An Engineer’s Take on our Plunger Lure Performance
(Be sure to watch the video!)
Ed Horstman is a friend of our lure maker and partner, Keith Posedel, and a friend of BFD. Ed drops by the shop occasionally, watches, observes and comments on what we are doing. Ed is an Aeronautical Engineer and a Naval Architect and shares volumes of stories about his professional time designing and testing airplanes, fighter jets, helicopters and watercraft for the U.S. Government. Ed is also the father of the Trimaran (Tri-Star) having sailed one of his creations in a race from California to Hawaii (he came in second.)
Having spent a lot of time on the water and having written books on Catamarans, Trimarans and hydrodynamics, we listen when Ed talks.
This is a summary of research reporting the stomach contents of Sailfish. The Sailfish is a warm water inhabitant and seems to be very opportunistic in its feeding habits. From big water prey to reef and shallow water ocean creatures, the Sailfish seems to adapt to whatever is available wherever it is found.
Common themes are:
Sailfish thrive in equatorial zones.
Sailfish prefer 77-85 F water temperatures.
Sailfish seem to prefer the smaller juvenile stages of the same prey larger Billfish consume.
Sailfish seem to eat a lot of Beltfish and Needlefish when available.
A higher percentage of Sailfish were found with empty stomachs than other pelagic species studied.
Apparently Sailfish use their sail to wall off prey and their bill stun them.
Bioluminescence is the light (glow) that many forms of life produce, such as fireflies, jellyfish, phytoplankton, ferns and mushrooms to mention some. Bioluminescence occurs in terrestrial and marine vertebrates & invertebrates, microorganisms including some bacteria also present this characteristic.
This kind of light does not produce any heat, that’s why it’s also called “cold light”, only less than 20% generates a minimal form of thermal radiation.
However bioluminescence it is not the same thing as iridescence, structural coloration or phosphorescence.
Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas), also known as jumbo squid, jumbo flying squid, pota or diablo rojo, is a large, predatorysquid living in the waters of the Humboldt Current in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Humboldt squid are among the largest of squids, reaching a mantle length of 1.5 m (4.9 ft). Like other members of the subfamily Ommastrephinae, they possess bioluminescentphotophores and are capable of quickly changing body coloration (metachrosis). They notably rapidly flash red and white while hunting, earning them the name diablo rojo (Spanish for ‘red devil’) among fishermen. Interestingly, these chromatophores (which belong to more than one set and are of different sizes) may rapidly cycle through colours other than red and white, flashing too quickly for the human eye to see the transitions.
A photophore is a light-emitting organ which appears as luminous spots on various marine animals, including fish and cephalopods. The character of photophores is important in the identification of deep sea fishes. Photophores on fish are used mainly for attracting food or confusing predators.
There are many opinions about what pelagic fish eat. Geographical location, the year, the time of the year, water temperatures and prey availability all play a role. When I ask numerous professionals this question, it is surprising the variety of opinions I hear – often from Captains on the same dock! The real facts matter, particularly when developing effective lures and color combinations. The only factual answers to these questions come from stomach content analysis. No opinion, just fact. The fish’s vote is all that matters.
I spent a few days digging around looking for information on pelagic fish feeding habits. I found that a lot of research has taken place over years past, analyzing stomach contents of the different pelagic species, particularly Marlin. But the most comprehensive, multi-specie report I could find did not set out to determine what pelagic fish eat. The purpose of the research was to determine what preys on Cephalopods (Squid, Octopus and Cuttlefish) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This research was generated by the Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas (CICIMAR) and Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. The title of the research report is “CEPHALOPOD PREY OF THE APEX PREDATOR GUILD IN THE EPIPELAGIC EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN”. The links below each provide a chart that reports the stomach content found in that specie. This data was collected in 6 different years during a 14 year time frame.
This is interesting information, and maybe helps to explain why some lures are hot one year and not another, and why some lures work consistently year to year.
The report lumped all Billfishes together. But I found a lot of this same type of information specific to Sailfish, Striped Marlin, Blue Marlin and White Marlin that is included in our category “Billfish Feeding Habits”. There are some similarities but also differences. Black Marlin information was a bit scarce.
Nothing in the world of marlin, tuna, dolphin fish (Mahi, Dorado) and wahoo (Ono) fishing draws more discussion than lure color. Pelagic fish feeding habits, water temperature and clarity, seasonality, prey base life cycle, light conditions, location etc. all play a role in color selection. There are lure color patterns that have been effective certain times of the year for decades.
Only years of on-the-water experience can narrow the thousands of possible combinations to a few dozen that produce results. BFD’s Eric White (known by many as ‘allyearfishing’ on eBay) has decades of experience in open water commercial and sport fishing, and his expertise helps narrow the field. BFD’s skirt combinations are produced from Eric’s recommendations.
When he isn’t busy skirting lures, Eric contributes to the website with a blog article now and then. Be sure to read his seasonal installments that discuss the intricate changes in the ocean at different times of the year, and the effect these have on our quarry as well as their own prey. You will quickly see that his knowledge of marlin and other pelagic fish behaviors is extensive, and extremely helpful when considering what to use in your spread during different seasons.
You can always ask us for advice when you order lures: we’re more than happy to help. But if you read up on the sizes and colors of baitfish teeming in the oceans during the different seasons of the year, our choices and recommendations will mean that much more to you, and will make more sense.
Glow and Flash
We’ve done a lot of research and spend a good deal of time and energy thinking about glow and flash in our lures. Why? Because we’re trying to replicate baitfish, of course, and as Humboldt discovered, baitfish basically ‘glow.’
Around 1802 Alexander von Humbodlt wrote:
“The luminous animals of the ocean appear, from these conjectures, to prove the existence of a magneto-electric light-generating vital process in other classes of animals besides fishes, insects, mollusca, and acalephae. Is the secretion of the luminous fluid which is effused in some animalcules, and which continues to shine for a long period without further influence of the living organism merely the consequence of the first electric discharge, or is it simply dependent on chemical composition?
You can read a full article about Humboldt and bioluminescence here or you can read this article in it’s entirety here in our blog: Nature’s Bling.
Today, we know that Ultraviolet (UV) light is invisible to human beings. UV light has shorter wave lengths that contain much more energy than the longer wave length light humans can see. As a result of this higher energy, more materials and things will glow under this shorter wavelength light. The shortest of the UV wave lengths have so much energy that they will burn your eyes & skin – which is exactly why they are used in tanning machines. This high energy UV light is the only light that penetrates several hundred feet below the ocean’s surface.
These short light waves excite certain atoms in things that populate the pelagic zone – like fish, algae, plankton, crustaceans and bait fish. These atoms absorb the invisible UV light, change it and emit the changed light that predators apparently associate with prey. Some of this changed light is in longer wave lengths that can be seen by humans. We attached the words “florescence” and “phosphorescence” to this re-emitted light that we can see.
UV light also activates atoms in fish causing them to temporarily emit visible light of various colors. This light emission is known as “fluorescence”. They glow with an amazing array of vibrant colors in sharp contrast to their color under conditions of normal illumination.
Ocean dwellers said to be fluorescent, stop glowing when the light source is turned off. Ocean dwellers with “phosphorescence” can glow for a brief time after the light source is turned off.
Super bright and super long glow time powders are a new generation of Phosphorescent (Glow in the Dark) material based on Rare-Earth elements are the brightest, longest lasting, non-toxic, glow-in-the-dark material known and are at the cutting edge of chemical phosphorescent technology.
You are probably familiar with the old Zinc Sulfide based glow-in-the-dark material that is commonly found in glow toys and glow paints found in hobby stores. As you know, that material only glows for a very short time and then is completely invisible – even in a totally dark room.
Rare Earth elements are nothing like that.
Rare Earth elements produce some of the most spectacular fluorescence and the longest lasting phosphorescence….of any mineral known that can be safely used in a manufacturing process.
The additives we use were developed after years of research. It is doped with Rare-Earth elements that give it an astonishing glow time as long as 30 hours… and equally important… it can be recharged indefinitely. Even after 1,000 hours under direct exposure to intense mercury vapor light it retains 96% of its glow output. Ordinary glow material properties are permanently reduced to a fraction of original after only 15-100 hours of exposure.
Sunlight, ordinary indoor lighting as well as UV (blacklight) can be used to “charge up” our Glow lures. The more UV wavelengths the light contains, the faster it will charge. Sunlight will charge the fastest, requiring only 5 minutes of exposure. A ‘workshop type’ Fluorescent lamp is rich in UV light – holding the powder close to a bright fluorescent lamp will charge it up in about 10 minutes. An ordinary 60 watt incandescent bulb will take 30 minutes. UV (black lights) will charge up the material extremely fast as well.
When fully charged, all glow powders will produce a very bright afterglow for a short time, level off to a moderate level of brightness and slowly dimming over the remainder of their glow durations.
The Green and Aqua colors will remain clearly visible for as long as 33 hours. The Green and Aqua are comparable and by far the brightest and longest afterglow. Obviously, the level of glow at 14 hours is not nearly as bright as it is at 10 minutes after light exposure, but you can plainly see it in the dark.
The Blue glow has a lower glow brightness and shorter afterglow duration compared to the Green and Aqua. This is partly due to the response of the Human eye. Our eyes are much more sensitive to the color green as compared to blue. Green will always appear brighter to the eye.
Newly developed, Violet powder is an absolutely stunning color in the dark. Different than our ultra-long glow time Blue, Green & Aqua colors, Violet requires a much longer charge time and has a shorter glow duration and brightness as compared to the other colors. But it is truly a breathtaking color.
One or more of these Rare Earth based additives is used in BFD Glow lures.
This is a summary of researchreports on actual stomach contents of White Marlin. The White Marlin is a very important sport specie in the Atlantic Ocean. In some ways, White Marlin habits are a bit different than other Marlins. Included are links to the reports and a pdf from the Brazil study if you care to dig deeper.
Common themes in these reports are:
The White Marlin is smaller than the other Marlins.
White Marlin spend most of their time in the top 33’ of the water column.
White Marlin dive deep more often than other Marlins but don’t stay down very long.
White Marlin prefer 75-84F degree water – and migrate to find it.
The mean length of prey found in a White Marlins stomach was 4”.
White Marlin like flying fish and squid and will “run down” their prey.
Having read a lot of opinion on Blue Marlin feeding habits, I decided to dig around for researchreports on actual stomach contents of this apex ocean predator. The only opinions that count are stomach contents. This subject has been studied more often than I would have thought around the world. Below is a synopsis of what I could find. Included are links to the report and a pdf if you care to dig deeper.
Common themes are:
Blue Marlin prefer water in the 80F+ temperature range
Due to the above point, they feed mostly toward the top of the epilagic zone (0-82 fathoms)
Blue Marlin are opportunistic, not passing up an easy meal of anything
Blue Marlin are efficient, not expending more energy than consumption of the prey will replenish
Due to the above point, Blue Marlin consume mostly various tunas, mackerels and bonito
Squid are an important component of a Blue Marlin’s diet
Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi – Dorado) are mentioned often