Hard bodied lures have been around since the dawn of fishing time. From roughly, hand carved pieces of timber to the extravagant and eye dazzling models produced today hard bodies have continually found their way into the tackle boxes of many anglers and for good reason. These fantastic lures will account for a large variety of fish species and are quite versatile being able to be either cast or trolled. Fishing with hard bodied lures can be an extremely productive technique providing four key rules are followed.
1 – The right lure is selected – Selecting the right hard bodied lure requires some knowledge from the angler regarding what it will be used for and where? Example whilst targeting small to medium sized barramundi in dirty water, a small, 10 – 15cm, black and gold hard bodied lure with a rattle might be selected. Where as if chasing larger barra in cleaner ,salty water, a hard body that is larger and brighter in colouration with no rattle may be required. Knowing how deep a lure will swim is also crucial as is the required swimming speed of the lure as it is trolled. This is generally marked on the lure itself or the box it is presented in. Most estuary and demersal fish species prefer lures that swim as close to the sea floor or structure as possible. There fore selecting a hard bodied lure with a diving depth of around 3 – 4 meters would be ideal for fishing an area with water depths averaging around the five meter mark. Using a hard body with a similar diving depth in an area where the water is only 1 – 2 meters deep would cause the lure to constantly snag on any rough bottom structure present and would not be practical. Areas of bare sand can be fished by using lures with diving capabilities slightly deeper than the waters depth and this is a very popular technique for targeting ambush species such as the humble flathead. Fishing with hard bodied lures with diving depths shallower than the water they are being used in is ideal for targeting fish species that hunt their prey close to or on top of the water surface. 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, hard bodied lure a long distance is quite difficult, especially on bait cast or overhead tackle. The swimming depth of a hard bodied lure is generally determined by the size and angle of its bib. Example the larger and shallower the angle of the lues bib, the deeper it will then swim and of coarse vice versa.
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 hard bodies 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. Hard bodied lures will swim deeper 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 hard bodies 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 hard bodies 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. Hard bodied lures this size and larger may also be trolled on light to medium class, lever drag, trolling outfits. These outfits are generally loaded with brightly coloured nylon lines to aid anglers in not only seeing the lines better but also provides a stretch factor which is important when trolling for high speed pelagic species such as mackerel and tuna. Braided lines may also be used for trolling provided a rod length or two of nylon or fluoro carbon leader is attached to the braided main line via a bimmini twist double and albrite knot. The reels drag must also be backed down so line will freely flow from the reel under no real pressure during a strike. Just enough drag to prevent line from feeding from the reel will suffice. Larger, deep diving, hard bodies need to be trolled on heavier outfits as the drag created by the large, wide bib of these larger, deep diving models is incredibly powerful. Many anglers in fact have been fooled into thinking they are still pulling in their fish even once it has fallen off only to find it is the resistance of the lures bib they have been fighting against! Medium to large, lever drag, trolling outfits or spin combos are generally used for trolling these larger models. Large 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reels loaded with medium to heavy 30 – 80lb braided or gel spun lines attached to heavy nylon or fluoro carbon leaders of around 80 – 150lb in breaking strain are preferred with lever drag trolling out fits generally being loaded with brightly coloured nylon lines of between 15 – 37kg in breaking strain. Both fibreglass and graphite rods may be used whilst trolling large, deep diving, hard bodies as angler fatigue is no longer a factor. These larger out fits may be securely positioned into rod holders located in the boats gunwales or transom leaving the angler to relax and enjoy the surroundings whilst waiting for a strike.
3 – The lure is cast into the correct location – Making sure the fish can see your lure by casting it into or trolling it past the correct location is most important. Casting hard bodied lures hard up against or out over various structures is always a great technique for fishing with hard bodied minnow lures as is trolling them over structure or through and around current lines and bait schools. There are generally three variations of hard bodied minnow lure, floating, sinking and neutrally buoyant. All these variations are designed to stay in the strike zone for longer periods of time and when fished correctly are capable of producing amazing results!
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 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. The lure may also be made to swim shallower if the rod tip is raised higher. Attaching most lures with either a wire clip or loop knot will ensure they swim to their full capabilities! Hard bodied minnow lures that are designed to float can be successfully retrieved through areas with heavy structure present by allowing the lure to float back off any structure it may come into contact with. Keeping the rod tip pointed slightly forward whilst trolling and dropping it back quickly to create slack line once structure is felt will allow lures to float up and away from most snaggy obstacles. This is referred to as driving a lure through a snag!
There are generally three types of retrieve used in conjunction with hard bodied lures –
– The slow roll, which is a simple slow wind of the reels handle whilst the rod tip is pointed low to the water. This retrieve imparts a slow, weakened swimming action into the lure and is a great retrieve when used in conjunction with a few pauses mixed in.
– The fast burn, is a retrieve used to fire up fish and is a matter of lowering the rod tip towards the water and winding the reels handle as fast as you’re lure will allow. This exhilarating retrieve imparts a fleeing, panicked bait fish action 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, pausing action of a small bait fish that is cautiously making its way along to avoid detection. This is the secret of this retrieve. 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. Hard bodied lures that are neutrally buoyant are generally used for this technique with floating models also used to great success.
Matching the right lure to the right rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod and reel to use in conjunction with your hard bodied lure is extremely important as the wrong combination will only result in frustration and failure.
Heres a rough guide of what sized hard bodied 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.
Heres a rough guide of what sized hard bodied lures to use with which rod and reel outfits when trolling –
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.