How to fish with surface and sub – surface lures

 

Surface and sub surface lures are certainly not a new design by any means and have been gracing the tackle boxes of anglers for decades. Primarily used to target fast actioned, pelagic species such as trevally and queen fish these fantastic lures have grown in popularity to the point where they now take the place of many other offerings when targeting an ever broadening list of top quality fish species. There are how ever four key rules which must be followed for success.

 

1 – The right lure is selected – Selecting the right surface or sub surface lure requires some knowledge from the angler regarding what it will be used for and where? For example whilst targeting medium sized tailor and salmon within a short casting distance during calm, windless conditions, a small, light, 10 – 15cm, surface lure with a bright, red, chin and bluish, silver body might be selected. Where as if chasing larger tailor and salmon within a long casting distance in rougher , windier conditions, a surface or sub surface lure that is larger and heavier may be required. Fishing with surface and sub surface lures really gives an angler the chance to imitate the natural action of a fleeing or panic stricken bait fish to perfection and unlike most other lures with a built in action surface and sub surface lures rely on the skill of the angler to produce results. Something most anglers consider to be very rewarding and satisfying! These lures really are ideal for targeting fish species that hunt their prey close to or on top of the water surface and will produce incredible results when used correctly. Size and colour choice is also a key factor when selecting any lure and trying to replicate the exact size, profile and colour of the bait your intended target species is feeding on will increase chances considerably! Most lures on today’s market contain a series of stripes on them, this is designed to mimic the fright stripes often seen on bait fish during predatory situations. The weight of the lure and how far it is able to be cast should also be taken into careful consideration as trying to cast a lightly weighted, surface lures a long distance requires skill and the correct fishing tackle.

 

2 – The lure is used with the correct rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod, reel and line to use in conjunction with your lure choice is extremely important! More often than not casting any lure, small or large, light or heavy will take its toll on the angler eventually. Choosing the wrong outfit as opposed to the right one will not only severely decrease your chances of catching a fish but also frustrate and exhaust you both physically and mentally. The correct fishing outfit should be a shear pleasure to fish with even when not catching. Budget is always the first thing to take into consideration with a good rule always being to spend one amount once! Never buy cheap, flimsy tackle as it will simply not last and eventually let you down when you need it most, generally on a fish of a lifetime! Braided line is generally a must for casting lightly weighted surface and sub surface lures and due to its super thin, ultra low stretch qualities allows anglers to feel much more than they used to with conventional monofilament or nylon fishing lines. Surface and sub surface lures will swim with more action when used in conjunction with braided lines and fluoro carbon leaders! Small 1000 – 2500 class spin reels loaded with ultra light 2 – 6lb braided lines are generally used to throw very small surface lures for species such as bream and whiting etc and when coupled up with light, graphite rods in the 6’6” – 7’ range make incredibly effective fishing tools for targeting an enormous variety of fish species. Larger surface and sub surface lures from 90 – 130mm in length are generally cast on light bait caster styled overhead out fits for short distance accuracy around structure or light to medium spin combos consisting of 4000 – 6000 class spin reels loaded with 20 – 30lb braided or gel spun lines and mounted onto 6’6” – 7’ graphite rods rated from 8 – 15kg for distance casting.

 

3 – The lure is cast into the correct location – Making sure the fish can see your lure by casting it into the correct location is most important. Casting surface and sub surface lures hard up against or out over various structures is always a great technique as is trolling or casting them through and around current lines and bait schools. There are generally three types of surface and sub surface lures, cupped faced poppers or bloopers as they are some times referred to, floating and weighted stick baits and standard poppers. All of these lures will produce incredible results when fished at the correct location in the correct manner! Working out which lures to use when and why is often the fun and exciting part of fishing  and something that keeps us for ever guessing. Quite often a lure that is red hot one day will not work the next and this is the reason successful anglers carry so many. Fast tracking weighted poppers and sub surface stick baits are generally used for casting long distances with rapid retrieves designed to imitate fleeing or panic stricken bait fish and entice strikes from high speed predators such as queen fish, trevally, tuna and mackerel. Floating, cup faced poppers and floating stick baits are designed more for staying in small strike zones for longer and imitating injured or weak bait fish and will generally account for an enormous variety of fish species.

 

4 – The lure is trolled or retrieved correctly – Trolling or retrieving cast lures with a natural and enticing action will increase strike rates considerably. Try to pay attention to the natural behaviour of the bait your intended target species is feeding upon and try to imitate it to perfection. Generally most bait fish have a slow stop, start or fast, erratic, panic stricken swimming motion that when replicated correctly will account for a very large variety of both demersal and pelagic fish species. Imparting action into the lure can be easily achieved by twitching the rod tip during the retrieve or troll. Extra depth may also be achieved by thrusting the rod down into the water whilst trolling or retrieving a cast. Attaching most lures with either a wire clip or loop knot will ensure they swim to their full capabilities! Surface lures that are designed to float can be successfully staled in strike zones for extended periods of time increasing the chances of a strike considerably! Keeping the rod tip pointed high whilst trolling and retrieving will ensure the surface or subsurface lure tracks through the surface of the water column.

There are generally three types of retrieve used in conjunction with surface and sub surface lures –

– The slow roll, which is a simple slow wind of the reels handle whilst  the rod tip is pointed towards the sky. This retrieve imparts a slow, weakened swimming action into the lure and is a great retrieve when used in conjunction with a few twitches and pauses mixed in.

– The fast burn, is a retrieve used to fire up fish and is a matter of elevating the rod tip towards the sky and winding the reels handle as fast as you’re lure will allow. This exhilarating retrieve imparts a fleeing, panicked bait fish action into the lure that most pelagic species find irresistible!

– The twitch and pause, is a retrieve that takes a bit of getting used to and requires a fair amount of co ordination and concentration to master successfully. Try to imagine you are the lure and mimic the stop, start, shimmering action of a small bait fish that is nervously making its way along the surface to avoid detection. Shaking the rod tip continuously whilst turning the handle of the reel slowly will impart this irresistible action into the lure. This is an absolutely deadly retrieve that when used in conjunction with short pauses has proven to produce results when all else fails! Pausing the lure allows it to remain in the strike zone for a much longer period of time and increases the chances of a fish finding it considerably! Most species of fish, especially bream and barramundi will generally take the lure on a pause.

 

Matching the right lure to the right rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod and reel to use in conjunction with your surface or sub surface  lure is extremely important as the wrong combination will only result in frustration and failure.

 

Heres a rough guide of what sized surface or sub surface  lures to use with which rod and reel outfits when casting –

1 Lure size – Ultra small – 15 – 45mm – Rod and reel match – Ultra light 1 – 3kg, 6’6” – 7’ graphite rod and 1000 class spin reel loaded with 2 – 4lb braided or gel spun line.

2 Lure size – Small – 50 – 80mm – Rod and reel match – Light 2 – 5kg, 6’6” – 7’ graphite rod and 2500 class spin reel loaded with 6 – 10lb braided or gel spun line.

3 Lure size – Medium – 80 – 125mm – Rod and reel match – Medium 4 – 8kg, 6’6” graphite rod and 4000 class spin reel loaded with 15 – 20lb braided or gel spun line.

4 Lure size – Large – 150 – 200mm – Rod and reel match – Heavy duty 8 – 15kg, 6’ – 7’  graphite rod and 6000 – 8000 class spin reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braided or gel spun line.

5 Lure size – Extra large – 200mm plus – Rod and reel match – Extra heavy duty 15 – 24kg, 6’ graphite rod and 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reel loaded with 30 – 80lb braided or gel spun line.

 

Surface or sub surface  lures are rarely used when trolling however clever anglers are always developing new and innovative techniques so heres a rough guide for any of you that would like to try –

 

1 Lure size – Ultra small – 15 – 45mm – Rod and reel match – Ultra light 1 – 3kg, 6’ – 6’6” graphite rod and 1000 class spin reel loaded with 2 – 4lb braided or gel spun line.

2 Lure size – Small – 50 – 80mm – Rod and reel match – Light 2 – 5kg, 6’ – 6’6” graphite rod and 2500 class spin reel loaded with 6 – 10lb braided or gel spun line.

3 Lure size – Medium – 80 – 125mm – Rod and reel match – Medium 4 – 8kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 4000 class spin reel or medium sized, bait caster or overhead reel loaded with 15 – 20lb braided or gel spun line.

4 Lure size – Large – 150 – 200mm – Rod and reel match – Heavy duty 8 – 15kg, 5’8” – 6’  graphite or fibreglass rod and 6000 – 8000 class spin reel or small to medium sized, lever drag, overhead reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braided, gel spun or nylon line.

5 Lure size – Extra large – 200mm plus – Rod and reel match – Extra heavy duty 15 – 24kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reel or medium to large sized, lever drag, overhead reel loaded with 30 – 80lb braided, gel spun or nylon line.

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[How to guide]