Deep Diving Plugs by Gord Burton
These type of plugs are used for a great deal of my fishing on the big waters and mostly in clear water conditions. Here's a short list of some of my top-notchers, Ernies, Rapala Countdown Magnum, Big Fork Lures Reef Digger, Rapala X-Rap magnum, Cisco Kid, Deep Diving Fat Rap and the Depth Raider. There are also numerous deep diving Alphabet plugs like the Mann’s range and hammered out loads of good pike on one particular plug called Chow Hound that is like many plugs of this type. Deep divers are employed for a wide variety of tactics depending on the situations being tackled. These can range from casting to steep shelving rock points or working alongside sloping ledges where the water plunges deep right from the shore or searching deep water close up to weed lines, all 'hot spots' where you find patrolling pike.
The advantage when using these plugs is that once they been crank deep they will maintain that depth throughout the retrieve until directly beneath your feet if fishing from a boat. Plugs like the 'Lil' Ernie will be near to fifteen feet down when they get back to the boat and the Countdowns as deep as you'll need.
By cranking the lure down to a specific depth you will be able to work though different levels in the water until a pike nails it. The sinking plugs are ideal to use when drifting over very deep water, simply cast the lure as far as possible and let it sink to the bottom then ever so slowly retrieve it back ensuring it stays very deep and add the odd twitch from time to time, a tactic I've used many times in depths to below thirty feet. Besides boat fishing deep diving plugs can be used to tackle a good range of situations when fishing from the bank and I've exploited many a good pike holding area using these lures. Plunge the plug deep to search along the deep water edges of rivers and drains or deep holes below weir sills. When fishing across deep drains cast very close to the far bank immediately plunge the lure down until it bumps the bottom then slow down enough so that it remains in the lower levels in the water throughout the retrieve. Experimenting with retrieves will soon tell you how deep your lure is without hitting the bottom then just reel fast enough to keep that depth all the way back to the nearside ledge and expect takes at any time.
Of all lure fishing methods trolling is the one that excites me most of all and fishing this way on the great waters I fish is an adventure for sure, the big pike method! A couple of friends and myself have trolled the big lakes in the depths of winter and in snow blizzards and the results have often been big pike! Before you commence to troll it is imperative that the line is marked off at fifty yards by tying a stop-knot on the line or in the case of certain braids a mark with an indelible pen this is allows the angler to gauge the distance the lure is being fished behind the boat.
Experience [again!] will soon teach you how much line is paid out to take a specific lure down to a certain depth when motoring at between 2mph and 6mph at range no less than forty yards astern and except in calm conditions rarely more than sixty. Always make a mental note of the line distance and speed when a plug bumps the bottom then simply slow down a touch or take in some line to make the lure run clear. Even line thickness effects the depth a lure will run to. When in action don't just motor slowly and endlessly along like so many do, select a pikey looking outcrop, a weed line or often even better, a rising hump in the bottom has such features are truly dynamite hot spots for catching pike on the troll. Start off working one contour close to these features and if no fish are 'chompin' select a deeper diving plug and perform the 'step-down' and work even deeper. This is yet another tactic that has brought many fish including numbers of twenty pounders, straight to Gordie.
To impart extra action into a plug work the rod by drawing it forward, lifting it high and letting it drop back. Bumping the lure across the top of the' hump' has brought a few fish usually just when it swims away from it. One deadly trick I use is fish large floating deep diver with a lead weigh that will sink the lure fitted onto the line a couple of feet ahead the lure. The plug will be sinking deep has the line is payed out to the required distance then steer the boat very slowly in a snake trolling manner while twitching and jerking on the lure at the same time. This is a great tactic for tempting deep lying fish and when fishing on a big Swedish lake with Mick Brown I demonstrated how good by catching double figure pike just off the bottom, over fifty feet down! All good fish catching tricks.
Finally, we read of this colour or that colour changing in deep water, well I've had loads of fish below thirty feet deep to depths around seventy feet on brass, copper, silver & black and red, silver and blue, chartreuse & silver, perch pattern, orange & copper to name a few so vary your colour codes too! Final tip, always ensure that the drag system on the reel is set right otherwise a crack-off will result should the lure snag-up or worse still the loss of a big fish, so be warned!