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Lure Overload?


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Lure Overload?

Chasing Trout and Salmon on Lake Ontario can be a daunting task and as fishermen, we have a tendency to complicate absolutely everything. Beyond the boat, the tackle, and all of the equipment; the lures that go in the water everyday seem to define us. No one would ever think that they could possibly have too many spoons, plugs, or flies in their arsenal. Could having an excessive amount of lures actually make you less successful?

Some of you may think these words may be spoken a little too easy from a captain who has, admittingly, too much tackle on his boat. Having too many options, may cause us to over think our spread and makes us constantly second guess our lure selections. This confusion that occurs above the water often results in mass confusion under the water. This is a common problem that exists and it can simply be called “lure overload”.

Simply put, lure selection should be made easy by basing it off of past success and rarely ever about emotion. It has never made sense to me to change a lure, which has put fish in the boat all morning, just because it hasn’t taken a fish in the past hour. When fish become negative the worse thing we can do is to take our most productive baits of the day out of the water and start replacing them with unproven soldiers. Confidence in bait selection and in your spread might be the single most important factor to consider, when the bite has slowed and the fish have become inactive.

I’m certainly not against changing unproductive lures or experimenting with new ones. However, during the lull of the day we should remain the most patient, believe in our spread, and stick with what we are confident in. Although we may have been taught otherwise or think otherwise, the best time to experiment with colors or patterns is not when we aren’t catching fish, but when we are. When we are not catching fish, is the ideal time to lock down and keep our most productive lures fishing.

I know we all have been guilty of changing lures too often as the bite slows down. We reset our rods and tirelessly rummage through the tackle box in search for that “magic” spoon; but the decision to do so tends to keep lines out of the water, ultimately resulting in less fish in the boat. The overabundance of choices makes us mix manufacturers, colors, sizes, and designs without taking a minute to think about how they run together as a whole. Big water trolling should always be looked at as a team sport and decisions should not be made about an individual lure, but instead with the entire “team” in mind. It is important to recognize the symbiotic relationship that exists under your boat, because every lure is only as good as the one its next to.

As we all know, the faster we learn patterns, the more successful and consistent fishermen we can become. So if we stored six, seven, or eight lures together because we had previous success collectively fishing them, it would certainly help us on our next trip out. As time goes on, we begin to realize the importance of speed, the location in our spread, and the appropriate depth in the water column, for every one of our lures.

Eventually, we will be able to identify these conditions and confidently fill the voids in our spreads using a stable of “go to” lures in which we have developed from our past victories on the water. Lure selection may be dictated by conditions, species, and time of year, but understanding why we make our decisions will make us all more successful. Knowing the fundamentals and using your past experiences will increase the possibilities of a successful day out on the Lake Ontario.

Chatter on the radio tends to create a lot of unnecessary confusion. Hearing about what’s working (and what’s not) for others, greatly influences our decisions and ultimately also our spreads. No one ever wants to miss the action but trying to duplicate someone else’s success on the water, can create more problems then its worth. Learning how to make subtle changes rather than “crow barring” things into your spread, will prove to be a better approach. The fish will tell you more then your best friend fishing 2.5 miles away; you just have to be willing to listen.

If you ask 10 charter captains what their 10 favorite lures are they would probably give you 10 completely different answers, but the thing they all have in common is presentation. The importance of presentation is often lost in a sea of spoons and flashers, as fishermen tend to place too much emphasis on lure selection. While color and patterns are often looked at first; speed, deployment, and location in the spread, are all things that should be considered, before making the correct lure selection. I would take the “wrong” spoon fished well, over the “right” spoon fished badly any day. Yet people blindly pick lures all the time and then spend the entire day figuring out how to fish them. Trout and salmon fishing on Lake Ontario can be a challenge in itself and making “smart” choices rather than relying on “luck”, will certainly make us more successful.

With all these things considered, it may be tough to take advice on “Lure Overload”, from a charter captain with a thousand spoons on his boat.

Captain Rob Westcott is a licensed charter captain and NYS guide operating out of western New York. www.legacysportfishing.com. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys everything from fly tying to duck hunting. He has a lifetime passion for the outdoors, especially fishing. You can contact him at 585-703-969 or e-mail him at [email protected]

Published in Lake Ontario Outdoors magazine


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This is so true. Captain Don Alofs once told me don't take off your hot lures when the bite dies down. He said you always want your best stuff down when the bite returns.

That being said, I always get a small high when buying new tackle.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 4 months later...

Captain Rob, thanks for a great article. Dead on in my view. Do you have any views/advice on when to pull spoons. versus plugs. versus dodger/flies, meat rigs?? Also is there a time to use magnum over standard size spoons?

Thanks again.

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I can say from previous experience, changing brands/sizes of lures during a tough bite is much more successfull than changing colors of the same brand. They all run different.

That said, I have a few hot lures that never leave the water, even if they don't get a bump some nights. A buddy has a paddle/fly we've caught 100+ fish on. It's going to be a sad day if we ever lose that thing.

I have way too much tackle.

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It's funny how one lure is hot for 1 angler and i cant get a bite on it,but finding the place for a certain lure in the spread can work.i have certain lures that i really like on my long lines and not so much on my riggers.previous success can dictate lure selection.i think i like collecting lures because i always seem to only fish my "go to" lures and have a lot that hardly get wet.

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  • 9 months later...

...that was an interesting read.

As for myself, Ive found that Ive actually decreased the number of lures I use for trolling in my tackle bag over the years.

Ive been using Michigan Stinger Magnum spoons almost exclusively for salmon for the past 4 seasons, and only have 4 different colors of those but have multiple copies of each. When 1 color gets hit, I change most over to that color.

Years ago Id have a huge selection of spoon sizes and colors and makes and have had days just like everyone else when nothing seems to work and we go through the lure changing routine. But, in my experience if they aint biting constant changing really never helped that much if at all.

The better thing to do for me (may be different for others) was to leave and find completely different waters- take at least a 5 mile or even more cruise and get into some new water and different fish. This has made a big big difference some days and has a couple of times kept the skunk out of the boat.

So for me, fewer lures has been actually better. Ive got a few MS magnums for salmon,

about 3 or 4 orange ProKings for rainbows up high and about 4 Plazma spoons

and some spin n glows for lakers . I have a few Big Weenie XXX UV flies (love these, been very productive for me in Lake O, I havent used any other brand for about 3 years) and I even still run my old Hot spot flashers that Ive had for years and years, got about 4 colors of those.

So, a much simpler lighter tackle bag, less headaches trying to find the right lure, and I believe , better use of the time out on the lake.

In case your wondering, my MS colors are #1 Glow Puke (Blue Puke with glow tape)

#2 Rosemarys Baby (with some purple tape on the cup)

#3 Mongoose (with some purple tape on the cup)

#4 Ludington Special

cant wait to get back on the lake, still a little too cool for me though:grin:

good luck guys

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lol just got my boat end of last year, time to go out in it once, but i already have damned near 200 spoons not counting flashers flies and plugs. let the learning process begin. i will say my inland tackle box is ongodly overstocked at about 70 pounds worth and i use 4 lures regularly out of the thousand. thanks for the article very good read and informative.

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