I have a soft spot in my heart for soft plastic lures ever since a blue marlin fooled by a Red Bailey Special during the International Billfish Tournament in San Juan, Puerto propelled my team to victory in that venerable contest, and I’ve carried Mold Craft lures in my tackle bag ever since.
When choosing lures, confidence breeds success. If you have faith in a particular lure or color combination you’ll pull it more often, which generally means more strikes and a better catch ratio. Walk aboard any seasoned battlewagon and you’ll find a carefully guarded, battle-scarred favorite in the tackle center, the go-to lure when the bite is slow. But if you’re just getting into blue-water fishing, how do you decide among the thousands of lures on tackle shop wall? Buy the classics and you’ll never go wrong.
Here they are:
With a 90-degree face, this lure tracks straight at slow to medium speeds and creates considerable smoke, or bubble trails, due to its flat design. The shorter head also increases hookups. Most effective when run from outriggers or on flat lines in calm seas.
Similar to the straight head, a swimmer lure, elongated and heavier, runs slightly below the surface, a good choice for high speed or rough water trolling since the weight and length provide stability and bite in the water.
With an angled face, plunger lures dart and dive on the surface and slightly below, creating a lengthy smoke trail and enticing action. Plungers can be trolled from short or long positions at various speeds.
Chuggers, a reverse taper design with a scooped face, quiver in the water and develop long, frothy bubble trails with digging action, effective in calm or rough water, but require heavier tackle due to their tremendous pull.
The jet head, perhaps the most universal lure offshore, provides a lifelike swimming appearance, with its nylon skirt and the shiny, reflective head, attracting fish from considerable distances. It works well solo, but is most commonly rigged in combination with rigged natural baits, especially ballyhoo.
Smaller and lighter versions of the straight head, cylinder heads are used when trolling slow to medium speeds. Like jets, cylinders are typically used as skirts for natural baits for species like white marlin and dolphin, but many big marlin have found them irresistible.
Although manufacturers offer enough lure colors to make rainbows pale in comparison, stick with the standby colors and you won’t go wrong. Silver-and-black, yellow-and-green, blue-and-white, green-and-white, purple-and-white and silver, and black-and-red. Go crazy with the palette if you like, but day-glow colors generally catch more fishermen than fish.
You don’t need a ton of colors or head designs. Carry the standards, and catch fish anywhere in the world.