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Chub love a Salmo Rattlin' Hornet Shallow!
One of the first things that Sam and I do after returning from a day's fishing is to take notes about the trip. Some of the details we write down are where we fished, the weather conditions, what we caught, and what lures and tactics we caught on. The notes are interesting to look back on, and the other day, I thought I'd go back through our fishing trips of 2021, and see what the ten most successful lures that I’ve used this year are…
10. Fox Rage Spikey Shad:
When the going gets tough, the 6cm Spikey Shad has been a real 'get out of jail' lure and a blank saver on occasions. The dozens of 'spikes' that surround its body give it a unique profile, and it's been particularly effective on crystal clear rivers, rigged on a 3.5g size 1 jighead. It also works well when rigged on a drop shot rig, and the larger sizes are one of my favourite shad trailers for Bladed Jigs and spinnerbaits. Motor Oil, UV Arkansas, UV Green Pumpkin and UV Pearl are great colours for clear water.
Not exactly what I was targeting with a 6cm Spikey Shad, but a welcome surprise!
A gravel pit zander caught on a straight retrieved Spikey Shad in UV Dark Oil.
9. Fox Rage Slick Finesse:
This is a new addition to the 2021 range of lures, and I was lucky enough to test them for a few months before their release in September. As soon as I was given some to try, I knew they were going to be a huge success. I've used them on reservoirs, gravel pits and rivers, mainly drop-shotted, but also fished on a jighead, and they’ve been very effective for perch and zander.
This zander took an 11cm Slick Finesse when falling on the drop!
8. Strike King Rage Swimmer:
I've used this paddle tail a lot this year, especially on gravel pits, and caught a good number of pike, perch and zander on them. They have a very large paddle tail and look fantastic when fished on a slow, straight retrieve. When targeting perch with the smaller 2.75" (7cm) size, I rig it on a 3/0 jighead between 5g and 12g, depending on the depth of water I'm fishing in. The larger size 4.7" (12cm) has worked well for pike on reservoirs, rigged on a 5/0 jighead between 20g-30g when fishing in depths of up to 30ft.
Sam with a 20lb plus pike caught on a 12cm Rage Swimmer in Pearl Flash.
7. Salmo Wave:
I don't think this lure gets enough praise when used to target bass. Not only does it cast like a bullet, but when you replace the back treble with a single hook, it greatly reduces the amount of weed you catch when fishing in shallow, weedy estuaries. When fished on a steady straight retrieve, it has a subtle rolling action, and although I've caught on all the colours, I really like Black Red Fish.
Changing the treble to a single hook worked well for fishing in weedy estuaries.
Sam with a schoolie, caught on the 7cm Wave in Black Red Fish.
6. Fox Rage Micro Tiddler Fast:
This is a soft bait that I tend to use when I'm struggling for bites, especially when fishing on rivers, canals and gravel pits for perch. The shads work really well fished either on a 2g-5g jighead with a size 4 or 2 hook, or rigged on a small offset jighead, Texas style. They also work great when drop-shotted, and despite their small size, I've caught perch to nearly 4lb on them over the past couple of years.
A Micro Tiddler Fast fooled this perch from a tiny river.
5. Fox Rage Slick Shad:
If I had to choose one soft bait to fish on reservoirs for perch and zander, it would be the Slick Shad. Over the last few years, Sam and I have had some fantastic fishing when using these subtle paddle tails. Both of our biggest perch this year have been caught on Slick Shads, and they're also deadly for zander and pike. They work brilliantly fished either on a straight retrieve or hopped along the bottom. My three favourite colours are UV Pearl, UV Green Pumpkin and UV Arkansas.
This was the smallest of four perch caught on a recent reservoir trip, including a couple of zander, caught on the 9cm Slick Shad in UV Arkansas.
4. Strike King Baby Rage Craw:
Creature baits have always been one of my favourite types of soft baits, especially for perch and chub. There have been two stand out creature baits that have worked well for me this year - the first is the Strike King Ned Bug, which is actually 11th on my most successful lures this year list, and then the Baby Rage Craw. They're both quite different to each other - I use the Ned Bug on a normal or offset ned head of between 3g and 5g, whereas I normally rig the Baby Rage Craw on an offset jighead. The Baby Rage Craw has a larger profile and slower fall rate thanks to it's large twin tail claws, a great choice of lure when casting to overhanging trees or bushes, giving the fish plenty of time to see the lure as it falls to the bottom. Recently, I've also caught some nice perch when fishing it on a straight retrieve, either on their own or rigged as a trailer on a skirted jig or Bladed Jig. Pearl (white) is also a great colour for targeting chub in coloured water.
Casting a Baby Rage Craw across a crystal clear river, and swimming it slowly under a fallen tree on a straight retrieve, teased out this 3lb'er.
3. Strike King Red Eyed Shad:
Out of all the lures I've used this year, this is the one that I've perhaps enjoyed fishing with the most. Although I've used many lipless crank baits in the past, this model is now my favourite! It casts a mile and you can cover lots of water swiftly, which makes it a great searching lure. I've caught some nice pike, perch and zander from both reservoirs and gravel pits this year fishing the Red Eyed Shad in either two ways. The first of those is a straight retrieve, with the odd jerk to impart more movement. The second is by sweeping the rod tip to the side, catching up with the slack, before sweeping the rod tip round again. As you catch up with the slack, the lure shimmies as it falls, which helps keep the lure close to the bottom - often a time you’ll get a bite!
I've had some great fun fishing the Red Eyed Shad this year!
2. Fox Rage Zander Pro Shad:
Although the Zander Pro Shad has been out a long while, it’s a lure that just keeps on catching. It has a great baitfish profile and can be fished in a number of ways - on a straight retrieve, jigged along the bottom, or as a trailer for a spinnerbait or Bladed Jig. One of my favourite ways to fish the smaller sizes when fishing snaggy venues is by rigging them on an extra wide gape (EWG) hook, on their side. This ensures that when the fish takes the lure, it’s easy for them to collapse the soft bait. This is another shad that I always make sure I have a selection of wherever I fish.
A nice gravel pit perch caught at last light, on a 7.5cm Zander Pro Shad, side hooked on an EWG offset jighead.
1. Salmo Rattlin' Hornet:
Looking back at our notes, this crankbait was my most successful lure by a mile in 2021. I got off to a fantastic start on my first trip of the year, catching two 4lb+ perch, plus a 3lb'er and a high '2' in just a couple of hours fishing on a local river, all caught on a 4.5cm Rattlin' Hornet in Hot Perch. It works all year round - in fact the last fish I caught was on a Rattlin' Hornet just a few days ago on a very high and coloured river. The 3.5cm and 4.5cm models, in both the normal and shallow runners, have been brilliant for perch and chub in rivers, whereas on lakes and reservoirs, I tend to choose the 5.5cm and 6.5cm sizes for targeting bigger perch, pike and zander. Fishing a Rattlin’ Hornet on a straight retrieve will catch fish all year round, but if you want to make the most of this fantastic crankbait, try mixing up your retrieves.
One of my favourite fish from 2021, part of a brace of 4lb+ perch caught on my first trip of the year.
Shallow, medium and deep diving Hornets and Rattlin' Hornets, in a variety of colours.
A Salmo Rattlin' Hornet 4.5cm in Hot Perch - what a lure!
Out of the 40 different models of lures that I caught on in 2021, these were the ten most successful for me. I’m now looking forward to 2022, and using many more lures! Tight lines for the new year!