Q&A SPE­CIAL What’s the best lure?

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME - Bait ex­pert Dr Paul Garner an­swers your ques­tions

I’M de­ter­mined to catch a big perch this win­ter, but I am re­ally con­fused when it comes to choos­ing the best lure. Can you help, please?

Martin Oliver, Nor­wich

FROM nowhere, drop shot­ting and jig­ging for perch have be­come fish­ing’s hottest prop­er­ties, and with them has come an ex­plo­sion in the weird and whacky baits that you can use to tempt ‘bil­lies’ big and small. Much of this gear has been de­vel­oped for places other than the UK, so it is no won­der that con­fu­sion reigns when it comes to choos­ing the right lures.

On their day, I am sure all th­ese plas­tic baits will catch, but many lack con­sis­tency. After try­ing hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties over the last five years I have drawn a few con­clu­sions on what perch re­ally like.

WEIRD CREA­TURES

Perch are among the most Opt for shads with a nar­row neck to the tail.

in­quis­i­tive of all our fish, and will in­spect al­most any­thing to see if it is edi­ble, but cer­tain things def­i­nitely put them in hunt­ing mode. A few weeks ago I spent a day out us­ing a Water­wolf un­der­wa­ter cam­era at­tached above my jig­ging rig to try and un­der­stand what made the perch tick. The fish were at­tracted to all kinds of rub­ber lures, but it was the ones that nat­u­rally had the most move­ment that they couldn’t ig­nore.

Best of the lot were crea­ture baits with lots of soft ap­pendages that flut­tered and swayed en­tic­ingly as the lure bumped along the bot­tom.

The perch were mes­merised by th­ese ac­tive baits and would pounce on them in­stantly.

Pad­dle-tailed shads also worked well, but not quite up to the stan­dard of the crea­ture baits. The more sub­tle tail move­ment of th­ese shads caught fish, but had In­built foil is use­ful in low light con­di­tions.

to be re­trieved faster and worked with the rod-tip more to get a re­sponse. I look for lures that have a nar­row neck be­tween the tail and the body as th­ese wig­gle fast, pro­duc­ing max­i­mum at­trac­tion.

Con­sid­er­ing that I was re­ally re­ly­ing on the lure to at­tract the fish and not im­part­ing much ac­tion into the lures it was no sur­prise that sim­ple pin-tailed lures were the least at­trac­tive.

Th­ese can be great lures, es­pe­cially when the wa­ter is colder and the perch aren’t so in­clined to chase a re­ally ac­tive bait, but they are most ef­fec­tive when con­stantly twitched and bounced, then paused to im­part plenty of move­ment to them.

It was fas­ci­nat­ing watch­ing the perch hunt baits, and cer­tainly they were brave lit­tle fish, of­ten at­tack­ing baits that were far too large for them to en­gulf! Best re­sults, though, were achieved with smaller lures, right down to I like to carry a se­lec­tion of colours.

less than an inch long if the perch were only hand-sized.

Swap­ping to big­ger 3ins and 4ins baits def­i­nitely sorted out the larger spec­i­mens.

WHICH COLOURS?

Ask 10 perch an­glers for their favourite lure colour and you are likely to get 10 dif­fer­ent an­swers.

My ad­vice is sim­ple, but per­haps a lit­tle against the grain. In clear wa­ter I find bright colours work best, while when the wa­ter has a bit of a stain to it darker colours, such as brown and dark green can be awe­some.

Look­ing in my well-used lure box it is ob­vi­ous that green and yel­low catch plenty of fish, go­ing by the amount of chewed up lures!

Lures that have some in­ter­nal flash from (for ex­am­ple) re­flec­tive foil in­side the body also seem to have an edge, es­pe­cially early and late in the day when the light lev­els are re­ally low.

Lure fish­ing for big perch is in vogue right now.

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