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It’s the vibe! - Metal, plastic or squishy, all types of these lipless lures seem to catch fish
  |  First Published: May 2013



The names explain the lures quite aptly. They can be called anything from lipless cranks to bibless minnows, vibration baits or even just vibes, but no matter what you call them, their fish-catching ability speaks for itself.

They catch a host of species across Australia and the world and it seems there are very few fish that vibes can’t catch.

You can catch fish by simply throwing them out and winding them in. While this may be very effective, it’s certainly not the only way to fish vibes.

The effectiveness of these lures is definitely due to their versatility. They can be used in so many different ways to catch a host of Australian species so let’s take a look at some and the techniques that make them so good.

HISTORY

Lipless lures have certainly come a long way since Cotton Cordell invented them in America back in the 1950s.

His Rattling Spot has been popular in this country for all of 30 years now, especially up north, and Spots still catch their fair share of Australian fish.

This model proved a great stepping-stone and many lure manufacturers have refined the shape and the balance, altered the materials to make it vibrate differently or to be more appealing to fish and have modified the noise levels the lure makes.

Plastic vibes were always something that got a run on the odd occasion, but it really wasn’t until the Jackall TN60 came along that their popularity spread massively throughout the country.

Subsequently other plastic vibes that are exceptional fish catchers overseas have found their way here.

Lures like the Jackall TN60 and the Imakatsu Piranha come with varying numbers and sizes of rattles made from various materials, producing noise from intensely loud to a mild single soft throb, or even silent.

It really does pay to have a few variations of your favourite plastic vibe to suit the conditions.

Silent vibes are becoming more popular in fisheries that suffer from a lot of angling pressure and they are proving to be deadly additions to the lipless crankbait stable.

Soft vibes are made from a type of pliable plastic material that can take a lot of punishment. They offer the fish a natural feel, subtle vibration and lifelike movement in the water. Lures like the Jackall Mask Vibe or Jackall Tranzam command a lot of respect from most lure fishos because of the numbers of fish they catch.

These lures originally started their popularity in the dams targeting bass, but soon found their way into other fisheries- like snapper, threadfin and barra. As with most other vibes there are not many fish that won’t eat the soft version.

METALS

Metal vibration lures seemed to fly under the radar somewhat until they surfaced a few years ago to dominate the bream tournament fishing scene. Since then they have become exceptionally popular across Australia on a host of species.

TT Switchblades, Ecogear VX blades and many others catch their fair share of fish every year and a variety of sizes have found their way into our tackle boxes. They are now just as popular offshore as they are in the dams and rivers.

USE YOUR SOUNDER

Probably the most important bit of advice that I can give anyone fishing from a boat with any type of vibe is to use your sounder. If you don’t have one, there will be a bit of trial and error trying to work out where the fish are and what retrieve you need to catch them.

Keep an eye on where the fish are marking up on your sounder. If they are holding tight to the bottom, try a very short and sharp lift with your vibe. Instead of lifting it off the bottom a metre or more, raise the rod tip a mere 15cm before allowing the lure to flutter back to the bottom. That keeps the lure right in their faces.

When the fish are holding tight to the bottom then it may also pay to let the lure sit a bit longer between lifts. The fish may well be lethargic and the pause could give them a bit longer to eat the lure.

Another retrieve to use on these bottom-holding fish is a fast lift with very little pause. This causes the lure to hop erratically at a good speed through the fish and the old dog chasing a cat scenario comes into play.

If the fish doesn’t grab the lure, this fleeing baitfish will get away. This often tempts a few fish when the slower technique fails.

SUSPENDED FISH

If the fish are suspended, with your sounder showing them hanging up off the bottom, retrieving the lure through the fish would be the method of choice.

You can count down your vibe. Cast your lure out and count it down until it hits the bottom and remember the second count. On subsequent casts you can then count it half-way down, three-quarters, etc.

When you do get a bite, remember what your count was and replicate it on the next cast.

You could use a steady, constant retrieve or a constant retrieve interspersed with pauses or tweaks of the rod tip to make the lure dart. Mixing up the retrieve can be a good thing to see what the fish want, but try not to get too carried away because all vibes have a built in action and don’t need a lot of rod action to get them working.

CHANGE LURES

Don’t be afraid to change your lure. When fishing vibes I almost always have a snap clip tied on my leader so I can change lures easily.

If am fishing somewhere new I often start with some sort of vibe because you can cover ground quickly with these lures until you come across fish.

A rattling vibe will quickly tell you wether the fish are active and how aggressively they are feeding. If they shy away from the loud lure, change over to a silent version or even a metal vibe.

Two or more anglers make this easier because they can each use variations and quickly work out what the fish want.

EMULATIONS

Vibration lures can imitate most forms of baitfish or aquatic creatures.

Whether they are hopped or cranked, the standard plastic vibes generally are used as baitfish imitations. Their profiles mimic small baitfish exceptionally well and the action does the rest.

Japanese lure manufacturers put a lot of time and money into getting their lures to swim and behave just right and that is why they are so good at catching fish. The noise and vibration that lure puts out are as close to a real live swimming fish as they can get it.

On a constant, cranking retrieve the lure will be simulating a swimming baitfish; if the fish you are targeting are active this will get them fired up and they will chase it down.

The hopping retrieve definitely simulates a dying baitfish, an easy meal for a predatory fish even though it is not really out there looking for something to eat. When your hopping lure comes past its nose, it simply can’t resist.

The smaller metal vibes mimic small yabbies or even shrimps darting up off the bottom. This is why fish like bream whiting and flathead love them fished this way.

The sharp vibrations that these little lures put out often call a fish from a long way off and the smaller profile denotes an easy meal.

Small blades also work well on a steady retrieve and I often choose a metal vibe over a bibbed minnow when the wind is making casting bibbed minnows difficult. The little metal vibes cut through the air and cast a mile.

When fishing over shallow weedy flats, you can rip the weed off the hooks as you retrieve and by holding the rod tip up, you can work them through really shallow water.

No matter how you fish these lures, they will be able to catch fish. In the right situation they can outperform most other lures.

If you are yet to clip one on, better do it sooner than later.

Facts

With Pic 8

THANKS TO COTTON CORDELL

Carl ‘Cotton’ Cordell Jr, born in 1928 in Benton, Arkansas, is the first person to commercialise metal and plastic lipless lures. In 1954 he produced the metal Gay Blade (pictured and still available) and about four years later the plastic Hot Spot, predecessor of the Rattlin’ Spot. He also manufactured the metal lipless Sonar for Heddon.

Cordell is also credited with inventing the spinnerbait by combining one of his dog-hair banana jigs with a safety pin and a cupped blade from an in-line spinner. And in 1982 Cordell helped Gary Loomis get into business by providing rod equipment, blanks and start-up capital of $2500. – Editor

1

Barra respond exceptionally well to vibes, especially when other lures fail to produce the goods on bottom-hugging fish.

2

Lipless cranks come in a host of different sizes and materials, yet they all seem to have their time and place.

3

This bass jumped on an Imakatsu Piranha 60 fished with small hops – a sound approach when the fish are holding tight to the bottom.

4

This bass ate a Jackall Tranzam hopped erratically along the bottom, triggering a reaction bite.

5

Fishing vibes vertically is often the best method. If you work the lure down your sounder’s transducer cone, you should be able to see the lure hopping up off the bottom. You can thus suit the height of your lift to keep the lure in the fishes’ faces.

6

Javelin like this generally feed around the bottom and because of this will happily scoff a vibe.

7

One of the lures that started it all back in in 1954: The Gay Blade was the brainchild of lure genius Carl ‘Cotton’ Cordell.

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