Join the Spread
For the next experiment, we trolled Don along on a line with the baits. This way, he would have a close-up view of the lures as they worked through the water.
First, the ballyhoo. With the 'hoo's tail twitching a couple of feet from his mask, Don reported that it looked so good, he was tempted to take a bite. Just one bummer-from about a foot away, the 50-pound test fluorocarbon leader was visible. When he shifted over to the daisy chain, he easily noticed the 150-pound test monofilament between each pink squid. The purple MP Lure was a real surprise: Even though it was invisible from a distance, it looked like a real squid up close. When the boat rocked or speed varied the tiniest bit, the skirt flared out, and to Don's eyes, it looked like the real deal. The bird and daisy chain created so many bubbles that it was tough to focus on them - but maybe that's a part of what fools fish into thinking it's real food. I then put the boat into some fairly tight turns - into, with, and across the seas. I didn't expect anything different to happen, but I was wrong. When Don told me what he saw, it was fascinating. "As the lures passed in and out of the prop wash and with bubble trails coming off of each corner of the boat, the lures remained visible. But the leaders - all 50- and 80-pound test fluorocarbon - disappeared in the disturbed water." Aha -the advice of an old charter captain friend of mine suddenly made a whole lot of sense. He suggests making a small S-turn every two minutes or so, so that the lures and baits passed into and then back out of the prop wash. He claimed that 70 percent of his hits came during these turns.
Don's observations may not stop the arguments that are bound to arise when two captains discuss what a fish sees, but we certainly learned a lot. Now, the next time a fish rejects your baits, you might be better able to understand what's wrong by looking at it from a fish's point of view. A
Fish Eye For the Angler Guy
•Use flat line clips, long leaders, or suspension from close rigger lines to make sure your lines don't enter the water and make that highly visible "V" anywhere near the lures.
•Try pulling rigged 'hoo a little more often. Time and time again, Don claimed it was the best thing we had in the water.
•Replace the heavy leaders in your daisy chains for lighter stuff that's not so noticeable. All of the leaders were visible up close, even 50-pound fluorocarbon, so stick with the lightest possible.
•Zigzag as you troll, enough so that your lures pass through the whitewater and bubble trails.
•Consider a fish's inability to shield its eyes from the sun. When the light is bright, try running a few subsurface lines.
•Don't forget that fish have more rods than cones in their eyes. When it comes to lures or skirts, worry less about color and more about contrast; imagine what they'd look like in black and white.