Lures - Size and Colour Does it Matter
Ask most keen anglers this question and the answer would be yes. Lure trolling is just one form of saltwater gamefishing on Tasmania's east coast and by far the most popular choice.
The reason for lure trolling being so popular, is that it has been proven to be successful for catching all the tuna species, striped marlin and the occasional mako shark.
In my opinion, lure size and colour does matter, but this forms only part of the equation that goes together to achieve the strike. There is no point having the correct colour and size lure if trolling speed is incorrect as well as lure placement not ideal. My firm belief is that being in the right location and having ideal lure placement behind the boat are more important than size and colour. These four variables will change depending on what species are being targeted at the time.
The albacore tuna is one of Tasmania's most commonly caught gamefish, so it is probably appropriate to talk about what will tempt these fish to strike.
The text book tells us to try and match lure size to what the fish are feeding on at the time, and yet so often we see the albacore striking a 10 to 15 centimetre lure when they have been feeding on tiny fish concentration less than 1 centimetre long, why is this so? These tuna are a very opportunistic feeder and will eat morsels that are within a certain size range.
Let us take a checklist to see the things that we know an albacore tuna does like:
* A lure around 10-15 centimetres in length
* Chrome jet head style (Boone & Hexhead)
* Lead head jig style lures (Hitman)
* Bibless minnow
* Boat speed around 5 to 6 knots
* Lure placement in or on the edge of frothy prop wash
* A change in lure speed (especially down)
Lure colours that work well are green and gold, purple and black, blue and white, red and white. Other combinations will also work but experimentation at the start of the day will determine which colours will perform, as cloud cover and light conditions play a big part in which colours are successful on that particular day. After a while, you may notice that whilst trolling, one particular line or one rod is continually hooking fish. Take to the time to inspect this lure, the distance it is set behind the boat, the action it has, its location in the wash etc, so that this becomes a learning curve for future fishing days. Remember that the albacore do like lures close the boat in the white water as a rule generally. On certain days lures set below the surface, such as on a paravain will be successful at times attract strikes from the larger albacore.
Similar rules apply when setting larger lures. First of all, the species you are targeting should be determined then the appropriate lures selected. The general school of thought is that the larger lures will resemble a larger baitfish and in turn attract the larger gamefish. Having said this, large tuna and marlin do feed on quite small baitfish at times and will take small lures being trolled for albacore. Our personal preference on the charter boat when lure trolling, is to have a medium to large (20 - 35 centimetre) vinyl skirted pusher style lure on each outrigger, set back further than the albacore lures. Each angler has his or her colour preferences for use.
Our preferences are:
marlin colours: black,silver and purple,
yellowfin tuna: green, gold and blue,
Lure manufacturers such as Moldcraft, Pakula, Jinkai, Top Gun and Black Magic produce excellent off the shelf medium to large lures designed to target larger gamefish.
The beauty also with these larger (20 -35 centimetres) lures is that larger hooks (single or dual configuration) can be set in the lure giving greater purchase and holding power on the larger fish.
On a finishing note, remember that many variables go together to result in the successful lure hook-up of Tasmanian gamefish, and that lure size and colour are only two of the variables. If a system is not working, change it, and keep changing it and if a system is successful take close notice and in this way your lure fishing techniques will be refined.