View Full Version : Tail action affects lure speed and lure speed consideration is crucial !

07-17-2015, 10:00 PM
A friend of mine gave me a few lures to try today and I noticed little difference in tail action to the ones I pour and use 99 % of the time for all panfish. (I'd tell you the lure and color but I promised not to under penalty of death!)

You've seen the lure I pour and the tail is a straight, super thin, flutter tail. Rat tail grubs are similar but the tails are somewhat thicker and don't quiver at the slightest movement especially under a float.

When it comes to retrieve speed, there are six major factors to consider:
1. Fish activity level or in other words, their tendency to strike lures cast near them. I don't care if their feeding or not; what's important is that they can be provoked by you and the lure you cast.

2. Most of us search water with longer casts that place the lure on a horizontal path at a certain depth, whether it be near the bottom or anywhere above it. Depth matters!

3. Speed of retrieve is extremely important IMO, as in any fishing done with lures. Activity level dictates the fastest lure speed depending on lure type that an angler can hope to catch fish on any given day. That speed may be moderately fast or it may be at a crawl regardless lure path (horizontal retrieve or vertical jigging).

4. Jighead size is a given - the larger the head, the faster the retrieve needed to maintain a certain depth.

5. But the other lure related factor is a lure's tail action by design. Double tails provide the most resistance to water flow and thereby slow a lure down considerably more than a single tail or a straight flutter tail. To compensate for a double tail and to maintain a specific speed, the angler would need to go to a larger jighead (1/8); 1/32 would be out the question for a medium fast retrieve.

6. Line size matters and the larger the diameter, the more resistance and bow in the line from the line tie upward. The last thing you want is a muted action (as in the case of a curl tail) when you want to impart a dart - pause - glide retrieve, one of the most effective retrieves ever!

Using straight tails allows one a range of jighead sizes from very light to heavier because the tails give no resistance on the retrieve. That's not to say they are better than single or double curl tails, but that the presentation retrieve can be more varied with a straight tail.

Today I tried a small curl tail grub at different retrieves speeds, jerking ever so often like I do with a straight tail. The lure refused to dart this or that way because the tail slowed the lure down.
Granted I caught active fish active, accumulated in one area of the lake, and granted, most soft plastic lures of a certain size would have worked, but a straight tail jerk retrieve had fish following and excitedly attacking the lure all the way to the boat, sometimes getting hooked just under the boat. The curl tail got only one chance and then after the first missed strike, the fish lost interest.

Note: I caught mostly crappie in 10-14' of water two days ago using 1/16 - 1/8 oz and 2.5" minnow-grub straight tails; today I was catching a boat load of perch in 6.5' of water using 1/16 - 1/32 oz. and 2" minnow grub straight tails. Curl tails were not as effective in deeper water two days ago.

Retrieve technique /speed can account for many fish or few fish and speed matters! When fish strike a slower moving lure, it doesn't mean they won't also strike one that provokes them by using a few small jerks of the rod tip to make the lure increase speed (dart), if only for a second. Flakes in the plastic that flash make this retrieve even more effective in that flashes are a natural simulation of darting bait fish being charged by predator fish. And as well all know, when it comes to a fish feeding frenzy, the more the merrier!

07-18-2015, 05:49 AM
Great post! Thank you muchly. I totally agree with depth & speed control being vital factors in fishing success. Especially with our target species. This is one of the reason why we have so much success using light (2# test) Fireline and straight tailed plastics. Opens up much more opportunity for presentation variations.

07-18-2015, 07:49 AM
Good read, I agree with you but I'm going to keep some curly tails with me at all times. I use straight tails most of the time but I use everything at times. Also I have the same results when I use marabou jigs they dart and pop very similar to straight tails.

07-18-2015, 09:27 AM
Curly tails are good when a steady retrieve and a moderate speed is needed. I also always carry them but only use them a small percentage of the time. Hair and feather jigs are finesse in action and I believe the ultimate action a majority of fish are provoked into striking a lure - similar to scratching an itch uncontrollably. Even a suspending minnow (X Rap) can have an imparted finesse action that drives fish nuts!

I agree, the flutter of the curl tail does strongly suggest vulnerability and has been the standard for decades.... just another great tool to catch fish, though not as multi-functional as straight tails IMO!

07-18-2015, 10:49 AM
Boot tailed grubs can also be very effective. Check out my report in the "New England States Forum":


We really slayed 'em with these yesterday. I guess it's what they are aggravated by or what they want to eat at any given time. However, depth & speed control is definitely paramount.

07-18-2015, 08:57 PM
I forgot about paddle tails until you mentioned them. I think I'll be casting some 1.5" Sassy Shads and C.Brewer paddle tail grubs Monday just to see how they compare to curl tails as far as catch rate. Sassy Shads must be retrieved faster than C. Brewer grubs because of the thicker attachment to the paddle - something I'm not fond of.