When you fish a lot with lures you not only get better at it but you also develop a suite of favourite lures. In this article we look at my two favourite lures for some of my favourite fish.
I am lucky. I get to fish with some of the best in the business and in some pretty special locations. This exposes me to a massive array of lures and techniques and it’s allowed me to come up with a list of lures that are my favourites or my ‘go to’ lures. It’s a list of lures that will catch you fish.
I’ve decided to break this article up into a few of my favourite species and I’ll list my favourite two lures and where and how to use them. Keep in mind these are my favourites and there are plenty of other lures I use out there just waiting to be swum in a snag or along a sand bank.
And new lures are always coming out and they just might be the next best thing – and that’s us lure junkies’ problem, we just have to have the next best thing, don’t we?
Who doesn’t love catching a decent flathead? No-one I know that’s for sure.
Flathead are pretty simple to catch, but it’s getting the big ones that’s the hard part. Luckily the introduction of an upper limit in Queensland has made the connection (at least in my fishing) to big flathead more common.
My first choice of lure for flathead fishing is a 5” Berkley Gulp Jerkshad rigged on a 1/4oz TT Lures 5/0 jighead. This set up has accounted for heaps of flathead over the last two seasons and even catches flatties in the middle of summer when they’re not supposed to be around.
If I am finding it hard to catch a flatty on the Jerkshad I’ll go straight to a 5” Old Bayside Saltwater Shadlyn from Lindy rigged on the same TT Lures jighead. These have a straighter back, which helps them to glide through the water a bit straighter than the Jerkshad.
I’ll fish both lures over shallow sand flats with weedy margins that are close to deep water. Referring to shallow water I mean casting into water as shallow as 30cm and hopping the plastic back towards the weed and drop-off. As the lure reaches the drop-off, I’ll let it fall down the face in the hope of picking up a flathead and sometimes a bream or snapper.
Finding a couple of favourite jack lures is pretty hard and it seems to change every year, but right at this moment my two favourite jack lures are the Lucky Craft Bevy Shad 75 and the gold Bomber 14A.
I like to fish the Bevy Shad over shallow rock bars or around snags that lie in 60cm to 1.5m of water. The Bevy Shad is a suspending lure and if you upgrade the hooks it sinks and jacks just climb all over it. I have two retrieves with the Bevy Shad. Over shallow rock bars I simply cast it out and wind it in. No fancy twitching of the rod or anything hard like that – just chuck it and wind it. As it bounces over the rocks it darts all over the place so you don’t need to give it extra action. In the snags I get out the bag of tricks and really work the lure hard. I twitch and jiggle the lure hard while trying to keep it near the snag and not retrieve it far.
I love fishing the little Bomber along shallow mangrove fringes as the tide rises. If you think of a mangrove bank getting flooded with the tide, try to fish it when there is 30-60cm of water on the mangrove fringe. This is enough water to hold the jacks, but not enough to push the bait right to the back of the mangroves. Work the Bomber hard for about a metre and then wind it in and cast again. The jacks in this situation will either nail the lure straight away or not at all.
I love catching golden perch on lures, they’re just fat, lazy thugs that smash lures that get too close.
My favourite golden lure is the original No. 2 StumpJumper. I don’t even want to know how many goldens my range of No. 2 Stumpies has caught. In rivers I like to find 4-7ft of water with a bit of current and some big snags and cast the lures past the snags. Twitch them back to the boat and you shouldn’t have to wait too long for a golden perch attack. Goldens love to follow lures before eating them at the side of the boat, so keep the twitching up.
If the StumpJumper isn’t working I’ll go for a Custom Crafted Extractor. These lures are fantastic fish catchers and I wouldn’t get on the water without them in golden country. I use the same retrieve as with the StumpJumper but the Extractor gets just a little deeper. I know I said two lures, but I have to mention the AC Invader and the Oar-Gee Pee-Wee in the same breath or else my conscience wont rest. There you go, just goes to show it’s dangerous having a lure addiction!
Murray cod are an iconic inland native that holds a very special place in my heart. I love everything about them – and they grow to a pretty scary size too!
Casting lures for Murray cod is not that dissimilar to casting lures for goldens. Find some good snags with a bit of current and away you go. Two lures have been standout for me over the years, the AC Invader 90 and the Oar-Gee Plow 80, and it’s pretty hard to pick which one I’d use first – usually it’s the one in easiest reach.
If I am targeting cod, I’ll look for slightly deeper water than when chasing the goldens, somewhere around 8-12ft. I cast as far past the structure as I can to give the lure the time needed to get it right down near the bottom and then start working the lure hard when it approaches the snag. Always give a good cod snag at least 20 casts before deciding there is nothing there. They’re pretty lazy the old cod, so give them a chance to get cranky at your lure.
OK, who is the weirdo who doesn’t like chasing barra? I know there is one of you out there somewhere. Recommending a couple of my favourite barra lures is pretty tough these days with the impoundment scene booming, so I’ll stick to my two favourite river, creek and billabong lures.
Although I love the gold Bomber it’s not my favourite shallow diving barra lure. That belongs to the Leads Lure Hijacker. Unfortunately this lure is a little hard to find and you’ll mostly find it in tackle stores around Cairns. It’s a standard cast out and twitch the living hell out of it in the one spot lure that barra just can’t get enough of. If it’s along a mangrove fringe, over a shallow mud or sand bank, around shallow rock bars or even rocky headlands, this is my first choice lure.
The other lure I really have to have when chasing barra is the C’ultiva Tango Dancer. Sure it may not catch the most fish, but I have the most fun with it. It’s a classic walk the dog surface lure that can also be used with a bob and pause retrieve, which is the most deadly way to use this lure. Drains, shallow snags, billabongs and rock bars are great areas for the Tango Dancer and barra to meet up at the end of your rod.
Just the simple thought of big fingermark bashing it out on the end of the rod is enough to make me forget all about work and wander off into some great memories.
Historically I’d always have confidence chasing fingermark with the Original PrawnStar. It’s caught so many fingermark up north for me it’s impossible for me to travel north without plenty of them. Big, small or mid-sized fingermark love the way a PrawnStar drifts back down to the bottom. Colour doesn’t really matter that much, but I prefer the natural and honey pot colours. The trick with the PrawnStar is to really flick it up hard with the rod and then let it sink back down on slack line. The fingermark smash it to pieces on the drop so keep a wary eye on your line and look for the tell-tale tick in the slack line and set the hook hard.
My last trip up north really highlighted how much plastics and jigheads have come along for fishing offshore reefs. The release of the 7” Berkley Gulp Jerkshad will really test angler’s ability to limit their catch and not catch their limit. And they’re dead simple to fish when rigged on a 3/4-1oz TT Lures jighead. Drop the jig from a drifting boat to the bottom, hop it around with vigorous lifts of the rod and hang on. Most times you’ll get hit on the drop (same as the PrawnStar) so be aware of this and strike at anything that doesn’t feel right. And the 7” Gulp Jerkshad is just that bit bigger and limits the incidental reefy catch of tomato cod, wire netting cod and all sort of other cod, while still giving you a chance of a black jew, coral trout, emperor of any species and much more.
Gotta love those surface busting trevally and the bigger the better. But keeping everything in perspective, I catch far more smaller trevally (under 10kg) than I do bigger trevally and with that in mind my two favourite lures for chasing average trevally are the Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper and the Bill’s Bug popper.
To use the Cotton Cordell, cast it out and retrieve it at a medium pace to keep the tail of the lure in the water and the nose out. This makes it look just like a skipping garfish, and when cast around shallow headlands or rocky outcrops with plenty of current, the trevally just climb all over it. If you get a hit and the trevally misses the lure, don’t speed up or slow down the lure, try to keep it moving like a gar and nine times out of ten the trevally will come back and nail it good and proper.
Bill’s Bugs are one of the great Aussie made lures for trevally. The big cup face traps plenty of air in it and really makes a massive bloop if you work the rod hard. They’re built tough too and I am yet to have one fall apart on me. The Bill’s popper is available in a few sizes and they all work, but the middle sized model is the easiest to use and therefore the pick of the bunch.
Work Bill’s poppers around bommies and rocky outcrops with the current and hang onto your hat because it’s gonna happen! Any bloop of the lure and you really need to be on your game and ready to stop the brutal thug that nailed the popper.
And like the golden perch lures I have to mention, the Halco Roosta Popper is also one of the greats too. In every size the Roosta shines and being made by Halco means this lure will never break – no guarantees on the fish keeping it though!
So there are a few of my favourites that I hope you can track down and take along on your next trip.
Every one of the lures mentioned has provided me with endless hours of fun and pleasure and I hope they will do the same for you.Reads: 2005