Nuclear fishing
  |  First Published: February 2008

Fish that glow in the dark are probably not a good thing, but what about fishing lures? A lure that glows in the dark sounds like a good idea on paper. It is logical to think that if you are fishing in the dark, a lure which glows must be easier for the fish to see, mustn’t it?

I guess in the real world, things are never quite that simple but there are certainly times when a luminous lure can come in quite handy. But before we go getting too far ahead of ourselves, it’s probably worth clarifying exactly what a luminous lure is and how they work.

what are Luminous lures?

Luminous lures come in many different shapes and sizes, but their one common characteristic is that if they are exposed to light, the pigment in the paint will capture some of that light and reflect it back at a delayed rate. If you take a luminous lure and expose it to direct light and then take it into a dark room it should start to glow a murky green colour.

This is distinctly different from lures that have some form of built-in light powered by a battery or other electrical power sources. These lures have a circuit inside and when the circuit is completed, a light comes on or flashes. These lures are known as illuminated lures not luminous lures, which is distinctly different.

Luminous lures have been around for quite a number of years but despite the obvious advantages they would seem to offer, the fishing community has not really embraced them. Sure, there are places where they have found a bit of a niche, like deep jigging in saltwater for kings, with Sampson fish and the like, but general acceptance seems to have been pretty minimal in this country.

This is partly because most of us go fishing during the day and luminous lures look pretty drab when viewed in broad daylight. The majority are a dirty, off-white colour with just a faint tinge of green. Some have overlapping stripes or contrasting colours but most are finished in what you would hardly call an eye-catching colour scheme. As they say, lures are made to catch fish and painted to catch anglers!

The other thing is that a lot of people still have trouble with the concept of fish taking lures in the dark. If we can’t see very well, surely the fish won’t be able to find the lure in the dark, will they?

The truth is of course, that fish are quite adept at finding lures in the dark. Most have acute eyesight, as well as a whole host of other senses working for them (such as their lateral line) that allows them to locate food simply by the vibrations it produces. If the fish want your lure, they will find it, no matter how dark it is!

Do luminous lures really work?

The good news is that luminous lures do actually work and sometimes they work extremely well. Having caught barra, bass, tarpon and quite a few other species on luminous lures over the years, I know that from first hand experience. Of course, it’s impossible to estimate whether I would have caught the same fish on non-luminous lures.

Black lures can be very successful at night, with lures like the black Jitterbug having achieved cult status in bass fishing circles. This is mainly due to the solid silhouette which black lures produce. At night, fish are often looking up for a feed and a black lure actually stands out pretty well on the surface of the water from the fish’s point of view.

Just to confuse things a bit further, I’ve also caught fish on luminous lures during the daytime. The fact that they glow in the dark was completely irrelevant. Obviously the action of the lure and the way it is presented is still a big part of getting a strike.

I have also heard people say that some fish are scared off by luminous lures. This is a fair assumption as there aren’t too many things out there that glow in the dark and draw attention to them-selves. I guess some fish in certain waterways, which see a lot of fishing pressure, might also be a bit nervous about anything out of the ordinary.

What is the best application?

Apart from deep jigging in the saltwater, the most common use for glow-in-the-dark lures is as surface lures for predatory species like barra, bass and cod. A lot of lures which feature glow-in-the-dark finishes are made for this environment.

One thing I am certain of is that luminous lures are easy to use in the dark. Because they glow, you can watch your lure in action and follow it’s progress during the cast and back to the rod tip. Best of all, when the lure disappears you know you’ve had a strike!

Finding luminous lures

Most tackle shops will have a few luminous lures kicking around. Quite often, you will find them gathering dust in a back corner or squashed in the specials trolley, which is good news for you as they can usually be picked up at a discounted rate.

There are a few specific brands around, some of the ones I have in my tackle box including Trollcraft Fizz Tails, Bass Bugs, Halco Nightwalker, Predatek Spaddlers (which have a glow-in-the-dark lip like the Nightwalker) and Heddon Crazy Crawler with a luminous belly.

Amongst the minnows, there are AussieJumpers and Nilsmaster Invincibles, as well as some Predatek Vipers with luminous bibs specifically designed for night trolling.

No doubt there are some other luminous lures out there if you take the time to have a bit of a look. Maybe you might need to wait for the lights to go off before you pay them a visit.


Recharging Luminous Lures

Using a torch to recharge your luminous lures at night is effective but can take quite a bit of time. I recommend hitting them with a camera flash as the intense burst of energy quickly puts them back into action.


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