Gerald Almy: Blade lures effective for winter, spring fishing
Blade lures are one of the hottest types of artificial baits available for catching a wide spectrum of gamefish. Best of all, they’re especially productive right now, from winter through spring.
It’s difficult to imagine a more plain-looking lure. Stamped into a tear-drop shape out of a single piece of metal, these baits closely resemble shad and minnows. They drop quickly to the deep levels where many gamefish hang out during winter. And that’s one of the keys to their effectiveness. They’re deadly on largemouths, but also score on smallmouths, spotted bass, stripers walleyes, hybrids, white bass, crappie, pickerel, pike, trout, and yellow perch.
Blade lures also cast like a bullet, allowing you to cover lots of water quickly. Every tackle box should have at least a few blade lures in a variety of sizes and colors. The Cotton Cordell Gay Blade was one of the earliest versions of blade lures, but now many companies offer them. Check out Basspro.com and Cabelas.com for a wide selection or check local outlets for fishing and hunting supplies.
COLOR AND SIZE
Many colors are offered, but the most productive are silver, gold, nickel, chartreuse, green, and purple. As for size, for panfish, small bass or trout, ¼-ounce is a good weight. For all-around use and most bass fishing, 1/2- or 5/8-ounce versions are best. For pike, stripers, jumbo-sized bass, or when fishing heavy currents in rivers, go with ¾-ounce models.
At first glance, blades look like a scrap stamped out of sheet metal, but there’s more to these deep water lures than first meets the eye. While mostly flat, they also have a bulbous lower front that provides weight and balances the lure. Eyes are often painted in but actually protrude in some models. A few blades feature curves in the body or a washboard-shaped tail that adds vibration when the lure is lifted.
Cast and retrieve. This time-proven tactic is one of the deadliest methods for presenting these lures. Cast to cover such as rocks, bridge pilings, points, riprap, docks and flooded timber and allow the lure to sink close to the bottom on slack line. Then reel back steadily.
This tactic also scores well on fish breaking into baitfish on the surface. Cast into the melee of feeding gamefish and frantically jumping shad and reel smoothly. If strikes don’t come, pause occasionally and let the lure flutter down like a wounded minnow.
Fishing the drop. A variation of this presentation involves casting out to structure and allowing the lure to drop on a tight line. It will swing down in an arch and often elicits slashing strikes from waiting gamefish. If no hit comes, reel in and recast to a different spot.
Pump and reel. This is a good tactic for goading fish to strike when they’re sluggish and want more action. Cast out, let the lure sink to the bottom or just above it, then work the lure with a lift-and-drop retrieve. Raise the blade 12-24 inches, and then let it sink back. Reel in a few feet and then repeat. Strikes could come anytime, but often occur when the lure is sinking. Be ready.
Vertical jigging. This is sometimes the deadliest tactic of all for blade lures. It’s especially productive when you locate bait and gamefish on your sonar over a specific piece of structure at depths of 20-50 feet. Drop the blade lure down until you reach the fish’s level on the depth finder, or all the way to the bottom and then reel up a foot or two.
Lift the rod 12-30 inches. Then lower it just fast enough that the lure falls freely but excessive slack doesn’t form. Watch for a twitch in the line as it descends. Set up fast and hard.
Use braided line for vertical jigging, braided or mono for the other tactics in 10-30 pound test. Baitcast outfits are best, combined with a 6-7-½ foot medium or medium-heavy action rod.
Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.