The body shape of a lure is the single most important aspect of the design to consider when you are inventing new soft bait. In order to maximize the lure’s fish catching capacity, you need to understand a few basic concepts, such as: natural resemblance, center of gravity, frontal resistance, and stationary action. Luckily, you don’t need a Masters Degree in physics to grasp these concepts. We will teach you all about them in a few quick minutes.
Natural Resemblance and Soft Plastic Fishing Lures
Natural Resemblance pertains to the purpose of designing something artificial that can imitate a naturally occurring figment. Basically, natural resemblance is designing a lure that looks like a living thing. This concept has been around since the beginning of recreational fishing, and you might have already seen this concept because it can be seen in every tackle box across the globe.
Tackle makers tend to apply this concept to create lures that look like stationary living things. By this, we mean that most lures look like frozen versions of real things. A soft plastic frog looks like a frozen frog, a soft plastic worm looks like a frozen worm, a soft plastic minnow looks like a frozen minnow, etc. When you are actually retrieving this from the water, it lacks realistic movement that is the only downside. In order to avoid this tackle makers have started to build lures that imitate bait in motion. There is one tackle maker, Herb Reed, who picked up on this trend and began designing lures that imitate the erratic motion of a wounded fish. It doesn’t look like anything special when it is at rest, but once it is tugged quickly it mimics the movement of a wounded baitfish exactly! This lure design was a big hit and eventually sold commercially.
A good rule while designing lures, is to try to make it resemble a living thing while at rest and in motion. Not many types of bait actually do this. The only one that we have actually seen doing this properly is the Senkoâ. This one wiggles at rest and carries on the erratic wounded fish motion when being retrieved. Now that you know that literally only one in a million lures have successfully incorporated natural resemblance and stationary realism, you can see how hard it is.
Center Of Gravity
Understanding your lures center of gravity will be greatly beneficial to the design of your lure that works appropriately. The center of gravity is usually along the same vertical plane as the line and the hook, and below the horizontal plane of the hook’s eye. You can see this in Figure 1. Finding the center of gravity will guarantee that your lure will stay upright and straight during the rest and retrieval. You can also change the center of gravity by weighting it down; this will produce interesting lure action and suspension angles. This is common among hard bait anglers; they add weighted tape occasionally to a section of the lure to force it to perform unique actions.
Frontal Resistance for Fishing Lures
Frontal resistance is the number one force behind water resistance, and therefore it is the primary force behind how a lure behaves in the water. Basically, frontal resistance means that the more surface there is in a direction of movement means that there will be more resistance to overcome. If your lure has a huge nose then it will be more difficult to pull through the water. This doesn’t really mean much to the average angler, except that they might have to crank their reel a little harder. That is… until you discover what actually happens when a part of your lure meets resistance from water…
The water will push the widest portion of the lure in proportion to the direction of the movement. This is what makes crankbaits work.
When a crankbait is retrieved from the water, the lip pushes against the waters and meets its resistance. That resistance slows down the lip and it forces it to dip and then dive. The larger the lip is, the more resistance, the greater the dive.
With soft plastics, this principle is not apparent, unless we consider the tails, antenna, fins, arms, and legs. Similar to the crankbait, soft plastics have portions that push against the water during retrieval. And also just like the crankbait, the water pushes back to create resistance. Thus, urging the soft plastic move.
A soft plastic shad has a typically small nose, a larger body, and a flat rounded tail. The hook goes in through the nose and then out of the belly, so when the lure is retrieved the line is bullying the nose through the water. You can view this in Figure 2. Since the nose is so small, there is very little resistance to the water. The next thing the water will hit is its flat wide tail. Its tail has a lot of surface area; therefore it pushes against the water with more force. Similar to the crankbait, the water pushes back and causes the tail to move. You can see this also in Figure 3. The movement of the tail causes the lure overall to move. As it is pulled through the water, this process repeats all over again, each time it catches another portion of the tail and causes it to move. The end result is a realistic looking lure that seems to swim through water.
Use the resistance of water to make your lures move like in the example. Each portion of your lure that meets the water resistance will move, thus producing an effect and additional lure action.
Stationary Action for Soft Plastics
This has generated quite the buzz in the recent months with the promotion of the Walking Wormâ, which is a soft plastic lure that moves without the assistance of someone manning the line. Basically, this stationary action is the ability of a lure to move without any additional actions from the angler. When this lure hits the surface of the water, it traps tiny air bubbles in the ridges of its surface. As the lure falls to rest on the bottom, these air bubbles will try to escape. Thus it creates the lure to move as the air bubbles escape its surface.
Ichthyologists believe that stationary action will entice predatory fish to strike at the lure. There isn’t a very big difference between lures without stationary action and with lures that have it. However, it has been noticed that if stationary action capabilities are combined with these other concepts that we have mentioned, it is possible to create bait that truly out fishes live bait.