From the water’s edge

Artificial

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October 2010 - Hammer time

I hope that you find my journal interesting and entertaining. If, having read this, you think that I am talking rubbish then at least you have stopped and thought about it long enough to come to that conclusion which is something of a result in my book. If you would like to comment on this article or anything else relating to my website, please feel free to contact me using the adjacent form. Feedback is always greatly appreciated and very helpful when it comes to improving both my site and my angling. Thank you for looking.

The first three fish in this stack of images came on my first trip to a midlands canal, while the chub came on the next to a medium-sized Derbyshire river. There are no monsters here. The chub was just over 3.5 lbs and the perch 1.5 lbs, but they demonstrate clearly how effective these lures are. The zander, bless it, gulped down a 4.5” version which barely fitted into its mouth.
As you can see from the images, this pattern has a short body and a long tail. This undoubtedly makes for a superb action that perch seem to find particularly attractive, but it can be ruined by having too long a hook in the bait. It goes against the grain a bit but I would start with a shorter hook because I have found that any fish big enough to take the lure properly, will, and you will hook up ok.
The zander in the image above got the whole lot down even though the hook was less than halfway along the bait. In fact if further use shows that these are taken well down regularly, having the hook towards the front could be a big advantage.
I have already had several takes on the drop which suggests that the tail is working well as the lure falls under its own weight and I think it pays to make sure that you have the right amount of lead. I have been using 2/0 and 3/0 hooks on the 3” version mounted on 6-7gm jigheads for the canal. Here the average depth is less than 5-6 ft in the middle. The 4.5” version which looks like it will make a cracking pike lure seems to need at least 5/0 hooks and 10 grams to work properly in the same venues. Too little and the action is shared out in favour of body roll rather than tail movement, and to my eye at least it looks horrible.
I think another few grams would have been useful in the deeper water and stronger currents of the river. I managed well enough with the same combinations I suppose but it required a lower rod tip and a slower retrieve. I have nothing against either but it does make a jig more susceptible to snagging. A little more weight would have given more options and more control.
These lures have been a pleasure to review because unlike many others they will work anywhere. There is nothing worse than struggling to find a venue for a lure whose undoubted abilities require particular circumstances to shine. I still have a lot to try with these and I am in the mood to step up my lure sizes in the coming couple of weeks because apart from wanting to use these 4.5” shads a lot more, I have a nice swimbait to test and I am hopeful of some larger, if fewer, fish to come.
Alan’s internet shop is one of my all time favourites because he stocks such a wide variety of interesting baits, most of which are not generally available outside of the States. Now that postage has become so prohibitive, Bass pro and Cabelas are a waste of space and it is great to be able to find this sort of tackle available in this country.
I don’t want to repeat my full review here particularly, but I do have one or two observations to make from the short time that I have been using them.
I found the pattern with the fluo yellow tail to be a very attractive colour but in the 3” size, it did suffer more with small fish taking just the tail and not hooking up. I would choose one with a tail the same colour as the belly for choice.   
As a rule, in these difficult times most dealers are understandably a little shy with what they can afford to give away and it is consequently difficult to fish their lures in a relaxed and confident way. It is hard to review a lure that is left hanging on the far bank after the first cast.
Alan Mee at AGM however was very generous with these Big Hammer shads and it helped me no end when writing a review of them for the site. In particular he sent me a good variety of patterns, which for somebody who almost invariably uses the same colour most of the time was a breath of fresh air. His generosity paid off immediately when I discovered that while my favourite colours (plain pale body with a dark back) worked well straight away, a change to something else that I would not normally carry caught me more fish. When the takes dried up, a switch to bubble gum pink or a dark coppery colour produced extra takes and fish.
It may seem like a dream job testing and reviewing lures and I wouldn’t want you to think that I am arguing that it is a hardship, but it can be a pain all the same. In another parallel universe, I am a reviewer for John Cheyne and Gary Palmer’s Luretours website. Along with Keith Edmunds, I get sent the latest lures that they have managed to get their hands on and put them through their paces for the sort of fishing that I do. I make no secret of the fact that my interest lies at the lighter end of the scale so my venues and tackle make it  hard for me to test anything much over 4-5” in length or 21 grams in weight.
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