Subsurface Lures - As much as anglers love the topwater action provided by peacock bass, one should not hesitate to change to subsurface lures as soon as conditions warrant. The tremendous physical power with which peacocks strike subsurface lures makes up for the topwater angler's loss of visual and auditory excitement. Underwater strikes can be intense enough to make you feel like your arm is being ripped off and initial runs can be startling in their intensity.
Minnow and Jerk Baits - Redfins, Bombers, Rapalas and their ilk are the utility lures of peacock bass fishing. They can be productive just about anywhere and under any conditions. The Cotton Cordell "Redfin", in silver or gold is a productive floating minnow imitation. Fished fairly slowly around structure so that it remains near the surface, it is an effective attractor for fish relating to cover. Once it reaches open water, it can be fished more rapidly and jerked deeper with the retrieve. "Bombers" and "Rapalas" provide variations in size and depth for flexibility and variety. Probably the most popular of these baits is the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow. It can be extremely productive.
Crank Baits and Deep Divers - Magnum and regular size "Rattletraps, deep running Rapalas and crankbaits are not always effective, but can be useful when fishing the scalloped crevices of sandy beaches in the crooks of river bends and the base of rocky river structures. Deep, bluff banks and ridged points in lagoons lend themselves to effective probing with these deeper running subsurface lures. Keep several in your tackle bag to utilize in the right circumstances.
Jigs - Probably the single most effective subsurface lure (and unequivocally the most productive) is a darter style, half ounce jig tied with contrasting colored bucktail streamers. This jig, however, is simply not jigged. Because it is fished so rapidly, it not only never hits the bottom, it rarely drops more than several feet below the surface. The conventional tackle angler uses this jig as though it were a streamer fly, stripping it through the water in rapidly accelerating jerks, a foot or two at a time. The relatively light, half ounce weight, allows the fisherman to keep the jig moving and off the bottom while the stripping motion causes the bucktail to pulsate with each rip. This lure works best with a light spinner and braided line. The light rig will allow you to cast it very accurately in cover and very far in open water. Use it to probe among fallen timber in lagoons, casting parallel to trunks and branches and retrieving it quickly, right through where the fish find cover. Cast it over sand banks and saddles at lagoon mouths and inlets, ripping it rapidly from deep water to shallow and back again. Probe fast water, rocks and eddies in the river itself. In all of these applications, peacocks will readily pound these baits. The faster you accelerate them, the harder they hit them. To maximize the jigs effectiveness in darker water, use a rattle jig. If the fish don't know they're there, they just won't hit them.
We prefer a "Sidewinder's Peacock Bass Rattle jig"; tied on a half ounce darter style jig head. It's equipped with a big, extra strong, wide gap 6/0 hook for solid hooksets in the peacock's bony mouth. The long, tabbed shank allows anglers to easily tie their own bucktail patterns on behind the head. The jig, in motion, runs with the hook point up so the most effective configurations will have the darker of two contrasting colors (usually red) tied around the hook (on top when in motion) while the lighter color (usually yellow or white) is opposite (below). This effectively mimics the natural patterns of baitfish. Peacock rattle jigs include a red, extended tail and a noisy rattle. Similar patterns using black and white, green and white or chartreuse and yellow are also very effective. Click here for complete tying instructions.
Spoons - provide an effective tool for a variety of fishing situations. Unlike the jig, the Johnson's "Silver Minnow" can be very effective when fished slowly in thick structure. Its weedless configuration helps to minimize hang-ups on logs and branches, while its natural action and flash attracts strikes even when falling or bouncing from stick to stick. Spoons are useful for probing deep crevices between sand rills on beaches in the rivers and for attracting cruising fish on shallow flats in the rear and in the mouths of lagoons. Sizes from 1/4 to 1-1/8 ounce can be used with any tackle combination. Other effective types include "Daredevles", "Krocodile's", large "Tony Aceta" spoons and "Pixies" in various colors and patterns (although silver always works well).
Fun but Mostly Ineffective - The moment we suggest that a lure might be ineffective in a certain situation, we can be assured of hearing about dozens of exceptions. Every lure will have its army of proponents who will swear by its efficacy in any or all circumstances and who would readily gamble their survival on its ability to catch fish. We realize that an angler who is confident and comfortable with a lure and uses it effectively and often, will generally be successful. I grew up with the Arbogast "Hula Popper" filling just that role for me in a lifetime of bass fishing. I just plain love that lure. I fished the heck out of it for most of my life. In spite of that, I have yet to catch a single peacock on it. And believe me, I've tried!
We've tried big spinnerbaits, bottom bouncing jigs, creepy crawlers, jitterbugs and flatfish with no luck. Soft plastic baits don't survive the piranhas long enough to find out if they work. Needlefish, J-Plugs, Pop-R's and Mepp's all fail to produce with any regularity. Peacock bass fishing, like most types of fishing, is ultimately a function of numbers and these fish react mostly to noise, speed and certain types of motion. The more time a productive lure spends in productive water, the greater the probability of generating a strike. Everybody has a favorite lure and should definitely give it a try. But don't get carried away. Each angler can quickly determine how much time he or she wants to commit to a particular lure by the response it gets from its audience, the fish.