This artificial minnow discussion relates to the standard cast and retrieve hard bait lures. These lures are the lipped floating type that produce a side to side swimming action and submerge while being retrieved.
The major design factors that determine the depth at which these artificial minnows swim are the location of the eyelet and the size of the lip. On lures where the eyelet is fixed to the nose of the minnow and the lip is somewhat small, a shallow dive can be expected. These shallow running minnows are excellent when fishing near a river or pond bank where the depth has a gradual drop. Working these shallow running minnows down the side of a lily pad patch or along the length of a fallen log is very tempting to any near-by lurking bass.
On the other hand, if the eyelet is fixed directly to a long lip, a faster dive at deeper depths is the norm. These deep divers work well where banks have sharp drop-offs or in deep river channels that may hold fish. Several species of fish such as stripers, crappie, and bass will school in deep water areas making the deep diving minnows most effective.
Artificial minnows are mostly a visual lure. Therefore, most have brilliant reflecting fish attracting quality with a balance of various colors that invite aggressive strikes. This generally means that in very murky water these reflective type lures may be less affective, so some have sound producing rattles which help to attract the attention of the fish.
Now for a couple of tips when using artificial minnows. When casting onto a flat smooth water surface don’t be in a hurry to start retrieving the lure. Instead, allow the lure to rest motionless for a few seconds but be ready because this will often entices a strike.
Although not necessary for many lures, twitching or jerking the rod tip when a diving lure is submerged produces a flashing action which can emulate an injured minnow. This may take a little practice to master so try experimenting and see if you find a method that works for you.
Try varying the speed of your retrieval. In cold water fish slow down and are more likely to strike slower moving prey. Also, retrieval speed can affect the depth at which the lure is running by several inches. This small change in depth may be all that is needed to cross a water chemistry boundary (similar to a thermocline) in which the salinity, clarity, or oxygen levels are more favorable for the fish.