What lures to start with
If you are considering learning how to fish with artificial baits, and lures, you will find the choices are endless. If you fish for 50 years, you still will find many baits you have not tried, and many more new ones coming out each year. You will also find out that some work, and some just don’t seem to ever catch a fish. So how do you sort through all this mess, and not end up with a tackle box full of baits that are basically useless?
Looking through my tackle boxes you will see more lures from one tackle manufacturer, than all others combined. These lures stand out as clearly recognized leaders in the fishing industry, that have stood the test of time for most of my lifetime. Some are among the first lures I purchased, they are peppered with teeth marks, somewhat worn, and still catch fish the way they did when they were new. They are RAPALA lures.
RAPALA Multi species lures
What is a multi-species lure? Years ago I started fishing an area on the Ohio River, below Pike Island Dam. The area was a mile long stretch of rocks, and held northern pike, smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch, muskies, crappies, walleye, and sauger. All of the above could be caught on a minnow floating rig, or bottom bounce rig. I guess you could say that the minnow was my first multi-species lure. There were several problems with live bait rigs, the current, rocks and snags made them very difficult to use.
On the way to the fishing hole below the dam, there was a gas station that sold bait and tackle. I would stop to get night crawlers, and minnows. On a board behind the counter the owner kept several lures that caught my attention, and one day I started asking questions about them. The old man took one down and slid it across the counter to me. The box said Rapala Original Floating Minnow. The old man just said throw it out and reel it in, and walked off.
I caught a few hundred fish on that lure before loosing it to the rocks, but I was hooked on fishing with artificial lures. I have purchased more than 100 Rapala original minnows and they are still the same now as back then. I have learned a few tricks with them, and have caught many species of fish with the same lures. Along with just throwing it out and reeling it in, try stopping it and let it float to the surface before reeling again. A fast retrieve and then sudden stop will result in vicious strikes. Rapala minnows are best if you retrieve in jerk, jerk, wind motion, keeping the bait moving in a side to side action. You can also add weight by rapping thin solder or lead to the front hook to change the way it tracks through the water.
Stick with a name you can trust
If you a just starting to learn to fish with artificial baits, Rapala will get you started in the right direction. Since it,s introduction in the mid 1930s the floating minnow has been the standard that has been copied more than any other lure. Since that time Rapala has introduced many other lures that do one thing better than any other lure. Simply put they imitate a live fish that game fish love to eat so they catch fish. All can be fished on a straight retrieve, but if you add a little action with a stop and go retrieve, or a series of jerks you will improve your chances. Rapala has many lures in their line these days, and you will find several different lures in my tackle boxes, all with the Rapala name on them. Below I will list a few of my favorites, all are lures I trust to catch more than one species of fish, and do it as well as any other lures on the market today.
Rapala countdown minnow
About the same as the floating minnow, but it sinks. They are great for fishing from 1 to 6 feet deep, and the depth can be controlled by counting 1 second per foot. Just let it sink to the depth you want and start winding. They will catch most species of game fish, and are one of my first choices for smallmouth bass.
One of my all time favorite baits for fishing water 1 foot deep and less. Best fished on short jerks while winding to recover line. Hold onto your rod because strikes can be very aggressive. Will catch most species of game fish, but also excel on as a smallmouth bass offering.
From 1 to 3 feet deep this rapala imitates an injured shad as well as any lure I have ever used. Largemouth bass will smash it, and if your hooks are sharp the bass will hook up most of the time without any effort on your part. Best fished on a stop and go retreive, and most strikes happen just after you stop it. This like most rapalas will catch most species of game fish.
Down to 9 feet deep the shad rap has caught more fish for me than any other lure. They work well with a slow steady retrieve, or a stop and go retrieve. In clear water, or waters that get a lot of fishing pressure they will catch fish when most others will not. I have caught most species of game fish on them including catfish.
Deeper than 9 feet the dives-to series are hard to beat. When fish are holding in deeper water, there are few lures that will out fish a deep diving crank bait. The dives-to series will catch fish as well as any.
The lures listed above are all from a manufacturing company who’s name I have come to know and trust. No one lure will catch all fish in all conditions, but a small collection of the lures listed will give you a good foundation for a system that will catch fish. First learn what the lure is intended to do, depth being the most important consideration. Make sure you give the lure a chance to work, and give your self time to learn what to do. Lures work best once you have confidence that they will work. Having a box full of lures that you have confidence in will catch a lot of fish for you.
Get out and fish often.
Please let me know what you think, leave comments on anything you want me to cover in future posts. Good fishing.