How to tune fishing lures


You would think that after opening the wrap on a spanking new, high dollar fishing lure that the thing ought to be water-ready. As in: tie on, toss it in the lake, pull it around a while and start landing fish. Oh no. There’s one more thing. You’ve got to tune it.

Kind of like your ukulele. You know, that’s the little four-string wood thing that makes beach music sound like beach music is supposed to sound. But not until you tune it so that the strings ring true to “my dog has fleas.”

Tuningfishing lure

It’s no different with fishing lures. Casting or trolling makes no difference. If a lure is out of tune, it is going to run off to the right or left, not dive and run as deep as it is designed to, or worse, simply go directly into a none stop spin.

One or more of the above maladies, and you’ve ruined any chances of the lure doing its job. Here’s the deal. Every lure needs a chance to show its stuff. So either cast or troll it first thing, every time out.

Casting will show very quickly if the lure returns straight or tracks to one side. Trollers can simply drop the lure in and let it run just a few feet behind the boat, but in sight. If it is wiggling as it should, tracking in a straight line and appears to be diving correctly, go ahead and fish it.


More times than not, however, the lure needs a slight adjustment. Ask any serious troller who deploys multiple rods if he or she has ever experienced tangles, which in effect put each tangled line on the sidelines and out of the action.

The tangled lines and lures can be in such a mess that it becomes necessary to cut the lines and start rigging all over, all because one lure was not tuned properly and crossed another trolled line.

Interestingly, some fishing strategies can be enhanced by intentionally tuning a lure to run off to the side. An example would be while fishing the side of a rock breakwall or cluttered shoreline while operating the boat well clear of the rocks.


So how do you correct a problem lure? Very easily is the answer. Hold the lure in one hand and use a plier or designed tuning tool to slightly bend the lure’s attachment eye. If the lure tracks to the left, bend the eye to the right. Just a little bend can and does make a huge difference. Recheck the lure in the water then like it or make another slight bend.

A lure that runs straight will dive to its intended depth. If a lure spins it may be corrected with a tilt to one side of the other. I strongly recommend that anglers who lack experience tuning lures experiment with a cheap lure or one that is just plain ugly.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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