Sunday, 30 April 2017

Ultra Violet and Glow in Fishing Lures

We have been fishing ultra violet and glow-in-the-dark fishing lures for decades. I previously wrote on what Jack James of Radiant Lures discovered in these properties, and Super Tackle carries on the tradition; each of its lures, skirts and so on that have these properties, note it on the package, as well as, now, there is a five ‘star’ rating on the amount in a particular lure.

But, first, what are these properties? Ultra violet colours are beyond the visual spectrum range that humans can see; but many predatory animals can see such wavelengths and use the ability to locate prey, particularly in lower light to find and zero in on lunch, that is reflecting these shades. In other words, lots of prey species in the ocean reflect ultraviolet. Infrared is also a wavelength frequency, seen by fish, but not by humans.

Glow is a different type of property. A common example would be the glow-green spoon, we typically call a Coyote, regardless of its manufacturer. Glow is the emission of photons from the lure, so that it is giving off light, rather than simply reflecting a particular wavelength. The best example of a photon emitter is the sun. It gives off light, streaming massive numbers of photons out into space. 

When you charge a glow lure with a flashlight, camera flash, or even the sun, it stores photons and then releases them over time. Once all photos have been released, the lure fails to glow. Many hootchies have glow as well as UV properties, both very useful in combination.

Returning to ultra-violet, take a look at the spectrum of light beyond the human visual range, ie, ultra violet and other ultra colours, on the Super Tackle website. The importance for lures is that ultra colours can be seen by salmon down to 125 feet, on their graph, but one can take an ultraviolet lamp down hundreds of feet in the ocean, and once turned on, ultra-violet will be reflected from many animals. 

If a predator can see its feed better, zeroing in on the natural ultra-violet reflections from feed – note that this is an evolutionary trait developed over the eons by predators for more successful feeding – it will whack something it can see. It will not whack what it can’t see.

So, it is easy to, er, see, why lures with ultraviolet properties have developed. On the coast, we have been using such hues for decades, but if you follow freshwater lures, manufacturers ‘discovered’ ultraviolet in the last five years and are heavy into adding this to bass plugs, as well as spinners and spoons. Note that the latter are the go-to lure choice in fall river fishing for coho. Also note that these lures are used in surface water depths, particularly murky rivers during and after a rainfall.

I fly fish in freshwater 10 months of the year, but carry a baitcaster and spinners/spoons for two months in the fall for fishing coho. Some years the Mepps Aglia glow spinner is the best colour for that season, others, the usual colour progression prevails from early fall into early winter. I always carry the glow colour to try early in the season. If it doesn’t work, I switch up early.

In saltwater, ultraviolet was also added to bucktails about the same time by Radiant and others, which are surface saltwater lures, typically fished in the top 25 feet, fast, for coho. Similarly, sockeye, which also used to run in the top layer of the water column, feed primarily on krill and crustaceans, both reflecting lots of UV, and the first lures that took them were Krippled-Ks short behind a flasher.

Infrared, another range of wavelength, is also useful, particularly in fall when the sun is lower on the horizon and more infrared penetrates the atmosphere and clouds than the rest of the visible spectrum. This is why we used to use red Hotspots and the original Super Betsy flasher. (These days, O’ki’s Super Betsy comes in a range of a half dozen related colours based on green, lemon and plaid, which also makes them more useful in winter, than a red, infrared based flasher. O’Ki’s also have quality ball bearing swivels on the top and bottom of the flasher, a real advantage, particularly with bait – because of line twist from a spiraling lure – and that bearings/swivels over time get coated with crud from corrosive saltwater, and sooner or later fail).

As we all know, coho, pink and sockeye, started running deeper a decade ago, to 110 feet in open waters in the Victoria/Juan de Fuca area which makes infrared a less valuable colour component than the other two qualities. Why they changed is anyone’s guess, but I would say the likely reason is that we have caught the high flyers for decades and now, the deep runners are what is left of the runs, so we fish deeper than we used to. On the other hand, this doesn’t answer whether krill now run deeper, or the sockeye zap to the surface to feed and then descend once again.

As for glow, some lures have far more photon-emitting qualities in their components. One of the Radiant spoons with a cream glow colour would emit visible light all night long, as I found out by hanging one from my book shelf some years ago. Thus, they are far more useful fished at depth in winter, because we often run our lures at depth for more than 20 minutes, particularly spoons, by which time regular glow lures have stopped emitting visible light – and had better have some UV properties.

Try some lures at home as I did. Some glow far longer than others – you want to use those ones. I have some Super Tackle Ghost Shrimp hootchies that Jack told me glow for hours. They are now on my book shelf awaiting darkness for me to see how long they emit photons. You can check UV qualities of lures with a black light, in the dark.

Finally, you can now buy specifically made torches to charge glow lures. There are now glow, as well as, UV beads to use in hootchy rigging. And there are LED light cylinders for inside hootchies, halibut sized hootchies and spreader bars.


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