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Factors That Influence Fishing Success

By Bob Jensen - December 27, 2014

Recently we talked about how lure color can have an influence in our fishing success. And, while color certainly can have a role in determining how many fish we catch, there are other factors that also come into play in our fishing success. Let's talk about some of those factors.

Size is a really important consideration in open water or under the ice, but I think it's even more important under the ice, especially when panfish are the target. A few years ago I was ice-fishing with some friends on a lake in Wisconsin that received a lot of fishing pressure. We were after bluegills. I was using baits that were the size I usually used for bluegills: 1/32nd ounce or close to that. My friends were using baits that were half that size and even smaller. My friends were catching fish regularly: I wasn't catching them at all. A switch to the smaller size enabled me to start catching.

In recent years, tungsten baits have become a big deal for ice-fishing. Tungsten is a heavy material, so it's possible to have a bait that is small in size, but is still heavy enough to fish effectively. Northland's Mooska Tungsten Jig has been very popular because it's been very effective for finicky panfish.

Action is another factor that we need to consider when we're on the ice or in a boat, but again, many anglers will agree that the action we impart or don't impart on our bait is often more critical when ice-fishing.

Sometimes, in fact much of the time, it works well to really shake your bait for a few seconds to get the attention of any fish that might be in the area. If that fish is hungry, it might move right in and eat your bait.

However, usually it works best to put a lot of action on the bait to get the fish's attention, then let the bait sit as still as possible so the fish can eat it. There are times when fish are like people this way: People and fish need to know food is around, but we usually don't like it moving when we eat it.

We're usually tipping our jigs or spoons with bait. There are times when fish like live bait, but more and more we're finding that plastic baits work just as well and sometimes even better than live. There are times when the wiggling of a live waxworm or spike or whatever is unappealing to a fish. There have been plenty of times in recent years that a jig or spoon tipped with plastic has been better. Impulse plastics look real and smell real, but they don't wiggle by themselves, and they'll catch fish when live bait won't. And, if you want the plastic to wiggle, you just shake your rod tip a little bit.

We can put as much or as little thought into our fishing as we want. We can think about every little factor and how it might affect our success, or we don't need to, and that's what makes fishing so appealing to so many people. But, if you want to catch more fish, it really pays to consider the various details that go into our lure presentation. The more attention we pay to lure color, size, and action, the more fish we'll catch.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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