The search for perfection – minnows, plugs and prawn imitations
  |  First Published: April 2007

The search for perfection continues, this time looking at small to medium sized diving lures and prawn imitations.

Small to medium sized plugs and minnows make up the bulk of hard-bodied lure sales in this country and despite the rise of soft plastics, they continue to find favour with Aussie anglers. The continuing appeal of tiny to mid-sized minnows is easy to understand, as these bite-sized artificials appeal to a wide range of species in both fresh and saltwater, including most of our more popular target species such as bass, bream, trout, golden perch and lagoon barra. They are also amongst the easiest of all lures to use, as they work consistently within clearly defined depth ranges, allowing switched-on anglers to target their quarry with a high degree of accuracy.

Most importantly of all however, little hard-bodied lures are just plain old fun to use. They look great and have an intrinsic appeal that high turnover plastics just cannot compete with. While it is often a case of ‘a fish a lure’ with softies, a single minnow or plug may be responsible for dozens of captures. A lucky few may even make it into the veteran class after racking up so many captures that they are retired to the shed wall or display case.

This article will highlight some of the specific fishing applications where these general purpose lures excel and then check out what’s available, rather than take a manufacturer by manufacturer look at what’s out there. Sure, many of these lures have been around for a while now but they still represent the state of play as far as lure development in this country is concerned.

Shallow runners

In many waterways, the two most productive fishing zones will be found just above the bottom and just under the surface. Sure, many fish will spread between these two extremes but covering these two options first is always a high percentage approach for lure anglers.

Starting with the shallow running option, there is much more to this approach than casting big gold minnows at tropical species like barra. If you give a Viking Lancaster a swim you will quickly see what I mean. At 100mm and with a skinny pencil-sized profile, it is smaller than most barra lures, yet considerably bigger than most bream or trout tempters, but don’t let that put you off. Lancasters are simply devastating when tossed over the top of rock bars and other significant estuary structure with bream, trevally, flathead, tailor estuary cod and jacks having a hard time leaving them alone. Lancasters have a fluid action that really responds to rod tip manipulation and as you can probably tell, I really rate these little stick baits. Try the baby tailor colour scheme; it’s particularly effective in most tidal situations.

Wooden lure aficionados might be more interested in Huey’s Lures. These Tasmanian timber lures are carved from Huon Pine by local fishing guide Carl Hyland. Being hand made, no two are exactly the same and while they may lack the finishing touches that plastic moulding allows, each one is certainly unique, which is part of the appeal of wooden lures. In particular, Carl produces some neat trout orientated minnows, which are worth checking out, particularly in the ‘spotted dog’ colour scheme. The brighter coloured minnows (particularly pink) are also worth trying on ultra-shallow flathead waters.

Going Bibless

Tropic Angler is one of the few manufacturers to produce a bibless minnow which was specifically designed for the Aussie market. Their Shad Rattler is a heavily built rattling lure and its finish, action and fish catching track record is right up there with any of the big players. The Shad Rattler’s compact design makes it perfect for use when fish are suspending in impoundments and you need a lure that can get down quickly to work through them.

Prawn imitations

I must admit to having a soft spot for the original Rio’s Prawns but as Bundy is almost the unofficial home of Prawn Stars, it would be remiss of me not to mention the new ‘blood up’ colour scheme. As the name would suggest, it’s a bright red version of the highly successful Prawn Star and it is available right across the range from the tiny Shrimp up to the original model. While these lures are sometimes grouped in with soft plastics, I feel they are different enough to be in a category of their own. They certainly are brilliant fish takers when you know how to use them to your advantage. An absolute jack special!


Next issue I’ll review the big range of Aussie-made deep divers and small mackerel lures.

Fact Box 1

Lures for this two-part article were supplied by:

Australian Crafted Lures0408 688 805
Bandit Lures(03) 9646 4745
Bo Bo Lures0414 065 310
Goulburn Lures0407 544 965
Halco Tackle Company(08) 9430 5080
Huey’s Lures0417 169 652
Joll’s Bounty Hunter Lures(02) 6655 2269
Mac’s Lures(07) 5465 2891
Primal Fishing(07) 4125 6544
Tropic Angler Lures1800 467 628
Viking Lures0414 551 572

Fact Box 2

Tournament Fit-out

Another growth area for local lure makers has been fitting out their best performers ready for the high-pressure tournament arena.

By swapping standard hooks for chemically sharpened models or fine tuning the buoyancy to produce suspending, floating or sinking versions, they can provide the general angling public with a lure fitted out the way it would be for a pro tournament. Of course, this comes at a cost, but by and large, they are still much cheaper than the top-of-the-range lures coming in from overseas.

The Lil’ Ripper Pro from Oar-Gee lures is a perfect example of this type of development, as it was created after months of testing in bream competitions on both sides of the country.


Lancaster Bream (2 pics)This solid Burnett River bream was one of many species which found Viking Lancasters irresistible.
Lancaster flattieShallow water flatties love Lancasters.
Mac’s Mauler Bass (2 pics)This Cania bass had a fatal attraction for Mac’s Lures.
Mac’s MaulerShallowIt’s not always necessary to get to the bottom to find fish, so it’s good to have lures in a range of depths. This is a Mac’s Shallow Mauler.
Shad RattlerA well-chewed Tropic Angler shad rattler.
Shallow RunnersLeft to right: Viking Lancaster, Huey’s Minnow in Spotted Dog colours and a brighter version ideal for shallow water flathead.
Shallow Runners 1Top to bottom: Two Huey’s Minnows and a Viking Lancaster.
Blood Up Prawn StarsThe new ‘blood red’ coloured Prawn Stars are bound to attract plenty of fishy attention.
Blood up Prawnstar flattieOne of many Baffle Creek flatties which developed a taste for the new ‘blood up’ Prawnstar Shrimp.
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