A confession first, I don’t know much about Kynochs and their kin. You see they were never really part of my armoury when I fished in Scotland and they are far from common here in Ireland. I am becoming more interested in them now though as I seem to be doing more and more trolling each season. With less and less time available to fish every season I have to take whatever conditions are allotted to me, meaning I am confronted with days of flat calm and/or dazzling sunshine. Faced with hopeless weather for the fly, I need to be flexible and that’s when the trolling rods come out. ABU Toby’s are the first choice but I have a sneaking suspicion that the Kynoch should work too. With apologies to the stalwart harling men and women of the Tay, here is the little I know of these plugs.
This plug originated in USA back in the 1940’s and it was made of wood in the beginning. Somewhere along the line the Luhr Jensen company became involved and turned it into the plastic J plug. I don’t know how or when the plug crossed the Atlantic but Iain Kynoch a fisherman and and toolmaker picked up the lure and pretty soon the Kynoch Killer was born. Iain patented the lure and ABU of Sweden made the Kynoch Killer under licence between 1973 and 1976. I think I am right in saying that the moulds are still in hands of someone in Scotland.
Another, very similar plug called the ‘Lucky Louis’, also hails from America. This is very similar in shape and size to the Kynoch. Then there is the Tomic. Around the same size, this one hails from Canada where it is used used for mooching on the great lakes and the western seaboard. And of course there is the Tay Lure itself. Same shape and design but this one runs deeper in the water.
Colours range from all gold, through silver and green to ruby red and include the famous pink and white variant. Tomics come in a wide range of often garish colours.
All of these plugs were designed for the same use, trolling or harling behind a boat. The quarry is usually salmon but pike and lake trout also fall for their charms. The concave face of these plugs forces the water over the top of them, pushing them down deep, important in the strong, deep flows of the lower Tay. I am hoping they will also run deep on Lough Conn and seek out salmon from lies which other lures are fishing too high above.
I have been buying up a few of these plugs over the winter, some as good as new and others in varying states of disrepair. They seem to appear in sudden flashes on ebay. I don’t see any for weeks on end then there are lots to be had. Some are sold singly but it is common to see them offered for sale in wee batches of 4 or 6 plugs. This is a mixed blessing as you can quickly acquire a range of baits but very soon you find ‘repeats’ and you buy 6 baits when you only really want a couple of them.
Sizes of all these plugs range from 3 inches to just over 5 inches for the big Tomics. I have also bought a few larger examples with pike in mind. As I said, the condition of these lures varies greatly, some being unused while others appear to have been dredged from the bottom of the river before being offered for sale! I quite enjoy messing about with paints and brushes, so I have given a few of the more worn ones a new lease of life with vibrant colours. If you go on to Youtube and you can enter a world of super-artistic guys who make fabulous baits out of scraps of timber or by making their own moulds and casting plastic plugs then spraying them to amazingly high standards. I especially enjoy the handmade fisherman’s videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/paulpadam
While I am in complete awe of their abilities my own skills are somewhat lacking when it comes to fancy paintwork. I settle for some quick licks with a brush and some new hooks. I have also invested in a cheap second-hand air brush and will attempt to do a slightly more professional job when painting lures in the future.
I am planning of trying the pink version next season. I understand pink was (is?) a very popular colour on the Tay but I can’t say that I have used or even seen a pink plug fished on Lough Conn. I don’t see why a pink coloured lure wouldn’t work and maybe just the fact that it is something different could be in its favour. I have one pink Kynoch in the box ready for the 2018 season, so let’s hope it does the business in the spring.
The J Plugs are available in metallic finishes for those occasions when you really want to waken the fish up!
In terms of how to fish these plugs it seems to be fairly straight forward. A shortish rod sticking out the back of the boat, commonly referred too as the poker and an old reel that will hold enough 20 pound line will do. The Kynoch is then fished quite close to the boat, around 15 yards for example. This allows the lure to work in the turbulence created by the engine, adding to the crazy darting action it already demonstrates.
I will post some pics of the finished Kynochs once the paint jobs are done.