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To UV or not to UV

Anglers wonder, as they tie on their favorite lure, will fish locate lures better with UV? Some hard lures, dips and dyes and even soft plastics have UV content. But do fish see UV? Does it matter?

An otherwise boring Jimi Hendrix poster wouldn’t attract much attention. But turn on the black light and Hendrix glows! Teeth and fingernails glow. White shirts glow too! It’s because they all contain phosphors, substances that absorb energy and then re-emit as light, visible to humans only under a black light! But will it pass the fish sniff test?

It’s unknown whether fish see UV. What is known, they don’t have black lights! Natural food sources like worms, bugs, fish and crawfish contain UV. Since fish often eat in diminished light, an UV glow would definitely help them find food! An UV angling advantage might be low light conditions; cloudy days, stained water, or deeper fishing situations where light doesn’t reach baits. Everyone agrees if a fish can’t see the lure, it won’t bite the lure.

Research exists! Zack Jud, fisheries biologist at Florida International University, says fish have the ability to identify UV-reflective patterns to recognize friend, foe or food. For decades, Northwest trout and salmon lure makers have created UV-reflective bait finishes, catching noticeably more fish. Bass anglers are slowly buying into trends, and lure makers are evaluating how to infuse bass baits with the magic light! 2009 Toyota Texas Bass Classic Champion Dave Lefebre says UV has crossed his mind, but hasn’t secured a place in his tackle box. He says this knowing many of his Rapala bass baits have UV finishes and it can only be an asset. But, his off-season ice fishing outings rely on Rapala’s Ice Force jigs with UV finishes to bring fish to his baits with light blocked by a foot of ice and in depths up to 30 feet deep!

Tightlines UV is all-in on the guiding UV light, infusing all soft plastic baits with UV. The magic of UV is that baits look the same to anglers and fish in very clear water, but shine under diminished light conditions. Triton Mercury pro and 2012 Angler of the Year, Brent Chapman is always looking for a competitive edge and believes he has found it with UV. Fishing the Elite Series, B.A.S.S. Opens and other events, means crowded fishing conditions. Chapman believes the UV edge sets his baits apart from competitors piled into heavily pressured fishing holes. “The guy with something different comes out on top. You always want a competitive advantage whether fishing with your buddy or the BASSMASTER Classic.” Over the past 5 years, the Kansas pro has put Tightlines UV through the test. His proving grounds were the Potomac River and Lake Okeechobee where many boats occupy small flats or bays. During the Classic in New Orleans, where he finished 5th, he was catching more and bigger fish than competitors around him. “No one else around had what I was using, and that gave me confidence!” Chapman is confident Tightlines UV baits, available in most bass bait shapes, put more fish in the boat, especially under tougher, low light conditions.

For do-it-yourselfers, Lure Craft (lurecraft.com) has added a UV powder to mix into soft plastic poured into their molds. It couldn’t be easier to use either! Heat 10 ounces of Lure Craft liquid plastic until clear. Add colors and flake. Sprinkle in a “smidgeon” of UV powder. Stir and pour! Unsure what a smidgeon is? Start with a pinch. It doesn’t take much!

Consider a double pour into Lure Craft flat molds to create a laminate appearance. Pour a layer without UV, then another of a different color with UV. The UV powder doesn’t appear to change the color, but allows baits to be seen by fish! Sometimes a triple pour is even better. Pour a layer without UV, then the middle layer with UV and a top layer without. By making the top and bottom layers a bit more transparent, the UV core will radiate.

Even Lure Craft injection soft plastics can shine. With the mold open, pouring half of a mold with UV and then closing the injection mold and injecting will create a laminated lure. Or try pouring the tip and/or tail with UV plastic, then injecting the remainder of the bait. There is no limit to situational creativity. Favorite lures can be “modified” with a UV pour for cloudy days or for muddy water. Minute amounts of UV powder might be more effective in shallow water or sunny days with clear water.

Sounds, shape and scent might help fish locate baits, but UV enables fish to see them! When it comes to UV, it’s clear fish can see baits better. Next time out, make your baits shine!

Potomac River Bassing in February

True winter fishing as water remains close to 40 for the entire month! There’s no question there are just a handful of lures that work under these extreme conditions.

Silver Buddy Blade baits, jigged down drops on 10 pound test GAMMA Edge fluorocarbon line will locate fishing depth. Keep hooks sharp, replacing with Mustad KVD short shank trebles if needed! Once found, follow with Punisher Hair jigs on 6-pound test Copoly line on spinning gear. Slowly drag short distances and stop. Shake a bit too! Also use Mann’s 3-inch avocado Stingray grubs on ¼ ounce ball head jig heads.

Mizmo Tubes on 1/8-ounce tube heads on the same line also will work. With all of these baits, allow them to glide and stop, a gentle shake will help. Be patient! Soak in garlic flavor Jack’s Juice Bait Spray.

In warmer water, use Lucky Craft suspending Pointer 78 jerkbaits. Gold patterns on cloudy days, baitfish patterns with sun. Toss on spinning gear, again on 6-pound test.

Written by: Steve Chaconas
Capt. Steve Chaconas, Potomac bass fishing guide, BoatUS “Ask the Expert” (http://my.boatus.com/askexperts/bassfishing/)

Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. Book trips/purchase gift certificates: info@NationalBass.com.

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