Plastic lures are available in a wide range of colours, but it is known that below 30ft, even in clear water conditions, colour begins to disappear. At 100ft it has gone altogether. So what is the point in painting artificials so attractively when most are used in depths of 40 fathoms (240ft) to which no light penetrates? The clue is surely in the phrase ‘colour as we know it’. The human eye may perceive quite differently from the fish’s eye.

Recent studies have shown that lures coloured deep purple with a blue head, and dark red with a gold belly catch extremely well even at depths where light does not penetrate.

Profusion of metal lures

As well as plastic lures there are a great many manufactured in metal. This type is used extensively for shore spinning, and, to a lesser extent, trolling from small craft over inshore grounds. The range of shape and colour is bewildering. The newcomer to sea angling is easily confused by the profusion of different types, all of which profess to catch fish when, regrettably, most are designed to catch anglers.


In recent years pirking or jigging for free swimming fish such as pollack, coalfish and cod, has gained ground with deepwater boat anglers, and the method is now in wide use. It entails fishing with a weighted lure, invariably fitted with a treble hook. Pirks take many forms and range from leadfilled pipes, already chromed or painted in a variety of colours, to old plated car door handles or to sophisticated stainless steel and chromefinished models from Scandinavia.

Anglers fishing pirks from conventional positions in a boat adopt a quite different approach to the quick retrieve method of the boatman in the bow, and instead work the rod with a pumping action, as one would with feathers. While it is effective if not more than six anglers fish at a time from just one side of the boat as it moves across the wreck, this method does not match the fastretrieve system.


Jigs are generally smaller lures, often with coloured feathers set in a metal head rather than the allmetal body of a pirk. They are used in a similar way to pirks and range from 4oz26oz, the weight varying with the depth of water and the strength of tide. In general terms, few of less than 12oz are used in more than 20 fathoms of water.