If I had to give a name to the study of lure design, it would be lureology. What is so important about the study of lure design? Finding the possible reasons why lures work or don't regardless the season.
The premise for studying lures design is based on fish senses and the theory that once those senses are overloaded because of a lure's design and presentation, it has no choice but to strike. I believe the designers of lures that are in the business, only want to mass produce certain lures anglers will continue to buy because they work more often than many others whether of the same or different design.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule when poorly designed lures catch fish, but on the whole great lures rarely fail us. Take the Senko and the reasons it works.
Gary Y. didn't just design a sinking stick instantly that when wacky rigged would demonstrate:
1. a specific drop rate
2. tip and body wobble depending on the drop rate and plastic composition
I've used other sticks and the difference after using various makes is obvious in action and the number of fish caught over many outings. Why might Senkos excel even if by a little bit? Gary discovered (though not the first) that the plastic sinks and acts a certain way because of salt added and the chemistry of the plastic which is softer than most plastics and at the same time is a sinking plastic. I make my own lures and recently found a company that sells sinking plastic in soft, medium and firm. When I pour my own sticks, I use the soft sinking type and add fine grain salt. The action is very similar to the Senko.
The shape Gary came up with is one totally different than that of any soft plastic worms or grubs sold for decades. For one, it doesn't have a tail - both ends are in action all the way down to the bottom creating a body action fish sense and respond to. I won't get into what a fish thinks a Senko is because the premise of lure design is senses based - not intelligence based and it's a fish's senses that get it in trouble as well as the lack of sense that would allow it to avoid lures to begin with.
Fish see and feel moving objects in ways even scientist haven't discovered and because of survival being utmost for detecting an moving object's lure's shape, size and action (whether living or not), the senses are like keys to a lock: stimulate them a certain way and the fish is genetically programmed to strike if certain environmental conditions are met such as water temperature, chemistry and clarity.
I as many of you have held misconceptions about lures for years until shown the light. One of those is fish being line shy. It's obvious to many of us that have used chartreuse colored thicker diameter line and caught hundreds of fish, that line is only a factor as it relates to lure action. Too large a diameter and lure action is compromised regardless the presentation we use. Another misconception I had until a fellow angler caught bass, was the brush guard that make jigs weedless. Just the unnatural appearance alone made me think bass would turn away, but fish can't think about such things and are sense focused to skirt and trailer action in combination. When they bite down, brush stiffness and texture is ignored for the moment of maximum excitation - something every angler strives for in fish and by association, for himself or herself.
Lure design matters!!! Even the smallest design feature can make all the difference what a fish senses and is forced to attack. Take Charlie Brewer's Slider Worm and Gary Y's Kut Tail worms. I compared the actions of both to lures similar in design as well as how more often they were struck. The reasons by design were different, but significant.
The Slide Worm has a small tapered paddle tail as does the Kut Tail. Both have tapered bodies that affected by the tail end designs. Both are made of soft plastic that allow maximum action at the slowest retrieve - that action being a quivering whipping lure made capable when the lures are darted back and forth with rod twitches.
This brings to the idea that presentation matters when it comes to certain lure designs. Speed of retrieve and whether steady or not can make or break the action of a lure. If you steadily retrieved a Senko, Kut Tail or Slider Worm, it is unlikely you'll unlock the magic of each design. Fish may be stupid, but senseless? - absolutely not! They see and feel the difference and react based on that.
The combinations of lure design factors that excel is infinite. Every year some new design comes out that turns out to be one no one expected to be so good when matched with certain presentation. The Beaver is one that will be around for a long time and one that has been copied without violating patent design law. The paddle of different designed Beaver type lures creates slightly different actions, but both get fish to bite.
Many of use use tubes. Other than plastic hardness, skirt and body plastic thickness matter. Today I used a 1.75" tube rigged on a light jighead and twitched the lure at mid-depth parallel to bottom. It caught bass, perch and sunfish which allows me to make this statement: many lures are multi-species in attraction and sense-overload capable.
A large sunfish was also caught on the same tube which in total caught 8 fish. My theory is that the combination of specific lure color, size and action as well as jig size and presentation, make this lure one I can always depend on to catch fish. The color variable is optional because fish see color in terms of contrast and how it enhances lure action and shape.
To sum up, lures don't work by magic by design. Sensory overload happens when a bee flies to close to your face and you swat it - sometimes labeled a reflex or reaction strike. Fish do not defend themselves against anything as in the example, but do react the same as humans and other mammals to certain moving objects moving a certain way minus choice.