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When should you change your lures?

By Staff | Nov 4, 2010

During a day of trolling, how often should you change your fishing lures? The answers, and there are many, range from the practical to the psychological to the philosophical.

All possible answers branch from this simple reply: when you change your lures depends on why you are changing them. Here is an assortment of “whys.”

Change lures when sea conditions change. Some lures work much better than others in rough seas, and others raise more fish in calm conditions. A splashing lure that stays on top most of the time is easily lost in white caps and tossing seas. That’s the time to replace it with a lure that digs in and runs down where the fish can see it more readily. Similarly, calm days give your surface disturbers lots of chances to call fish with their air-grabbing surface noises.

Change lures when you change your target fish. If you are running the 30- to 40-fathom ledges for ono, pull in those marlin lures rigged on nylon leaders and put out your heavy metal heads rigged on wire. If the mahi mahi are “happening,” replace a few of the bigger lures in the pattern with a few small heads finished with seven-inch skirts. When the ahi are rolling, troll bullet heads skirted with bright colors and rigged with single hooks.

Change lures when yours aren’t catching fish, and everybody else is catching them on something different. To do this, you have to have a grapevine of friends willing to share information.

Change lures when you change seasons. During the winter run of striped marlin, spearfish and small blue marlin, smaller lures are more likely to get bitten than their larger cousins are. During the summer months, when more big fish are around, move up a size or two.

Change lures to match the local forage. If malolo are flying, be sure you have a few lures of malolo size dressed in blue and silver. Where ‘opelu are schooling, add a lure colored with green, light yellow and silver. When the fish are feeding on squid, put out one or more lures trimmed in pink, brown, red/orange and white. When the fish are feeding on small kawakawa, use lures dressed with barred skirts. If you are fishing around aku schools, try a lure with “g-bob” colors (a pink/silver skirt under a blue/white skirt marked with black stripes). Don’t try to “match the hatch” with all of your lures, however. Sometimes the lure that works best is the one that gives the fish a taste for something different.

Change lures if you change your trolling speed. Some trollers experiment with different trolling speeds in order to vary the pitch of the engine. Changing RPMs changes the sound you transmit to possible strikers. A lure that works just great at ten knots, however, can drop dead at eight. In addition, a lure that catches fish at eight might catch nothing but air at ten.

Don’t change a lure just because sharp teeth and rough bills have marked it up. Sometimes the most battered lures get the most fish. So change lures as often or as rarely as you wish.

Just remember this: if you aren’t catching fish, it is rarely the fault of the lure. Wrong lure takes a distant third to wrong place and wrong time.