Soft plastic lures have been around for many years now and have certainly come a long way from the good old mister twister and vibra tail models of the late sixties and early seventies. Thanks to the aid of modern technology soft plastic lures have recently made an enormous return to the Australian fishing scene having an incredible effect on many anglers targeting a huge variety of fish species. Fishing with soft plastic lures can be an extremely productive technique providing three key rules are followed.
1 – The right lure is selected – Selecting the right soft plastic lure requires some knowledge from the angler regarding what it will be used for and where? Example whilst targeting medium sized bream in clear, shallow water, a small 50 – 65mm, natural coloured, plastic and ultra light jig head or resin head with smallish hook might be selected. Where as if chasing larger bream in dirtier ,deeper water, a soft plastic that is larger and brighter in colouration with a heavier jig head and larger hook size may be required. Finding out what your target species is feeding on that day is crucial and once a pattern of retrieve and style of lure that replicates it is chosen the results can be truly mind blowing! Size and colour choice is also a key factor when selecting any lure and trying to replicate the exact size, profile and colour of the bait your intended target species is feeding on will increase chances considerably! Most lures on today’s market contain a series of stripes on them, this is designed to mimic the fright stripes often seen on bait fish during predatory situations. The weight of the lure and how far it is able to be cast should also be taken into careful consideration as trying to cast a lightly weighted, soft plastic lure a long distance requires good technique and the correct fishing tackle. There are so many soft plastic lures available on today’s market from scented crab, worm and prawn styled patterns to ultra large bait fish profiles. They all have their place in the wonderful world of fishing and when used in conjunction with the correct methods will account for an enormous variety of quality fish species!
2 – The lure is used with the correct rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod, reel and line to use in conjunction with your lure choice is extremely important! More often than not casting any lure small or large, light or heavy will take its toll on the angler eventually. Choosing the wrong outfit as opposed to the right one will not only severely decrease your chances of catching a fish but also frustrate and exhaust you both physically and mentally. The correct fishing outfit should be a shear pleasure to fish with even when not catching. Budget is always the first thing to take into consideration with a good rule always being to spend one amount once! Never buy cheap, flimsy tackle as it will simply not last and eventually let you down when you need it most, generally on that fish of a lifetime! Braided line is generally a must for casting lightly weighted soft plastics and due to its super thin, ultra low stretch qualities allows anglers to feel much more than they used to with conventional monofilament or nylon fishing lines. Soft plastic lures will swim deeper with more action when used in conjunction with braided lines and fluoro carbon leaders! Small 1000 – 2500 class spin reels loaded with ultra light 2 – 6lb braided lines are generally used to throw very small soft plastics for species such as bream and whiting etc and when coupled up with light, graphite rods in the 6’6” – 7’ range make incredibly effective fishing tools for targeting an enormous variety of fish species. Larger plastics from 3” – 6” in length are generally cast on light bait caster styled overhead out fits for short distance accuracy around structure or light to medium spin combos consisting of 4000 – 6000 class spin reels loaded with 20 – 30lb braided or gel spun lines and mounted onto 6’6” – 7’ graphite rods rated from 8 – 15kg for distance casting.
3 – The lure is cast into the correct location – Making sure the fish can see your lure by casting it into the correct location is most important. Casting soft plastic lures hard up against or out over various structures is always a great technique as is trolling or casting them through and around current lines and bait schools. The size of the hook and the weight of the jig head inserted into the soft plastic tail is very important! Always try to use as little amount of weight as possible, this will allow the plastic to seductively swim its way down into the strike zone as opposed to plummeting down like a lead balloon. Keeping your soft plastic lure in front of the fish for as long as possible will produce amazing results!
4 – The lure is trolled or retrieved correctly – Trolling or retrieving cast lures with a natural and enticing action will increase strike rates considerably. Try to pay attention to the natural behaviour of the bait your intended target species is feeding upon and try to imitate it to perfection. Generally most bait fish have a slow stop, start swimming motion that when replicated correctly will account for a very large variety of both demersal and pelagic fish species. Imparting action into the lure can be easily achieved by twitching the rod tip during the retrieve or troll. Extra depth may also be achieved by thrusting the rod down into the water whilst trolling or retrieving a cast. The lure may also be made to swim shallower if the rod tip is raised higher. Attaching most lures with either a small, strong, wire clip or loop knot will ensure they swim to their full capabilities! Soft plastic lures can be successfully retrieved through areas of heavy structure by rigging the lure in a weedless fashion. This entails rigging the jig head into the plastic so that the hook point is not exposed, this way if the plastic comes into contact with any structure it will simply pass over it. Once a fish strikes the plastic the hook is revealed and quickly finds its mark.
There are generally four types of retrieve used in conjunction with Soft plastic lures –
1 – The slow roll, which is a simple slow wind of the reels handle whilst the rod tip is pointed low to the water. This retrieve imparts a slow, weakened swimming action into the plastic and is a great retrieve when used in conjunction with a few long, pauses mixed in.
2 – The fast burn, is a retrieve used to fire up fish and is a matter of lowering the rod tip towards the water and winding the reels handle as fast as you’re lure will allow. This exhilarating retrieve imparts a fleeing, panicked bait fish action that most pelagic species find irresistible!
3 – The twitch and shake, is a retrieve that takes a bit of getting used to and requires a fair amount of co ordination and concentration to master successfully. Kind of like scratching your head and rubbing your belly at the same time! Try to imagine you are the lure and mimic the stop, start, shimmering action of a small bait fish that is nervously making its way along to avoid detection. Shaking the rod tip continuously whilst turning the handle of the reel slowly will impart this irresistible action into the plastic. This is an absolutely deadly retrieve that when used in conjunction with short pauses has proven to produce results when all else fails! Pausing the lure allows it to remain in the strike zone for a much longer period of time and increases the chances of a fish finding it considerably! Most species of fish, especially bream and barramundi will generally take the lure on a pause.
4 – The slow lift and drop, is a retrieve designed to replicate a number of small prey items located in most Australian estuary systems. It is simply a matter of slowly lifting the rod tip towards the sky before dropping it back down to the water level creating slack in the line. This causes the plastic to leap from the sea floor and up into the water column before slowly swimming its way back down again. A very popular retrieve amongst keen flathead and bream anglers!
Matching the right lure to the right rod, reel and line – Choosing the correct rod and reel to use in conjunction with your soft plastic lure is extremely important as the wrong combination will only result in frustration and failure.
Heres a rough guide of what sized soft plastic lures to use with which rod and reel outfits when casting –
1 Lure size – Ultra small – 15 – 45mm – Rod and reel match – Ultra light 1 – 3kg, 6’6” – 7’ graphite rod and 1000 class spin reel loaded with 2 – 4lb braided or gel spun line.
2 Lure size – Small – 50 – 80mm – Rod and reel match – Light 2 – 5kg, 6’6” – 7’ graphite rod and 2500 class spin reel loaded with 6 – 10lb braided or gel spun line.
3 Lure size – Medium – 80 – 125mm – Rod and reel match – Medium 4 – 8kg, 6’6” graphite rod and 4000 class spin reel loaded with 15 – 20lb braided or gel spun line.
4 Lure size – Large – 150 – 200mm – Rod and reel match – Heavy duty 8 – 15kg, 6’ – 7’ graphite rod and 6000 – 8000 class spin reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braided or gel spun line.
5 Lure size – Extra large – 200mm plus – Rod and reel match – Extra heavy duty 15 – 24kg, 6’ graphite rod and 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reel loaded with 30 – 80lb braided or gel spun line.
Soft plastic lures are rarely used when trolling however clever anglers are always developing new and innovative techniques so heres a rough guide for any of you that would like to try –
1 Lure size – Ultra small – 15 – 45mm – Rod and reel match – Ultra light 1 – 3kg, 6’ – 6’6” graphite rod and 1000 class spin reel loaded with 2 – 4lb braided or gel spun line.
2 Lure size – Small – 50 – 80mm – Rod and reel match – Light 2 – 5kg, 6’ – 6’6” graphite rod and 2500 class spin reel loaded with 6 – 10lb braided or gel spun line.
3 Lure size – Medium – 80 – 125mm – Rod and reel match – Medium 4 – 8kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 4000 class spin reel or medium sized, bait caster or overhead reel loaded with 15 – 20lb braided or gel spun line.
4 Lure size – Large – 150 – 200mm – Rod and reel match – Heavy duty 8 – 15kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 6000 – 8000 class spin reel or small to medium sized, lever drag, overhead reel loaded with 20 – 30lb braided, gel spun or nylon line.
5 Lure size – Extra large – 200mm plus – Rod and reel match – Extra heavy duty 15 – 24kg, 5’8” – 6’ graphite or fibreglass rod and 10,000 – 20,000 class spin reel or medium to large sized, lever drag, overhead reel loaded with 30 – 80lb braided, gel spun or nylon line.