Mike Ladle


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Tackle and Tactics.

Lure Angler's Society.

THINK LIKE A FISH Part 35 Lure Anglers Society.

Last weekend I gave a slide show to the Lure Anglers Society. Tim Kelly had asked if I would talk about lure fishing for bass and I was only too pleased to oblige. It's many years since I last went to an LAS meeting and the whole event was a revelation to me.

The morning session consisted of talks by Myself, Steve Crowther and Neville Fickling. Professor Barry Rickards was also due to speak but much to my disappointment, he was ill and unable to come. Steve's talk covered lots of different freshwater fish - pike, perch, zander, chub and catfish - all caught on soft rubber lures and Neville concentrated on the use of curly tail lures for big pike. I found both accounts fascinating and the fish caught were very impressive.

The current fashion for using soft rubber pike-baits was reinforced by the stuff on sale at the extensive trade stands. Virtually, every stall was covered in floppy, sticky, translucent lures up to forty centimetres in length and every colour of the rainbow. It really made me think.

Now I am familiar with rubber lures for sea fishing. Bits of rubber tubing have been used, mostly for pollack and coalfish, for centuries. Redgills, Eddystones and Delta eels should be in every bass anglers bag and, more recently shads, twin-tails and twisters of all shapes and sizes have been dangled over wrecks from Lands End to John O'Groats. However, this penchant for rubber in freshwater is something different. Why has it happened??? My guess is that it's just a fashion like the passing crazes for spinnerbaits, jerkbaits etc. Although tackle dealers like to propagate these fads from time to time anglers soon become aware that there is no such thing as an infallible lure. This does not mean that soft rubber baits are entirely a gimmick. Of course they work well (look alive) on a slow retrieve and consequently have their place in fishing under certain conditions for some species.

There are two basic types of soft baits (despite all the variations on show). Those (shads etc.) with a 'Redgill type' vane or paddle at the end of the thin tail and those with a twisted 'spring-like' tail. Most of them come prefitted with a lead head of some sort. Many of the pike lures are pretty hefty with chunky bodies and anything up to several ounces of lead at the front.

The first thing that strikes me is that, although some of the finished lures on show were pretty expensive, the rubber bodies must be dirt cheap to make. You can buy a great bagfull for a few quid if you are prepared to 'rig' them yourself. All in all these lures must be profitable to make and sell so the manufacturers like them. Since, they are generally cheap anglers don't mind losing a few so they are prepared to fish them over and through snags WHERE MANY FISH LIKE TO LURK. Rubber lures obviously catch fish and from the lure angler's point of view they have BUILT IN ACTION so there is no need to jiggle and wiggle the rod and reel to try and make them work (many of the so called stick baits or jerk baits require you to have arms like legs to make them function and of course you are always uncertain whether you are 'creating' the 'right' action - whatever that is!).

To cut a long story short the 'paddle' tails look like swimming fish and the 'spring' tails resemble eels even without you trying. If you do away with lead or keep added weight to a minimum you will be able to fish the lures at snails pace. The rubber stinks of solvent but many fish don't seem too concerned and anyway, if you want, you could soak or smear them in pilchard oil. I shall certainly be trying weightless versions, from the shore, for bass in the near future and I'll let you know how they perform.

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


Think like a fish.

Lure Angler's Society.

'Old fashioned' rubber Eels.

All different makes but the tails wag and they catch fish.

Bass on a weighted Redgill.

Not a 'leadhead' but a barrel lead up the bum for weight.

Mullet on a Delta eel.

Deadly for bass when used as flies but even thicklips sometimes take them.


Every colour of the rainbow but just fat 'Redgills' really.

'Spring' tailed lures.

The floppy spiral tails give different action but can be just as effective as a fish attractor.  The third one down has a lead and a hook fitted in a 'weedless' fashion.

My new lures.

I thought that these looked very like sand smelts, so I bought them.  I shall fit them with 3/0 stainless hooks and fish them without any lead.