An effective selection of peacock bass lures includes a wide variety of top-water and subsurface lures. Although many have a long history of successful use for black bass, striper and musky, they are often used in a very different manner when used for peacock bass. Many also require an upgrade to the hooks and split rings to ensure their survival during a peacock bass' onslaught.
Topwater Lures- The violent, explosive topwater strikes of peacock bass have made them the subject of books, magazine articles and television shows. Their well deserved reputation as exciting, powerful fighters is based largely on their awesome topwater prowess. Although peacocks are caught in greater numbers on jigs and subsurface lures, almost every angler selects the topwater option when the fish are inclined to cooperate. A good selection of topwater lures is a must for anglers seeking to experience the peacock's legendary strike. Effective topwater lures can be divided into two categories based on their type and the way they're used.
Propeller Types - Probably the most famous peacock bass lure is the now defunct Luhr Jensen "Woodchopper". Although no longer being manufactured, it and its numerous second-generation offspring, such as Rip-Rollers and Poe's prop baits bear a well deserved reputation. Guides love them, fisherman depend on them and peacocks absolutely smash them. Propeller lures create a roostertail behind them as the angler rips them rhythmically through the water. Typically, the lures perform best when ripped rapidly ahead for a foot or two by a downward sweep of the rod tip and then promptly ripped again when the angler cranks up the resultant slack. The surface disturbance created is reminiscent of fleeing baitfish for feeding peacocks. For one of the most competitive creatures in the water, this must sound like a dinner bell. It certainly attracts peacocks and stimulates violent strikes. This same lure is an irritant to displaying, nest building and fry guarding peacocks, eliciting the most violent of all strikes. The "Woodchopper" type lures work beautifully with a medium-heavy baitcaster.
The lures described above range from 5-1/2 to 7-1/2 inches, and up to 2 oz. sizes. If you're fishing for big peacocks in Brazil, the bigger sizes (6-½ or 7-½ inches) are the sizes you need. Cichla temensis are caught well into the twenty pound class. These huge fish are most effectively caught on the large size lures. Smaller versions of these lures are also available and can be effective for the smaller species (Cichla orinocencis or butterfly peacocks and Cichla monoculus or papoca). Although either size can catch any size fish, be careful not to stock up on smaller versions if your target is really trophy size Cichla temensis. Smaller lures come with smaller hooks in proportion to their smaller size and don't lend themselves readily to a hook upgrade. They are generally perfectly balanced from the factory and larger hooks tend to cause them to ride lower in the water and diminish their performance. Although the factory hooks are reasonably strong, their smaller gap makes a solid hookset more difficult in the peacock's bony mouth and the finer wire enables the hooks to rip out more readily when caught in the fleshier parts of the mouth. Use a lighter drag setting to offset this difficulty but be prepared to lose some of the big fish that this lure attracts.You'll wind up spending a lot of time with smaller fish instead of "trophy peacocks". Although small lures can often catch big fish, statistically, the old adage "big lures catch big fish" holds true much more often for this type of surface lure.
Because they rely on sound and physical disturbance of the water to attract strikes, these baits are all very sensitive to proper "tuning". Anglers should make sure that each lure moves properly and creates the proper surface disturbance. Adjusting the props and the alignment of hooks will help to make your lures work as effectively as possible. Take a few moments with each lure before putting it to work, after each strike, and after hanging it up on structure, to make sure it's working properly. Or just hand it to your guide. He’ll make it sing perfectly!
Walking Sticks - You can have tremendous fun with the Heddon "Zara Spook" and its cousin the "Super Spook". It's an absolutely great topwater lure for peacock bass. Anglers especially enjoy using it in the early mornings and late afternoons. Not necessarily because the fish like it better at that time, but because it seems to fit the mood of the angler and the feel of the surroundings. Just after sunup, when the water is perfectly still and the birds haven't started screaming yet, the quiet snick, snick, snick of a "Zara Spook" walking its way across the surface seems to belong in the languid lagoons. It makes the sight of a huge "vee" accelerating towards your bait doubly exciting. You can palpably anticipate the instant of the strike. Even if the lure had no hooks on it, you couldn't help but relish this kind of moment.
Walking stick type lures add another dimension to topwater fishing for peacocks. Unlike most other lures used for these speed triggered assassins, these baits are most effective when fished slow, in the "walk the dog" motion. They will often get reactions from peacocks when all other surface presentations are being ignored. A medium baitcaster is the perfect rig for this lure although a medium/light spinner can work very well in the hands of an experienced spincaster. Using this lighter, more sensitive tackle, the walking motion is easily imparted by a combination of rhythmic crankings of the reel and oscillations of the rod tip. Because of their small size and casting ease, these lures lend themselves to use in tight structure. Note - these lures require hook upgrades and in the case of the "Super Spook" the center hook should be removed.
Strikes often occur immediately when the lure lands close to fallen wood, logs, sticks, bushes or trees. After landing, draw the line tight and begin walking the lure back to the boat. Watch for swirls and disturbances behind the lure. When peacocks are turned on they'll violently strike lures, including these topwaters, with reckless abandon. But when they're less aggressive and reluctant to strike, a walking stick lure will often get their interest without triggering a strike. They will swirl behind the lure, slap at it with their body or even mouth it tentatively. This is the anglers cue to make the presentation more interesting to the fish. Speed it up a bit without losing the walking motion. Make it appear frightened and fleeing, increasing the peacock's interest. You'll usually get another, stronger reaction, perhaps even a tentative strike. If you don't hook up, raise the lure's action up another notch, creating an even faster, more erratic motion. Still nothing? Try slowing it down again. Sometimes this cat and mouse game will go on for three or four rounds before a peacock decides to just totally crush the lure, or, loses interest and swims away. This level of anticipation is guaranteed to raise the angler's blood pressure, pulse rate and the hackles on the back of his or her neck.
Topwater Lure Colors - Peacock bass are funny about colors, especially in regard to topwaters. Often, peacocks seem to react more to the noise and motion of a surface lure than any other factor. A properly presented and tuned lure is generally the most important factor in consistently eliciting strikes. Sometimes, however, selecting the right color can make important differences. If it's bright out, use a light-colored lure. Dark shades are generally more productive in low light conditions. Peacocks have no qualms about striking wildly colored topwaters. They seem to be perfectly happy to attack the silliest and most outrageously patterned lures you can imagine. When using the big propeller lures on tannin-stained (black water) rivers, a Black and Orange combination is very productive. In clearer waters, try a perch pattern and on clouded waters, a bright green or clown pattern. If there seems to be a single favorite color, it would be red or orange below and greenish above. It looks a little bit like a peacock bass to us, maybe to them also.
For walking stick lures, a bullfrog pattern is very effective early in the day, while an Orange/Green Natural works well the rest of the time. The Florida bass pattern works very well with the "Super Spook". Rattling versions add effectiveness. Take a range of colors and types with you to optimize your chances under any conditions.