July 4, 2014 Last Updated 2:48 pm

* Bass – Beyond the hype!

It's a crazy angling world... The popularity of lure fishing has raised the stakes and created so much hype. It can be difficult to separate the real deal from the marketing hype...



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There’s nothing like catching!

People have been catching bass on lures for generations, centuries even.  The majority of catches would have been made on rudimentary metal lures and feather-style lures. Each generation of anglers gets advances in technology that helps its lure fishing progress, catch more fish and make fishing more fun. Think of the guy that had the first glass fibre rod. How about the guy that had the first fixed spool casting reel?

Our generation is no different. Many fellows will remember when a metal lure meant a German Sprat, that a plug was a wooden offering from Rapala. Carbon rods are not that old. Braid is a relatively new technology. Advances in plastics are bringing soft lures to new heights. A few years back who would have thought that anglers would be moulding their own soft lures in their sheds?

Sometimes we have the ability of forgetting what was successful before and only embrace the latest fad, the latest trend. We as anglers are being force fed a diet provided by the marketing people who have an interest in lure fishing like never before. Lure fishing sells gear and the more it can be sexed up the more gear sells. Of course there are some genuine innovations and evolutions. The question is how do you avoid the hype and find decent equipment to spend your hard earned cash on.

Lure angling has been a journey for me and along each step of the way I learn new things and try out different tackle and pass the word on to other anglers if the stuff is good. I have been privileged to get some gear for test from time to time. I have always had a bit of a problem with recommending expensive rods and expensive lures to anglers unless the product matches the hype. Unfortunately there are people out there that have the idea that if you buy all the stuff recommended then the fish will follow. Nothing could be further from the truth!

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Take bass for an example. I used not like lure fishing for bass. My preferred method was always live bait. After a few seasons of live baiting it began to “get old”. This happened to coincide with the arrival of fresh thinking from France the USA and Japan. The soft plastic revolution was beginning. The French anglers I met were equipped to a high specification it was my first time seeing a “red rod” or a “yellow rod”. There was no way I could justify spend such money on a rod to try out a technique that I might not even like. I need not have worried. As soon as I began to fish with plastics I cast my floats to one side – I was hooked!

I got my hands on some well priced lure rods. The Sotobo Seika was my first experiment. Looking back the rod was a bit soft for purpose. The Surecatch Salty Spin was and still is one of my favourite rods for all round lure fishing. The Salty 7’ retails at around €40. So here was I catching plenty of bass and was doing it with gear that didn’t cost the earth. Why was this?

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Get beyond the gear hype

It simple really, bass are not all that difficult to catch. If you can locate some bass the presentation of your lure becomes less important once your basic technique is sound. The most difficult part of the equation is finding the bass in the first place and this is where many anglers begin to struggle. If you pick up an angling magazine or read a ezine you will see plenty written about bass and you will see plenty of bass being caught. The writers tend to fall into two categories: They are either anglers that have worked hard at their craft and then decided to write about it or they are anglers that have piggybacked with said same anglers so that they can show bass fishing at its best without the graft that goes beforehand. Obviously it is better to get help and advice from the dedicated angler.

It strikes me that in the “you can have it instantly” world we live in that more and more anglers want the results without having to put in the graft.  Hence you have a creeping trend in bass angling – buy the shiney lure and you will be told where to go and fish it. You go, you catch and now you are a guru! I will say it again: It is always best to check out the track record of the  people that are giving the advice. You can then strip out the “bollocks” and get the help you need to get you over the hump in your lure angling journey.

I am rather suspicious when it comes to reading about gear. I read lots of – Fish boiling, follows, nibbles, swirls, chases, bites, break offs (or bust offs, depending on the writer) and disappointing ends to fishing trips. I have to say I get rather dubious. I don’t tend to see a whole pile of that myself. I tend to be either catching or I am not. Yes of course I have lost bass, but not many. Of course I have seen bass break, swirl even, but not often. Yes I have had bass chase my lure only to turn away at the boat, but it would be normal to connect with a fish soon after and the chase is forgotten. Are the chases, bumps and bangs covering for something? A lack of bass perhaps? Maybe I’m too suspicious or not jingoistic enough!

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On any given day any soft lure will catch

Everybody wants to catch bass on every trip. It is fine to say that it is great being out in nature and that fishing is a complete experience for the senses and catching is incidental. Hello? The object of the exercise to  catch some fish. Sometime I will not catch my target but my day is saved by a few pollack- how bad. I can return to base empty handed on the most beautiful morning ever imagined. I will be happy to have been out fishing. I will be gutted at not achieving my target. If I was not gutted I may as well just go for a spin and be at one with my surroundings! However, I will also be heading out to new areas that I have not fished before. I will often blank. Sometimes I have success and that is great. It is the next trip to that area that is most important – catch fish there a second time and its becoming a mark – Now that’s a buzz!

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Great lure! Worth the Spend?

So how do you get beyond the hype?

Firstly, when you read articles on bass fishing (This one included!) take heed of the author. Have a look elsewhere on line and see if you can establish a track record – Is the author a successful bass angler or just hyping it up? Try to decide whether the article is actually imparting some decent information or just is a decent story laced with some marketing blurb. Decide for yourself if the information being put out is just hyperbole that makes bass fishing seem more technical that it is or is actually worth considering. Enjoy articles for what they are. They keep us sane when the weather is bad. Just don’t treat everything as gospel.  Remember, if the bass are there you will catch them – finding them is the key!  You will probably get better information face to face with experienced anglers than ever from articles. Make contact with experienced guys local to you!

Secondly, begin your journey with affordable gear and experiment. There are lots of high-end rods that are decent tools. Many are blown out of all proportion in terms of price. You will “get” the more high end rods when you have something to compare them against. You will realise that there is not a huge gulf in terms of performance between a €500 rod and a €250 rod. There is not a huge gulf in performance to some €50 rods either. Of course the fittings and eyes make a difference as does the weight of many high end rods but the hype certainly adds to the price too. While the high end rods do not represent the greatest value for money they are lovely to fish with.  Anglers that are hooked by lure fishing will eventually work their way up to medium or high end rods. It is inevitable really, once you like the style you will graduate. Is this because of marketing, because of hype? I don’t think so I think it is more down to the pleasure got from using nice gear irrespective of its price tag.

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Of course it works!

Lure Hype

Lures are hyped even more than rods and reels! There is always going to be the “latest trend” in terms of lures. I tend to use hard plastic lures rarely. Other than surface poppers, which are addictive, I am always happier using soft lures. I think the action of soft lures is far more realistic than the equivalent in hard plastic. I think the seeming never ending procession of hard lures in a rainbow of colours is unbelievable. While there is no doubt that the designers are crafting hard lures that do wonderful things in the water and many anglers are having tremendous success using them more and more anglers are switching over to soft lures.  With soft lures there is there is as much hype. Here’s what I reckon – Any soft lure will catch you a bass. On any given day any lure will work. Without doubt, some lures are better than others. Once you are confident and are using the lure correctly given the conditions  then there is no reason why the lure will not catch fish. Colour can be the difference more than the type of lure. Refine your techniques – can you fish with the various techniques : Jig heads, texas, weedless, weighted weedless, weightless, drop shot etc… Are you proficient at fishing vertically from the boat? You can have whatever lure you want but if the technique is wrong you will not be as successful as you should be.

Are some lures “that good”? Is the Black Minnow a super lure? No doubt the Black Minnow is a good lure. For a time it was my go-to lure. I was catching lots of bass but when I analysed the results it was clear that I was using the lure most often and therefore it was my most successful lure- makes sense really! On my last session I caught more fish than my buddy. He was using a Black Minnow for part of the session. I was not. The Black Minnow is a good lure but is it better than an Illex Nitro Shad? The jury is out but it would not seem so! They both catch bass, they both have a place in my tackle box.

The Fiiish Crazy Sandeel  is currently being hyped at a tremendous rate. I must say it has left me rather nonplussed. Where the Black Minnow was innovative the Sandeel seems like “just another sandeel”. Will it outperform any of the other sandeel imitation? Think of the SavageGear Sandeel, think the Hart Absolut eel, think the Illex Juno Eel or Slim shad, will the Crazy Sandeel outfish these?  It will certainly catch as much fish but really any difference other than that is pure hype!

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Beyond the hype

When you get confident and get to a place where you can catch bass on a regular basis – your expectation is at least matched by the return – then you are well on the way on your bass angling journey. When you can head out and catch fish from marks you have discovered or developed yourself then you are a long way down the road. You will notice that many anglers at that stage of their angling journey begin to recognise the hype. Most are happy to leave the talkers talk and they continue to produce bass and keep their information amongst a close circle of friends. Others get involved and actively rebel against the hype.  Most just move on in their own way.

There is one thing for sure. In the most part of a learning anglers “career” the best thing is to follow your path and ignore the hype if you can. Be honest with the anglers you trust about gear and also catches. You will find that this will be reciprocated and you will learn more than you ever thought possible. You will increase your catch rate and soon you will be able to lap up the hype and maybe even create a bit of your own if you are that way inclined!

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Superbly marketed to the masses!

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