Picture this: you’re out on the water at one of your favorite fishing spots. It’s a beautiful day, but the fish just aren’t biting the way you had hoped.
That’s when the inevitable question comes to mind: “Should I switch lures?”
We’ve all been there. It’s frustrating. And to complicate matters, there doesn’t seem to be a good answer to that age-old question.
That’s because the “right” solution varies based on each scenario.
Here are a few things to consider when contemplating making a change:
Why did I choose this lure?
When you decided to tie a certain lure to the end of your line, you made that choice for a reason. Before going with an alternative, it’s important to consider why you picked this bait in the first place.
Odds are, this bait has been successful for you in the past when targeting similar species in similar conditions.
If nothing else in your tackle box is checking these boxes, you may be best-served by sticking it out. There is no substitute for firsthand knowledge.
However, if you simply wanted to try a new bait or had this lure referred to you by a friend or someone on a message board, it may be worth trying something different after you gave your first shot a proper college try.
Are there actually fish here?
This may seem like an obvious question, but it’s important that you have the right answer.
If you are lucky enough to have a boat outfitted with electronics, be sure you are using those tools. What are they telling you? If your screens are empty, the lure has little to do with the lack of bites.
If you’re fishing from shore or don’t have electronics on your boat, look for signs of activity such as fish surfacing or birds feeding on baitfish. If things seem a little too quiet, you might want to check out a different location.
No matter how much success you have had in a spot previously, you are never guaranteed to have the same experience.
Am I presenting this bait correctly?
Sometimes, when fish seem tight-lipped, it has nothing to do with *which* bait is being presented so much as it is *how* it is being presented.
First and foremost, make sure you are being consistent with your retrieval speeds. If you are all over the map when you’re reeling in, odds are, that’s the problem. It can be easy to neglect this crucial part of the process as you become increasingly frustrated.
Some lures lend themselves to more than one presentation style. For instance, stick baits can utilize a straight retrieve, or they can be show differently with jerks and pauses. Explore these options.
Covering water is also crucial. Seemingly minor changes in water conditions can move fish around within a spot. Maybe the fish you found under the dock or near a rock pile are now suspended in deeper water. The presence of a predatory fish could have moved your target species into the weeds, in hopes of safety.
That’s why you need to thoroughly work a spot before picking up a different bait.
A little trial and error can go a long way.
Are there other factors at play?
Time of day, weather, and location can be three of the biggest factors that contribute to fishing success. If you’re not in the presence of active fish, odds are, what you’re throwing at them doesn’t really matter.
It’s possible the high sun has made the fish a bit lazy. Other times, early and late in the year, sunlight can be your friend as the rays heat the water to a temperature that promotes feeding.
If a front has come through recently, or the day you are fishing is particularly cold or warm compared to previous days, the bite could have slowed.
This is where an outdoors log comes in handy. You can reference previous trips to this location and potentially decipher patterns of information that hold true on your best days.
Perhaps another angler was in this spot recently and pulled a bunch of fish out of your sweet spot just before you arrived. That will certainly slow things down.
So before you go changing baits, be as confident as you can that the bait itself is actually the problem.
How much time do I have?
The decision to change baits should be impacted by how much time you have. If you’re not in a rush, try to stick it out with your primary choice for a little longer.
But if your time is limited and you need quick results, don’t be afraid to move to a different setup. This is particularly true if you have advanced knowledge of your spot.
This is a balance between giving a lure enough time to do its thing while avoiding the insanity of trying the same approach over and over again and expecting different results.
Do I have a Plan B I believe in?
If you aren’t confident in your backup plan, changing things up doesn’t make a lot of sense. Fishing with confidence is important. You are more likely to work a presentation correctly if you believe in it.
I may still make a change if I don’t believe strongly in my second or even third options, but I keep those baits on a short leash.
There’s something to be said for dancing with the one who brought you.
At the end of the day, pulling the trigger on a lure change is an incredibly personalized decision. But taking a second to step back and critically assess the situation can help guide you in making the right call for you.