Lure Spread Success
Every crew has their preferred lure makers, lure styles and spread patterns that work for them and on their boats. If it were an exact science, everyone would have equal catch-rates, and the exhilaration of enticing a strike from a large gamefish would not be as rewarding.
As with all fishing and most recreational sports, we continually explore new techniques in the hope of improving our success. Many crews frequently taste the glory, and nothing need change. Others may want to increase the fish they raise or their hookup rates in getting a fish boat-side.
A concept that applies to most sports is; 'if you keep doing the same thing, the results are unlikley to change' equally. Something different will usually provide a different result, for better or worse. Following this concept may allow for some improvement in the right direction, though try to change just one thing at a time for a more measured result, changing everything through the frustration of constant fishless days. It will be hard to know what worked and what didn't. As such, this article and subsequent 'Lure shapes' articles share the concepts behind the designs to consider your lure spread in the hope that you'll be placing a tag or putting one in the boot.
The name started back in 1978 when Capt. Gene Vander Hoek and Capt. Rusty Unger was testing their new designs, Unger watching the way Vander Hoeks new lure plunged up and down, suggested to Gene that he call it a plunger. The length of the lure was three times the diameter, with a forward and rear taper. Published articles have referenced Capt. Gene Vander Hoek, Capt. Rusty Unger and Capt. Bart Miller collaborated on the original design. While similar shapes had been created prior, none were named 'plunger'.
The aerodynamics of the front and rear taper influence the swimming style, the forward taper inducing a deep dive, swimming side to side, the rear taper acting like an aeroplane wing to help hold its position, also provoking the swimming action. After the dive, a plunger will break the surface, the size of the cut-face determining the eruption of water produced. The plunger fills its skirts with air before releasing its bubble 'smoke' trail as it dives again.
There are many plunger styles, not all following the original diameter x3 = length ratio, and with many sizes to suit spread positions or target species. However, irrespective of size, a super plunger model on the long corner will have no trouble enticing a strike from a 90kg stripe marlin. Equally, a 9" plunger on the shotgun will be a peanut-sized snack for a grander Pacific blue marlin. Some crews will run shorter, bigger cut-face plungers close to fire up an approaching fish, with longer, easier eat plungers on the riggers to provide an easy meal. Where ever you choose to run your plungers, take note of what works so that you can start where you left off next time you're on the water. It's amazing how many boats will happily toss out their lures in any position without consideration.
Variations of the original plunger have emerged over the years, with different names to categorise the shape or style. The Rudy, a double-tapered plunger from Crane, lures, has an exaggerated head shake, though suitably controlled through the tapered aerodynamics and keel weighting. The Marlin Magic Pear considered a plunger by some, though possibly earning a separate categorisation that Gary Eoff and Marlin Parker could indeed verify, still with a forward taper. However, a much sharper rear taper and more bulbous back third sees this lure swim with a more violent head shake. Each design intended to drive game fish crazy and induce that predatory strike.
Lure head weights vary between makers with the use of weighted inserts. The weight and shape will determine how well a lure swims in various sea conditions. In a rough sea, most 8oz plungers will consistently dive and pop without skipping between wind waves, something lighter lures (not just plungers) can suffer from, especially on the riggers where the wind also adds lift your mono. A heavy plunger can become lazy in a glassy-flat calm sea, though improved by increasing trolling speed to 8 or 9knots. If you want to maintain a fuel burn, switch to an unweighted plunger. Some medium-weight lures are keeled in the lower half of the insert, giving them a broader tolerance, a practice that Dave Venn, maker of JB lures, has mastered across his stellar range. Capt. On the other hand, Gene Vander Hoek's original plunger is completely unweighted, suiting the generally calmer conditions off the Kona coast, a perfect plunger choice for that glassy-calm day when you need your lures to be lively. Consider running a deeper-diving plunger or variation of from one corner and a surface-splash Wes Leslie Tube on the other, both working together to get the job done.