Floating lures are arguably the most popular fishing lure type. However for most fishing situations, sinking lures are better. If you’re not using sinking lures then you’re not catching your fair share of fish.
For most fish and most of the time, you will catch more fish if you target them near the bottom. And that’s why sinking lures work so well. You cast out, reach the bottom then start reeling. This way you are able to catch more fish than if you were using a floating lure.
A floating lure must be reeled in quickly to get it to dig in and swim to the bottom. But by the time a floating lure has reached bottom you’ve already wasted several feet or yards of lake bottom where fish were resting. Hands down, sinking lures are better than floating lures for reaching fish that are swimming near the bottom.
Sinking Lures vs Floating Lures
- Sinking lures get down to where the fish are
- Sinking lures are precise, you can know exactly where the lure is and fish it at the right level
- Sinking lures resemble struggling fish, floating lures do not. Floating lures don’t even resemble fish trying to escape a predator. Ever see a fleeing fish slowly rise to the surface? No. Ever see a fish slowly float to the top? Never. Fish fall to the bottom when dead.
- Sinking lures can be fished slowly, like an injured fish that’s easy to catch. Predators have a strong preference for fish that are easy to catch.
- Sinking lures work the best in windy and rough water conditions
- Sinking lures are versatile, they can be used at the top of the water column as well as the bottom.
Why Sinking Lures Catch Fish
Fish can generally be found on the bottom or near the top. Whether you are fishing a lake, reservoir, pond or river, this is where you will find fish, near the bottom or near the top. There are several reasons why the bottom of the water column is where you’ll find fish.
Why Fish Prefer the Bottom of Lakes, Ponds & Rivers
Particularly in rivers but also in certain parts of lakes, the currents are less strong near the bottom. Thus, fish, especially trout, can rest at the bottom with minimal physical effort. This is especially true for big fish. Smaller fish tend to swim around more, but the big fish are almost always resting.
2. Less light
Fish do not have eyelids. For that reason fish tend to avoid light and seek the darkest areas, where they can be more comfortable.
The bottom is safer. Because of evolution, fish that tended to swim near the top have been eaten. Fish that relate to the bottom survived, because it’s safer near the bottom.
4. Food for Fish
Many rich sources of food live in the mud and rocks at the bottom of a lake, pond, reservoir and river. You’ll find various nymph and grub stages of various insects, as well as worms and freshwater shrimp. Fish feed on insect larvae, fish eggs, and even crawdads. There’s a lot of food near the bottom part of a lake or river.
Where to Catch Fish in a Lake or River
Stocked and wild trout habitually orient themselves about 18 inches from the bottom, often in relatively shallow water. Wild fish rest near the bottom or near the top, depending on where their food is and the time of day. If you see insects hatching a flying away, then odds are that fish are close to the top, eating the insects as they shed their shucks and float up to the top to dry off and fly away. This is called a hatch, when insects are said to “hatch” and fly off the water (and sometimes crawl onto rocks to dry off).
If you see a hatch happening, then a floating lure will catch fish. But here’s what makes sinking lures so great: you can still catch these fish with a sinking lure! All you have to do is cast out, wait a second for the lure to sink about a foot, then start reeling. Sinking lures are simply the most versatile lures you can buy.
Sinking Lures Catch Fish Better
Sinking lures generally sink one foot per second. If you know how deep the water is you can simply cast out then count down until the lure reaches a foot or two above the bottom.
But if you don’t know how deep it is, simply cast out, then count until you feel your lure has touched bottom. Then reel the lure back in. On the next cast count the lure down but start reeling about one to two seconds earlier. You’ll now be targeting one to two feet from the bottom. This is a great trick for catching fish!
Struggling Baitfish Lure
When a fish dies it sinks to the bottom. When a fish is struggling to stay alive, it struggles to stay afloat but keeps sinking. Floating lures do not mimick that behavior as well as a sinking lure. With a sinking lure you can cast it out, begin reeling it near the top, then cut the action and let it fall. Then you start reeling again as if it’s struggling to stay alive. Most times fish will swoop in on it as it falls. Fish, especially largemouth bass, find this presentation irresistible!
Best Lure for Rivers & Rough Water
Floating lures don’t work well in rough water, including in fast running rivers. What happens is that you toss them out and they refuse to sink, floating uselessly on the top of the water where they fish aren’t. You have to reel them in faster to get them to sink and by the time they reach the right depth the floating lure has swam over the heads of the fish.
Sinking lures work better than floating lures in rough waters and waves. Experienced saltwater anglers know this. They also know that rough water is where the biggest gamefish are feeding, sometimes at the bottom, waiting for smaller fish to get swept away by the stronger current. That’s where you want to put your sinking lure, right in harms way!
The Lure That Catches Fish
Many anglers pass on sinking lures. Is it because they’re afraid of losing them to the bottom or some other reason? Why don’t you use sinking lures, can you name the reasons?
Now ask yourself if you use spoons and spinning lures. Whatever reason anglers have for not using sinking lures turn out to be ephemeral when they realize they already use sinking lures in the form of spoons and spinners. Spoons and spinners work great precisely because they are sinking lures. Isn’t it time to reconsider using the wonderfully versatile sinking lure?
Sinking Lures can be Fished Slowly
Slow presentations are usually the best ones. This is something that sinking lures do better than a floating lure. A floating lure must be reeled in faster to get it to dig in and stay close to the bottom. Not so with a sinking lure. Once you count down the sinking lure to where you want it, just reel it in slow and the lure will tend to stay right where you want it, in the strike zone.
But what’s great about the sinking lure is that you can reel it in slow, something you can’t really do with a floating lure. A floating lure will tend to float upward with a slow retrieve. A slow presentation is usually a more attractive presentation. Nevertheless, with a sinking lure you’re not locked into a slow presentation. If a fast retrieve is what’s needed you can speed up the retrieve for a faster swimming lure. In almost every comparison, a sinking lure is a better lure than the floating lure.
DIY Sinking Lures
If you don’t like the idea of having to purchase new lures, another option is to change the belly hook on your floating lures to one hook size larger. If necessary you can also upgrade the split rings to a heavier or slightly larger one. That’s usually enough to turn a floating lure into a slow sinking lure. Just be careful about the rear hooks because adding a heavier hook to the rear could cause it to lose its wiggling action.
Sinking Lures for Trout and Bass
Popular sinking lures are the Rapala CountDown and the Rebel Tracdown Minnow. The HD Trout lure by Dynamic Lures isn’t marketed as a sinking lure but it actually is a slow sinking lure. I’ve been using these lures for years to catch trout and other species. They work great trolled behind a boat, in a river or cast into a pond or lake.
If you’re not using sinking lures, give it a try. They can do everything your floating lures can do and more. Sinking lures are the most versatile lures you can use, regardless of the weather or water conditions. Hands down a sinking lure has more uses than a floating lure and quite likely you will see your catch rate go up. Aside from any peace of mind and relaxation fishing may bring, catching fish is still the reason why we fish.