everything you need to know about the TACKLE...
Lures is a standard name for any kind of artificial bait that predatory fish will strike at, so it could reasonably be used to describe everything from mackerel feathers through to 1 kilogram pirks! There are more varieties of lure than there are fish (well almost!) so there is no point in our trying to decribe every one, so this section will look at the main varieties, how and when they are used, and how to get the most out of artificial lures.
Feathers: The standard set-up of six mackerel
feathers is just a trace with six hooks on blood loops or a similar
short snood, to which dyed feathers are tied. Nowadays we have
more sophisticated 'feathers' made from plastic and shiny new
materials. I have found that the
white ones work best after dusk, and the red best during the
day. I have caught mackerel on bare silver hooks, so nothing
fancy is required. Other variations on 'feathers' that work well
include bits of multi-coloured plastic cut from a burst beachball
(make sure to include some white), thin tubes of silver painted
rubber, and I've seen fly fishermen have fun with mackerel use salmon
flys! One word of caution - the smaller
the hook the more fish you attract - big 5/0 or 6/0 hooks on
feathers are a waste of time. Feathers are used in spinning and
the more feathers and weight used the bigger the rod. A
beachcaster will get you well out into deeper water from most shore
marks, and even a 20 lbs boat rod will handle six feathers and a
"full house" of mackerel. Feathers can take mackerel,
scad, pollack, coalfish, cod and codling, whiting, pouting, haddock and
just about any available "round" fish swimming on a given mark.
Baited Feathers: This is where a strip of fish like mackerel is added to each hook, it is an excellent boat rig: I have seen all of the above and pollack, gurnard, cod and even a puzzled John Dory fall to baited feathers.
Bass Bullets: These are relatively small and very streamlined lures that are used on a light spinning outfit (something like a carp rod) for spinning from the shore for bass. Their internal weight is enough for excellent long distance casting from shore. They seem to be most effective when they are retrieved very quickly, perhaps mimicing sandeels, a favourite bass 'snack'. They will, like all lures, take other fish including pollack, big wrasse, and anything predatory that will ambush it or even chase after it!
Eddystone Eel and Red Gills: These are long plastic lures, akin to jelly worm with their own hook, that are designed with tails that will wiggle as they are retrieved. Red gills have long been known as superb pollack lures and Eddystones (named for the famed lighthouse in England) are a similar lure - effective on long traces. They come in every size and colour now, but red is my favourite for the simple reason that it always works!
Muppets: These are American style lures that are made to resemble squid or other fish. They have proven particularly effective in wreck fishing around Ireland, and accounted for the new record 29 lbs (13 kg) pollack taken from a Courtmacsherry boat in 2002.
Pirks: These are typically big heavy and silver. These are traditionally used in wrecking where the single lure minimizes snagging potential and the sheer size of the lure excludes a lot of the smaller fish from the equation. Pirks can weight 2 lbs (1 kilo), however 6 ounzes (175 grams) is more usual!
Plugs: These are yet another artificial lure, originally developed for fresh water fishing and until recently the province of the pike fishermen. Plugs were originally developed for fishing in weedy lake margins and rivers. Most will float. Some are designed to sink slow, some more quickly. On others, a variably sized diving panel at the front (see below) drags the lure underwater when you began the retireve. This can often be adjusted to determine how fast the plug will dive when retrieved. The faster you retrieve the line, the deeper the plug will dive... This basic concept has been developed, to the point where salt water lures do not float (!), are weighted for distance casting, and will now wobble, spin, dive, surface, jerk and twist.
Jellyworms: These are small hookless plastic worms that have tails that wiggle uncontrollable when retrieved. They are typically used on long flowing traces and are particularly effective for pollack and coalfish, especially on reefs and wrecks. The main difference between jelly worms and the red gill or eddystone eels is that the worms are hookless. With the constant walloping bites of mid-sized pollack on an Irish reef, worms tend to fall apart after a short while. Check that the body material is tough enough!