Tuning bibbed lures

by Dwayne Rigby

It has already been an especially productive morning. A combination of high tide, clear water and no wind rendered the early morning light ideal for a spot of bream polaroiding and we'd already caught and released 8 nice fish to 1.5kg.

Creeping slowly along the shore it was possible to see at least one bream every 15 metres or so, either slowly finning in the current or standing on it's nose pulling mussels off the rocks. By casting the little Dan McGrath Attack minnow past one and then slowly retrieving it past the fish's nose a strike was guaranteed. Beauty! It's not often you get such perfect sight fishing conditions.

There was a price to pay for this kind of action though as the next fish demonstrated. After playing him into the shore I grabbed the 6 kg leader and swung him upwards before rising my left hand in the water. I then dropped the fish into that hand. (Handling fish wit wet hands reduces damage to their productive slime coating and ensures they won't suffer and later ill effects.) Bertie bream's oyster jaws had done a fine job in crushing the barbless treble and the front eyelet on the lure was obviously bent out of the water. After releasing Bertie I lobbed out the attack to check how well it swam. Instead of putting on it's usual seductive rocking action it began a series off athletic but unproductive barrel rolls. Another bream cruised out from behind a rock and, deciding that this was a sicker bait fish than he wanted to tangle with, fled in either terror or amusement. It was time for some corrective surgery with the pliers.

Bibbed lures are becoming a lot more popular around the various fisheries in Tasmania and everyone I know has at least a couple. Part of this greater acceptance is probably connected with the greater availability that is evident these days. Local tackle shops now stock a rnage including Rapala, Rebel, Nilsmaster, McGrath, RTB, Taylor Made, Hueys, Downunder, Halso-RMG etc. From tiny Rebel Crawfish from bream to the massive Rapala CD 18 (or 26 if you're game) minnows from tuna there's something for everyone. However, I suspect that a lot of people aren't getting the full value and performance out of their bibbed lures.

Sometimes you'll take one out of the packet and, instead of swimming straight it wants to swim on it's side in a wide semi-circle. As soon as you increase its speed it starts doing barrel rolls and cartwheels. The stresses caused by a few good fish can have the same effect on a lure that was previously swimming well. The good news is that you don't have to put up with a "˜dog"minnow. They can easily be tuned to swim straight and fast and all you'll need is a pair of long nosed pliers and five minutes time. Here's how you do it:

  1. Find a quiet spot with reasonably clear water and little tidal run. Cast your lure out and retrieve it as fast as you normally would when fishing. Note the way it swims back. If it's swimming straight and true then congratulate yourself, go home and have a drink.
  2. If the lure is swimming off to one side it will try to swim back in an arc rather than a straight line. You will notice that the lure is trying to lay over on one side which is why they eventually roll if the speed gets too high.
  3. Check that they eyelets securing the hooks are straight ie. In line with the lure body. If not then straighten them with your pliers. Check the hooks as well as a bent treble will throw the lures action out of whack. If the hooks are bent then either straighten or replace them.
  4. Cast your lure out again and see how it goes. If it's still not swimming properly then you'll need to adjust the towing (front) eyelet by bending it slightly either left or right. Remember though, you generally only have to bend it a small amount and a bit of trail and error is required. If it's still not quite right then bend it a bit more. If it starts swimming the other way then bend it back a little. Incidentally, this method also works with bibles minnows such as the Halco Trembler and Mal Florence Blaster series. You also need to look at how you are rigging your lures. A big snap swivel for example will destabilise small lures. So will tying a tight knot straight on to the tow eyelet. Always use either an appropriately sized snap swivel, a loop knot, or put a small split ring on the tow eyelet to tie your line to. As you can see there is no reason to put up with lures that don't earn their keep. It is easy to tune then and you could readily do 10 or so lures in an hour. It might be a nice way to spend an hour or so in the off season so that when you get back into it you've got confidence in all your lures.
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