Rubber Fish As Fishing Bait: Advice & Tips



A very popular bait when fishing for predatory fish in fresh and salt water is the gumfish. Even though this lure has existed for decades, the industry has experienced a real boom, especially in recent years. Since then, gummy fish have been available in all conceivable designs from a wide variety of brands and manufacturers. In this article we would like to give you a small overview of all important information about the rubber fish as bait.

Rubber fish in test

We have already tested the following rubber fish ourselves while fishing for zander, perch and pike and have written our own test report on them.

Imitating perfectly real fish with rubber fish

The decisive factor for success is the special method of movement associated with the use of the artificial bait, which you as the user should skilfully implement to suggest possible prey to the fish. Predatory fish have a particularly well developed organ, the so-called “lateral line”. This enables the fish to perceive even the smallest movements or pressure fluctuations in the water.

Rubber fish and other artificial lures take advantage of this fact by imitating exactly such movements. The predators living in the water identify the object as weak or injured fish, which in this respect represents easy prey and is therefore attacked.

Basically, predatory fish react to such artificial baits. In freshwater these are mostly pike, pike-perch, perch and trout. However, greater success has also been shown in the area of fishing for eels, chubs or even catfish, which can reach an incredible size and accordingly present the angler with many a problem in the so-called drill.

The right technique when fishing with rubber fish

Characteristic for fishing with rubber fish is the special technique. As soon as you are able to present the lure in a suitably natural manner, more frequent successes will gradually be achieved. Inaccurate and consequently uninteresting movements will cause the predator to lose interest or not build up any interest at all.

In the following section you will learn the different techniques of fishing for predatory fish with rubber fish to outwit even the most stubborn fish.

Jigging / lounging

One of the most successful methods of fishing with rubber fish is “jigging”. In this method, the artificial bait is presented as extremely attractive to the predator by means of successive plucking movements and the subsequent sinking phases. Usually two successive rapid crank turns are used to whirl up more areas of the base segment. The artificial lure rises higher and consequently sinks longer due to the double plucking at the rod. This circumstance leads to an increased attention on the part of the target fish.

Basically the sinking phase of the respective lure is the most important factor. A distinction is made here between short and long sinking phases. Both options have advantages and should be used accordingly depending on the target fish. Short sinking phases are achieved by baits with a larger or heavier lead head. This is particularly suitable for fishing for zander or perch. The heavy weight will always pull the lure quickly into the biting zone to be fished. Another advantage is that it also attracts fish that are in a more persistent position at the time of fishing. The somewhat harder placement of the lure on the bottom generally animates the target fish, which can ultimately lead to a bite.

Slow and consequently long lasting sinking phases on the other hand are created by using lighter lead heads and are especially advantageous when the predators are in a biting mood. In general, fishing with slightly lighter artificial baits seems more natural, because the rubber fish is in motion longer. Pike in particular can often be caught using this tactic.

Decisive for the respective duration of the sinking phase is the choice of the right lead head. The Erie jig head shape is very suitable, for example, if the lure is to sink slowly.

On the other hand, the “round head”, which sinks to the bottom faster due to the less resistance. The indisputable advantage of this representative is its universal applicability. It can be used for most tactics.

Vertical fishing

Another method is “vertical fishing”. Conceptually, any form of fishing in a vertical position is considered “vertical fishing”.

It does not matter whether the fishing is over a jetty, a boat or an ice hole. Basically, this version has proved to be very good for zander and is therefore frequently used. The execution usually requires a precise feeling. It is of an important nature to know the height of the bait at all times during fishing. The target fish must be presented with its prey in as natural a condition as possible in order to entice it to bite. The bait is moved up and down in vertical direction at different speeds. It is advisable to use a rubber fish with a heavy lead head for this variant of fishing, as it can sink more purposefully.

Which rubber fish size for which target fish?

The diversity of buying a rubber fish can be overwhelming for some anglers. Nevertheless, with a certain “know-how” it is easy to bring light into the dark. Meanwhile, artificial lures can be found in really all shapes and sizes. Whether large or small, thick or rather narrow rubber fish, the market for such lures is constantly developing. However, if you don’t know exactly which fish you want to hunt and what conditions you will be fishing for, you will not be successful in any case.

It is of vital importance that you take into account the water, the prevailing season and the weather in general when planning.

“The little ones get the big ones.” Anyone who talks to old-established anglers will have heard this half-truth many times before. Basically, rubber fish of a rather smaller appearance are very promising for success. This is because small prey fish fit perfectly into the scheme of any predator. Nevertheless, one should consider the respective season. Especially in times of young brood fish (mostly in summer), there is an oversupply of prey that tends to be smaller.

In this respect small rubber fish make little sense at these times, as the predator fish will hardly pay attention to this bait unless it swims right under its nose. Larger lures are more effective for this reason, as they stand out from the prevailing situation in the water and represent a “special case”.

Accordingly, an exact allocation of a certain bait size to the respective target fish is not always target-oriented or sensible. For example, both big pike and small perch can react to rather smaller rubber fish, and vice versa.

Nevertheless we have put together a small guide for you, which has proved its worth in the past.

Fishing for zander with a rubber fish

Biting for zander, especially in colder seasons, very fond of rubber baits with a size of 12-18 cm. This is because there is less movement and therefore it is better to eat a few big fish than many small ones. Accordingly, in summer at warmer temperatures especially smaller baits with a size of 7-12 cm work very well.

However, if you want to catch larger specimens you should not fish with too small baits even in summer. Here it should be at least 10cm, better still 12cm.

Fishing for pike with a rubber fish

Pike can be outwitted with similar lure sizes as well as zander. However, you can also fish one size bigger here. Especially in autumn and winter, lures 20cm and larger often guarantee big pike.

Fishing for perch with rubber fish

Perch are quite aggressive predators and also like to attack lures half their own size. However, they are considerably smaller than, for example, a zander, and usually finish at 10cm.

Small lures of 5cm are very good for locating perch. If you catch a few small perch, it is worth choosing a lure one size bigger to catch the larger specimens. Usually baits of 7.5cm are a good choice to catch medium and large perch.

Unlike with zander, the principle “the colder the season, the bigger the bait” does not necessarily apply to perch. Due to the aggressive hunting behaviour, larger lures are also often attacked in summer.

Tail shapes in rubber fish and what they do

The tail shape of each lure plays an extremely important role. This determines both the strength and the shape of the pressure waves generated under the water.

Below is a list of all relevant shapes and their action potential.

Shovel tailThis shape causes a quite sweeping movement and thus generates very strong pressure waves. This version is especially effective when jigging and cranking the lure.
Sickle tailWith its shape this provides a very sinuous movement which in turn exerts less pressure on the water. This tail shape has a stimulating effect on the respective target fish, especially when jigging, cranking and Texas or Carolina rig installations.
V-tailA shape that provides for discrete vibrations and delicate trembling movements. In addition to jigging, jerking and vertical fishing, this tail shape has also proven successful in Texas and Carolina rig mounts.
WedgetailA further representative which provides strong pressure waves under water by means of fast and tighter movements. Especially when cranking in, jigging and vertical fishing, numerous successes have been achieved in the past.
Fringed tailA flaring and wobbling of the finely segmented and fibrous ends of this tail form produces many fine vibrations, which have been proven not only in jigging and vertical fishing but also in Texas and Carolina rig mounting.
BeavertailWith its shape the beavertail provides a subtle wiggle and therefore slightly sinuous movements. This variant of the tail shape could also prove itself when jigging, vertical fishing and the two mounting variants.
Threadtail / Pin-TailThe last version forms this rather inconspicuous tail form of a rubber fish. Due to its narrow shape, the tail of the thread provides very fine vibrations and a slight trembling, which has been shown to be especially positive when jigging, vertical fishing and the above mentioned mounts.

Hook shapes

Not only the shape of the rubber fish, but also the matching hook is an imminently important part of predator fishing. If the hook does not sit properly in the lure, it will impair the movement under water. As a result, all the oscillations look rather unnatural. As a rule of thumb, the rubber bait should lie with about 60% of its body on the hook surface of the lead head. In this way it is able to imitate an effective running behaviour.

Avoid false bites when fishing with rubber fish

Many false bites can quickly cause frustration for the angler. If the fish bites very sharply, it makes sense to attach a fear triplet, also called a stinger, to the lure.

This is hooked into the eye of the jig hook and hooked into the rear third of the rubber fish. This increases the chance to better utilize bites in this area of the lure.

You can find detailed information about attaching and building a stinger yourself in our article.

Additional Triplet, Fear Hook & Stinger Fear Hook, also called Stinger, is an additional triplet which is attached to the lure with a short line. This makes sense especially when fishing for predatory fish with rubber bait to hook sharp biting fish that would otherwise not get caught.

The colour of the rubber bait does the trick!

The colour is also important when choosing a lure and should be considered. The colour should be chosen according to the turbidity and depth of the water. All relevant colours or shades are listed below:

  • Blue: clearly visible at a water depth of 5-15 m
  • Green: universally applicable up to a depth of about 5 m.
  • Yellow: suitable for turbid and deeper waters (5-20 m).
  • Red: should only be used in water depths of up to 3 m, as it can quickly change colour under water in high sunlight.
  • UV-active baits: excellent in turbid water or dim light conditions. Very attractive to predatory fish.
Favourite bait 10cm Relax Kopyto 10cm Favourite bait 7,5cm

Flavoured rubber baits

Not only special shapes or sizes of artificial baits find their way into fishing shops. Flavoured rubber fish are also becoming increasingly attractive.

The use of additional flavourings has proved particularly successful in the area of fishing for zander and perch. Flavours such as garlic, crab and fish (especially from smelt) triggered the biting reflex in many target fish.

On the other hand there are water predators which are sufficiently known as “eye hunters” and rely mainly on their sensory organs when hunting. Pike or asp are representatives of this group and in the past they showed little interest in the special smell of rubber bait.

When should I change a rubber fish?

When taking care of fishing equipment, the focus should be on the lures, especially the rubber fish. If these have been damaged as a result of a strong bite, it is advisable to replace them promptly. Uneven surfaces or missing pieces on the bait will cause an unnatural sequence of movements and therefore look unattractive to predatory fish. As a rule, rubber fish are not too cost-intensive and are usually offered in packs of 3 or 5.

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