Avoid the lure of analyzing too much

As a group, we anglers tend to be a bunch of over-analyzing people often lacking confidence in what we are doing out on the water.

What kind of lure? What color? How deep? Fast or slow? Rattles or quiet? The combinations that roll around in our brains can be intimating in scope and variety.

So it is no small wonder that an hour or two of unproductive fishing will cast huge doubts in most fishers’ minds. Better change the lure. It’s probably the wrong style. It’s not a good color. It’s too big. It’s too small.

Look in my tackle stash under the BassCat’s front deck and you’ll find more than 100 – hey, probably more than 500 – lures that look very little like the critters bass eat. But the lures are there, and I use them to good result.

With so many choices combined with the fact that we anglers often are fishing waters with relatively few fish to tempt into striking, it’s no small wonder we are tormented with doubts we are throwing the right stuff and teased into cutting off lures and tying on new offerings.

One particularly problematic area is lure size. Most of us rarely worry our lures are too small. But we often fret we may be fasting a bait that is too big.

Color also can be confusing. Is today a white day or a red one? Would chartreuse work better than orange? Might I get more attention with a nickel spinner blade or a gold?

Anglers who early each day settle on size and color fish with confidence. And when one is confident, the battle is half won.

Nevertheless, doubts can form. A lull in the action can lead to over-analysis.

Like many, I can become convinced my lure is too big if I fail to generate strikes after a reasonable amount of effort.

Recently, however, I think I learned another on-the-water lesson. The first three fish that particular morning provided proof positive that it’s almost impossible to have a lure too big for aggressive predator species.

I started my day of bass fishing at Shenango Reservoir with a topwater lure. A few fish were working the surface, and I saw several splash at my offering.

Finally, I hooked up. But it was not the fish I’d expected to eat the popper. The fish was a yearling largemouth, exactly the same size as the topwater lure and with a mouth that could no way open wide enough to get the full treble treatment, much less engulf the body of the bait.

Two casts later, a smallmouth bass about 6 inches long slashed and got hooked. Had my popper been a live 3-inch shad, the smallie probably would have choked on it.

So when you think the lure is too small, think again. If you’re not getting bit, you’re probably not fishing where the fish live.

Likewise, if you doubt your lure color is right, consider that game species don’t typically eat chartreuse, hot pink, blue, purple or even solid black animals. But you probably have all of those colors in your tackle selection.

My color decisions are based on whether I believe the fish can see the lure I’m tossing. The lure should present a profile or shape that teases the bass, walleye, muskie or crappie into eating it. Color can help the fish zero in on the bait, but rarely, I believe, is the color important in actually sealing the deal.

Lures are best chosen based on their effectiveness in working the water that is immediately in front of the angler. Pick the lure you think will maximize the time it is in the fish zone.

And if you think it is too large, think again. Most of our game species seem pretty impressed with their own killer instincts.


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