Tackle and Tactics
Mike Ladle


Information Page

Where, what with and will it cope?

There are literally thousands of plugs, poppers, spoons and spinners on the market. Look at any lure catalogue and you will find an enormous range of makes, shapes and forms. Most of these 'weapons' will work in as far as they will catch fish at times. Many of them will be favourites with at least some anglers who will 'swear by' their effectiveness. So how are you to choose? When you buy a fishing lure just what should you be looking for?

My own policy is firstly to consider where the fish are likely to be feeding. For example, if you know that you will be fishing in areas where the rocks/weeds/snags are literally at the surface in places it may be essential to use a floating, surface-working popper or slider. If there is 15cm of water over an uneven bottom then a plug that works at half this depth (if you can find such a thing - I tend to make or modify my own) may be the best. Of course you can use a sinking lure such as a spoon and wind fast enough to keep it above the snags but, unfortunately, this will not allow for any hesitation in the retrieve. If the water is deeper then a count down or deeper diving lure may have advantages. So the first consideration should probably be the TYPE of lure and how easy it will be to fish effectively.

Secondly, what will the fish be eating? It is always a good idea to fit the size, shape and colour to the nature of the prey. When fish are feeding actively they may have a 'search image' of the animals they are seeking - long thin silver sandeels, short deep silver sprats, sleek browny-yellow squids or sinuous green-brown blennies or butterfish. If you choose a lure to copy the natural prey you won't go far wrong and you will have one big advantage - it's impossible to get it exacly right. This means that your lure will 'stand out' like a sore thumb from the surrounding naturals. The same applies to lure behaviour. When we fish sliders and poppers in the tropics we wind them in as fast as possible across the surface but, no matter how hard we reel, we can't match the speed of a fleeing mullet or needlefish. This makes the lure easy prey for our quarry.

So, whatever you fish for, in my book it will always be worth trying to match the appearance and behaviour of bait-animals at roughly the right depth. Some compromise will be needed to avoid losing too many lures in snags but if you are in the right place at the right time success will be assured. One other aspect has become apparent during my recent forays into tropical waters - some lures are just not 'man enough' for the fish. I've seen trebles twisted, split rings snapped and the hook mountings literally wrenched from the lure by powerful fish such as barracuda, jacks, tarpon and nile perch. In short it is particularly important to go for quality when you are off on holiday.

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


Lead free fishing.


These fearsome predators eat virtually nothing but fish and often lurk in very shallow water so choose a lure to suit.  This one took a spoon retrieved as fast as possible over the reef.

Kelp at the surface.

Surface sliders and poppers can be manouvered between blades of kelp or rocks just awash to good effect.

For all occasions.

A range of lures to cover most contingencies.  Only the bottom one is a sinker, the rest all float and have been 'doctored' to fish at progressively greater depths.

Deep water.

Fishing off these rocks it is possible to use weighted shads and metal spoons with little fear of snagging up.

Tough fish.

Jacks and other large tropical predators will test lures to the limit.  My friend Alan Vaughan recently had both split rings pulled off a lure like this after a long battle.