Sept. 13, 2000, by Gene Kira:
It has now been 12 years since Neil Kelly and I stuck our rear ends out there for all you experts to kick at, by declaring in our book "The Baja Catch" that Jointed Rebels are the hottest overall lures for catching lots of fish in Baja California, Mexico. In all that time, I've only received two complaints, as opposed to hundreds of "thank you" letters, that this lure didn't catch fish for someone. Both of these complaints were received last week. Hmmmm..... Perhaps it's time to put a stop to this dangerous trend.
As it turns out, both of the hapless anglers in question had read The Baja Catch, tied on Rebels, and basically trolled in circles until it was time to go home. One caught a single barracuda; the other was skunked.
First, let's get one thing clear, clear, and very clear: nowhere in The Baja Catch does it say that you should fish like this. What Neil and I do say is that Jointed Rebels are the best lure we've ever used. We also say quite clearly that on some days, under some conditions, for umpteen possible reasons, these fine lures may not work, and you then need to try something else. The book even includes pictures of several of these "something else's." Even if you are an "artificial lure nut" who eschews the ease of fishing with live or dead bait, there are a number of backup lures and techniques that you always need to keep handy. (The story of Neil Kelly and the Jointed Rebel lure.)
When you run into slow fishing conditions, you increase your chances of success by going through the following steps in fairly rapid order.
1. Start out with Rebels. If there are surface fish in the area, you should get bit within a few minutes or even a few seconds. If you get bit, fish in circles and figure-eights around the area of your last strike. If you are not getting bit, fish in relatively straight lines, so you are slowly moving towards new water. (You've already proven that there are no fish behind you, right?) If no strikes after 30 minutes, then...
2. Look around for medium-distance birds, fish signs, water signs, structure, anything that looks promising, and fish towards it. If still no strikes, then...
3. Determine if anyone around you is doing better with another type of lure, and if so, switch immediately to that lure. If you're around yellowtail, 90 percent of the time that's a Rapala CD18 or CD14 in green mackerel color. For bass-types, it's usually a rubbertail. If fish are deep, it's usually iron or a deep diving plug. This isn't brain surgery.
4. If nobody is doing better than you, except for those poor misguided anglers who still use bait, make "The Big Decision," to switch or not to switch to bait, depending on your personal philosophy (I usually don't fish with bait, no matter how slow the artificials get). If you decide to use bait, go for it immediately, and may the fish gods be with you.
5. If you decide to stick with artificials, then change immediately to iron, deep-divers, feathers, rubbertails, hoochies, etc., and change technique to yo-yo, deep jig, fast troll, deep troll, etc.
6. Periodically switch back to the Rebels to see if they've started working.
7. If nothing works, run the boat to a completely new fishing area, and start over.
Contrary to common opinion, you don't need a huge tackle box in order to fish with a good variety of lures. I usually take two Rubbermaid plastic boxes about 6 inches wide, 10 inches long, and only 2 inches deep. These two boxes can slip right inside a life jacket while kayak fishing. One box contains plugs and the other box contains everything else.
Here's what I carry:
--Rebel Fastracs (casting, fast surface trolling), 1 each of five colors.
--Rebel Surface Lures (casting, slow surface trolling), 1 each of five colors.
--MirrOlure MR111 (very deep trolling), 1 each of three colors.
--Skirted-Squids (hoochies), 1 each of 3 color combinations.
--Luhr Jensen Stingers (casting, yo-yo, jigging, chrome/green), 1 each of 3 sizes.
--Luhr Jensen Krocodiles (casting, yo-yo, jigging, chrome), 1 each of 3 sizes.
--Bridgeport Diamond Jig (very deep jigging, chrome), 1 great big one.
--Salas 6x (casting, yo-yo, jigging, chrome), 1 or 2.
--Salas 6X Jr. (casting, yo-yo, jigging, chrome), 1 or 2.
--Rubbertails (Scampi, Fish Trap, various colors), 0. (Actually, I don't fish with rubbertails because I don't like the hassle and I worry about feeding so much plastic to the fish.)
The classic Jointed Rebel Fastack, upper left, and some favorite alternatives: the ancient and still best spoon, the Luhr Jensen Krocodile, the very strong and effective MirrOlure MR111 deep trolling plug, the best overall hoochie combo skirt-squid, "Hula Skirt & Pink Panties," and at bottom, the dumb-looking but very effective Luhr Jensen Stinger.
Note that these designs have been around since the early Stone Age. Are the "hot new" designs any better? Nah, show me... These lures have survived the test of time, and they work. With this selection, you can cover just about all the bases, and it fits easily into the aforementioned two little boxes. Generally, I will keep another two full sets of these items in another box in camp, on the mothership, at the hotel, or in my vehicle, to use as spares.
Also, please note that most of these lures are recommended and pictured in The Baja Catch. So, if you get caught with nothing but Rebels in your tacklebox, and you have a slow day, it ain't my fault.
(Related Baja California, Mexico, articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main Baja California information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the Baja California area in "Mexico Fishing News.")