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Cream of the crop
  |  First Published: January 2010



Here are the latest and best cod lures as the season unfolds

SECTION: fresh feature

NOTES:

Fishing, like most things in life, is in a continual state of change. Every season presents a new set of challenges that test our ideals and beliefs on what it is we think we know.

Last season’s triumphs are in the past and while important in the overall angling picture, they are still only benchmarks to work from as the new season unfolds.

Those of us who pursue Murray cod with a passion will confess the frustration derived from a million and one variables that seemingly influence the outcome of any trip.

While some of these are real, I believe many are born of the uncanny ability of Murray cod to adapt.

These fish are far from dumb, especially those that have stood guard over a twisted log jam for what might be decades.

It’s surreal to watch one of these giants ghost a lure right to your feet, only to lock eyes and roll away. The fact they will not show again just about says it all.

To even keep up with these fish requires an open mind and a vast array of tackle and techniques.

Every season new and exciting lures emerge, many of which emerge from the minds of frustrated cod anglers.

Among the newest crop, we hope to find the next best thing that might bring undone those big, old reluctant fish that have acquired a master’s degree in lure recognition.

For the most part, these creations derive from cottage industries that build Aussie-made lures for home-grown anglers and native fish. After all, who better to make the lures than those who understand the fish and use the lures successfully?

In saying that, here are a few new styles to hit our shelves over the past 12 months and where and when they are most likely to produce the goods.

JAMIE FLETT

If you are going to use ‘Murray cod’ and ‘lure maker’ in the same sentence, it’s only fair you follow it up with the name Jamie Flett.

A calculated and well-respected greenfish angler, this bloke has possibly forgotten more about Murray cod fishing than many of us will ever learn.

He has an impressive catch record and many of Jamie’s creations are born in the field before being hand crafted in the workshop to suit the job.

Timber is his preferred material and each and every lure is as good as the last or better. A model Jamie simply refers to as The One has been doing the rounds for a few years and has racked up an impressive score.

A few slight adjustments and The One has been transformed into a shad-style runner that takes on the same characteristics as a bony bream. The top meal for cod, anything that looks and swims like these baitfish is sure to attract a lot of attention.

Sporting a great action, these lures can be used on the troll or cast around structure. I reckon these lures will find their niche cast in the shadowy, timbered sections in some of our smaller rivers like the Wakool or the Murrumbidgee.

Another of Flett’s creations well outside the square is a lure he calls the Thingy. It is designed to represent a water rat, a food source big cod would bide their time in stalking.

Some of the Thingy’s success can be attributed to the fact that its fur-clad body renders the hooks and split rings virtually silent, the lure taking on the appearance of the natural prey. Shush can be a great ally when targeting big fish.

CODZILLA

Another great Aussie-made lure to make big inroads towards the end of last season is suitably called Codzilla. Eddie Studman, creator of the Koolabung range, is a well-respected angler in his own right.

An angler’s first giant cod can turn a new lure into a long-lost friend with a single strike. So it was for Dave Fregon who, having just released a 96cm cod, sent what was fast becoming his favourite lure back into the depths.

It had travelled barely a few meters when a horse of a thing cracking 120cm engulfed it. Several such captures have ensured the Codzilla sits in prime position in the top of his tackle box.

Another memorable capture that is etched in fishing’s finer moments was a cod itself of ‘codzilla’-like proportions.

In less than 3m of water, it smashed a lure cast near the buttress of an old river gum. The ensuing fight was spectacular, with giant boils of water rolling among the twisted limbs in a touch-and-go battle that lasted several nail-biting minutes.

These lures cast like bullets and work equally well on the troll.

TROLLING

When it comes to trolling, we have noticed over the past few seasons a tendency for some anglers to choose depth as the first and most important criterion when it comes to choosing lures.

We have also come to know the bottom metre or so of the river to be the strike zone because this is where the majority of timber and other structure lies.

When water clarity is poor, this is possibly going to be the most consistent zone to fish.

However, when water clarity improves, running your lures, say, 2m to 3m above the bottom structure opens up the fishes’ field of vision and creates a much wider strike zone.

We had great success last season running 5m and 6m lures in 9m-plus stretches of river with good water clarity. A big cod will happily break cover in deeper water to chase and hammer a distinct silhouette from below.

This is something to dwell on later in the season when water clarity is generally at its best.

THE FLY

I am always willing to try new techniques and the art of catching cod on fly is one I will embrace openly, if somewhat awkwardly. Ross Virt has made it his business to make this job a little easier by creating a range of native fish flies pre-packaged and sold under the label of Kaos Cod Flies.

Having the right fly is one thing; getting a big cod to eat it is a whole other world and something I am keen to contend with over the course of the season.

When it comes to waving the long wand, my ability has all the grace of a giraffe on a winery tour. There’s a lot of wobbling, waving and ducking and nothing seems to go where it’s supposed to.

But I have no doubt that with a little practice, I will deliver these feathered creations straight down the gob of a few big cod before season’s end. Oh, to join the metre cod on fly club, now wouldn’t that be something?

PLASTICS

Everything else eats them, but you don’t see many anglers seriously targeting native fish on plastics.

In times past, it would be fair to say that most pre-rigged plastics were weighted according to size. Big plastics meant big head weights and working these among the snags along the Murray was a little like fishing with flexible house bricks.

Living out here in the sticks has many rewards, but it also has its drawbacks and limited access to the latest or a wide range of tackle is just one of them.

Yesterday’s newest lure becomes cutting edge tackle in the bush and it’s hard not to get excited when you think of the possibilities.

To dance large soft plastics along the twisted, snag-ridden stretches that harbour some serious cod is sure to open new ground.

The new range of hollow-bellied soft plastics and I say ‘new’ from a bushy’s perspective, has slowed things down no end. We are at the point where cod fishos can now deliver a large presentation at the correct sink rate and retrieves can be worked to leave the offering in the zone that much longer.

The mentality of ‘big means heavy’ has also made way for a range of lightly weighted jig heads carrying seriously-sized hooks for big fish.

Instead of plummeting in and out of the zone, these new jig heads matched to larger plastics provide the means to dance the zone looking all the more like a wounded or struggling baitfish.

No doubt doors will be opened big-time in our native fishery by anglers prepared to push new grounds with this style of fishing.

TRAILERS

In a similar vein, these and other new plastics are being used as trailers on spinnerbaits and other bladed lures.

Each variation adds its own twist. Some provide lift, allowing the lure to be worked virtually snag-free at minimal speed, while others provide a variety of alluring actions that help entice strikes.

Strength is another factor and the new Bassman Mumblers are running large paddletail plastics that are light yet able to be stretched out to almost a metre. What will they think of next?

With so many techniques and a wide variety of tackle to choose from, cod fishing and the ideas that go with it are far from finished.

The possibilities are endless and held back only by our own thought limitations.

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