The Perfect Lure

Ruben Villarreal
The Perfect Lure
TSFMag readers have been asking for increased offshore content. Specifically, they want topics and tips to assist bay anglers when they venture into the Gulf of Mexico on perfect weather days. So here it is folks, the first installment of Ruben Villarreal's new column, Every Man's Offshore. We invite reader participation; send ideas, comments, questions: [email protected]

Before I explain what I feel is the perfect lure for offshore fishing I want to say "Howdy" and also say that I am greatly honored to be able to write for such a prestigious magazine. Appearing in print alongside such greats in the offshore arena as Capt. John Cochrane and Bobby Bird is a rare opportunity. In my articles I will cover many different species of gamefish and techniques and tips that will be applicable to the type of fishing nearly everyone with a seaworthy bay boat or under-30 center console can enjoy here in Texas' nearshore and offshore gulf waters. Hopefully what is presented will make your time on the water even more enjoyable and successful.

SoWhat would you consider the perfect lure? Your first thought would probably be the one that will actually catch fish. That is exactly why I consider the Illander blue and white flasher series the perfect lure. No matter how far out you venture, whether you're in a 22-foot bay boat on a flat day, a 31-foot center console, or even a sportfishing yacht; I wouldn't leave home without it.

The Illander color pattern on its own resembles one our most popular forage fish found in close and also very far offshore, the flying fish. The material the lure is made of can withstand the abuse toothy predators like wahoo, kingfish and barracuda can dish out. The Illander lure rigged in conjunction with ballyhoo can be deadly on almost any kind of pelagic fish swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. The lure's head is hollow and the bill of the ballyhoo fits perfectly.

Now you're curious as to the types and size of fish you might catch on this so called perfect lure but, the battle can't take place until you're rigged up and ready to go. The first thing you need to decide is whether you are going to use monofilament leader material or braided wire. There are pros and cons for both methods. If you use monofilament leader you run a chance of getting cut off, if you use braided wire you could limit the action of the lure.

Personally, I like to use mono because I want the lure to have the maximum potential of drawing a strike from a fish. I prefer to tie instead of crimping the mono leader material for a stealthy approach. I like 250-pound leader just in case I get lucky and hook a sailfish. It goes without saying that 250-pound will stand a better chance of holding up to the scuffing a billfish can give it; using 100 or 150-pound material is asking for a break-off. If you don't know how to tie or lack confidence tying 250# mono leader then by all means crimp it using the appropriate size crimps. I like to use double crimps for mono.

If you are in a bigger boat, something like a 31-ft center console, and therefore capable of fishing further offshore, I would suggest using hooks of a size appropriate for marlin anytime you are fishing where one might take a lure. Note the difference in wire cross-section in the accompanying photo. Marlin are incredible fighters and, depending drag settings, can straighten hooks that are entirely adequate for other species. One of the really cool things about the Illander lure is the head shape which makes it effective for all species and deadly for the afternoon due to its ability to be used on a downrigger!Finally you have purchased your lure and have it rigged and ready to go, so where would you go to get some action? There are many choices but here are a few that I would suggest listed from nearshore to far offshore: V.A. Fogg and Liberty Ship areas, Heald Bank, Buccaneer Field, buoys in 60 foot depths and greater, 42019 weather buoy, the weather buoy close to Sunrise rig, Tall Rock area, German Charlie's area, 30 Fathom Rocks area, Tequila rigs East and West, Cerveza rigs, Little Sister rig, Nansen and Boomvang spars. These are just some of the places where you can use an Illander lure effectively but, I would also try any kind of floating debris such as any pieces of wood or plastic and, last but not the least, never pass a good weed line!

Well I hope I have got you pointed in the right direction on using the Illander lure and hope you have some opportunities to catch some quality fish. Some of the tips I would re-emphasize; using heavier leader material, heavier hooks if you venture anywhere close to marlin waters, using a downrigger during the heat of day so you can zone in on fish that are hangin' deep.