Just what pushes a fish's 'buttons' ?

Last night at 3am I laid in bed thinking about what I recently wrote about lure design. I've always believed fish senses are a big part of how fish are able to track and strike lures. The senses that allow detection are fine tuned and at times force a fish to attack - and not think about it. Consider this: a type of reflex action - slow or instantaneous - is a big part of why fish strike lures or real prey. The conduit from the sense organs to muscles, like for any hunter-animal, is their simple brain which may be compared to a computer chip that has built into it two switches - ON and OFF. The senses sense object dimensions, shape, speed and motion and the fish's brain is instantly turned on to enable an attack by coordinating visual cues to determine object speed and vulnerability.

Fish see and sense nearby moving objects. If a fish reacts, it does so for one of two reasons: 1. to attack to eat (naturally sensing live prey) or 2., attack to stop an annoying and unknown object from moving. The point being: the right lure pushes a fish's buttons but is unrelated to feeding. I've watched fish in semi-clear water suspending, motionless until a lure is cast to them, after which their attention is turned on and the sequence of events leading to an attack begins.

Stimuli is defined as, something that incites to action. Lures do just that - excite and incite! The features lures have that stimulate fish aggression involve vision, number one. Fish see on both sides of their heads for the main reason which is to provide a wide field of view for detecting moving objects. Vision allows the determination of object shape and size detection as well as the type of motion moving a object produces. The lateral line (so I've been told) complements vision with the sense of feeling the vibrations given of by a moving object.

Lure designers for decades have experimented with different lure shapes and motions to basically push a fish's buttons. What many discovered is that the list is never-ending and that a lure either has what it takes to provoke a fish or it doesn't. For example, the inventor of the jig & pig didn't think after he caught his first bass on it, "ah, a crawdad imitation!" A living rubber skirt tied to a jig and chunk of pork with flapping legs added to the hook, by no stretch of the imagination has anything in common with a crawfish. In reality, the pulsating flare of a jig skirt along with the trailer's action, are the stimuli that get a bass's attention and makes it attack. Exactly what a bass thinks the lure is conjecture at most; why a bass attacks the jig & pig design is due to the lure's unique appearance, motion and constantly changing shape via the skirt.

What makes any lure superior ? Experienced lure users have their favorites that is related to a lure's design that has proven better at getting fish to attack consistently. Is it because a lures looks and acts more like a real prey animal as some might claim? A more accurate assessment of a good lure is that it has what it takes to provoke a fish to attack when worked the right way.[/i]

When I find a lure that does better than most at catching fish, I don't wonder what it simulates, but only, what is it about the lure made fish bite it?. When I watch an successful lure long enough in the water as I impart action to it, it usually finally dawns on me - 'Well I'll be, that's most likely why fish react to it!' The reason being is that the lure's unique action that may or may not simulate anything in nature.

Visual lure components such a color brightness or flash, can help stimulate aggression. As long as they compliments lure action, colors in general follows the rule that lures usually contrast with the natural environment, not blend in with it. Bright white or the flash of silver flakes stands out like a naked guy hitchhiking, as do florescent colors. A comparison would be the human response to bright colors or suddenly flashing lights.

Another visual cue are subtle lure motions fish notice and track, basically because fish have no choice as the object holds their attention and the evaluation begins. Finesse-action lure success may mean that sometimes that less is best. An involuntary response (attention) become a voluntary one as a fish goes on the attack. Example: a bee gets suddenly too close to your face and you swat it and without thought.

Apart from the visual cues a fish observes, the lateral line may be an afterthought (except after hours 😉. ) But is does confirm what a fish sees, adding the element of a detectable vibration no matter how small. Do rattles in a crankbait matter? Probably not, but it's possible they irritate a fish's senses and sensitivity as the lure nears. (Other than that, what prey animal rattles?) Subtle lure action and minimal vibration on the other hand need not be the only stimuli that provoke fish. Ever use a buzzbait or a Zara Spook? They are anything but subtle and most definitely a sonic stimulant!

Most important to me is using which lure that produces an action that seems to work best with my imparted action. I ask myself, what lure shapes and colors compliment this lure's action and either subtly or greatly contrast with the underwater environment, thereby producing the affect on fish I'm after?

All the above, as usual, is just conjecture on my part and not for everyone. But when comparing similar lures by success rates, I've noticed lure differences that most likely contributed to more fish being caught.

Fishing is in the details.