Dr Paul Garner
Why it pays to vary your lure fishing styles for big perch
WHATEVER happened to the drop shotting boom that swept the country a few years back? I bet a huge proportion of the lures, spools of braid and light rods are now gathering dust in sheds and garages. That is a great shame, because the perch certainly haven’t gone anywhere. In fact, the pages of Angling Times have been festooned with big fish this autumn. The thing is, while drop shotting is a great way of catching perch, it certainly isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. By being more flexible in your approach you will not only catch more fish, but I think get more enjoyment from your perch fishing too.
So this week I want to try and navigate through the minefield of different lure fishing methods and suggest some simple lures and tactics that will put more fish on the bank.
NOT ON THE DECK
We tend to think of perch as being close to the bottom all the time, and many bait and lure tactics, such as drop shotting, keep the lure in this zone. This can be a big mistake, as perch can often be much higher in the water, especially in deeper venues.
Having scuba dived with perch many times, I have observed that when the fish are active they can be several feet off the bottom.
At this time of the year in particular they are quite likely to be well be up in the water, making other lure tactics much more effective than drop shotting.
Soft plastic lures have revolutionised predator fishing in recent years. Coming mainly from Europe, this style of fishing is well suited to perch, along with pike and zander. Obviously, the main difference between baits aimed
at perch and not other, larger, predators is the size of the lure.
Choose baits up to a maximum of 12cm for perch. You will catch more fish on smaller baits of around 4cm to 8cm, but I would rather miss out on these fish and use a bigger bait that selects just the larger specimens.
As with crankbaits, look for shads that have a tight wiggling action – the fast movements of the tail really do make perch want to attack them!
Shads with a narrow root to the tail have maximum movement and that tail keeps beating even when you stop winding in.
Unless you are fishing really shallow, shads are going to need weighting. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is using a jighead with the hook built in. You can buy many lures with the jighead already fitted, which is a great way to start out, but fitting your own allows you to tailor the weight to the depth of water being fished and the speed of the retrieve.
A good rule-of-thumb to remember when rigging shads is to use a 2/0 hook with a 2ins bait, a 3/0 with a 3ins bait and so on.
This sounds massive compared to what we use for other types of fishing, but remember, most of the hook is buried in the bait. To get your lures working at the right depth use one gram per foot. So if you want to fish a swim 10ft deep, use a 10g jighead.
“Unless you are fishing really shallow, shads are going to need weighting”
A mini-plug with spinner blade (left) and a shad on a jighead.