Monday, 12 May 2008

Lure fishing, spinning and feathering.

a selection of lures.

When fishing with a lure the intention is to fool a predatory fish that your lure is a small fish, and therefore edible. Most lures have a bright reflective surface to flash in the water imitating the flash of light on a fishes scales, the lure is shaped to move about in the water on retrieve the motion giving vibrations that the predator will mistake for the movement of a prey fish.
Lure fishing is done with a lighter rod than that used for 'beachcasting' unless you count 'mackerel bashing' with feathers as fishing. Feathering refers to casting out a string (or set) of 'feathers'. Once they were white chicken feathers whipped onto a hook, now they are likely to be made up with metallic tinsel, beads or plastic mini-fish rather than feathers. The feathers are attached to the mainline, a suitable casting weight added to the end and the whole lot cast out toward the horizon. The feathers are then allowed to sink for a predetermined time and then retrieved using a 'sink and draw' action. Assuming you are facing the sea and your feathers are fluttering down though the sea, pull the rod around to the side causing the feathers to 'dash' towards you, let the feathers flutter down again as you move the rod back to point to the sea whilst winding in the slack caused by the pull you have just done........repeat until the feathers are back with you. Very often the fish will hit the feathers as they sink, not on the pull. repeat the exercise until bored, tired out or you have enough mackerel for your needs. There is a knack to the technique, sometimes the shoal is working near the surface and a quick retrieve is used to keep the feathers up near the surface, not allowing them to sink too far; at other times the fish may be deep hence the need to count down the initial drop time allowed so that you can replicate the cast if you hit the shoal and catch fish. The cunning angler will laze about until others start catching nearby, then leap into action having noted the distance and drop time used by his more energetic neighbour. If you catch mackerel keep them cool ! People catch dozens, scores, even hundreds, put them in a plastic bag in the sun and carry home mushy fish that have already started to decompose. Take a cool box or bag with freezer blocks or frozen plastic bottles of squash or fruit juice, (delicious and refreshing as they thaw out ). Take only as many as you realistically need. Please don't catch them just for fun, if you handle the mackerel to unhook it and throw it back it will probably die due to the damage your hand or cloth has done to its scales and skin.
Use a shock leader when feathering to prevent a snap-off and to avoid maiming those near you. A shock leader is a length of heavier line about 7 to 10 times the numbers of ounces of the weight you use in pounds breaking strain. For example 4oz weight, 30 to 40 lb line; the line should be long enough to give you say 8' hanging from the end of the rod and half a dozen turns around your reel.

If you need some fresh bait quickly then feathering has a place, it is not sporting. To enjoy catching mackerel, catch them one at a time; use a lighter rod an ounce or two of lead depending on the casting weight of your rod and a spinner, artificial eel or a wedge, (see illustration above.) The spinners and wedges come in various casting weights and sizes although you can use a light spinner on a three foot long trace and put a drilled bullet weight on your mainline to give you the required casting weight and therefore the range you need. The sink and draw technique can be used or a steady reel in, although when reeling changing the retrieve speed gives the impression of a wounded fish and can increase your success rate; keep working the lure right to the waters edge, the fish will chase the lure right to the beach and I have seen mackerel take a lure as it starts up the shingle, right out of the water.
Fish other than mackerel of course will take a lure, pollack, gar, scad, and bass are regularly taken by this technique, use small feathers and you may catch herring be aware that the line these are tied with is not suitable for hard casting, you will need to cut back on you casting weight..
Loosing spinners and wedges can be expensive, a cheap and effective method is to just use a strip of mackerel or gar, the shiny belly bits are best, hook it once through one end (or as shown here) and use it with a ball weight as described earlier. Sandeels can be fished this way although I find that whipping them on with bait elastic is worthwhile.

Feathering is quite rightly banned on most piers for safety reasons, spinning should only be done if you have sufficient space around you to safely cast. Many piers and structures are too high above the water to spin effectively as the angle of retrieve brings the lure to the surface too quickly.
In rocky weedy areas a spinner or wedge is an expensive way of finding the rocks or weeds, in these circumstances use a shallow acting popper lure and the help of someone with you to show you the technique as it can't really be learned from reading about it.