In the long run, confidence is going to play a huge role in catching fish. If you don’t have faith in the bait you are throwing, you’re probably not going to have a lot of success. And of course, as anglers catch fish on new lures, they develop a new favorite lure that they become confident with. I guess the fact of the matter is, all lures will catch fish.
So what is the “art” of artificial fishing? Without sounding redundant, you can’t fish where they ain’t. So how do you find out where they are? This is the beauty and the art of artificials. Artificial baits find the fish. You have to be willing to enter the land of a thousand casts at a thousand targets at a thousand depths. You need to take your hardware and cover a lot of water. At this point, naturally, the where and what questions are popping up. Hopefully I can shine a little light. It would be nearly impossible to touch and everything, but a here’s a few basic approaches that work for us.
A very basic, but very effective lure is the jig. This can be as simple as a bucktail jig, or jig head with a plastic. Although many retrieves will work, a simple small hop, pick up the slack, and repeat is a good way to start. This lure works best, where the bottom is fairly clean. With time and practice, this lure can be worked over shell and grass, by arying weight and technique, which we will discuss later. As a rule if you think you are going to slow, go slower. The bite of a big trout, snook, flounder or red is often just a tap or tick, so set the hook sharply and immediately.
Probably one of the deadliest rigs in the marsh is the popping cork. It’s been around for quite some time, and you will find almost every tackle outlet has them. There is a reason: they work, and are very user friendly. The basic set up is a rattling cork with about 28” of leader and an artificial , usually plastic, attached to the hook or jig head. I personally have not found a better plastic to hang under the cork than a ¼ ounce D.O.A. shrimp. (This article is not about brands, but that bait is too deadly not to mention). This outfit simply needs to be cast out, popped and paused for about 3-5 seconds and repeat. If the water is choppy, murky, or the fish are just finicky, 2-3 pops may be made. Try to keep the cork popping in one place if possible, as opposed to letting it pop across the surface. As with any presentation, try to stay as far away from your targeted area as possible, while still being able to reach the desired spot. Depending on wind and current, slack in the line can be created with this rig, so be ready to reel and sweep the rod quickly. Rods with a slightly slower tip in the 7, 7 ½, and even 8 ft length can help, and add distance to your cast.
If the tides and moon line up, I’ll try to add a few more chapters every week. Until then, you won’t know if you don’t go.
By Tim Cutting