Finding the ideal lure retrieve speed
The speed that you retrieve your lure is important, although not always critical. That’s the great thing about lure fishing, as anyone can cast a lure and have a chance of catching a predatory fish, because it’s in their nature for predatory fish to chase prey fish – and things that look like prey fish, says Mick Brown.
Some days though they are simply not in a chasing mood, and it’s at such times when they show great reluctance to chase that results can be affected dramatically in a negative way, particularly to the less experienced angler.
Those anglers who pay close attention to detail can, however, reap the rewards if they attempt to come close to finding a speed of retrieve that will make predators react. Other factors, such as finding the critical depth or creating a response ‘trigger’ by imparting a particular type of action to the lure, are just as important. They must be taken into account in the complex equation that attempts to present the perfect retrieve. Get it right and you will undoubtedly catch more fish.
So, what is the ideal retrieve speed? It will naturally vary for different species at different times of year; water temperature plays a major part here. It’s up to you to experiment to find the optimum speed of retrieve for success, unfortunately!
As a basic rule though, I retrieve faster in warm water and slower in cold water. That’s only a very basic starting point, but changing speed can often change a difficult day into a ‘red letter’ one. It’s easy to understand the basic principle of starting very slow and building up speed, and vice-versa by starting very fast and gradually slowing down. There’s every chance of finding the right speed by doing exactly that.
What is less known amongst lure anglers is bringing the lure to almost a dead stop, and this can apply when fishing in any water temperature. Doing this keeps the lure in the strike zone for as long as possible and allows predators much more time to make up their minds. But you cannot do this with every style of lure pattern.
This is where suspending lures, slow-rising lures and slow-sinking lures come into play. They can be retrieved at their working depth at a very slow speed and then paused for quite a while. Just how long this is can be determined by testing them in the margins if the water is clear and deep enough.
Of course, you cannot make a lure stop perfectly still, but you can slow its ascent or descent down to such a rate that it is very nearly at a standstill.
Check out such lures from Rapala as the X-Rap, X-Rap Deep, X-Rap Jointed Shad,Husky Jerk, BX Swimmer, Clackin’ Minnow, Max Rap and Flat Rap. From Storm Lures you should also look at the Swimmin’ Stick, Flat Stick Glider, Twitch Stick, Flutter Stick Mad Flash and Sea Bass Thunder Minnow. Each has some quite unique properties, and amongst them you are sure to find a lure that will tempt the most wary predator.
They are all worth getting to know, and can take you into a different league of lure fishing when compared to similar-looking lures that do not have such capabilities built into them.
On a recent day, when I went out with Matt Rand to demonstrate the use of various Rapala lures, it was clear that the pike were not in a chasing mood. So, it was time to bring out a suitable lure in the form of a 10cm Rapala X-Rap Shallow.
Eventually, after working the lure very slowly and using regular pauses, I got a pike to follow, and as it came into sight it was obviously not going to grab it. I paused and allowed the lure to settle and then rise at such a rate that it looked suspended.
The weight of my trace was perfect, and not too heavy to cause the lure to sink or too light to allow the lure to rise more quickly. Ten seconds or more passed and the pike just stared at the lure. I held my breath to see who would back down first.
Without warning, the pike inhaled the lure and turned away with it. To me it was plastic and metal, but I had convinced the pike it was edible, and it felt very satisfying.
So don’t forget that you need to consider the speed of retrieve on EVERY cast, and if you don’t get any hits as the fish aren’t chasing, switch to the lures that can provoke them.