lure's body shape is the single most important design consideration when
inventing a new soft bait. A basic understanding of concepts such as natural
resemblance, center of gravity, frontal resistance, and stationary action
must be understood to maximize the lure's fish-catching ability. Fortunately,
you don't need a Masters Degree in physics to grasp these concepts. We'll
teach you about all of them in a few quick paragraphs!
Natural Resemblance & Soft Plastic Fishing Lures
"Natural Resemblance" refers to the act of designing something
artificial that can imitate a naturally occurring item. In other words,
building a lure that looks and behaves like a living thing (worm, crawfish,
etc.). Examples of natural resemblance have been around since the beginning
of recreational fishing, and examples of the concept can be seen in every
tackle box in the world - lures look like frogs, worms, slugs, maggots,
Many tacklemakers have applied this concept to create lures that look
like stationary living things.
By "stationary", we mean that most lures look like frozen versions
of the real things. A soft plastic frog looks like a frozen frog, a soft
plastic worm looks like a frozen worm. Consequently, when the lure is
attached to a fishing line and retrieved through the water, it lacks realistic
motion. To combat this, tacklemakers have started designing lures that
imitate bait in motion. One tacklemaker, Herb Reed, recognized
this trend and created a lure that imitated the erratic motion of wounded
baitfish. At rest, the lure doesn't look anything like a baitfish; however,
when tugged quickly through the water, the lure mimics a wounded baitfish
exactly! The lure was a big hit and eventually sold commercially under
the name Slug-Go®.
That said, a good rule when designing lures is to try and make it resemble
a living thing while at rest and when in motion. Very few soft
baits can actually do this. In fact, the only one that we've ever seen
do this well is the Senko®, which has a slight wiggle movement while
at rest and an eratic darting motion during retrieve. The fact that only
one bait out of millions does this well shows that making a soft plastic
with good natural resemblance and stationary realism isn't an easy task,
but if you crack the code, you could be very, very wealthy!
Center of Gravity
Understanding where your lure's "center of gravity" is will
help you design a winning lure that runs true and rests appropriately.
Ideally, the center of gravity of any lure would exist along the same
vertical plane as the line and hook, and below the horizontal plane of
the hook's eye(Figure 1). This will guarantee that the lure will remain
upright and straight while at rest and during a retrieve. Alternatively,
you can move the center of gravity by weighting the lure and thus produce
interesting lure action and suspension angles. This is common among hard
bait anglers who occasional add weighted tape to a section of the lure
to force it to perform unique actions. For more information on center
of gravity, please visit Ask
Frontal Resistance for Fishing Lures
Frontal resistance is the primary force behind water resistance, and thus
the primary force behind how a lure behaves in the water. In technical
terms, frontal resistance means that the more surface area presented in
a direction of movement, the more resistance is created and the more force
is need to overcome that resistance. In other words, it is easier to drag
a cone through the water nose first because the nose is smaller and thus
meets less resistance. When associated with fishing lures, it means that
if your lure has a huge nose, it will be harder to pull it through the
water. Aside from making you crank your reel a little harder, this doesn't
mean a whole lot to the average angler. That is, until we consider what
actually happens when a part of your lure meets resistance from the water...
When a lure meets water resistance, the water will "push" on
the portion of the lure that is widest in proportion to the direction
of movement. This is the property that makes crankbaits work. When a crankbait
is retrieved, the lip "pushes" against the water and meets resistance.
That resistance slows down the lip forcing it to dip and thus dive. The
larger the lip, the more resistance, and the deeper the dive.
With soft plastics, this principle is not so apparent, unless we consider
the tails, antenna, fins, arms and legs. Just like with the crankbait,
the soft plastics have portions that push against the water during a retrieve.
And just like the crankbait, the water "pushes" back and creates
resistance. That resistance will force the soft plastic to move. Let's
look at an example:
soft plastic shad typically has a small nose, a larger body, and a flat
rounded tail. The hook goes in through the nose and out the belly, so
when the lure is retrieved, the line is pulling the nose through the water
(Figure 2). Because the nose is so small, there is very little water resistance
and the water flows right past it. The next thing the water hits is the
flat wide tail. The tail has a lot of surface area and thus pushes against
the water with more force. Like the crankbait, the water "pushes"
back and causes the tail to move (Figure 3). The movement of the tail
cause the overall lure to move. As the lure is pulled through the water,
this process repeats, each time catching another portion of the tail and
causing it to move. The result is a "realistic" looking lure
that seems to swim through the water!
should use water resistance to make your lures move like the lure in the
previous example. Each portion of your lure that meets water resistance
will move, thus producing lifelike effects and additional lure action.
Action for Soft Plastics
Stationary action has generated quite a buzz in recent months with the
promotion of the Walking Worm®, a soft plastic lure that moves without
the assistance of the angler. In a nutshell, stationary action is a lures
ability to keep moving without any additional tugs, pulls or bumps by
the angler at the other end of the fishing line. In most cases, the concept
behind stationary action in soft plastics is bubbles. When the lure hits
the surface of the water, it traps tiny air bubbles in ridges on its surface.
As the lure falls and rests on the bottom, these air bubbles try to escape.
As they move, they push the lure's ridges apart, thus causing it to move.
According to some Ichthyologists (fish scientists), stationary action
will entice predatory fish to strike the lure. We've tried some of these
lures, and we didn't see much difference between those with stationary
action and those without. However, we did notice that if stationary action
capabilities are combined with the other concepts on this page, it is
possible to make a bait that truly "outfishes live bait".