In Part One, I began to answer an important question from a reader about “Rapalas” or hard-body lures. The discussion went from the names, colors, attributes, and features of the lures to where to use them to be most effective. This week, let’s discuss various ways to present the lures either casting or trolling so they will catch more fish.
Let’s begin with “floating” hard-body lures that look like baitfish and are used in small rivers or streams. These are most popular (and in truth) most effective when fished through shallow “runs” where fish hide behind rocks and boulders and ambush prey. These lures are very effective under overhanging bushes or trees, or behind cut banks filled with shade and cover.
Stand away from your target and make casts that either allow your lure to float towards you with the current or in a position to bring your lure across the current. The lure should be reeled with an inconsistent cadence, maneuvering it with your rod tip to avoid snags, directing it through areas that look like they could hold fish (behind boulders or rocks, and in pockets of shade).
Keep the rod tip no higher than the 10 o’clock position and jerk straight down when beginning the retrieve. This gets your lures as deep as the bill will allow it to go, and obviously into the strike zone so they look like bait fish swimming by.
Sinking lures are fished exactly the same way as far as the retrieve is concerned. Lures should be jerked straight down with the rod tip a time or two and then reeled, and jerked all the way back. This movement makes it appear that a minnow is in its last stage of dying and the erratic retrieve will definitely attract fish.
When fishing from a boat and on larger, deeper lakes, suspending jerkbaits work best whether trolled or cast and retrieved. If trolling without a downrigger, use any suspending lure you choose and throw it about 50 to 70 feet behind your boat. The lure will stay less than 10 feet deep if trolled at 2 mph so keep the boat in at least 10 feet of water. Last Friday, my wife Jeri, and I trolled jerkbaits in the late afternoon on Flaming Gorge. We caught 15 rainbows in just under 2 hours. Trolling in the fall can be special.
As written in previous columns, I love to cast and retrieve suspending jerkbaits. To maximize results, polarized sunglasses are an absolute must. You can watch your lures as they come through the water and notice “followers,” curious fish that slash passed, circle, or come close to take a good look. With polarized glasses, you will be able to notice that the fish aren’t too excited about a certain color or size. Experiment with other colors and sizes of lures until the fish start to bite.
Again, make a cast, give the lure two or three quick jerks straight down towards the water with the rod tip and then continue with a “reel-pause-reel-jerk-pause-reel” cadence all the way back to the boat. This will allow the fish to “tell you” what they want and how they want it. When you see a fish following or chasing a lure, stop it dead in the water and watch. If the fish circles the lure, “twitch” it once and wait a little longer. If, after 30 seconds or so the fish hasn’t struck, continue the cadence back to the boat.
During the fall, most species of fish turn from eating aquatic insects to minnows as their primary prey. If you are prepared for this move, understand which lures, colors, and sizes to have in your tackle arsenal, you will be ready for some of the best fishing of your life.
Fishing hard-body lures will get better and better until the ramps ice over and you physically can’t get on your favorite Lake. Good luck!