SurfGuy85

Dialogue on metal lip swimmers

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We all fish differently; weather it be bucktailing, tins plastics or swimmers our thought processes and observation of conditions determine when and how we approach each scenario. I’d like to foster some dialogue on the subject of metal lip swimmers; more specifically, how do you find you’re self most often fishing them? What are you’re preferred metal lips? (5’’ white Danny or Surfster for me) Are you a surface swimmer purist, do you confidently fish deep subsurface metal lips on a regular basis, are you comfortable tuning both lip and eye, hooks and flags? Most of all, what do you look for in a metal lip swimmer based on how you fish them?

 

A tool in the shadow of a bucktail, metal lip swimmers deserve more attention, use and understanding, if for nothing else than how much fun they are to fish.

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For me its more a question of conditions and what bait is present. Larger bait = large plugs (pikie or danny). I have no problem bending the lip or line tie on any metal lip to get the desired action for changing conditions. In faster water, for example, out flow of a breachway, I prefer subsurface metal lips (or a bucktail or a bottle plug) cause they'll dig and get down to the fish. Open beaches, more of a topwater deal (I'm definitely a topwater junkie :D ). Some current areas, such as the canal, I'll mix it up. I might work a pikie on top for a bit, then let it dig and thump in the current to work a rip. The main thing is to practice with one during the day so that you can see what it is doing and how differences in rod tip angle, rate of retrieve, different rod tip actions translate to the plug. I've gone as far as get the action I like, and then closing my eyes to get used to the feel of that action for fishing at night when I cannot see the plug. I'll often search a beach with a faster moving plug like a walk the dog type (daytime) to get an idea if there are fish around. If they are in close, I'll work a metal lip over the area. Sometimes that slow injured bait on top gets them all jacked up. Favorites: pikie, atom style, danny, all one I make. Surfsters in some conditions. Surfster is more a calm water plug for me. I also have a few niche plugs for breachways and other faster water areas.

 

Jigman

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Only someone from Long Island would consider metal lips to be in the "shadow of the bucktail". Ridiculous statement elsewhere. I can (and often do) fish an entire season without using bucktails, I rarely fish a single trip without metal lips. Except for fast current or deep water, whatever I can do with a bucktail I can do better with a plug. The learning curve just takes longer.

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I like a surface swimming, vee wake leaving, metal lip that I use exclusively with a dropper (teaser with a hook) three feet in front of it. I can't throw this combo very far but if there is one thing I have picked up over all my years of casting, it's that stripers hit in shallow water. If you have some rocks, man moved or natural, throw this combo close to them to see if there are any bass around. I also explore sand beaches with this combo too.

 

Peace

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For me a metal lip is the first plug out of my bag. It doesn't matter day night rough or calm I through metal lips more then any other plug. For me I have notice that they catch bigger fish when people around me are catching smaller. And size doesn't not matter I use a lot of GRS plugs his plugs r huge and they catch even when bass r feeding on small bass . I say throw them and learn how too use them and you'll never want to throw anything else

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As far as working the plug It depends on the plug and the condition I'm using it in. I love to cast in a rolling surf to throw them just behind a wave and let them rest for a count then strt the retreive and mostly I use plugs that wobble hard so I work them slow 90% of the time. I might pop the plug if I'm fishing calmer water but not hard just a little blurp! I also pause my plugs at times and for some reason I also let the plug rest just after it hits the water. How long just depends! This is what works for me!! My favorite plugs are the old Twisted Moby and the Bob Hahn LS. I love the shovel lip of the Hahn and the thing just wiggles ! But I fish them all if they work!!

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Only someone from Long Island would consider metal lips to be in the "shadow of the bucktail". Ridiculous statement elsewhere. I can (and often do) fish an entire season without using bucktails, I rarely fish a single trip without metal lips. Except for fast current or deep water, whatever I can do with a bucktail I can do better with a plug. The learning curve just takes longer.

 

Now that's a statement! First off I will say I find your perception on things to be different than most and even though I do not always agree very insightful and I have learned some things from them. I always try to keep an open mind. I am curious though, How do you get down deep in fast water and pull um up outta the structure when they are hiding behind the rocks from the current?

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I wouldn't consider the "in the shadows" comment out of line.  In my group metal lips went back in the bag permanently back in Oct.  Bucktails and plastics have ruled the day in Jersey.  Metal lips I use depend on the bait profile at that moment.  Spring time when the bunker show I will go with the larger full bodied 6 inchers.  In Oct. I tossed smaller 4 or 5 inch narrow body metal lips and once November hit I stopped carrying them in my bag.


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Now that's a statement! First off I will say I find your perception on things to be different than most and even though I do not always agree very insightful and I have learned some things from them. I always try to keep an open mind. I am curious though, How do you get down deep in fast water and pull um up outta the structure when they are hiding behind the rocks from the current?

 

Fast or deep water, such as the canal or major outflows, I would use a bucktail (which is why I excluded these conditions in my post) but truthfully I try to avoid deep and fast water. Fishing it is work and requires heavy tackle. It also usually involves standing in one spot and hoping either the fish come to you or you get lucky and hit a hunkered down fish in the nose on one of your retrieves. If you don't hook up on your first 5 casts you are basically waiting (or hoping) for something to swim by.

 

I like to hunt when I fish. Finding fish, figuring them out, and fooling them on something I've built is what I enjoy. I try to fish places with lots of "micro-structure" and gentle or no current. I move a lot, typically a mile or two as I fish. I don't swim to deep rocks, it is too much like anchoring a boat and waiting for fish to show up. That's OK if you are fishing bait (and I consider eels bait) but I quit on bait a long time ago (just my choice).

Instead I keep moving, fishing structure. I'm concentrating on water 2-12 feet deep. I'll work it on top with a metal lip, then further out with a needle, then deeper with a darter or different metal lip. Four or five fan casts with each plug then I change. I know from decades of daytime boat plugging that if fish are out there they will see and follow your first cast. If they don't take then your chance of getting them on the same plug with another cast diminishes very, very fast. A different color or action plug often triggers a strike, however, even after they have passed on your first offering. If nothing happens, then a short wade back in, some more walking over rock, and on to the next spot.....often only 10-20 yds away (depending what is out there for structure). Structure obviously can be rocks, current seams, points, coves, subtle back eddies (which I love), transitions, or various bottom types. Even when I find fish I often move as soon as things slow a bit or fish size drops. Again, I know from boat fishing that your chance for large fish is best on the first few casts at each new spot you try (spot meaning a different nearby structure). Just makes sense to me to keep trying new spots, therefore, if I want to optimize my chances at a large fish. So I keep moving, casting, hunting.

 

Obviously fishing the way I do requires access to deserted shore. Consequently I make a very hard effort to fish areas where others don't fish. This means difficult access, the harder the better. Figuring that out is part of the challenge and reward. Fish are everywhere, not just the well known spots. Maybe less of them, but if there are no other fishermen and you can keep moving there will often be plenty of fish to make your night.

 

I am very sure there are skilled fishermen (Bill Wetzel comes immediately to mind) who use bucktails to do the same thing I do with plugs. I am also sure there are times I bypass fish using plugs that might have taken a bucktail. But in shallow water the hangs and required high steady retrieve speeds with bucktails are annoying and, I think, usually unnecessary. I'd much rather bump a conrad along the bottom, ease a darter through structure, wake a needle over a bar, or twitch a surface swimmer through a boulder field. The ability plugs offer to change speeds, depths, actions, and profiles makes for a much richer and interesting fishing experience in my mind.

 

Long ago I learned that fishing is about connections. The connection between you and the guys before you, the connection between you and the night, the connection between you and your rod, the connection between you and your plug, the connection between you and the fish, and as you release her, the connection between you and life. Plugs let me feel this in way other methods don't. And metal lips do it the best of all.

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I like calm (a little surface texture helps, however), clear water for true surface swimmers and only a slight current or sweep. By day, something that wakes is fine, by night something a few inches subsurface better. The same plug can do this if you bend your line tie a bit, or upsize hooks. Slow action is almost always better than a fast action, unless it is a bright sunny day and you need to piss the fish off to get them to hit. A fast tail wagging surface sloshing action like a surfster might look great to you, but a slow just slightly subsurface wobble looks better to large bass most of the time (getting the whole plug under increases side to side water resistance and slows its action). Likewise longer plugs have slower actions so I tend to prefer them.

 

Day or night, stopping the plug is important. I tend to pause and twitch more frequently at night (maybe every 4-5 cranks), some nights they will only hit when it is stopped (particularly if there is a gentle current). By day, popping or chugging the plug is also fun and productive. It can be tricky to get the plug to do this and is much easier from the elevation of a boat than from shore. One way is to pause as it veers and let the plug glide sideways to you, then rip it. The other is to hold your rod high, pause, then give a very short fast twitch upwards. Wait after you do it, twitch again, then restart your retrieve. BOOM.

 

When it gets rough, or in moderate current, a swimmer with some dig is better than a surface swimmer that rides up and down too much with waves, particularly at night. These are usually plugs with a high slot lip. The Musso pine, Atoms, and Pikies are typical examples. Usually the retrieve needs to be a bit faster (unless bucking current) and a bit steadier (to hold it under) than with a surface swimmer, but still throw some pauses and twitches in since fish often track the plug and nail it when its speed changes. The exception is fishing breaking water by day. There a standard surface swimmer with the line tie bent up a little to get some grab is hard to beat.

 

If you are fishing deeper water, such as a jetty or swimming to a rock, then a deep diving metal lip such as a conrad, slope head, musso maple (or more quickly retrieved pine) is worth carrying. Whereas by day fish will often come up from deep (say 12-18feet) to clobber a surface plug, I find this less the case at night. Often you have to get down to them (which is why guys do so well with eels or bucktails in deep water). A conrad can be reeled moderately fast to get deep (say 10ft) then slowed to hold that depth while swimming level. If you are going slowly enough you can tick bottom lip first, just pause and let the plug float up a bit, then keep going. The problem is that you can only fish about 1/2 of your cast deep with a plug (since it takes distance to get the thing down) so if you plan to fish deep water at night plugs are not your best choice unless the fish are holding close to the structure you are standing on (which is often the case). Remember to keep your rod tip low if trying to fish deep.

 

I like metal lips with two belly hooks and a tail flag. Fish usually hit them from below and head first. The exception is in fast current (where metal lips are often a poor choice anyways) since fish often misjudge a plug being held against the tide and end up missing all but the tail hook. The other time a tail hook can be helpful is to slow your plug down if it has too much tail action.

When you fish metal lips, check the lip after a tough fish. The lip can often be straightened or abraded when the fish tries to rub you off. The sharp edge can cut your leader on the next good fish.

I fish all my plugs barbless, but this is a problem with metal lips. Often as the fish rolls around it will lasso the lip and unhook itself. Better that than a hook in the hand. The other problem is that all but the very largest fish often have the metal lip outside its mouth which means in shallow rocky water the fish has a good chance of rubbing you off. Good for her, go get another.

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