Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page.

Floating plugs can be deadly.

In a 1985 article on bass fishing, a well known and respected sea angling author made the comment that “floating plugs have very little practical use in sea angling“ and that the angler should "always buy sinking lures".

I commented at the time that statements like that revealed a lack of experience. There is no such thing as always or never in any form of angling and anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with bass should realise that, in many haunts, the use of a sinking lure is tantamount to saying goodbye to the money spent on it’s purchase. Despite this, on almost every visit to the coast during the warmer part of the year (when anglers expect/hope to catch bass) I will see someone fishing with unsuitable plugs. Are they stupid or just badly informed or both?

Only this week I saw a bloke who had put a half-ounce lead just inches in front of a J11(Floating) Rapala "to get a bit more distance". He was fishing from the rocks into only about three feet of water full of weed. Whatever else he needed it was not "a bit more distance".

So! Just how should you select an artificial lure? Firstly, take a look at what the fish are eating and choose an imitation of roughly the same size, shape and colour ; secondly make sure that you can put the lure where the fish are by a combination of casting, using lead (sensibly) and employing diving vanes ; thirdly work the lure in such a manner that it will induce fish to take it. Three simple principles but rarely put into practice.

A few examples should suffice to make my point. If your quarry is feeding near the sea bed in deep water you will need something like a pirk weighted feathers or muppets or a paternoster of some kind with a flowing trace terminated by a lure. In the latter case the lure is least likely to hang up and most likely to fish effectively if it is fairly light, for example a rubber eel, wooden or plastic Devon, buoyant plug or light metal spoon or spinner.

If the fish you are hunting are in shallow water and you are fishing from the shore the first requirement is to reach them (often much easier than you might think), this requires a suitable combination of rod, reel, line thickness and lure weight/density. If the sea bed is muddy or sandy then hang-ups are unlikely and any lure which fills-the-bill as a fish attractor will do.

If you are fishing over thick wrack or kelp or if the bottom is a mass of rugged rocks and boulders how Can you avoid the snags? Use a buoyant plug, use a sinking lure and wind in instantly and fast or, less elegantly, fish a suitable lure under a float. The first solution has several advantages. The plug will often ‘pop free‘ of snags if you give slack line and since the faster you reel the deeper it will dive, it will ride up over obstacles if you slow the retrieve. On it’s day a floating-diving plug can be the deadliest lure in the sea.

Sometimes the problem for relative newcomers is simply a lack of confidence. In late May I had an email from Mike Haze, who lives locally. I'm sure that he won't mind me quoting a few things he said just to make my point about confidence. Mike sent me some pictures of the ground he was fishing - it looked perfect. He told me about his gear - rods, reels, lures were as good as any. His lines were nylon monofilament 8-15 lb so perhaps a little heavy (apart from the 8lb stuff) for using the lightest lures. He was fishing fairly often on the flood tides but said - "I can't seem to catch anything my technique must be wrong."

I couldn't see anything wrong with what Mike was doing but I offered to go down and have a session with him one morning - just to see if I could help. To cut a long story short we met at 4am and a short account of our session is included in 'Saltwater' page number 85. As I'd guessed from our correspondence Mike is turned out to be a real nice bloke and a good angler. The crunch came in his next but one email which went as follows -

"Dear Mike, Found another shallow beach with the tide just on the flood ---- . First cast had a garfish on but it didn't hold, then a small bass which was almost as big as the lure. Waded out up to my knees and within two casts I hooked into a decent fish. It took about thirty yards against the clutch on its first run. I waded towards the beach ----. Got it within five yards of the shore and it shot off again. After another 7 minutes of agression I beached it. Wow! What a fish! ---- Went back out after five minutes (and a cup of coffee to steady the nerves presumably [ML]) and again BANG! - couldn't believe it! ---- I left a little slack as I was coming onto the beach and it threw the hook."

Well there it is. What a little confidence can do. I've invited Mike to fish on my patch sometime soon and no doubt we'll have some good fishing trips together in the future. Oh, and by the way, the fish were all taken on floating, shallow diving plugs. Isn't that where we came in twenty years ago?

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.'get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Floating plugs can be deadly.

Mike's little bass.

this one was keen enough to take the big lure.

-- and a better one.

This one was over two feet long.  A fine fish at any time.