Beaded spoons, or Russian hooks, are thin, light, one- to three-inch-long lures typically cut from a piece of carefully bent metal, with a colourful bead on the hook—and they trigger jumbo yellow perch into biting like nothing in nature. Typified by the Slab Grabber, Tricky Ricky and my favourite, the Smackin Jack, the best beaded spoons are made by small independent lure makers.
The attraction of these lures is the way the minuscule spoon kicks out to the side when you pop it up a foot or two, let it flutter back down, then hold it perfectly still. When the spoon comes to a rest, the perch will focus on the bead and greedily inhale it.
I always start fishing a beaded spoon close enough to the bottom that when I let it fall, it settles into the mud and kicks up a small cloud of dust. I think the perch believe it’s one of their kin grabbing something in the sand, and that fires them up. On the rare occasion when I spot perch on the sonar screen that refuse to bite, I can usually suck them in by ever so slowly lifting up the spoon while I shake it continuously with the tiniest of twitches.
When you do hook a perch on a beaded spoon, remember to keep tension on your line, as most of these lures are barbless, or rendered so by the bead covering the barb. Reel the fish up through the hole, drop it on the ice, let it flop while you release the tension on the line and voila, the hook will fall out instantly, so you can drop it straight back down to catch another fish without taking off your gloves.