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The darter can be categorized as a slow sinking Jerk or glide bait.
It came out of my experiments with sinking Jerkbaits some years ago. The Dutch Angler Diederik Terlaak Poot had asked me about such lures and if I had any models available. Well I had been working on a lure for a while so finished off the unnamed lure and sent it to Diederik to try out along with the other lures he had ordered.
Diederik wrote back to me a few weeks later after he had tried out the new lure, and his opinion of it was that I had come up with a winner.
Back then I hadn’t really formulated many ideas as to why, or how lures behave, and more importantly how to give a piece of wood an action that would consistently time after time trigger the instincts of the Pike to attack. And boy did I do some experimenting. I’m talking weeks and weeks trying out different shapes, different weights and their positions in the lure. Not to mention all the species of timber available to me. Which one’s would resist the constant immersion in water. Which types would hold the finishes I applied to them the longest? The U S makers were using woods like Maple, Cedar, Pine, etc. And I tried them out myself, before dismissing them to the wood burner with all the others. I eventually found the best timber, which suited all the criteria.
At the time the Darter came out of the workshop, there were no other Lures like it as far as I know. Sure there may have been similar shapes and profiles around. But the action and the buoyancy, its sink rate and hang time hadn’t been seen before, here and for that matter anywhere. And like I said before, it only comes out of many long tedious hours playing around with lures until that piece of wood starts to behave how you want it to in the water at the end of the rod. It ‘s been well copied now by just about everyone who makes lures, the profiles of the lures will be slightly different but the principle is exactly the same.
Back to the story, it wasn’t long before the Darter got amongst the fish, and it wasn’t long before anglers realised the potential of this lure, and its consistency in catching pike in all the waters they swim.
Several sizes of the lure are now available, they all have basically the same action, darting from side to side whilst hanging or should I say appearing to hang tantalisingly in the water between twitches. The Titchy small and middle sizes are admirably suited to fishing in smaller venues such as canals, drains, and shallow pools. But they are equally at home on much larger deeper venues that the larger versions of the darter where built for. I think that on and in the deeper lakes where pike reside a larger lure profile can sometimes give you the edge, as the pike can be moving greater distances from beneath or from the sides of the lure. These larger lures cast great distances with the correct tackle, and are not affected by the wind as much which can and does howl across large open waters. Also because of their size, weight and momentum in the water a larger glide path or action is possible.
There has been so much written about the darter over the years, both here and abroad.
Diederik Terlaak Poot the Dutch angler went on to write many articles on the darter in one of them he stated that "using a darter is almost cheating"
Middle Darter in DL Perch
Retrieve techniques for the Darters.
The Darter is a slow sinking twitch bait and this is how it was designed to be retrieved, with twitches or flicks of the wrist. (Basically the Darter is fished with a little slack line using this retrieve method.) Cast the lure, not so far at first so you can see it's action in the water. now let the lure sink a little and then take up the slack. With the rod in the hand simply give it a flick with the wrist, this will cause the darter to turn to one side. You should now take up some of the slack line, but not so much that contact with the lure is made. Wait until the lure stops, and flick the rod again. The Darter will now turn in the opposite direction. Carry on with this method to bring the lure back with a darting side to side swimming action. If you let the lure sink to the depth you want to fish at, approx two seconds per foot. The depth can be maintained by fishing the Darter slow. It will tend to plane up if it is fished faster. Its a good idea to pause the retrieve and let the lure sink for a few seconds mid way through the retrieve, as this can be the trigger that the fish find irresistible.
The second retrieve I have found to be a killer is to cast the lure, and let it sink to the required depth. Now crank the reel six or seven times and give the rod a jerk, or a flick wait literally a second and crank the reel again. Repeat the retrieve all the way back, you are better to pause two or three times during the retrieve to allow the lure to sink back to fishing depth. Although I have had tremendous sport fishing the lure fast like this on or near the surface. This retrieve really gives the appearance of a fleeing fish, and has made the difference in my catch rate using Darters.
Videos showing the action of different Darters