How To Work Your Ultralight Fishing Lures


You finally got your small box of ultralight fishing lures, and you’re ready to go fishing! But wait, hold on! You have to learn how to work the lure before you jump in and expect to catch fish! I will teach you though, in this article, I will explain to you a few different ways to work your lure the next time you’re out on the water.

Let’s start off with some bottom baits, like the plastic worm, and skirted jig. These baits are known for their “hopping” type of retrieve. This is because this is one of the most effective methods of retrieving these lures. However, some days, you are required to just dead stick it. By this, I mean, as soon as your bait hits the water, begin counting. Watch the line to be sure it isn’t grabbed on the way to the bottom.

Count to 30 seconds. Once you reach 30, slightly twitch the bait. (I mean slightly! I make it move just enough to get the skirt to breathe, or the tail of the worm to wiggle.) There is something about this technique that makes the fish, at least in my opinion, believe that the lure was stunned for a second, and still had a little quiver left in it. Whatever the fish believe, this is an effective presentation for worms, and skirted jigs!

So, when hopping doesn’t get you bit with a jig, try dead sticking it for a change of pace. Sometimes if dead sticking it doesn’t work, go back to hopping, but change up the speed of the hops. From faster, to slower, and make the hops kind of erratic. You’re just testing to see what they want to bite on that day is all.

Next up on the list, some middle of the water column, or swimming type baits. We’ll throw on a crankbait, and a spinnerbait. Most people tend to just cast and crank with a crankbait. This is a highly effective strategy if you are around timber, or something you can bang the lure against. This is a big no-no with Ultralight Fishing however. You will snap lines, and lose money if you attempt to bang your ultralight crankbaits off of debris underwater.

To remedy this, instead of casting and cranking, try letting the bait float to the surface, for a half second or a little longer if necessary. Essentially the same as deadsticking a worm, just not allowing the bait to rise too much, these things float pretty well. But I believe the fish thinks that the little bait stopped for a second, saw the bigger fish, and took off again. It is as soon as I start reeling after the pause that I get vicious strikes on a crankbait.

The spinnerbait can really be fished at all depths, and this is the one ultralight fishing lure that you can use around debris due to its completely weedless nature. If you slow roll it, or allow it to sink to the bottom, and reel just quick enough to make the blades flutter, you can catch fish most of the time. However, when they are in a finicky mood, hop it along like a jig. You will get bit this way as well. When they are very active, or actively feeding, usually around dawn and dusk, you can burn the blades across the top of the water like a buzzbait. You get some nice topwater strikes this way.

On overcast days, try either burning it on top of the water just fast enough to make the blades flutter and splash, or by “waking” it just beneath the surface. You can wake the bait by allowing it to sink 1-2 inches, and then reeling fast enough to create a wake bulge on the surface. It is easier to perform with larger baits, but it can be done with ultralights. The fish key in on the v shape of the wake, and it is like a blood trail. You can see the fish come from below to attack it, crazy feeling!

So the fish are actively feeding, around dawn or dusk? Break out the topwater lures! In this category I will include my all time favorites, the floating minnow, and the popper. If the fish are in a neutral mood, break out the popper. Cast it out, and let the rings disappear. Once they are gone, test to find out what the fish want, by popping once, allow the rings to settle, and then twitch the bait. If that doesn’t get you bit, gradually get more aggressive, with fewer pauses between the pops. The most effective retrieve for me using a popper is to cast it, and then give it to small pops, let it sit, then twitch it. This will usually get you bit.

Last one up for the article, the floating minnow, or jointed floating minnow. You can use this thing as a shallow crankbait, and repeat what I discussed above, or as a jerkbait, get it down, and give it a jerk or two. If the fish are active, it will appear as a dying prey item to them. You also use this bait as a topwater plug.

When the clouds are out, and the sun is behind them, the fish look up for food. This is the perfect time to throw topwater. You cast this bait out to a fishy looking spot, and let it sit like you would a popper. Begin to slowly reel, keeping the bait on top of the water for a foot or so. Let it rest again. Continue doing this, being patient, all the way back to you. You will get bit.

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