The best description of a plug is a cross between a spinner and a deadbait. In shape it resembles a dead fish with hooks readyset. In use it is retrieved in much the same way as a spinner. But a plug possesses advantages that neither spinner nor deadbait have—it can be made to work with innumerable variations on a straight retrieve at any of many chosen depths. The astute angler can impart sharp, darting, erratic movements, and the series of vibrations produced in this way will travel several yards. The vibrations serve to stimulate the urge to hunt: so much so that a plug may be savagely attacked when a seemingly enticing livebait has been completely ignored in the same swim.

Kinds of plug

Floating plugs are light, usually made from wood, and have a Vshaped wedge inserted in the nose. There are models made to represent mice, and one has broad arms, or sweeps, that vibrate backwards and forwards during the retrieve; they are intended to represent a surfaceswimming fish in distress— rather in the fashion of one with swimbladder trouble.

They should be cast close to the bank, under overhanging trees and bushes and retrieved alternately fast and slow, causing them to dive a few inches under the surface, then pop up to the top. The bow wave caused by this sudden dive is probably the lure’s main attraction.

Floating divers are the most versatile of all plugs. They have lightweight bodies with a mediumsized diving nose (or lip) set into the head. After being cast, they will lie on the surface, only diving when the angler commences the retrieve. The faster the motion, the deeper they will dive—short, hard turns on the reel and then a few seconds with the handle stationary, produce a series of swoops and rises that few fish can resist. They have an added advantage in snaggy waters. By stopping the retrieve when an underwater obstruction is reached, the plug is allowed to float up, and can be coaxed gently past the danger area before continuing with the normal dive and rise action.

Sinking plugs

Sinking plugs are for very deep gravel pits and reservoirs where the lure has to sink some way before it can be fished usefully. In order to find and keep the ‘taking’ depth, the countdown method should be used. After the lure has hit the water, the angler counts from, say, one to six, then starts his retrieve. On the next cast, he may count to seven, then eight on the following casts—and so on until a fish is taken. This will probably be the taking depth, and future casts should be allowed the same time before retrieve begins.

Few plugs in this category have a diving vane, all are heavy, and some models have a metal ball sealed into a cavity in the body. When the retrieve begins, the action of the plug under the water causes this ball to rattle, making vibrations that are highly attractive to predators.

Deep divers

The last selection of plugs, the deep divers, are easily recognized by the extra large metal vane set into the head. This broad lip sets up drag against the water when the retrieve starts and causes the plug to dive quickly, at a sharp angle. As with sinkers, the countdown method is the best when exploring a water.

The colour range of plugs displayed in a tackle shop can be quite staggering. But action is more important than colour in a plug, and generally those with green, yellow and a little red coincide with the natural colours of fish and appear to be the most acceptable to feeding predators.

Unfortunately, the vibrations produced by a plug can, on occasions, make predators bolt for cover. However incomprehensible the response is, it calls for an immediate switch to spinner or deadbait.

Plugs fall into four general categories that coincide with the depth at which they should work. There are surface lures, floating divers, sinkers, and deep divers. Their shape, especially at the nose, often gives a clue to their working use.