Fishing Forum
Skip to Content


Report Post | Register to Reply
the 'eyes' have it - the brain not so much
We've all been indoctrinated about how a bass (or any fish species) thinks or more accurately, what it thinks. If it sees a skirted jig and trailer, it thinks it's a crawfish. If it chases a white skirted spinnerbait, it thinks it's a shad. What about a plastic worm or Senko? Where in it's vocabulary are there comparisons to those baits? Assigning a bass an IQ is reaching at best and worse, assuming bass have an imagination like the angler that imagines it to be so. The problem with that is the proof is catching fish on different lures on the same outing refutes the concept that fish are capable of thinking and choosing.

Here's a concept worth considering: fish react, period! Most of the time we cast lures that look like nothing in nature and yet catch bass almost all of the time. Any connections made to any prey species are made by anglers - not fish. If fish could think, it would never strike a pink Senko or a bright yellow Mr Twister grub.
On one day of fishing, I've caught fish on five or more different lure designs - especially in spring. If I were to match the current popular bait species, those other lures shouldn't have caught bass that didn't match, which brings me to lure color.

Granted, bass can see different colors, most of which are altered by the amount of sun light, colors filtered by water stains and depth. The only time a fish can see an actual color is in clear or shallow water. Since that is the case, it seems a bit silly choosing a color that matches this or that prey animal, like a spring or fall crawfish. This ignores that fact that bass or any predator fish (most in fact) are opportunists. If a prey animal comes too near, a bass may shoot out and grab it. It doesn't evaluate the object's color scheme but instead reacts to object motion, shape, contrast, etc.

The most that can be said for color is color brightness. Brightness accounts for contrast against a background. That's not to say a bass couldn't detect an object that matches a background - even against the night sky, but that anything that contrasts with nature stands out unnaturally so. Not all prey species blend in such as yellow perch for example: bright orange fins, bright yellow scales with black stripes. ( I'll bet many of you have used a yellow perch colored Rapala and caught bass where perch don't exist. I have!) But more important, fish don't know the difference between a perch and a sunfish - both represent a generic food.

Color brightness considerations includes flash or sparkle. How many of you have used soft plastics with metal flakes? What do they represent, getting back to the original idea of fish IQ? I like green flakes in pumpkin along with black flakes. Fish bite it anyway. Their eyes are extremely sensitive underwater and along with the later line, are superb detectors of any moving object. The object's size might be important or not depending on the fish's aggressiveness at that moment, but maybe color brightness more so. This is not to deny the fact that many colors and color brightness wouldn't work on one day, but that maybe too much of a good thing is passed by such as a bright flashing spinner blade. As for myself, I can catch fish all day, any day, on white or pearl and muted color favorites.

Many would like to think lure shape important as a representation of a prey animal, but shape is part of a lure's design that affects lure action. Lure profiles are many that fish react to, but more so lure action. A skirted jig has a totally different profile and action than a plastic worm or Senko, but each catches fish because of each's unique lure action. Consider this: a jig's skirt flairs and pulsates; a Senko's tips and body wobble slowly on the way down; a plastic worm slinks along the bottom. Action speaks louder than profile when it comes to fish noticing a lure and having their attention held long enough to provoke them to strike. I have designed a few plastic grubs, each with different unique actions that catch more than five species a day, bass included.

Lure speed along with lure action is crucial to catching fish. Granted, burning a spinnerbait or crankbait has it's moments, but for the most part, fish react to lure action when there is enough time for the lure to be observed and felt with the lateral line. If I were to believe a fish had a brain, I would include those two senses connected to a brain that is nothing more than a conduit to it's muscles after a spark goes off causing an almost reflexive action and as we all know, reflex actions are involuntary.

Most of the time fish don't have a choice - they either take or leave it, not consider it, simply reacting to something that stimulates their senses. Anglers make fish do something not in their best interest - strike an object not necessarily to eat it, but to strike it for no good reason (as if fish could reason). It's like saying, 'the devil made me do it', meaning outside our control to avoid an action that proved negative by way of adequate temptation.

Many want to believe anglers outwit an animal dumber than dirt, when in actuality it is they who are outwitted by manufacturer claims pushed by well
paid pro sponsors. ( Bass Master magazine is full of them.) Next time you use a lure, rather than believe someone else's reasons why the lure worked, consider what it was about lure action by design that caused a fish to strike when the lure was presented a certain way. Once the combination is found, that lure will always be in your tackle box.

Now that takes a bit of thought !
(This post was edited by SenkoSam on Mar 30, 2017, 6:05 AM)
Report Post | Register to Reply
Re: [SenkoSam] the 'eyes' have it - the brain not so much In reply to
Here are a few assertions that support the above, quoted from Knowing Bass by Keith Jones, PhD fish biologist. (Of course all of the information applies to all freshwater fish species, not just bass.)

Bass don't do well with stationary objects. They are endowed with a visual system geared to detecting and analyzing motion and we shouldn't wonder that bass can be pretty picky about different lure presentations. They don't see lures move the way we see them move; bass are highly sensitive to motion and it is likely they are predisposed to look for key motion characteristics while ignoring others.

Bass tend to find some motions more stimulating than others such as objects with erratic motions, while ignoring those with sustained motion and losing interest fast in lures moving at a constant speed. Mixed in with erratic motions are periods of stability - motionlessness, always keeping in mind that a bit of unpredictability (IE lures that dart from side to side) must be interspersed with predictability, because a fish that can not accurately predict where the target will be, tends to hold back (... too much of a good thing)

The other key element of presentation is called the reaction zone and the maximum distance a fish will travel to strike any object - the reaction distance - is most times shorter than the visual distance. If a lure travels through the most distant part of the reaction zone too fast, the lure will be ignored; if allowed to pause in the zone, the odds are better for a fish too move closer and maybe strike. All of this is supported by the inherent bias of visually guided attacks limited by water clarity, light, weeds, etc.

Bass commonly position themselves where they can strike upwards coming from beneath prey, but no attack direction is sacred and being flexible opportunists, bass can hit from any direction and angle.


I guess my bias is from reading articles over the years that document bass behavior as it relates to fish biology and tendencies. Of course most if not all fish species share the same anatomical structures /capabilities and behavioral tendencies. As long as I catch fish in accordance with science and the scientific method, I see no reason not to reject most of what is written that is usually commercially motivated.

Frank
(This post was edited by SenkoSam on Mar 31, 2017, 7:47 AM)