From the water’s edge



June 2013 - Psychosomatic luring

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.


“Psychosomatic is the term used when a psychiatric problem, such as depression, anxiety or another disturbance, manifests itself as seemingly unrelated physical symptoms.”

Without wishing to make light of a sometimes serious medical condition, the term describes my lure fishing illness pretty well. By the time you have finished reading this you will either be thinking ‘thank God it’s not just  me’ or more likely,‘thank God its not me’. 50-50 is fair odds so here we go.

When I eventually started to catch fish on soft shads, I was using 4 and 5” baits exclusively. I knew little about zander but I knew that they were bloodthirsty killers who would tear every living thing to pieces and destroy this country’s fishing completely, pausing only to make all our native species extinct. Obviously they would be happy to take a 5” bait and the bigger the bait - the bigger the fish you would catch. After all that is a reasonably accepted theory in the pike world and they are only half as evil and deadly as zander, aren’t they?

I caught a fair few; I even caught a few perch on them but then somebody introduced me to 3” kopytos. I had a new favourite lure and nothing else was necessary any more. I caught loads of fish, a lot more perch than before and everything in the garden was lovely. I tried 2” ones, but they were utterly useless, I couldn’t buy a bite on them. Then one day Steve Polley and Wadey came up for a visit, demanding (well asking politely actually) that Sharkey and I show them how to catch zander. An hour in and I hadn’t had a take, but Steve was ticking up a nice long list of fish on 2” yellow kopytos. Cue embarrassed useless demonstration of why 3” lures are better.

Polley left me a few and suddenly I had another new best bait. 3” lures now seemed to be useless and 2” ones were scoring all over the place for me. But do you know what? Today, 2” baits were useless and despite using them for around 20% of the morning’s fishing, all of the 22 perch and zander we caught between the two of us came on 1” shads. The point is that quite obviously these lures don’t suddenly become useless everywhere, my two brain cells get in a knot and convince me that they are.

At no time today did I believe that I could get a take on a 2” lure and consequently I didn’t. That was the physical manifestation of a psychological problem.

A friend of mine e-mailed me this morning asking what my go-to lure was. Today I would answer 1” yellow kopyto. 4 weeks ago, it would have been a 2” one. A year ago a 3” one. Five years ago it would have been a small home-made spinnerbait. He tells me that he gets most takes an a white 2” curly-tail, so I would suggest he presses on with that. We all have our favourites. We catch on them, so we use them most. Eventually we start forgiving them their occasional blanks, but using other perfectly effective lures for a few speculative casts before casting them aside, wondering what anybody else sees in them.  

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the lure is irrelevant; it’s the fish that are important. Put the effort into locating them and use a lure, virtually any lure, and a retrieve that will fish it efficiently in the right place and you will catch as long as there is a predator feeding.

Today the boat traffic was even worse than last week. My brain convinced me that my only chance was to dibble the margins and smack the fish in the face with the lure and it worked. I was using 1” baits and at one stage we got into a big discussion about whether or not we would do better to stick with bigger baits even if we used the same method. Pete reckoned that bigger fish would take them if bigger fish were there. We witter away at each other all the time, rarely agreeing on anything but I am prepared to agree with him just this once. After a morning of tiny perch and diminutive zander we suddenly caught three net fish on the trot, the biggest around a pound and a quarter. No monster I grant you but then again - a year ago, we would almost certainly have caught virtually nothing today, certainly not any perch.

Many times over the years, I have worked myself up into a state where I knew I would get a take on a particular lure and it has happened. Equally, like today once my head tells me that I won’t, the heart can’t over-rule it. Try as I might I am beaten after a couple of unproductive casts. You may think that is just experience telling me what will be effective but so often the guy next to me will catch on that very bait. It is not usually conditions that beat me it is me that beats me. At the moment I just can’t persuade myself that I will ever get another take on a 2” shad and that 3” ones are even less likely to work. Total rubbish of course, but it will take a couple of lucky hits to reboot my mindset. Once that has happened, you probably won’t see me use 1” ones anymore until I become desperate again.

Just one more point of interest today. I had three fish from right in the boil created when the lock paddles are raised to dump all the water from the pound (see top right image). With two up in the lock the water pressure is immense and the flow scours out the bottom. Clouds of debris billow up from the canal bed in what I refer to as the washing machine. Small zander in particular will charge right in there. It doesn’t always produce, but it did today. I just keep the rod tip down at or below the water surface and draw the lure forward a foot against the flow and then let it fall back. You do catch a lot of muck, but two perch and a zander fell for it today. Most people can’t believe it when they see it work.

artificial lite




journal 2013.



journal 2013.