Lets set the scene, you’re walking down an isle at your favorite outdoors store, you’re about to turn down isle 27, you saw the sign that said fishing gear and started salivating. You turn the corner and BAM, smacked in the eyeballs with at least 4000 different well packaged, colourful, and sometimes bizarre options. What’s the point? There’s only so many types of fish to catch.
Jigs, crankbait, jerkbait, plastics, divers, floaters, spoons, spinners, bobbers, weights, hooks, leaders, downriggers, bottom bouncers, and even small fake ducks and mice. The list goes on and on and on and on. How do you make sense of it all, is there something specific to look for? Does one work better then the other. The best answer I can give for that is maybe. Confusing right? Yes, I know and agree.
Now to the nitty gritty on how to pick the right bait and lures when out on your kayak. First off let me mention that there are a lot of better anglers throughout the province then myself, who consistently catch amazing fish. I just thoroughly enjoy the sport and happen to be the one writing this so, here we are. There are three or four things I and a lot of other anglers have chatted about over the years when selecting that perfect bait. They are mainly Colour, Size, type, and the “Cool Factor”.
Lets start with Colour. The colour of the lure should be a huge part in your bait and lure decision making. This is based off mainly water conditions and naturally found baitfish colours. If your fishing a murky lake or pond, like the majority are within Alberta then brighter colours will be an obvious choice as they easier to spot. Weather can play a part in this as well. Sun refeclting off lures can make things more attractive for fish and help the fish notice your bait. A little research on the lake your fishing will help you understand what types of baitfish are located in that particular lake that the gamefish are feeding on. Matching your bait colours to mimic naturally found baitfish and water conditions are a good choice to help dial in the colour of bait that will work best on a particular lake.
Size, big baits catch big fish, yes is true, but mainly because small fish can’t fit it in their mouth. Using big baits can make for a slow day if there’s not to many monsters within said lake. I’ve caught pike on flies and on 12inch baits. Pike with there gator like jaws can fit huge things in there mouth, pond trout, not so much. So, the choice is yours. Just make sure the species your after can fit it in their mouth to begin with.
Style of lure. Diver, floater, jigs, flies etc. This is normally determined by depth. Floating and topwater baits and flies are good for casting over weed beds, so you don’t get tangled with a clump of seaweed on every cast, lures with weed guards can help this as well. Determine what target species you’after and matching your lure type to the depth they will be at. IE walleye tend to either be on the bottom, or suspending at certain depths, so jigs with bait or crank baits with big bills to help them dive deeper will help. Pike are in the shallows in the spring after spawn and move further out as the year progresses and the water warms. Floating or suspending cranks work best for this. Choosing a lure to get to where the fish are is important. Spoons and large spinners sink, where as a lot of crank baits don’t. Heavier Spoons are a favorite for trolling because they can get down deeper then a lot of other baits on the market. Researching fish spawning cycles can help you narrow down there location on the lake before you even start.
Robb, Gord and Myself Trolling for trout at Black Nugget Lake Park
Lastly what I refer to as the cool factor is where all common sense goes flying out the window. I have about 20 lures in my possession that I purchased just because they look cool. Extra fins, or spinning blades, that newest colour, hoping that slight bit of flash or shine will provide that extra edge to coerce that finned monster to my hook. Do they make a difference, probably not, but does it get me excited to get back on the water in my kayak and land a lunker. Yes, Yes it does. Being excited about your passion is a good thing I suppose.
I did a quick survey with some friends, anglers, and some new to me friends on favorite baits this morning. (Got to love social media.) Besides being ultimately surprised at the swiftness of over 20 responses, I was correct in assuming that there really is no perfect bait. It took some convincing to get answers from those who said it wasn’t that straight forward when picking a lure or bait. (based off reasons above)
The folks I chatted with were asked what there favorite lure/ Bait and colour were for Pike, Walleye and Rainbow Trout. These are folks I’ve fished with, became friends with, witnessed catch fish personally, competed against, and talked shop with for hours on end. They also reside in most areas of the province. The results are as follows out of a small survey of 25 Alberta anglers that fish throughout the province on the regular. The following are the best lures of choice. Here's the top two for each category.
- 3-5 inch Spoons like Len Thompsons or Mepps Cyclops. With multi coloured Five of Diamonds, Red Devils and perch colours being the most common.
- Large spinner baits like Mepps or Panter Martin came a close second with white and chartreuse colours being the most popular.
*Surprisingly, only two people mentioned lipped crank baits.
- Jigs Tipped with a minnow, worm, or plastic grub came in first with 23 people out of the 25 I chatted with saying that was there preference Brighter colours like pink, yellow, and white along with glow colours were the most common.
- A plain hook tipped with a minnow or leech came in next.
- Small inline spinners from Artic fox, Mepps and Panther Martin took the lead here with a multitude of different bright colours mentioned.Like red and chartreuse.
- Small spoons such as the Kamlooper, Little Cleo and Thomas Bouyant Spoons were the second most popular.
*Big shout out to the Olive woolly Bugger and Prince Nymphs both were mentioned a couple times
This little mini survey goes to show you that there is no perfect lure, that works for every situation, for everyone all the time. That island of fishing treasure at your local shop can be tamed. I believe in you. Do what works best for you, using all the resources you have at your disposal. You’ll drive yourself bonkers doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This stands true when picking what’s on the end of your line. Don’t hesitate to try something new or switch it up. It may surprise you.
A great big bear hug style thank you to everyone that answered some questions for me.
Andy. W Asst Manager Aquabaitcs Edmonton