Plugs & Plug Fishing

Fishing Plugs when you arrive at a venue for a lure fishing session needs careful consideration, you first need to try and think like the predator fish your trying to catch. Factors to take into account are weather conditions and temperatures, depth's they may be at, and what sort of lures to use to get them feeding. Other considerations are water clarity, and light conditions which could play a big part in selecting the right Plug or Lure. When you pick the right plug at the right time and use it's effectiveness by fishing it correctly then pike and zander will be tempted.

January - March

Water temperature will be at its lowest during January and February so slow moving lures fished very close to the bottom often making `bottom contact' will be essential. Ideally lures that can pause during the retrieve without snagging are best, for this reason jigs rigged with soft plastic shads or grubs, weed less spoons and spinnerbaits are perfect, also modified Bull Dawgs with the belly treble removed and fitted on the back can be used where larger baits are required. March sees water temperatures and daylight hours increase, stream fed shallow bays with emerging weed will be very attractive to pike preparing to spawn. Slow moving baits that can be fished subtly just sub - surface, shallow running minnow plugs, these can be `twitched' plus small slow sinking/suspending jerkbaits, would be my choice.

April - June

Throughout this period, the pikes feeding activity increases dramatically with the rising water temperature and the need to eat, to recover condition, after the rigors of spawning. The pike will stay in the shallow water, which warms quickly, until it gets too hot for comfort and they depart into cooler deeper water. An interesting pattern to note in April is how fluctuating water temperature in the shallows effects the pikes response to lures. Overnight frosts following a warm day has a cooling, "slowing down", effect on the pike, by mid - morning the pike, which stay in these shallow areas, start to warm up again with the water and faster moving lures, that were previously ignored, suddenly become productive. This pattern is very important to anyone fishing in the spring, especially in Ireland or Scotland. With the pikes high level of activity lures should be fished high in the water "at speed ", no deeper than mid depth. Surface lures, shallow divers, in-line spinners and bucktails along with a variety of jerkbaits in both high buoyancy, "to ride over weed ", and slow risers allowing you to break up the retrieve pattern are all good choices.

July - September

High water and air temperatures force big pike into deep water where they rest for long periods, feeding spells are often short around first and last light, windy overcast conditions can be enough to perk sport up. Night fishing with surface lures or bucktails can be extremely successful but you must be very organised! If you can go afloat to reach deep water now is the time to do it, fishing around weirs or places where incoming "cooler" water enters the river will greatly improve your chances. During this period fast moving baits that have erratic actions and change depth frequently are perfect for searching out feeding pike, crashing deep diving plugs into the bottom is a useful tactic that can also provoke action. This period requires a diverse selection of Lures and lure Styles, you must have to have a bit of "imagination" when using them. Jerkbaits in all densities are essential, Bull Dawgs and Ugly Joe's and big offset Spinnerbaits are the preferred choices, but don't feel limited to these.

October - December

After the testing times or the last three months the cooler days or autumn sharpen the pikes appetite, be prepared for action! You'll need to adjust to the cooling trend in water temperatures gradually fishing deeper and slower until by December most action will come with lures that can be crept along the bottom, at slow speed. At this time of year "coloured water" due to flooding becomes a major factor so noisy `rattling' baits and highly "visible" fluorescent coloured lures are recommended, remember the pike will have to feel a baits `presence" through its action and vibration before it will see it. At the beginning of this period lures that can be fished at speed and at a variety of depths are ideal so sinking jerkbaits Bull Dawgs, Ugly Joe's, big spinnerbaits or trolling large plugs are my preferred choices. For December revert to Jan -Feb. tactics if water has cooled rapidly.

Image of Plugs Shakespeare Big S Plug A selection of lures and the famous top selling Shakespeare Big S plug, There are thousands of lures to choose from out there in the tackle shops, and how do begin to start to pick those lures and plugs, that will catch you fish. Well in the short term there is no answer, there is no doubting the effectiveness of spinners, spoons and spinnerbaits, but Plugs can complement these giving you additional armour in the right conditions. The versatility of your lure collection can be increased by using every type of plug from surface prop baits, poppers, to deep diving and sinking plugs which cover all depths and shallows. Plugs are designed mainly to mimic mammals and fish, carved from a variety of wood and plastic's of different densities, solid wooden plugs giving natural buoyancy makes them prolific predator lures. They come in all shapes and sizes with different paint finishes and varnishes, which prevents waterlogging and strengthens the hook hanger inserts. Economically nowadays plastics have come to the fore front of production techniques, well known classic manufacturers like the Creek Chub Pikie plugs, Rapala lures, and Bagley which do produce plastic plugs, but their main market lures are still made from wood. Rapala and NilsMaster plugs, are hand and tank tested before leaving their factories. All new plugs and lures in general need checking over particularly with regard to their build prior to fishing them.

Topwater Lures Crazy Crawler Plug Jitterbug Lures A selection of Top Water lures, these plugs are mainly used in the spring and summer month's, designed to float across the surface of the water hence called topwater lures, these types usually rattle of vibrate across the surface to tempt wary fish to strike. They can also plop, splutter and splash the surface, with the most effective ones being the Crazy Crawler and the Jitterbugs, so make sure you have a couple. For casting into weed beds there's no better than the Moss Boss plugs, which you can drag over the weeds and lilies. Classic's in this area of plug fishing include Crazy Crawlers, the Meadow Mouse, Lucky 13 and Jitterbugs, all excellent on their day and ones which have been tried and tested over the years.

Image of Joe Bucher Raider Lures Image of Storm Jointed Thunderstick Lure Image of Typical Plug Lure Image of Rapala Lure Deep Diving Plug A selection of Deep Diving Plugs, Rapalas are no doubt, the most well known and bought plugs in the world today and for good reason, these plugs are carefully designed to go deep when being retrieved, a critical factor when you're lure fishing. Some lure anglers fail to get down to the deep water when lure fishing and just cover the top 10ft of water, which can be a waste of time if the fish are near the bottom. You should have plugs to cater for all your needs, from shallow diving ones which cover depth's to 6ft, to medium down to 15ft, and then deep divers to 25ft. Abu Hi-Lo plugs are an all-time favourite & classic lure, with their distinctive and effective adjustable diving lip, they are available in jointed, un-jointed, floating and sinking versions.

Image of Jerk Bait Lure Image of Jerkbaits Jerk baits, these plugs are strangely flat shaped, but this gives them a uniquely erratic action which will often get results when all else fails. Try to stick with the all-time winners, the Kwik-Fish, Lazy Ike and Flat-fish. Jerkbaits are large single and jointed lures designed to catch big predators. Much of the action is imparted through the skill of the angler who must use powerful tackle to cast these heavy lures and get them working. They are available in floating, sinking or shallow diving forms, but they are not lures for the beginner. These plugs have no diving lips to help give them some action, that all has to come from the angler! They require specialised, stiff, strong rods and solid wire traces to make them work effectively and they're a must for giant predators.

Image of Bulldawg Lures Image of Ugly Joe Lures Live action lures come in the form of plastic and rubber. Firstly the Bull Dawgs, they come in two sizes, 6"/ 9", from Musky Innovations, the methods to fishing these lures are slow to fast while twitching and jerking over weed edges, and on and around structures. Set the hook as soon as you feel the bump on the rod, primarily fished in depth's from 0 - 30 ft. To entice wary fish you have the option to fit the bull dawg teaser attractor blade which fits under the belly of the lure and acts like a spinner blade on the retrieve. Now come the Ugly Joe's which come in three sizes 3" (1oz) & 6" (3 1/2oz) called Small Joe's, and 9" (6 3/4oz) called Big Joe's. A recent innovation come onto the market over the last few years, these weighted rubber lures can be fished at various depth's depending on your method of retrieve. The faster the retrieve the higher the lure will rise in the water, to give the lure some live action then the jerking method is adopted, they can also be jigged off the bottom of the water from a boat. Primarily fished in depth's from 0 - 30 ft, when a fish takes these lures you feel a slight tug and that's the time to strike and set the hook home.

Image of Prop Plug Lure We now move onto the Prop baits, which have tiny propellor blades at each end that churn up the water when you jerk them along, making sounds to tempt the pike. These plugs can be bought for varied depth's, speed again depends on the angler with the retrieve. Try to get some silver ones to imitate fish as roach, dace and skimmer bream some with stripy patterns, to mimic perch and small jack pike. On hot, sunny days, pike often lie up near the surface in weedy, shallow water and may be tempted with a slowly retrieved prop bait. If you can see pike feeding on fry in the shallows, try fast-retrieving ones.

Image of Lure Caddy To keep these Plugs, lures and spinners safe and protected, you can buy these Lure Caddies purposely built to hold a wide range and size together with spare traces, swivels and links. This particular model will hold an unhooking mat with straps, and unhooking tools like the wire cutters, forceps, scissors and scales.

Image of Multiplier Reel Multiplier reels are better when using either medium or large lures, or heavy jerk-baits, fixed spool reels are more suited to light and medium weighted lures. Abu's 6501 classic Ambassadeur is one of the best multiplier reels around, lure fishing with a multiplier reel needs some skill to use. Shimano also have a couple in their range, with the Calcutta at the top. Fixed spool reels are easier to use than multipliers, these reels are the ones most anglers use, not just open faced fixed spool reels, but closed faced ones as well. The fixed spool reels such as those from Abu, Diawa and Shimano with rear drag are the best ones to use.