Plug Fishing Basics

Plug Fishing Essentials

The aim here is to fool the predatory fish into thinking your plug is a real, living creature. So you’ve got to work it right: you’ve got to choose the right plug for the situation and you’ve got to cast it into the right sort of area. Here are just a few tips to get you going.

Know Your Plug

Learn how your plug works. Drop it into clear water where you can retrieve it and analyze its action. Sometimes plugs work best when retrieved fast, sometimes very slow. Sometimes they look good just hanging still without you imparting any movement at all. Get to know your plugs like a friend. Know how fast they sink. If the plug is buoyant, how fast does it rise back to the surface when you stop the retrieve? All these aspects are critical to your success.


Make sure your plug is visible. This is especially important if the water is at all murky. It’s times like this when neon orange plugs work well. Or try black – in very clear water, in bright sunlight, a black plug often out-fishes every other color.


Obviously, plugs come in different sizes. A larger plug can be seen more easily and will send out more vibrations through the water. Some plugs have a sound chamber in which ball bearings rattle, once again sending out alluring signals.


Get your depths right. If the water is warm and shallow and it’s a bright sunny day, you will find lots of predators close to the surface, so this is when a surface lure works best. But you’d be crazy to use a surface lure in the middle of the winter when the water is freezing cold. That’s when, it’s likely you need to get down deep and work your plug close to the bottom. It’s for this reason that it is important to have plugs that work at all manner of depths – from the surface to, say, 30ft or so down. There are many times when you just don’t know where predators are lying and hunting, so then you’ve got to try all the lures in your box until you meet up with them.


Keep it accurate. It’s up to you to work your plugs as close as possible to these killing areas. A shorter rod will cast more accurately than a longer one. Learn to feather the line with your finger as it comes off the spool to slow the plug down. If you don’t do this, in some situations the cast will overshoot and you will lose a plug in weed or woodwork. Make sure that your spool is well lopped up with line because this makes casting easier and more accurate. Practice. The more casts you make, the more accurate you will become. Don’t get frustrated if it seems difficult at first. This is a sporting skill to learn like any other.

Making A Plan

Work at your plug fishing. Look carefully at the plug you’ve just bought. Are the swivels and the hooks strong enough for the species you are after? If not, replace both swivels and hooks with stronger patterns. Test your knots. Sharpen your hooks to perfection. Work out your plan of attack in any given situation. Have a firm plan about where you’re going to cast and how you’re going to retrieve. Stick to your plan. It often pays to cast to exactly the same place three times. The first cast wakes the fish up. The second cast excites its interest in the plug. The third cast sees it hit. If you are convinced that an area has predators that aren’t responding, stick with the area and give them a choice of plugs before moving on. Watch carefully for follows. It helps if you’ve got Polarized sunglasses so you can see into the water at a distance. If a fish follows and turns away, try it again. Try it a second time with a different plug and you might just flick the switch of success.

Vary The Size

Changing the sizes can be critical. Sometimes only the biggest plugs will be accepted. These really make an impact and can excite an instant response. But there are other times when mini-plugs do the business. You wouldn’t expect a 20 lb. pike, for example, to hunt down a 2″ long plug but sometimes it happens. Until fish learn to talk, we’ll never know all their secrets.