Fishing Lure Eyes (How Important Are They?)
UPDATED 03 NOVEMBER 2023
by Robert Ceran
How significant are eyes on fishing lures?
Some people believe that eyes on fishing lures are highly important, while others believe they are not very significant. And many people don’t have an opinion on this issue.
But fact is that the majority of lures now available on the market include some kind of eye on them.
This makes sense intuitively: adding eyes to a lure gives it the illusion of being alive.
Nevertheless, this raises the question of whether or not it is appealing to the fish, or to the angler.
Below is a summary of scientific data to support the idea that eyes make a big difference on fishing lures.
Most predatory fish seize their prey by the head
The majority of fish prefer to seize their food by the head, as evidenced by the fact that when they feed, they often devour other fish head first.
Why? Because of several factors:
The first explanation is that the majority of fish have streamlined bodies, and all of their fins fold down toward their tails.
This increases the likelihood that a bait fish may become entangled in the mouth of a predator if it is eaten tail first.
In fact, unless the fish being eaten is extremely small, it is very difficult for a predatory fish to swallow it backwards.
Second, all animals are aware that the business end of most animals (the part with the teeth) is quite close to the eyes, which means that if they grasp the head, there is a reduced risk of being wounded or bitten by the animal that will become their meal.
Fish eyes reflect light
The vast majority of anglers are aware that shiny items attract fish, yet the majority of fishermen are unaware that eyes are the finest light gatherers and reflectors.
It’s likely that most people have used a flashlight to shine on a person or animal at night and noted how the pupils of their eyes sparkle and reflect light.
Even if you were unable to see the rest of the person or animal, you were still able to recognize them by their eyes.
The same may be said for fish. If you can believe it, the eye of a fish is very similar to the eye of a human in terms of vision.
I have personally conducted a few studies on bait fish and discovered that one of the first things seen when struck with a light source was a fish’s eye, which is intended to gather and reflect light exactly like our eyes do.
This was one of the first things I saw while looking at bait fish. Fish are able to determine which end of their prey contains the most nutritional value, and they attack that end first.
The typical strategy involves attacking the eyes and then consuming the head first, although mother nature occasionally throws a wrench into this strategy.
Bait fish use false eyes to trick predators
There are a great number of insects, butterflies and beetles in the world that have enormous false eyes to trick potential predators.
There are also a significant number of fish that use this strategy. The puppy drum (also known as the channel bass or red drum), is the most common kind.
This species can have anywhere from one to a dozen or more spots along its tail and back.
The presence of these spots tricks predators into thinking that they are dealing with a whole school of fish.
Alternatively, they can cause the predator to hit the wrong end, buying the fish valuable time to escape.
The barracuda, the speckled trout, the spot, and a great many more species of fish also have these false eyes.
Because many fish find their food with their sense of sight, it is essential to have a lure that mimics natural prey.
Even mussels use false eyes to deceive predatory fish
Recently, I was reading an article in a nature magazine that provided one of the most persuasive arguments in favor of having eyes on lures.
There is a species of freshwater mussel that dwells in the Southeastern region of the United States.
This bivalve possesses what I consider to be one of the most remarkable methods I have ever heard of for disseminating its young around the lake or rivers.
It appears that when these mussels release an egg sack, it is tied to a length of mucus that is between one and two feet long, similar to fishing line.
This mucus line terminates in an egg sack that resembles a minnow and floats in the water above the mussel. The egg sack is attached to the end of the line.
When a fish comes by and swallows the egg sack, it explodes in its mouth, and the small mussels that were released fall off and are scattered across the surrounding region.
The fact that this egg sack had a dark black area on it to represent a fish’s eye and give it a more life-like appearance was by far the most impressive aspect about it.
It was also discovered that egg sacks that did not contain the fake eye were practically never consumed by fish.
Eyes on fishing lures help to trigger strikes from fish
If mother nature considered it to be so significant that it was necessary to put the eye on as an attractant in order to make predatory fish strike and devour things like mussel egg sacks, then perhaps there is more to eyes than you realize.
That’s why most anglers won’t use a lure unless it has some kind of eye or dark mark on it – even if it requires them to paint or glue an eye on themselves.
These are just some of the data that show the significance of having an eye on your lure.
So, what are your thoughts? If your bait doesn’t have eyes, do you think it can attract fish to eat it?