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When good lures go bad

12/19/2019 6:12 AM

When Good Lures Go Bad

By Tim Moore

All fish have a place and time that they bite best. It could be a particular profile that triggers them that day, or maybe a color. How they bite is dependent on many factors such as water temperature, clarity, and time of day. When one of these factors changes, so does the way fish behave toward prey items, like your lure. These abrupt changes in fish behavior can be frustrating, especially when your favorite lure isn’t working. Sometimes the most subtle change to your lure will turn things around.

Have you ever fished your favorite spot, with your favorite lure, yet still can’t get a bite? I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve cycled through lure after lure, trying to make fish bite on days when they were finicky. I have also had days when I missed most of the fish that bit, yet never changed how I fished the lure I was using. Here are some tips that might help on days like these.

Northern pike are one of the best examples of moody fish. There are days when they will hit a pearl Whisperer from Daddy Mac Lures on an offset hook with a vengeance, but let the water cool down a few degrees in a short period of time, and they won’t touch it. These are the days when many anglers begin cycling through different lures, trying in vain to trigger a response from wary fish. Well, this is when I break out a red permanent marker and color the sides of the Whisperer with it. White spinnerbaits are great for pike, but they also have days when the fish won’t hit them and the red marker often does the trick. Neatness doesn’t count, just a few scribbles of the marker to make your lure look wounded, or just different will often make it look too good for a fish to pass up.

Spinnerbaits and spoons are known for causing short strikes. A short strike is when a fish hits the front, or head, of the lure and your line causes it to miss the hook. It’s a painful experience to have only one lure that seems to work that day, yet most of the fish that hit it are missed. One way you can prevent short strikes is to add a soft plastic lure to your hook. Short strikes are so common with spinnerbaits that some lure companies offer them with a soft plastic tail already added. I fish white and red spinnerbaits for pike a lot in dirty water and sometimes find it useful to add a Whisperer to the hook, but a fluke or senko will also work. Adding a soft plastic trailer makes the lure longer, which will often shift the strike zone back toward the hook, and increase the number of fish you catch.

There are many modifications that can be made to most lures such as adding color, rigging trailers, or even bending them to change how they swim. The trick is to be creative. Contrary to my title, good lures don’t go bad. Complacency and sometimes laziness is often the death of a lure that once worked. The next time you’re struggling and want to begin cycling through different lures, first consider doctoring the ones that you know work. The smallest modification can turn a frustrating day of fishing into one of the best that season. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.


Tim Moore is a full-time professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC.  He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit for more information.

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Tim Moore