Does Bigger Bait Really Catch Bigger Fish?

News & Tips: Does Bigger Bait Really Catch Bigger Fish?...

You always hear that if you want to catch bigger fish that you need to use bigger bait. You'll have more dry casts, but you'll catch bigger fish. I've always assumed that this was a true statement.

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The author caught this halibut in Alaska on a 1-pound jig, which also caught a red snapper.

Well, I got thinking on this proclaimed truth the other day after Ronnie Parker, owner of Lake Fork Trophy Lures, sent me an article in which two of his guides were razzing each other. One was using a LFT Live Baby Shad and the other guide was using larger lures and automatically assumed that he'd catch less fish but that that they'd be bigger. The moral to the story is, the guy using the smaller lures caught a lot more fish AND bigger fish than the guy using the Texas-sized lures.

It was a good article and I laughed about it, but then I got thinking about my own experiences. How many of my big fish had I actually caught on big lures/bait? Well let's start counting a few.

One time when fishing in Alaska at Waterfall Resort with guide Dennis Luckenbach, in four drops I caught two record book fish. One was a record book red snapper, one was a record book halibut and the third one was a red snapper that was just 3.5 pounds under being a record itself. The fourth...well I hooked a piece of Alaska and snapped off. All were caught on the same lure. A big 1-pound jig tipped off with a plastic squid with scent. It was small enough to catch a red snapper but also caught a huge halibut.

I guess the myth of big lures catch big fish got shot down there, but I never tied two and two together. I caught a huge halibut on the same lure that we also were catching red snappers on.

Then I remember one day when fishing in brush piles along the bank for crappie in Nebraska I hooked two northern pikes. If I remember correctly, one was 30 inches and the other was close to 36 inches. And that was on some super small minnows on a little crappie hook.

Then when we're trolling with cut herring in Alaska on the same bait, we'll catch 1 1/2 pound rockfish on up to 50-pound salmon and over 90-pound halibut. (OK, I've never hooked a 50-pound salmon but my nephew hooked a 48-pound one with Dennis guiding us.)

Then when I backpack into the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area I'll catch smaller 10- to 12-inch trout on the same black wooly buggers that we're hooking bull trout up to 30 inches on.

Then what about big trout? How many times are you fishing for the big boys with a size 20-24 fly?

And down in Louisiana at dusk off the drilling rigs we were hitting the 10- to 15-pound blackfin tuna on medium sized topwater lures when my nephew Clifton hooked into a 90-pound yellowfin that drug us around for 1 1/2 hours while he fought him down on a light weight rod.

And then northerns in Nebraska — I catch pretty much all of them on the same lures. Whether they're under two foot on up to the big boys.

So I guess I'm going to have to vote to shoot down that old myth that you have to use big lures to catch big fish. I'm betting the big offensive linemen on the Texas A&M football team eat peanuts just like a skinny little 90-pound gymnast...although they may eat a 10-pound bag at once compared to a thimble full that the gymnast would eat.

So, here's the gospel on this myth according to little Tommie. Sure big fish can eat bigger bait than smaller fish can. But that doesn't mean that is necessarily their habit to do so. Maybe really the only benefit in using bigger lures is that the hooks are stouter so you can horse a big fish more and not bend or straighten a hook. Or maybe on smaller lures the hooks are just too small to grab ahold properly.

So, now that I've popped your bubble on that age old myth, tune in. Next week we're going to talk about the Easter bunny.