Getting the shakes
  |  First Published: August 2006

When it comes to lurefishing, sometimes ‘less is more’ and all it takes is a few shakes to make it all happen.

There is no denying that the high-quality, lightweight spinning tackle available to today’s anglers is a far cry from the soggy glass rods and clunky eggbeater reels of yesteryear. Along with the current generation of graphite rods, skinny braided lines and small yet potent threadline reels, has come a increase in terms of both performance and versatility and this top shelf tackle has opened up a whole new world of lurefishing options.

So responsive have these new outfits become, that in some cases anglers are actually transmitting much more movement to their lures than they really need to. When it comes to getting the most out of your lures, it can often be a case of ‘less is more’ and there are plenty of times when slowing down and keeping motion to a minimum will be a more productive approach.

Surface strategies

Surface lures in particular are prone to being overworked to the point where they actually become less effective. In the freshwater and in many tidal creeks and estuaries, the water’s surface is often calm and relatively smooth and it is unnecessary to make a commotion to attract the fish’s attention. Far better to make a natural, more subdued presentation that arouses the fish’s curiosity and looks far more like something they are used to seeing.

Taking this approach to its natural conclusion, the use of small, non-threatening surface lures makes a lot of sense and one of the best little surface lures I have used recently is the Spaddler from Predatek. Spaddlers are surface paddlers, and to get the best from them requires little more than a shake of the rod tip.

What this does is get the unique recurved paddle flipping gently from side to side and sending out those telltale little ripples which let every fish in the vicinity know that something weak and defenceless is trapped in the surface film. It’s such a come-on that not only do the better known surface feeders like bass and saratoga get in on the act, but even bream, sooties, various members of the perch family, catfish and even garfish will attack them. While not every take results in a desirable species, the sheer number of hits they can generate makes their use a lot of fun.

Of course small cup faced surface poppers can also be used. As long as the lure is worked sedately, with plenty of pauses and shakes between the more prominent bloops, it will draw strikes all day long. I have acquired a fair collection of small poppers and while I don’t always have the patience to use them, they have earned their place in my tackle box because the fun they can generate.

Soft plastics

Soft plastics are another form of lure that can benefit by toning down the retrieve. You have to remember that these life-like lures are actually a cross between baits and lures and you need to fish them as such. When you consider that some pretty substantial snapper have been caught on soft plastics that have been dangling from rods left sitting in rod holders then you get the idea. In this case, the motion created by the boat going up and down with the swells was enough to convince the fish that the lure was alive.

If, like me, you habitually fish with long, supple plastics then you are probably aware of just how much action they give off when the rod tip is given a simple shake. I love to use Eyeball Tail softies as they really shimmy when shaken and come to life with every waggle of the rod tip.

I like long, skinny soft plastics like this because they are really versatile. Fit them with a lightweight head and they can be used to imitate long slender baitfish like gars. Alternatively fit them with a head just heavy enough to keep in touch with the bottom and they can be left to roll around like a worm washed out of its hole.

Of course shaking is most commonly associated with impoundment bass where the lure is slowly swum through a school of suspended fish and the rod tip wiggled from side to side to impart a gentle motion to the lure. The almost imperceptible action is often the key to getting inactive bass to bite.

Action Stations!

Another deadly method of getting that side-to-side shaking action to your soft plastics is to use Action Disks and with the current fascination with soft plastics, I can’t understand why these golf tee shaped plastic disks aren’t more popular.

When fitted to the front of a soft plastic, they make the lure wriggle like a hard-bodied minnow at the slightest movement and they transmit an incredible shaking action to soft lures. If you haven’t tried them, I suggest you grab a couple from your local tackle store and give them a shake. The can really bring your lures to life.

Non-stretch braid

Braided lines can have an exaggerated impact on lure movement. Because there is very little stretch in braided or fused super lines, you really do have to watch how much action you are giving your lure. This is particularly relevant when combined with the longer, high modulus graphite rods which most keen anglers favour these days.

The reality is that if you have a straight line to your lure and you move the rod tip a foot, then theoretically the lure should also move a foot. When fishing with small lures, this can be a lot more motion than you really need.

Of course, the upside is that braid is fantastic for transmitting subtle shakes and wriggles to your lure and getting the sort of action that we are referring to here is very hard to do with stretchy mono. As long as you are aware of what you are doing, braid is great and it shouldn’t be a problem but it does require you to concentrate on how much action you are giving your lure.

Relax and slow down

In this day and age life is so busy, it’s too easy to rush things, even when we are supposed to be relaxing and wetting a line. What you need to remember is that most small creatures avoid fast, violent movements because it draws too much attention to themselves. In most cases, the only time you will see small critters rushing about is when they are eating or in the process of being eaten themselves.

While it can be good to use exaggerated action to alert the fish to your lure, often you don’t need to move your lure anywhere as much as most of us do. Let’s face it, if a fish can hunt down its prey in complete darkness, then it shouldn’t need too much in the way of motion to zero in on your lure so slow down and give shaking a try. You might just be surprised how successful it can be.

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