Fishing with surface lures
  |  First Published: June 2012

Lure fishing has exploded over the past few years. There are so many different lures for so many different fishing styles. One particular kind of fishing lure are surface lures.

Surface lures have to be one of the most exciting ways to target fish, especially watching the fish basically jump out of the water to smash the lure! There are many different styles of lures that are made to bloop, walk or skip across the surface and it is essential to have the ‘know how’ when using them.

Surface lures are made to imitate a fleeing baitfish, prawns, certain bugs, or even mice, making disturbance across the surface of the water. There are many fish out there that will be tempted to take a natural looking surface lure.

These lures have been most commonly used for pelagic species such as trevally, which is a thrilling experience when the lure gets taken. Fishing with surface lures is now becoming more and more popular with species such as bass, bream, and even the aggressive whiting.

The most commonly known surface lure is a popper, which have a cupped face at the front, causing water to be pushed and splashed out around the popper upon retrieval. The rule when popper fishing is: the larger the popper, the more aggressive the retrieve.

When worked correctly, poppers will make a splashing, blooping sound leaving a bubble trail in its path when retrieved, imitating baitfish jumping out of the water, which fish cannot resist.

Another type of surface lure is a stickbait, which are also known as ‘walk the dog’ surface lures. These lures are a lot of fun to use, although they will not make the bloop or splash that poppers generally make. These lures, when worked with a constant downwards, twitch and pause action of the rod tip, will tend to dart from side to side. Because of the way they are made, they look exactly like a prawn or baitfish being spooked on the surface.

How to Use Them

It is important to know how to use surface lures when targeting different species. Bream, bass and whiting can still be aggressive enough to take a natural looking lure, but can be spooked fairly easily. Fishing with surface lures around early morning or afternoon are the best times, this is when you’ll see fish occasionally hitting the surface.

Casting accurately, with a slow double twitch and pause retrieve around structure for bream, will have you fishing in the hot spot. Bream will usually feed on small baitfish, bugs, and prawns. Having a popper in a prawn type colour is the most effective method; always match the hatch.

Bass are similar to bream in that they will feed on many bugs and baitfish, including cicadas. A favourite on the list includes a natural coloured cicada popper, using many retrieves. Casting around weed beds and fallen trees will get you decent fish. Lures around 40-50mm are great for these fish.

Whiting on the other hand will take smaller poppers and stickbaits. They are becoming more and more popular on many different style surface lures. Whiting will usually feed on small baitfish and prawns, so matching the hatch is important again.

The best way to target whiting is probably using small, clear coloured poppers. Casting them around shallow sand and weed banks will get you those aggressive elbow slapper whiting! When prawns are spooked they will jump across the surface, so using a constant twitching retrieve will imitate them perfectly and work well. Lighter lines are better for these fish, since they will not be spooked.

Surface luring for fish like trevally and tailor can be a different experience; they will smash lures off the surface with a lot of power and put up an awesome fight. Many anglers will consider tailor as by-catch when chasing trevally most of the time. Again, fishing early morning and afternoon is best for these fish.

Using lures with rattles inside them can attract the whole school to smash your lure. When on a boat, it is easy to follow a school around, watching them boiling up on the surface, annihilating baitfish and prawns! If not on a boat, you can still have a good chance of getting good hits from close to the shoreline.

These fish will take small to medium sized lures. But using larger lures can attract the big trevally and tailor. Good lures to use are River2Sea poppers and Storm Chug Bugs, which make an effective loud bloop and rattle on the surface. OSP Bent Minnows are great stickbaits to use; they are new style lures and are awesome to fish with. Using around 8-10lb main line, and a heavier 12-15lb leader should prevent bust-offs.

Fishing with surface lures is a great and exciting way to fish. It seems they are becoming more and more popular each year. There are a wide variety of fish that will take a well presented surface lure, which makes using them such awesome fun!

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