I don’t think that it will come as any major revelation to folks that spend their spare time in the pursuit of game fish that artificial lures are designed with a purpose other than catching fishermen. There is no single lure that will effectively cover every depth of water nor is there a single color that is the end all be all.

Fishermen are forever looking for an edge and a specific lure can provide that advantage. Describing a lure as simply a topwater bait, suspending bait or even just a tail is a little misleading and far too generic for the most serious of anglers. That is more akin to saying that an iron would be a good selection for the golfer’s next shot!

If the catching is very easy and the fish are not finicky, “tails rigged on a quarter ounce head” is enough information to get us in the game. As a rule, however, the only time color and length of plastic are not significant factors is when the trout and redfish are schooling in the late fall. They will literally hit anything that lands in front of them.

The other ten months of the year, the selection is much more critical. The length of the plastic, the color, paddle tail or straight tail….all of these features can make a huge difference on any given day. With the suspending baits the size, color, and depth that they will best fish are all important considerations as well.

Those factors are the reason that so many companies do so well with their own versions of each of those lures. There is always room for another color combination or design that makes the lure more appealing to the fish. I am blessed to have some great sponsors, but if I have to use another company’s lure to put my clients on fish from time to time I will do it. Sponsor support makes life much easier, but satisfied clients pay the bills!

It is almost always a new color that dictates change, but occasionally it is the action that I cannot duplicate with any other lure in the tackle box. There is probably no better example of that than MirrOlure’s Corky. Other companies have tried to dictate the slow erratic fall, but all have failed thus far.

Maximizing the capability of any lure is not only critical, but generally ignored by most anglers. They read about a lure, buy a color they like, throw it a few times and put it back in the box if it doesn’t produce very quickly. Very rarely are there any instructions on the package, but you should at least talk with someone that has done well with the lure before culling it. Find out not only when it is most effective, but the retrieve that makes it the most effective!

Several years ago, I decided that I would fish the Catch V and Catch 2000 rather than the Corky when targeting big trout in the winter. Corkies were easier to lose than to replace and the hard plastic suspending baits worked almost as well fished on the same retrieve at the same depths.

When spring rolled around, I put them away just like I had done with my Corkies in years past. One May morning, Mike Tennian of MirrOlure, changed that mind set and I now fish suspending lures year round. I was struggling to even get a strike on a plastic tail that had been working well when he tied on a Catch V and launched it toward the shoreline.
He then retrieved it so fast that it would break the surface every few feet rather than remain suspended like it does on a slow retrieve. Nine trout later I was trying to mimic the different retrieve. “We fish it this way a lot in Florida,” pointed out Tennian. “You might have a more versatile bait than you think!”

Only last week I was talking with Tal Cowan, the president of TTF, at the Academy store in Beaumont and once again, I was reminded of the real reason for most design changes. The Texas Tackle Factory’s line-up of tails was already very popular with trout and red fishermen and their recent addition of the Hackberry Hustler has attracted even more coastal anglers.
I mentioned that I had done well on a particular color in their Flats Minnow and liked the fact that it not only had good action, but was very durable as well. At the same time, I added that I had not done as well with the Red Killer which appears to simply be a slightly larger version of the same bait.

“Any new mold is a significant investment for us,” stated Cowan. “And the Red Killer was not designed to simply be a larger version of the same lure. The wider body produces a more erratic action on the fall when fished with a lighter head and that alone can make a big difference some days.”

Not surprisingly, I took his advice and caught trout with it two days later when the smaller Sea Shad and Flats Minnow in the same color produced far fewer strikes. The bottom line is that you have to have confidence in whatever you throw, but knowing what your lure will and won’t do can pay huge dividends!