Sam and Gary Edmonds

Reservoirs can provide predator anglers with some of the most exciting lure fishing in the UK. Sam and Gary Edmonds reveal their top 12 lures for fishing reservoirs and explain how to use them effectively so you can get out there and catch the fish of your dreams!

4lb 8oz (48cm), caught on a 9cm Slick Shad in UV Arkansas.

  1. Fox Rage Mega Craw: When pike have seen a number of shads and swimbaits, a change of profile and action to something like a twin tail or creature bait can induce a take. The Mega Craw is actually a combination of the two as there were elements of it’s design based on the old Fox twin tails from 15 plus years ago, which were a very effective reservoir pike lure at the time.

Fishing the Mega Craw on a steady straight retrieve fooled this pike on the opening day of the Anglian Water reservoir lure season.

  1. Strike King Lucky Shad: This suspending crankbait fooled my personal best perch on Boxing Day last year, which was 4lb 13oz (51cm). Because it suspends, it can be fished very slowly, making it a great choice for targeting perch in colder conditions when fish are a bit lethargic.

My personal best perch caught on Boxing Day last year, weighing 4lb 13oz (51cm), that took a Strike King Lucky Shad.

  1. Fox Rage Slick Finesse: A very versatile soft bait that can be either jigged, drop-shotted or fished vertically (pelagic fishing). Our favourite way of fishing the smaller sizes is on a drop shot rig, either lip hooked for fishing in open water, or where it’s weedy or snaggy, rigged Texas style on a cover shot hook.

The Slick Finesse is a very versatile softbait that can be rigged a number of ways. This zander took one rigged on a 10g 4/0 jighead. 

  1. Strike King Pro Model Series 5: Similar in profile to the Salmo Rattlin’ Hornet, but dives slightly deeper when compared to the closest size of Rattlin Hornet (6.5cm). When it comes to hardbaits it’s about as large as we use for targeting big perch, but has also caught some very nice pike and zander. It can be banged along the bottom or fished in open water. When fished on a fine diameter braid of around 0.12mm it still taps the bottom in depths between 17-19ft, making it an awesome crankbait for deeper water.

A zander caught on the Strike King Pro Model Series 5, minutes before the boats had to be back at the harbour!

  1. Strike King Red Eyed Shad: Quite different from all the other lures in this selection is the Red Eyed Shad. We started using them a few years ago on gravel pits and they worked really well. A couple of months later, we were able to try them for the first time on reservoirs when they opened up for lure fishing. On the first trip of the year, Dad gave this a try and caught a nice zander, followed by a 45cm perch a couple of casts later! It’s a lipless crankbait so it has no diving vane, as the flat face at the front of the lure causes it to shimmy from side to side. It casts a mile and it’s a great lure for searching for fish.

The Red Eyed Shad is a great searching lure!


An immaculate perch caught a couple of casts after the zander above.

  1. Fox Rage Replicant: A classic for targeting pike. It’s so easy to use - just cast out, let it sink to the depth you want to fish and wind it back steadily! Our favourite all round size is the 18cm model, which is great for pike of all sizes, and we’ve caught some good zander on them too.
The Replicant is a pike magnet!
  1. Salmo Rattlin’ Sting: There was one time we were fishing on a tough winters day, and I thought that the Rattlin’ Sting would be worth a try. Being a suspending crankbait, it can be fished very slowly, with plenty of long pauses. The slim profile actually mimics a baby zander nicely, which the perch predate on. Three casts later I caught a perch of 3lb 4oz (45cm), and by the end of the day I’d landed 9 perch over 3lb to 4lb 10oz (49cm), all on the same lure. It has continued catching us some good perch since! Holo Bleak and Real Yellow Perch are a couple of great natural colours.

The Salmo Rattlin' Sting in Holographic Shiner was very effective for perch last winter.

4lb 2oz - the smallest of four 4lb plus perch caught on the same day on a Rattlin' Sting. 

5. Fox Rage Pro Shad: We mainly use the Pro Shads for pike and zander, rigged on a 20g-30g jighead with a stinger. Our favourite sizes are the 18cm and 14cm models, which have caught us numerous pike over 20lb and also some good zander.

This zander had no problem wolfing down an 18cm Pro Shad!

A 20lb plus pike caught on a straight retrieved Pro Shad. 
  1. Fox Rage Bladed Jigs: My Dad and I were so pleased when Fox Rage brought out the Bladed Jig, as it’s been one of our favourite types of lures for many years. They work equally well for pike, perch and zander, and are another great searching lure that can be fished either on a straight retrieve, or hopped along the bottom. On most occasions we like to rig them with a trailer such as a Zander Pro Shad, Spikey Shad, UV Floating Creature, or the Mini Craw.

A 4lb plus perch (48cm) caught on a Bladed Jig with a Zander Pro Shad trailer.

3. Fox Rage Zander Pro Shad: This has been around for some time now, but that’s because it keeps on catching! There are number of size and colour options ranging from 7.5cm to 14cm. For perch, we like the 7.5cm, 10cm and 12cm versions; for zander and pike, the 12cm and 14cm sizes are great. It’s also one of our favourite trailers for bladed jigs.

The 12cm Zander Pro Shad is a great all round size for pike, perch and zander.

  1. Salmo Hornet 6cm: The Hornet is one of our favourite crankbaits for fishing any type of venue, and when my Dad first tried it a few years ago on Grafham, it turned out to be a real game changer. We’ve had some fantastic days fishing the Hornet, either fishing it on a straight retrieve, or mixing it up with various pauses to mimic an injured fish. Two great colours to try are Holographic Grey Shiner and Hot Perch.

Crankbaits don't always have to be tapping the bottom to work effectively. This zander came up from a few feet off the deck to nail this Hornet.

A 4lb plus perch caught on a floating 6cm Salmo Hornet.

1. Fox Rage Slick Shad: A slim soft bait with a subtle tail action. When fishing reservoirs, we’ve caught more perch, zander and pike on these than any other soft bait. I had one of my best days on a reservoir using an 11cm Slick Shad in UV Green Pumpkin and UV Dark Oil, landing two perch over 4lb, a 20lb+ pike and a double figure zander. It works equally well either fishing it on a straight retrieve or jigged. The smaller sizes can also be used for drop shotting.

My first two fish of the red letter day in October 2020 were a 4lb 6oz perch, shortly followed by this 4lb 1oz...

shortly followed by a 23lb 4oz (105cm) pike...

Then this 10lb 2oz zander! All fish were caught on 11cm Slick Shads, either in UV Green Pumpkin or UV Dark Oil. 

If you’re heading to a reservoir this autumn, all of the lures mentioned above have caught us some great fish.