Sunday, 27 March 2011

Vibration lures - why aren't they used more over here?

Jed of Oriental Angling has pointed out that despite the huge popularity of vibration lures in Japan for sea bass, they do not seem to sell well to foreign anglers.  Other than a speculative post last year by Henry Gilbey and a few forum comments, there is very little information about using these vibration lures for European sea bass.  In Japan, these lures are the standard method for seeking out fish, particularly at new marks or when you don't know what depth fish are feeding at.  Vibration lures can either be metal or plastic.  Being denser, metal casts further of the two but sinks faster.  But in either material, vibration lures are generally heavy for their size and so cast well.  You can cover a lot of ground and pretty much fish them at whatever depth you like, bearing in mind that to fish very shallow areas you'll be better off with a slow or extra slow sinking type.

Sounds kind of useful, eh?  But then why have these lures just not caught on in the way that Japanese subsurface and surface lures have?  The reason might lie in the amount of accessible, relatively shallow ground that is productive for sea bass around the UK, which is easiest to fish with lures that operate in the 0-50cm range.  But among boat and kayak anglers, no such restrictions exist!  So there is no excuse for trying these out, the only problem is finding out a bit more about which models are good for which situations and what techniques we should use.

Realising that perhaps foreign anglers choose not to buy vibration lures due to a lack of information about them, Jed has produced a informative and entertaining video on how to use and choose vibration lures:

Following his suggestions, I started looking at some possible vibration lures for UK waters.  I settled on two with slightly different actions.  The first is the standard (i.e. best selling) vibration plug for Japanese lure sea bass anglers, the Bassday Range VIB 70ES in colour CH24:
This particular colour has "bite me" written all over it, hasn't it?!  The other thing I love about this lure is its diminutive size, it is incredibly small and thin.  At just 70mm it looks perfect for early season fishing before the bait fish have grown much in size.  Despite being tiny, this little lure packs 15g of castability behind it.  As you go up through the Bassday Range VIBs the weights increase rapidly, with 90mm = 28g and 100mm=35g.  That's over an ounce for a 100mm lure - pretty hefty and probably a good one to cast from the shore into wind, although at that weight it will sink quickly so watch out if you are fishing shallow ground.  If you look at vibration lures' thin profile, you can see why they sink so fast:
That thin, knife edge look is needed both to give them a fast, tight vibrating action, and to reduce the effort of hauling them back through the water.  Indeed, as they are quite an effort to retrieve, the most common way to fish them is with a sink-and-draw type retrieve which puts less strain on you and allows the lure to flutter or wobble down through the water column on the pause.

There are many variations on this theme, with specific vibration plugs being designed for straight retrieves or for sink-and-draw.  There are also hybrid lures, which vibrate and roll.  I thought for my second lure I'd choose one of this type and try something a little different:

This is the Tackle House Rolling Bait77 - PH Sardine.  Tackle House say the lure has a tight vibrating action with a rolling effect on the drop, and it has a different profile to the Bassday, being longer but quite chubby, especially towards the front of the lure.  
The weight is again 15g.  Notice the unusual design, with the lip on top of the lure. Tackle House do produce a more typical vibration plug called "Cruise Vibration", but I'm a sucker for trying something different!

I'm really looking forward to trying out these two little lures.  It's all part of a strategy I have for this year to scale down in size, and take advantage of the kayak's range to fish smaller, two treble lures at some distance from the shore. 


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