HRF Fishing by Andy Marquis

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1 HRF Fishing by Andy Marquis So just why (or how) is HRF different to the long used method of using soft plastic baits to catch fish? Well this is my take on it which is no doubt different to other peoples as we have developed in different locations with different types of marks to fish though the target species have always been the same. Main Target Species: Bass Wrasse Pollack Mackerel Garfish Though I would be tempted to say that Mackerel and Garfish are rather a crossover to another part of the sport known as LRF. The Gear: Light HRF Rod, normally in the range of about 7-21g casting weight rating. You do not want a soft rod; something with a fast tip section quickly putting the power on is perfect. I highly rate the Daiwa Infeet HRF 7ft rod. Small reel, normally 2500 size spinning reel, nothing special required so long as it has a capable and adjustable drag system. Braid. The new hi-tec 8 strand braids coming out of Japan take some beating offering superb bite detection, smooth casting and ultra thin diameters. These however are expensive and I have found that powerpro is an excellent 2nd to those hi-tec new braids. My personal choice is 10 or 15lb breaking strain. Fluorocarbon leader of 12 or 15lb and about 3-6ft long connected with a modified Albright knot. The lure for me is normally connected with a uni knot, the use of link clips is possible but the loss of gear on rough ground marks at times makes the clips an extra cost loss. The Lures: There are so many soft plastic lures on the market at the moment that it is difficult to know what to try, and there is no definitive answer. You can ask people who are already doing this what they catch on and get an answer BUT, this may not apply to your area. There will be different baitfish and food species in different parts of the UK (or Rest of the World). My personal preference is to approach with a lifelike colour and pattern, something which you can associate with bass (or other species) feeding on. Pearl colours, greens and browns, think of sandeels, smelt and gobies depending which may be present in your area and more specifically on the mark you are fishing. In normal conditions the fish will be feeding and will often refuse anything which does not resemble what they are feeding on. You may need to change size and colour of lure until you work it out. You might get follows on a certain size or colour but no takes, in this case try mixing it up, a smaller lure will often bring the take, the fish has simply recognised something to eat but follows it without taking as it does not reflect what it is currently feeding on so some sort of suspicion has arisen in it's mind so as to not take the lure. What type of lures should you start with? Again a difficult one but the basic patterns are: Shad Tail (aka paddle tail) - a lure with a tail which makes a lifelike swimming action with lots of vibration. This sub group can be broken down to different shaped paddles as well.

2 Square tails create more vibration and have performed best in my experience, but that's my experience, you may need to adjust for your area. Straight Worms - things like Senko worms and Xlayers, sluggo's etc Goby Style - Lures with a large flat head and slim body to an almost whip like tail; you can also get these with paddle tails. Excellent for shallow weedy areas. Other Creatures - e.g. Shrimp shaped soft lures, as I write, you will struggle to find these in the UK but there are several patterns in the US. Crawfish lures are easy to find however with several patterns and options on colour.

3 That sounds like it's really narrowed down but in reality there are still hundreds of lures to choose from in the UK alone, let alone browsing an American website like BassPro. It's hard for me to make a specific recommendation and all I can say is that you should use the above information, your own knowledge of the area you are fishing and what bait species you know to be present. Lures do not have to be expensive to catch fish; my recent 9lb 12oz bass came on a lure which cost 50p for the lure and about the same for the lead head. Lure size is another consideration which you should seriously consider. I have fished alongside friends many times; they are using a 6 inch lure and me a 3 inch. The 3 inch will nearly always out fish the larger one. My biggest bass came on 3 inch paddle tail lures with 7g heads. A 6 inch lure is a big lure by soft bait standards unless it is a think senko style. Remember that a small fish can take small bait but may not get to the hook in large bait (lots of bait with no hook in it...) where a big fish can and does take large and small baits. Vary it a bit and see how you find it depending on the bait source close inshore where you are. Remember that a launce (greater sandeel) might be a foot long, but they also do not inhabit shallow weedy bays. Lead heads and Hooks Almost as much choice as you have for the lures here... There are many dozens of different lead heads on the market, most of which have specific function which may be for swimming, shaking, slow bumping bottom, erratic falling actions or combinations thereof. The main heads which I have experience with and with which the majority of people can get started with and experiment on their own are as follows: Shad Head - A lead head shaped like a shads (i.e. small fish) head. This sort of head can be used for both swimming and also bumping bottom in cleaner runs. It is used generally on paddletail lures which often have a flat front end which marries well with the shad head. Football Jig - Both standard and Shaky. Not a round football, it's an American jig so Rugby (lol) ball shaped with the hook coming out of the long side not the pointy end(s). I mould these myself using a mould from the Do-It Corporation in the US. The shaky version simply has a wire coil incorporated to screw a lure into and allow a weedless presentation Round head - Pretty self explanatory - round head on it.

4 Tube Skirt style - there are a few variations on this design but in the end they are all actually designed to fit inside a tube bait with the hook eye coming out of the top, they are however quite good on mixed to rough ground and do not get snagged as easily and shad and round heads. A good example of a well known would be the Bachi head. Hook sizes As you would expect you simply need to match the hook size to the lure being used and the species sought. The normal hook sizes varying from a size 2 up to 3/0 but there are many jigs which come with up to a 5/0 hook. The weights of the jig seems to effect the size of the hook in modern moulds and as such heavier jigs have larger hooks and light ones small hooks. Not very useful at times!! Lead Head Weights Again, almost anything you want. I use from 1/16oz (1.75g) up to about 3/4oz (21g). Why the big range? Well it all depends on what you are trying to do and how you wish to present the lure, deep or shallow and how fast the current is. See below. Styles: On the drop (OTD) - as the name suggests, this is where you are looking for a take while the lure is still on the way to the bottom, for this a lighter weight is often to slow the descent of the lure and maximise time "in the zone" where fish may be feeding midwater. Not always a light weight of course, a very strong cross current will have you upping the weight time and again until you find the happy medium towards getting the lure in the zone and finding it a few dozen yards too far downtide and missing going over the sunken Boue (raised pinnacle of rock/reef etc) which is the fish holding feature which the fish are holding station tight onto. Experience will tell you where to start. Once you hit bottom you can follow any other style to get the lure back to you. Shaky - This is a particularly good method for wrasse using a senko worm or Xlayer type lure. Using a shaky football head or equivalent other head (sometimes using a hitchhiker coil - a coil of wire clipped onto the hook eye rather than being moulded in). Cast out and allow the lure to sink shaking the rod tip as it drops, keeping a tight line so you can feel any takes OTD. It does happen. Once you make bottom contact just pause. Often the lure hitting the surface and the vibrations from shaking the lure OTD is enough to get some attention underwater, when the lure hits bottom just leave it so any interested species can come and investigate. Resting period can be anything from a few to 30 seconds or longer. I am impatient and tend to count to 10. Once you have done your count lift the rod up to make the lure jump off bottom, start shaking the rod tip (just the very tip) so you can feel the lure on the end each time you shake on the upward stroke it will feel like a tapping sensation. Often you will be hit while doing this, if not just stop shaking and start the rest period again, you will often be hit or feel bites in the rest period after shaking as a fish has come to see what was going on. "Tripping" - This is just what I call it. No doubt there's a proper term but in essence what you are doing is tripping the lead head along the bottom keeping it moving but at maximum a few inches off bottom. I prefer a paddle tail for this and a jig weight just heavy enough to make bottom and maintain bottom contact through the run. You are looking for somewhere

5 with a cross current and/or rip tide strong enough to take your lure along with it. Choose a head heavy enough to make bottom by casting uptide, get the slack in and tighten the rod to a very gentle bend so you can easily feel the bottom. If your jig keeps getting caught up or stopping and if a gentle lift does not start it off again then the lead is too heavy, likewise if it is going through too fast and little bottom contact is being made then you need a heavier head. Bites are very gentle in my experience. You are feeling for anything different as the lead trips through the bottom, rock and pebbles feel hard, you can feel the difference, weed has a slight rubbing sensation as the lure brushes over it and the inside of a bass' mouth feel soft. Anything out of the ordinary ("soft" feeling bottom, lure apparently not bouncing bottom when you feel it should be, a sudden slack line movement (your rod tip will stop holding the lure back), lift the rod enough to set a hook but not too violently in case a fish is mouthing the lure and you rip it out instead of hooking the fish and also so it still appears natural. The bites I have experienced have never on their own been definitive which includes bass just under 10lb. The bites which feel like bites (if that makes sense) are very delicate, almost like a goby tapping at the lure; it is a soft tap though as opposed to the hard tap of bouncing bottom. The only way to learn this is to do it. Without the right rod and light line you will not have sufficient sensation to feel that sort of takes. You will catch fish yes but not all of the bites you get. Even with the right rod you will miss takes as it often happens very quickly and if you are not on the ball you will miss the micro second that the bass had the bait in its mouth before rejection. Some bass of course will not reject and equally wrasse tend to hit everything pretty hard so you will know about them. Swimming - as it suggests just a straight forward cast and retrieve without keeping bottom contact as above, it does not hurt and I feel it helps to tap bottom every now and then, especially if fishing over sand as a puff of sand will be sent up to attract fish in. Again you will need to choose the weight of your jig to keep the right depth for the fish dependant on water depth and tide flow. Unlike OTD style you are fishing it swimming back where OTD is much more dead fish sinking approach. So that's the main styles employed in HRF.

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