For pro anglers, fishing lures are not a mass-produced commodity, but rather a personalized extension of their expertise. While a fancy new fishing lure is pretty straight out of the box, a few tweaks can make it even better for the winter. These three professional kayak fishing guides take their lures to the next level to put anglers on the fish of a lifetime.
3 Lure Tweaks for Winter Bites
1 Matching The Hatch
Brandon Jessup // Froggy Waters Outdoors
Jessup customizes his lures to look exactly like the bait that local bass love to eat. Jessup uses a Copic airbrush system and Sharpie markers to create the perfect look. He will apply new colors and patterns with the airbrush at home, then use permanent markers to add details that match the day’s bait while he is on the water.
During each fishing trip, Brandon digs under rocks and wades through grass finding baitfish and crayfish that the bass eat. If he doesn’t have a pattern that matches, he modifies his lure on the spot. “I will add a little chartreuse to a shad lure,” he says, “or add purple, yellow or orange to a sunfish pattern.” He even tips crawfish claws with bright orange. “These subtle changes can make a huge difference in tough conditions or on tournament day,” he says.
2 Big Water Bassin’
Chris LeMessurier // Kayak Fishing Great Lakes
LeMessurier loves fishing jigs on the Great Lakes. “I can work a jig fast or slow for many species,” he explains. One of his favorite targets is walleye. “Walleye want a lure that is just right,” LeMessurier insists. He starts with a 3/8- to 5/8-ounce stand-up-style jig with a small swivel and blade molded under the hook.
He buys plain jigs from a local tackle crafter, then assembles and paints the jig for the pattern that meets his needs. “I add chartreuse because the water at the bottom of the lake or river can be cloudy,” he says. His favorite twist is adding a size 3, gold or silver willow-leaf blade to the jig. The finished product has unique flash and vibrations without losing the versatility of a traditional jig.
3 Get That Weathered Look
Eric Boyd // Foothills Angler
Most anglers take their lures fishing. North Carolina guide Eric Boyd takes his lures sunbathing. “An old-timer told me to sun-bake my lures to fade the colors,” he says. Boyd explains that baitfish often lose their color in fall and winter. So, in late summer, he spreads Rapala Shad-Raps and Strike King KVD squarebill crankbaits on the dashboard of his truck and lets the sun go to work.
He says it takes about four days on each side for the lure to reach the perfect color for winter baitfish. “Subtle colors produced fish in tough conditions on my highly pressured home waters,” he says.
Lures come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors—but a few tweaks can help them perform better under winter conditions. | Feature photo: Miranda Bleijenberg/Pixabay