The Bass Bullet responded by sheering and planing in random, three dimensional directions. Its sides reflecting and sparkling holographic light in the effervescence of the sunlit waves. The mackerel hit the lure like an express train, winning a foot or two of line against the drag, wrestling the rod tip toward the water. This is not a fairy tale, it happened to me last week.

I was out early, hoping to find a bass or two, the conditions were right, there was a light wind against the tide, some heavy rollers trundling in from the deep Atlantic, surging with a restless energy along the kelp strewn rocks, washing out the prawn, crab, baby pollack and gobies, driving them deep into the undertow where the predators waited. The shoals of sandeel would, or should have been driven hard against the beach and rocks where the rapacious bass would have kept them until their hunger was sated. But the bass were not there.

None the less, the twitched bullet took two gar, two mackerel and a pollack which all went back except for one of the mackerel, which I needed for the picture and to freeze down as mackerel strip for float fishing in September when the jumbo mackerel are in hopefully!

Fishing the long rod and lure for bass, pollack and mackerel has really caught on in the past few years. I do not ever remember finding other anglers so prepared to walk, carrying just light knapsack, a Gore-Tex jacket and a pocketful of plugs and spinners. These are anglers who have realised that there are still good fish to be caught, but that you have to work a little harder for them.

Look in any lure fishing catalogue, especially the American ones, and you will see that there are quite literally thousands of lures, spinners and plugs of all shapes, sizes, colours and swimming actions.
BUTů put any British angler who consistently catches fish on plugs up against the wall and demand the truth from them and the choice of plug comes down to mere handful. The favourites are simple, the Rapala J13 and the Sliver SL13's with blue or black backs. The Rebel J30's are a superbly made plug which some anglers swear by. Then there are the plastic Yo-Zuri Arc minnows which can be utterly fantastic on their day. All these plugs have plastic diving lips and tight rhythmic actions but all suffer from one debilitating flaw, they will not cast more than thirty yards unless you have the wind up your tail and are having a better than average day!!

My favourite fishing spot is only really productive in the aftermath of a Sou'Westerly gale and then you will be trying to cast one of these plugs into half a gale. "Waste of space!" I have heard more than one good angler say in disgust as he reached into his bag for the heavy Koster or Kilty Catcher!

A few years ago Bob Cox introduced his Bass Bullets to cope with just this situation. We needed a lure that could be cast a long way, into the teeth of a gale if necessary, and be dawdled back quite slowly by comparison with the heavy metal lures. The Bass Bullet and recently available, the Mirrolure Twitch baits, are different to the conventional plugs in that they do not have the plastic or metal diving vane to drive them under the surface and make them wriggle. Some of these Mirrolure twitch baits will float and are fished by leaving them on the surface and creating a commotion by making 'em twitch with a cunning movement of the rod tip, but by far the best are the very slow sinking twitch baits, these are the ones that have caught fish for me.

Retrieve a Bass Bullet quickly and it gets up to the surface and will occasionally break the surface with not a lot of action. But there are no rules with lure fishing, sometimes this splashy, surface breaking action will catch fish, as the bullet simulates the action of a sandeel frantically trying to escape the predating bass or pollack. But the Mirrolure Twitch bait lures work best subsurface, at least in my experience. Cast the lure, then wait for a moment or two whilst it sinks a few inches before commencing the retrieve. Using the long 11 foot rods which have become a virtual standard, "twitch" the rod tip a foot or two and as you move the rod back to its original position, reel in the slack line. Twitch and reel, twitch and reel, watch the lure as it come close in. You will see it sheering off in all sorts of directions as it responds to the rod and reacts to the movement of the water. It is this three dimensional random movement which gives the type of lure its deadly attraction.

The fact that it does not have a diving lip and is often heavier for its size than the conventional plugs, allows some good casting distance to be achieved. Bass bullets are available in three weights, 14grm, 25grm and 30grm and two colour schemes, white with green backs and black mackerel like squiggles and blue backs also with the squiggles. They tend to sink tail first and in many peoples eyes are a cross between a plug and a metal lure. In the right conditions they are deadly!!
Bob Cox tells me that there is a Mark 2 version under development which will cast even better and has a crazy actionI look forward to seeing it.

The American made Mirrolures are real tough cookies, the colours and all the fastenings are encapsulated in a tough plastic. The hook fastenings are drilled and tapped into the plastic, making it a simple matter to change the trebles. Every Mirrolure is hand tuned to swim true right out of the box, every lure inspected on 27 points, so there is evidently a lot of effort and typical Made in America pride in their manufacture.

The description of their Twitchbait lures sums up how these lures can be used.
"Designed to catch gamefish on the surface or when suspended, to depths of 30 feet. Mirrolure twitchbaits are highly effective when retrieved with short or long sweeps of the rod. Mirrolure offers models and sizes for a host of fresh and saltwater gamefish. These versatile lures allow anglers to vary the retrieve rate and action to adjust to varying water conditions".
Try the 97MR, in colour #21 which is white belly, silver sides and black back. It has caught pollack, mackerel and bass for me, good gear!!

This is not a sedentary fishing, there are no bivouacs or campsites involved with this style of fishing. Mobility is the key to success, your rod and reel, a bumbag or small knapsack with a few lures, a Mars bar, a water bottle and a torch is all you need to enjoy those early morning hours before the world is awake.
The last hours of daylight can often be the most productive of the day, besides which, it's good for the soul to fish and watch the Sun go down.

In recent times many sea anglers have been experimenting with the use of "popping lures" such as the Yo-Zuri Surface Cruisers which are over 5 inches long, weighing in at over an ounce and casts like a bullet.
What happens is very simple. After the sun has gone down you turf these things out into the darkness and "walk the dog" which is an Americanism for twitching your rod tip. On quiet nights you can hear the cupped lip of this lure pop-pop-popping along. Then all hell breaks loose as a Bass will come from nowhere and you cannot stop laughing and praying all at the same time.


GOOD GEAR.
10 pounds breaking strain high quality monofilament is about right, use a 30 foot shock leader of 20lb breaking strain clear monofilament, Amnesia is good, even better is Fluorocarbon.

There are some superb fixed spool reels out there at the moment and we are truly spoilt for choice. Choose a reel that is not too big, about the 3000 size. Shimano, Daiwa, Shakespeare, Masterline all make good fixed spool reels of this size!!

Plugging rods are always a point of contention, the Dam 11 footer is popular, as is the Shakespeare and Shimano but there is little doubt that Daiwa lead the way with their superb Samurai 11 footer which is the benchmark rod for many of us.

Any questions to russ@reelfoto.com