Triggering Barra Strikes

….was recently asked to explain concepts surrounding lure fishing and how to entice barra to strike. It’s ever too common where anglers look for the ultimate lure or the brand name while overlooking the methodology and science surrounding fish stimulation. Tiered learning is a fascinating thing, and every subject can be broken down and down and down until the core message is found, and it’s certainly not brand, colour or price tag that catches the fish. Read on to find out what’s critical…

I took a well known television fishing celebrity chasing barra 15 years ago and he fished every lure in exactly the same manner. Surely this guy was having a joke with me, but no he wasn’t. Here was this fella having overlooked the intricate magic surrounding his tools in the tackle box. Every lure is different, and suckers are us to keep buying hundreds, although those years are long gone for me since learning key fundamentals about lures, fish, environment and angling techniques.
Ever noticed how a good angler will outfish another even when using the same lure?
So it’s not the lure that does the damage, how it’s fished seals the deal.
How it’s fished? Yea, how it’s used, worked, controlled. The subtleties are critical.
Let’s get back to this subject soon.

Pick up any lure. Is it heavy, light, deep diver or shallow, hard or soft, noisy or quiet, big or small, fat or skinny? (just to name a few)
Microscope a lure’s characteristics, if experience is lacking ask the shop staff for guidance. Once a lure is purchased tie it on a line and swim it, watch it swim, see how much forward pressure and speed is needed to bring it to life. Some swim at the slowest speeds, some require greater energy to start working. Next see how fast it can be swum before it blows out and loses the plot. Soon you’ll begin to find the working parameters of each lure, such as working speed- the speed range in which that lure starts swimming and the speed in which it blows out.
Next try gentle twitches and see how the lure responds, some can handle slight, medium or violent twitching while others simply cannot and will roll over or lose balance easily.
See what you can do with a lure- find the boundaries and the tolerances. Next, identify the acoustics- does it rattle or is it relatively quiet? Take note that trebles and split rings make a rattle as they cling and clang. If an internal rattle is evident, classify it as low, mid or high range. Is the rattle dull or loud?
Now cross reference this to the swim speed parameters and twitch tolerances discovered in your earlier tests and one can begin to envisage how the rattle acoustics are activated within each speed variation or twitch intensity.
Without going any further you’re basically holding a musical instrument.

Anyone can buy a violin but only a select few will ever master and control the device to please a crowd. With a lure you’re just trying to please the barra, and as with humans we too have different tastes for music based on mood. Ever climbed out of your chair to turn the radio volume up to enjoy a song, or turned a good song off because it wasn’t stimulating you at that moment in time?
Barra are the same and will ignore a brand name lure as well as any favourite simply because the angler or lure’s capabilities aren’t positively stimulating the animal. Twitch too hard and the lure may roll over spooking the fish, yet twitch with 10% less vigour and the lure may dart neatly left and right activating a mid level rattle which triggers the bite.

After a train load of guided barra catches it became evident that technique, timing and location were of top tier importance and when it came to guiding time was spent refining client technique, as near enough wasn’t good enough.

Pick up lines in a dodgy bar don’t always work, because the reaction varies through delivery and individual receiver.
When you shit stir a close friend with typical Aussie banter it often takes numerous attempts to get the bite you’re looking for.
Same with lures, fish actively feeding during prime conditions are looking for food. Anything resembling food gets looked at. If they’re specifically hunting small food anglers need to adapt, or vice versa if they’re hungry and wanting a big meal it’s time to pull out the 400mm lures.
It’s when fish are not super hungry, or not even hungry when the art of lure fishing comes to life. Barra aren’t hungry most of the time.
What draws their attention, what triggers their brain to move muscles and follow, what triggers their brain to then strike?

Lure size alone can see barra move and follow, but if not quite hungry anglers need to do more. Triggering strikes comes in many forms, here’s just one example.

A long cast is being retrieved and the lure passes a large barra. The barra isn’t committed to feed but instinct sees it follow the lure before shying away and never returning. Repeat that scenario but this time during the retrieve the lure is sped up for a fast wind or two before slowing to a crawl. During that second or so of speed alteration the large barra following the lure reacts and just like a game of knuckles its muscles move fast and reflex sees its brain flinch and by way of accident (call it magic) the fish has been tricked into striking.

Creative minds unearth dozens of ways to trigger a barra bite and it’s why any one lure cannot and will not provide barra consistency 24/7. Sometimes lures need to stop and hang to entice bites, other hours and minutes can be based on sound, pulse, frequency, delivery speed, depth, movement or a combination of all.

Methodology is critical, a game of millimetre muscle control and timing. Rigging variations change every lure, floaters can become sinkers via hardware adjustments and this alone can improve triggering ability. All taught through Masterclass.
When I say 24/7 it’s referring to catching barra during every hour of the day, seven days a week, not just landing a few barra every day using the same favourite lure. The skill sits in getting strikes during times they don’t seem hungry. If you’re favourite lure isn’t getting strikes don’t just change lures but change trigger methods……or if you’re bored make one up, you may actually surprise yourself.

Can you recall those incidents and accidents when a strike occurred while scratching your nuts or stray cat, or swatting a fly or winding a lure in fast after a wayward cast? Many times anglers count the fish as a free one, laugh it off but miss the magic message in the story. It’s the message needing extraction because what you’ll identify over time is a technique, one that can be used across multiple similar lures. If you never ID the core message and therefore never purposefully try to repeat the process, it’ll be lost forever.

Johnny Mitchell

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