Greg "Doc Lures" Vinall
Podcast Host, Lure Maker, Scientist, Educator
Greg has hosted the Australian Lure Fishing Podcast since it started in January 2019. When he’s not playing podcast host, he’s a qualified environmental scientist, lure making educator and tragic lure fisher.
9 Lure Fishing Hacks Greg Recommends
- Large stainless steel snaps as used in offshore game fishing or commercial fishing gear are great for organising treble hooks. Have one clip for each size of treble hook and simply slide them onto the snap or clip, then put the entire clip into a waterproof container. Place some of the silica gel sachets you’ll find when you purchase electronic gear or some foodstuffs into the you store hooks to remove moisture and keep your hooks from rusting. The sachets can be placed in an oven at 40-50C from time to time to dry the crystals and renew their effectiveness. Scattering grains of rice through your lure trays is another good option.
- Put rings on your treble hooks while you’re watching tv or whatever – if you need to replace the hooks on a lure whilst you’re fishing it can save you hunting for both hooks and rings. Remove the old rings and if they’re still good you can recycle them later, saving you time on the water. When you’re doing a periodic cull of treble hooks and going through your box replacing anything that is rusty, only replace the hooks on lures you know you’ll use a lot. Replacing hook on lures you only use occasionally exposes hooks to moisture and damage, plus it makes it more likely you’ll end up with a tangled mass of lures in your box. If you have your hooks organised with rings, as per tip 1, then you only need to bring a small number of hooks fishing with you. If you need one of those less used lures it only takes a couple of minutes to put hooks on it – and you know they’ll be shar and rust free. Having a couple of pairs of quality split ting pliers is critical.
- Adding an extra split ring between the hook and the lure gives the hook extra mobility and reduces the opportunity for the hook to be twisted out as a fish jumps and levers the lure against the hook. If you find the front and rear trebles tend to get fouled, or the lure fouls the line often during casting, switch to short shanked hooks. Using small rubber bands to link the front and rear trebles on a hard body while it’s in a tackle tray can reduce the risk of your lures becoming a tangled mess.
- Double hooks are an often overlooked and undervalued piece of terminal gear. They are super strong and don’t need split rings, which reduces the weight and the noise of the terminals. When fitted to point downwards, double hooks don’t have an unnecessary third point to interfere with the lure action but still give two points to pin a fish. Fitting the hooks to point upwards makes for a much more snag resistant lure, but as with all weedless lures, the hookup rate can be affected.
- Create a “Day Pack” the night before a fishing trip by segregating out all the gear you’ll almost certainly need from the bits and pieces you’ll might only need occasionally. Put the essentials in one bag or box in an easy to reach location so you don’t have to rummage through all your gear to find the critical items. Include superglue in your day pack – I use this for extra insurance on FG knots and for a range of other uses, including repairing soft plastic lures or for keeping them from slipping down the hook during fishing.
- I hate plastic, but I tolerate it in the case of leader management. I place each spool of leader into an individual ziplock bag. This keeps the leaders from getting tangled and keeps the labels from getting wet or damaged so I always know what leader I’m using.
- Until recently, I’ve never been a fan of lure clips. After numerous ALF guests talked up the Mustad Fastach lure clips I’ve re-evaluated and now use clips on a regular basis when I’m fishing with larger, more robust lure styles. Apart from making lure changes easier, I don’t lose a piece of the leader at every lure change, so retying leaders is required as often these days. I’ve not had any horror incidents of clips failing, though I hear the occasional story.
- Permanent marker pens are great for adding bars, lines, spots and so on to soft plastic lures. Some people like them for adding colour and detail too, I’m less fussed about that. But I do find at times that adding some contrast to lures can increase their effectiveness.
- Taking braid off your reels halfway through the season and reversing it so the line that’s been buried deep on the spool is brought to the top will give you fresh, new line and get the maximum value from your investment in braided line.
My hack… as a new fisho, only started this year and caught my 10th fish just yesterday, I kept getting my lures caught on the car seat in my family car (and on everything else they brushed against).
Being a dad of six means our budget doesn’t include fancy fishing gear, so I reused some small, shallow tupperware containers, which are only around 3cm deep and cut a semicircle out of the top lip of the container at each end.
Now I just lie my rod across the container resting in those two holes, with my lure inside the container, then pop the lid back on. Now my lure is completely enclosed and I didn’t need to buy any special gimmicky lure covers.
I noticed you can get these types of containers for around $1.50 at Coles or other supermarkets.
Nice one Brett, and welcome to fishing and TDL! I may use this one myself moving forward……. might save taking an impaled dog to the vet 😉
Cheers for the tip! Bloody unreal I have been using foam and it always seems to fall off at the worst times!
Another great podcast, I like that you actually talk about fishing then car racing and ferrets (like other podcasts). I liked your description of tying your line off to a tree and striping of line to re-spool your line (GOLD). I only just did mine this week and I used two hand lines to spool off the line. I’ve got a couple of hacks that I have found really useful that is similar to one of your hack and that is “Hook Protectors” I all ways thought that they were for only transport but Since I printed some off on my 3d printer my lures never get tanged up anymore. The beauty of the ones I found has slots in the bottom of them to let the water out after so they don’t rust up as much. Here is a link (https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2907632)if you want to have a look. Here is a Hack for lure making which I haven’t seen anywhere else is when I put my thru wire in place in my two-piece balsa lures I use a very hot soldering iron to burn out the thru wire slot on each side and I find (with balsa) that you can put your thru wires in a lot quicker.
Thanks for the Podcasts I just love that you talk about fishing.
Thanks for the kind words and the great hack Lofty! Yes, it amazes me that there are so many “footy show” style podcasts out there where there are snippets of fishing info buried in the banter and attempts at comedy. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s your idea of entertainment it’s probably great. Me? I just want the info, now!
Hack #7 – CLIPS
I agree with Greg … Mustad Ultrapoint Fastach Clips are great. Never lost a lure due to ‘un-clipping’ and they’ve never bent or broken.
I’ve used them for many years in all sizes from #0 (10mm/8kg/0.06g) for the smallest of hardbodies, right up to #5 which I don’t use for lures but rather for attaching pre-tied traces with a solid ring. Size #2 and #3 work a treat for attaching to the solid ring of a metal jig as that way the jig hooks can be quickly detached from the leader to make de-hooking quicker & safer (and also kinder to the fish).
Size Rating Length
0 15lb/8Kg 10mm
1 25lb/14Kg 14mm
2 50lb/28Kg 18mm
3 75lb/41Kg 22mm
4 100lb/55Kg 26mm
5 150lb/83kg 33mm
Decoy make something similar called a Spiral Snap, including a minuscule #0 (8mm/4.5kg/0.02g). It’s smaller & lighter, but far more fiddly.
In my experience the knock-offs on eBay are just fine too, though my advice is to avoid those made of stainless steel wire. Not only are they heavier in weight but they’re also less malleable which means they’re harder to clip into place. That plus stainless steel is no stronger.
One consideration is that the hooks used for soft plastic jig heads (even the small ones) can be quite large (i.e. the eye is quite thick), so need to work out before hand the smallest/lightest Fastach clip which will clip easily to the eye of the intended hook or jig head. And sometimes that mean reverting to a traditional loop knot because the clip is to large.
The only lure I don’t directly clip with a Fastach is a small meal blade, and that’s because it can sometimes impede the action. To address this I permanently attach the smallest split ring possible and then Fastach to that. I have plenty of spare split rings because I now remove them from all my hardbody minnows. I’ve also found that smaller hard & soft vibes maintain their action better if the original split ring is retained.
About the only sub-surface lure I’ll not use with a Fastach clip is a Cranka Crab or similar.
Oh, and I won’t use a clip on any surface ‘walk-the-dog’ style lure because I always use a cinch knot. I definitely don’t use clips on bent minnow style lures either, mainly because they’re so finely balanced that any alteration will likely kill the action. The jury is still out on using clips for poppers, however my view is that there’s so much crazy action already going on that a small clip will not unduly impede performance.
For those concerned about the weight of a clip on small sub-surface lures … I always weigh substitute hooks, rings, snaps, etc, and a Fastach #0 attached directly to a small minnow (i.e. with no split ring on the nose of bib) often weighs less than the split ring it replaces.
The only downside I’ve ever noticed is when using the smaller size Fastach clips (#0 or #1) with fine leader that the very small bend radius can weaken the knot over time, which of course is true of all fine leaders matched to fine eyes.
To over come this simply pass the leader twice through the eye of the clip to maintain knot strength. Any cinch knot will do the job (this is sometimes called the Trilene Knot) however the Palomar is perfect and slightly stronger. The main point being that because the knot which secures the clip is not being retied at every lure change (as would be the case with a traditional loop knot), the cinch knot to the clip must be strong and well tied. So, tie the clip careful at the beginning of the session and then change lures all day with confidence … unless the leader gets roughed up in which case retying the clip is no more complicated.
Improving on Tyson’s Hack for Keeping Lures Salt Free
If land-based I carry a spare tackle tray or small plastic container with a clip lid (you now the kind) ready for wash down later. However if on board a boat I follow Tyson’s suggestion and toss’em in a small bucket of fresh water, let ’em soak for 10 minutes, then pin to a patch of closed-cell foam stored in a safe place well out of the way and let them air dry.
At least that way you’ll know where to find that lure again later in the day, and in the mean time salt water induced corrosion will be delayed. That plus leaving them separate makes identifying used lures much easier so that hooks & rings can be inspected & replaced prior to packing away (well that’s the theory, but often beer comes first).
SO … my improved hack is to toss ‘em all in a small bucket of fresh water to which I’ve added a measure (50ml/litre) of de-salting solution which would normally be used to flush an outboard motor. And I’m not talking about white vinegar or anything corrosive!!
The two brands of outboard engine flush sold in Australia are Salt-X SX-50 and SaltAway (I use SX-50). This stuff is totally non-corrosive and is not a detergent, solvent, or anti-rust agent, nor does it provide permanent surface protection against subsequent corrosion. But what it does do is neutralise salt before corrosion can even begin which means all lures and hardware are totally salt free from the get go, which is a far cry from allowing a salty lure to dry in the sun or sweat in a tackle tray which actually accelerates the corrosion process.
And I use exactly the same solution in a spray bottle (set to mist) to protect rod & reel at the end of the day. As many would know, hitting a reel with a garden hose set to stun does far more harm than good since it forces water into the reel as well as washing off oil & grease.
SX-50 is totally metal & plastic friendly, does not dissolve lubricants, and is 100% benign on all nylon, fluoro, and braid. I even use it on all my fly fishing gear and given that some flylines now cost nearly $200, that means I trust this stuff 100%.
Oh, and if you have a very badly salt corroded fishing reel or the rings/reel-seat on a rod are suffering dry salt corrosion then no harm is down by giving them a bath in SX-50 over night (but only dunk reels as a matter of last resort and only if you know how to pull ‘em down for a full service without doing further damage).
SX-50 is also particular good for what I call salt-induced “dry rot” on alloy parts (as indicated by fine white powder), and while prevention is always better than cure, it’s worth a go if you discover some long neglected kit encrusted in electrolysis induced corrosion.
Some great tips there John…… and just a heads up that we have an audio masterclass on reel maintenance and pimping with Josh Carpenter (current Shimano service/repair dude and former Daiwa service/repair dude). Josh is also set to join our expert panel to answer questions about tackle maintenance, among other things.
Josh Carpenter’s nine minute audio master-class on Preventing Reel Disasters definitely covers all the major bases. While there’s nothing more I can add, I have left a suggestion in the comments section on using a salt neutraliser in the final rinse.
Some say this is unnecessary if rinsed properly in fresh water, however for me it’s a mind-set thing – not only because I know it works better than fresh water alone, but if intending to use a spray-on salt neutraliser I tend to go a lot lighter with the garden hose.
Anyway, here’s another tip for lure maintenance beyond using SX-50 in the on-board quick rinse lure bucket where the suggested ratio is 1:20 or 50ml/litre (1 cap = 10ml).
Hooks & rings which have attracted surface rust due to not being properly rinsed & dried after use in salt or brackish water respond very well to an extended soak.
Another situation where otherwise sound but lightly rusted terminals can be 100% recovered is where lures which have been stored long term in a humid environment without rice or silica desiccant.
More advanced corrosion, such as those lures you find in the bottom of the boat or freebies recovered from a snag or shoreline, may also respond to an extended soak – however often it’s best to start afresh (or just leave ‘em naked in the “maybe one day” tray).
FWIW, I find the most rust prone hardware to be the cheap’n’cheerful terminals which are factory fitted overseas, but unfortunately many Aussie assembled lures (import naked / hardware fitted locally) now also come with sub-standard hardware (great lures + rubbish terminals = extra time & money).
Soak time varies from 24–72 hours in a solution of SX-50 mixed to a stronger ratio of 10ml/100ml (1:10). Only mix sufficient solution to cover the lures when placed in a small bucket or food storage container.
This ‘long soak’ process not only neutralises surface rust, but also leaves a very light protective coating to any rust affected areas. Plastic, foam and wooden lures with painted, polyurethane or epoxy finishes are totally safe, however I can’t vouch for unfinished or stained wooden lures.
Definitely looking forward to the Team Doc Lures master-class from Josh on how to ‘pimp my wind’, and also having Josh join the “Ask an Expert” panel.
I have presquashed sinkers (the smaller sizes)
I use a lighter and a glue stick to add weight to a lure when I’m trying to play with the buoyancy. I just melt the tip of the glue stick and dab a small amount on the lure and press a sinker or two on. These are easy to remove if I have the weight wrong.
Great tip Matt, thanks for sharing. I do similar on my prototypes when I’m designing wooden lures and want to get the balance and buoyancy just right.
G’day Greg instead of zip lock bags for your leader spools, take an old wetsuit type stubby cooler and cut it to the width of the spool, slip it over the spool and it will stop the lines coming off. You can leave the cooler strip on there just leave a bit of a tag end of line and pull off what you need and cut it leaving a tag for next time.
That’s true Gary, and now that you mention it I have some of those as well. One thing I didn’t say in the recording is that these days I often don’t even take the spool of leader unless it’s on an extended trip. I often have 3-4 pieces of each size of leader pre-cut and coiled up in very small ziplocks with a paper label enclosed so I know which is which. A bulldog clip holds the ziplocks together and the whole thing takes a lot less space and can be squeezed in among other gear where a hard spool won’t go.
Thoughts on Greg’s Nine Tackle Tips & Tricks
Rewiring the boat. HMMM.
First I’d have to get a new boat then a new sounder, but after that I might think about re-wiring.
However … if installing an electric motor then pay particular attention to the overall length of cable run since every extra foot of cable saps power. The best solution is to use ‘over gauge’ wire. As in, work out the recommended gauge for the intended length of cable and draw rate from battery, and then go one gauge thicker.
The other recommendation is to run various cables via separate flexible cable conduits. This won’t be done as standard if someone else does the fitout so you’ll need to insist otherwise you’ll just end up with an ugly bundle of cables held together with cable ties. If nothing else, power cables and transducer leads need to be kept separate to minimise electrical interference. And if you’ve ever tried to change a transducer or add a 2nd one, if every cable on the boat is just wrapped into a single jumble then good luck to you because what should be a simple enough job will turn into a nightmare which then often introduces new problems necessitating an expensive and time consuming full re-wire.
Spare Hooks & Rings. CHECK.
Just make sure the on board storage is air tight otherwise you’ll end up with brand new rusty hooks. This is why I take only those lures I intend to use that session (plus a few dozen spares), since how many times has the tackle bag come back drench with salt spray or from a wave over the side?
Naked Lures. HMMM.
When on-water I wouldn’t have the patience to fit new rings & hooks to a naked lure. But that’s just me, probably because in the heat of battle I’d drop the hooks & rings and then spend the next half hour pulling trebles out of a salt encrusted carpet. And having done that I’d invariable then spin the treble hook onto the lure up side down. But to be honest I’d likely just pass up a preferred lure which is naked for a lesser offering which is hot-to-trot.
Rubber Bands to Tame Trebles. CHECK.
This definitely works, as do those small plastic treble guards which slip over the tines and protect the points but definitely take up more space in the tackle tray. Treble guards are easy enough to put on when preparing the night before, but just be careful when pulling them off in a hurry lest you impale a finger.
Double Split Rings. CHECK.
Only trouble is that an extra ring will alter the orientation of the tines in the water unless you get it right. Whether this actually impacts performance of the lure needs to be tested before hand. The other issue pointed out by Greg in that sometimes the middle and rear treble will hang-up during the cast, but that very much depends on lure design. Again this is something best checked back in the lure lab.
Crushed Barbs. CHECK.
Most salt water fly fishos do this as a matter of course and they only have one point in play, so why not lure fishos who have 6 or even 9?
Double (or W) Hooks. CHECK.
Quality doubles are available online for several Aussie tackle stores. While cheap’n’cheerful bronzed-wire doubles are available on eBay which are fit for most purposes, I’d not use these generics for cod, barra, tuna, etc.
On large blue water hardbody lures I’ll use a quality doubles (with crushed barbs) in preference to a single inline hook. Why? Because I get a better hook up rate with doubles, yet a double un-hooks from a fish as easily as a single because both tines point in the same direction, that plus if two points are buried in the fish there isn’t a 3rd ready to hook up the fisho.
Some claim that a single hook replacing a treble will negatively impact the action, whereas this tends not to be so when a double is substituted.
Moisture Control (Silica or Rice). CHECK.
I’ve never tried rice in tackle trays, however Ebay is definitely the best place to buy the silica gel packs in bulk.
The other humidity control trick used by some who live in a tropical climes is to store their tackle (lures, reels, etc) in a cupboard or locker in which is placed something called a “wardrobe dehumidifier”. These come in several designs, but the bucket style is most common in which the dissolving crystals are held in a basket and the liquid collects underneath.
But here’s the rub … the active ingredient (Calcium Chloride) is mildly corrosive as is the liquid which collects, so don’t use it anywhere where children or pets might gain access and/or knock it over. And definitely don’t use it in a gun safe or tool cupboard with lots of exposed metal because the fumes actually promote rust rather than prevent it.
So, the best solution for storage of fishing gear in a humid environment is to use a relatively air tight cupboard (though large tubs with tight fitting lids will also do) in which is placed a large pack (400g) of silica gel, and then remember to dry it out in the oven every month or so. 1-2kg of polished white rice poured into an old stocking will also work, however rice doesn’t absorb humidity nearly as well as silica.
BTW – both silica gel and rice can be successfully dried in the microwave, but don’t over do it. Five minutes at 600w is fine.
Day Packs. CHECK.
I have a dedicated day pack for each fishing scenario. As in, one for lake trout, another for estuary bream, and another for, say, off-shore blue-water. And the nature of the day pack tends to vary whether land-based or boat-based. And then I also have one carry-all container in which I put all the common stuff, like sunburn cream, insect repellent, knife, pliers, first-aid kit, torch, scales, measure mat, etc, etc.
This may seem well organised but it doesn’t mean I travel light since the back of the wagon looks more like a tackle shop, but whether walking or boating, the day pack is as compact and well organised as possible. The other advantage is that when a guest on someone else’s boat where personal space is always at a premium, I’m confident I’ll have all the essentials in the one pack (and the rest I can borrow).
ZipLock Bags. CHECK.
If needing to keep stuff dry then I use a proper dry bag, whether that be for wallet, phone, UHF radio, GPS, or toilet paper. However, for sheer convenience, a zip-lock bag can’t be beat for keeping things organised in a back pack or tackle bag.
As for leader spools. To keep line on spool I use an elastic hair band (not a rubber band) of appropriate size. There are proper elastic leader tamers bands which incorporate a small brass eyelet through which the end of the leader is passed, and these work an absolute treat as any fly fisho will attest. I also use the same elastic hair bands on the spool of my spinning reels.
A more permanent solution for keeping leader spools all together (as well as lots of other bibs & bobs) is to use an old fashioned zippered pencil case, though these days a small neoprene bag as might be intended for a tablet is also a pretty good solution.
And Yes, putting super glue in a small zip-lock bag is a sensible precaution. Ditto tubes/tubs of scent which are really bad news if they leak into a tackle bag, or worse, the back seat of the car (just ask anyone who opened a bag of gulp plastics and thought ‘re-sealable’ meant leak proof!).
As for super glue. Use the good stuff in a plastic bottle with proper screw cap in which case I prefer the thicker gel type, but I also have a few 1ml single-use disposable tubes on hand too. And if I want to ‘fail safe’ a knot I use flexible UV-set resin which is much better than super glue (which is not 100% waterproof), plus the flexible UV glue can also be used for all kinds of impromptu repairs from thongs to waders.
Lure Markers. CHECK.
Many a lure has been pimped with a marker pen for which special plastic safe pigments are now available. In fact several ‘Aussie Only’ Zerek Fishtrap colours now in commercial production started out as another colour/pattern entirely, but ended up winning the tournament after being pimped with nothing more than black and fluoro green pens (from that you should be able to work out which ones).
And speaking of pimping lures, if you want to brighten up your jig heads then by all means buy them pre-blinged or, better still, invest in a few tubs of CSI Pro-Tec powder paint. Back, white, red, green hot pink, fluoro orange, chartreuse, glitter, glow and even UV.
Reversing the Mainline. CHECK.
Absolutely I reverse before replacing when ever the working section of mainline is looking a bit worse for wear.
However my primary hack is not to spool up with the full 125m (or whatever) in the first place. For example, if the casting distance is only 30-40m (think trout, bream, flatties, etc), why spool up with 100-150m of expensive top-shelf specialised casting braid and then use less than half of it for the intended purpose.
What I do is topshot only half the braid on the original spool (which equates to ~60-75m), though sometime 100-150m is required depending on application. And for backing I fill the rest of the spool with quality mono of an appropriate breaking strain & diameter which also acts as a fighting line. Obviously if the reel capacity is low (small reel or shallow spool) and/or the target species is anticipated to make long runs (think Bonefish!) then this needs to be accommodated, as do deep drops whether jigging or bottom bouncing.
The advantage whether casting, trolling, or shallow water jigging is that by the time you’re into the backing the extra elasticity of mono might be what actually saves the day (think big game fishing and how 100kg tuna can be landed on 10kg IGFA rated mono). That plus I can then afford to spend $75 or more on, say, 150m of Daiwa Saltiga EX12, Gosen 16, or Sunline Castaway because I’m only using half as much braid to get the same job done.
And how do I control exactly how much casting line goes on the spool? I have the footpath across the road accurately marked out in 25m increments, so when spooling up a new reel (or spare spool) I wind on a measured length of braid and then fill with mono backing. After which I run it all out and wind it back in reverse under even tension. Works a treat and I always have exactly the right amount of line on the spool to optimise casting distance (not under filled) but not so much as to induce casting tangles.
(PS: I’m not looking to win free membership of the ALF Community as I’m already a founding member so it’s now up to someone else to come up with the winning hack. I have plenty more ideas to share but would prefer to learn something new from another ALF listener)
Wow, a lot to digest there Xtremo, might have to interview you on your 9 favourite hacks sometime – perhaps for the TDL members only 😉
To make superglue last longer, use an earbud to place some vasiline just above the thread on the shaft of the superglue tube. When the lid is replaced, It makes a seal and superglue lasts longer.