When’s the right time to change lures? How long do you fish your lure without success before you change them? We break down the process now.
At each extreme side of the lure-change discussion, there are extremes. And if not ourselves, we have either one or both, as fishing buddies.
One side is Mr. “one lure to catch all”, and the other is Mr. Change-a-lot.
One Lure To Rule Them All
He refuses to change his lure because it was blessed with magical mojo by the craftsman who made it and tons of fish attracting magical juices seeping from its core.
He’s caught so many fish on this lure, he refuses to tie on anything else.
There is so much confidence in his lure, that he somehow makes it work. Most of the time.
It can be disabling to have a “favorite” or “confidence” lure. It will take more than an arm bending to get you to change your lure for another.
Even if all his mates are hooking up to left, right and center, the stubbornness keeps him glued to his confidence lure.
He is extremely educated with technical specifications, swim depths and styles, sink and float rates, hook balancing, and swim techniques for each lure he has in his bag. And he has plenty.
Two casts in, and if he doesn’t get a hint of a nibble, he will change lures.
Half of the time he is squatting somewhere on the boat, or on the bank tying on another lure, looking for the correct set of hooks, swim testing it, then finally casting out.
Often, he gets his cast out after the bite window is over.
Obviously these two characters are examples of what are at the extreme ends of the angler persona.
From an external and logical point of view, a balance must be met. And there are a few factors that determine when to change lures and when not to.
And these factors and conditions are applicable to both saltwater and freshwater fishing scenarios, and any predatory species you are targeting.
Here are some factors that we should consider when deciding what lure to use, and when to use them.
If you are lucky enough to have great visibility and can see what baitfish are within your fishing area, you can match the hatch and zone in on what your targeted fish are feeding on.
Natural colored lures are best for water with great visibility.
And when the water is murky, choppy, bright and glary, experimenting with lures is necessary until a pattern is figured out.
Bright and loud colors or black and dark colored lures work well in these situations.
Weather and Water Temperature
Barometric pressure and water temperature both have significant effects on the fish we are after.
When water temperatures are cooler, fish tend to get lazier than they already are.
Add in a front, and you’ve got lock-jawed fish all-round.
To entice these couch potatoes, require a lot of effort, trial and error.
Accurate casts right on top of their heads to get a bite. Slow and methodical “dying baitfish” action. Or even fast jerky retrieves to entice a reaction strike.
On the flip side, if the weather holds well and you time your session perfectly, anything you throw at them will be well received and swallowed down to the gills.
Knowing what kind of structure you’ll be fishing around helps greatly when selecting lures.
Shallow reef? Deep ledges? Channels? Brush? Mangroves?
Fish love holding close to some sort of structure. Select lures to suit the structure around you.
These fundamental factors are what should be considered when selecting lures for different fishing situations.
I’ve got a range of lures selected to cover most situations that I think I may find myself fishing. How long should I fish a lure without success before changing it?
Using the factors listed above as reference, choose a lure that you feel will work in the current situation. Then stick with it until you’ve worked all the potential spots in that area.
No bites after your first 10 well-placed casts or jig drops? Time to switch it up.
If all conditions are favorable in your chosen fishing location, experiment with lures and techniques until you find a pattern that works, then stick with it until fish stop biting.
The willingness to change your flies on the water when you’re not getting bites, is often the key factor in determining whether you have a good or bad day of fishing. – Louis Cahill
Remember that the fish’s menu changes throughout the day. Some lures will work great in the morning and may not work at all by noon.
This menu change is the main cause of an angler sticking to one lure for the whole day.
If you don’t have your lure in the water, it won’t catch fish.
It can be both empowering and disabling to have a “favorite” or “confidence” lure.
Those in too deep, like topwater addicts, don’t care about numbers, as long as they get their topwater fix.
Same goes for the superstitious ones. If a lure is not bathed in fish blood at the dusk, directly facing the sea on a Friday, it will never catch fish.
While it’s good to change lures to keep the action going throughout the day, make sure not to change it every 5 minutes.
As someone just starting out, and not afflicted with topwater madness or fly fishing yet, getting the numbers in to gain as much experience as possible is the most ideal.
Work a specific part of the water you are fishing well. Start with 10 casts per section. No bites? Change you lure and repeat the process until you get a bite. And then change again when the hot bite stops.
How long do you wait til’ you change your lure?