If you’re the typical angler, you’ve probably got a secret lure kept under wraps, one you’ve developed ultimate confidence in as a fish-catching machine. I’ve had many fishermen tell me they have a special lure that always works, then make me swear I won’t tell another soul for life! They usually tell me this while nervously looking around to make sure there aren’t any cameras or listening devices nearby! Yes, I completely understand! I wouldn’t trust my own mother with something that valuable … well maybe!
Yes, it’s hard to keep a secret these days, especially with the internet and social media. In the wrong hands, your special baby could be someone else’s big splash in minutes, as it’s broadcasted from here to Timbuctoo and they take credit for your hard work. Once it leaks, it’s almost impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.
So why do guys share their deepest, darkest lure secrets that took decades to develop, knowing how fragile trust in another angler can be? My first guess is that we all like to be appreciated for our talent, ingenuity and cleverness as well as our ability to catch fish. While you may be doing well fishing alone, I think it’s human nature to want your peers to see you as a good angler. Sharing something very special, like a prized lure, is another way of gaining hard-earned respect from someone you admire.
In almost every case, the special baits I’ve been shown are usually not in the mainstream, but most have subtle but special properties the fish sense, such as more roll, erratic action, unusual paint jobs or they’re being used in ways that most anglers would never consider. In addition, finding that “super niche” where the lure works perfectly probably occurred when an inquisitive angler fortuitously put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Secret lures need to be paired with the right secret conditions from my experience. I’ve fished with guys who tell me I’m doing something old school, and I need to get the newest special lure. Funny, it seems in most cases that the stuff they think is so great is actually a new version of something that worked well decades earlier, with newer paint and better packaging now. Sorry to say, guess I’m old enough now to spot a lot of these knock-offs with new names. Some of my best secrets are regular old school plugs I know when to use.
My latest secret lure encounter proved very productive and exciting when an angler told me about some huge stripers he had caught a few years ago. I discounted it, but he took me aside and confided that he was going to show me this unusual plug. OK, I would listen. Digging through his boat, he brought out a lure I was very familiar with, but it had a paint job I had never seen. Looked like a kindergarten art project! As he handed it to me, he told me to try it out right away. I was doubtful to say the least as I tied it on the following trip, then caught striper after striper all day! No, I’m keeping it for myself if you’re wondering! I found it was a cold water lure that worked in 50- to 55-degree water, but that’s OK, it’s a bomb!
Do secret lures work because we have confidence in them? I think it’s probably part of the formula. I know that when things get tough, I’m digging around in my tackle box looking for the lure that gives me the most confidence. It may be a feeling – however, we make a lot of our important decisions the same way. Most of the time it turns out it was the right thing to tie on.
I have tackle boxes full of previously secret lures, but I’m always looking for the next one. By the way, I cut off my secret lures before I dock, so don’t be snooping! Never give up!