactly cheap. This has to put a percentage of anglers off using a soft plastic like this, but the Sakura Snoop is usually around half the price. Since the weed prevented us from fishing these kinds of plastics how we would have liked, I took to giving the Sakura Snoop a few decent goes out on the open coast in a few likely looking pollack gullies. And it worked really well. I can't compare it to anything, but the pollack were very keen on it indeed. One for the future ?
I have just put a gallery of photos up from my trip over to Jersey the other day - have a look here.