It was not too many years ago that we were limited to straight, hard bodied lures with some likeness to real baits. Then almost overnight soft plastics came into the market and took anglers by surprise. Not only were these products extremely close in appearance to live bait, but they also feel and move like a live bait and some even smell like a live bait! This week I will look into techniques required for casting soft plastics and next week I hope to suggest specific colours and shapes for local species such as trevally, tailor, flathead, jew, mangrove jack and mackerel.
Soft plastics may seem like they recently burst into the limelight, however the development of this fishing tool constructed out of plastic has been a labour of love for many teams of scientists and entrepreneurs. In the early 1960's small worms and grubs were moulded from hard stiff rubber but had very little flexibility until Mister Twister, makers of the modern single and doubletail curly twister generated a silicon-based rubber lure with a more lifelike action and vastly improved fish-catching effectiveness. Since then many companies have come onboard, including fishing giant Berkley who manufacture well-known top sellers Gulp, Powerbaits and many other popular hard-body lures.
Berkley soft plastics seem to outsell many other brands in Swan Boat Hire as they offer the greatest variety in colour, shape and texture. Plus they match local baits such as bloodworm, sandworm, green prawn and baitfish with the greatest resemblance. Powerbaits are made with an oil-based resin to increase flexibility and softness. The oil creates a barrier to lock in the scent; however the Gulp soft plastic is made with a water-based resin which allows for the scent to be released as soon as it hits the water.
Berkley says anglers know that when fish bite Power Bait, they hang on much longer than they do with other soft plastics. By biting the bait, the fish is releasing that scent which makes them think it is actually food. This results in more positive hook sets. "I always tell people to throw a Power Bait or Gulp worm until it falls off the hook," Berkley scientists say. "Once that bait gets chewed and mangled, that's when the scent is going to be escaping the most."
Straight Cast and Retrieve is as simple as it sounds and what any angler who is worth their salt will do in order to increase casting accuracy. I began casting in open water when I first got into soft plastics as I wasn't sure of their weight and wind resistance when cast. Now after many years if I needed to cast to a spot surrounded by snags and rocks, I could do that with a great degree of accuracy. Young anglers need to take their gear to a nice open area and get used to the amount of lead required to get your soft plastic into the water level desirable for the target species.
Jigging is when your bait moves in one directing but in an up down wave motion. Begin by casting the bait out and letting it fall to the bottom of the water body. This will let you detect any hits as it sinks. Once the bait stops, it's worked along the bottom. This is done by raising the rod approximately 45degrees which lifts the jig off the bottom and brings it forward. Next, the rod is lowered to its original position and the jig falls back to the bottom, and line is retrieved with the reel until taut. At this point, some anglers may pause before beginning the retrieve again.
Twitching is an erratic retrieve. The majority of the lure's movement is the result of short, fast rod movements. It is easiest to twitch from the wrist rather than the elbow. The lighter the rod you are using, the easier this will be. The harder you flick you wrist and twitch the rod the more erratic the lure's response. If the lure is retrieved quickly while twitching, the soft plastic should ‘dance' and flutter near to the surface. If wanting the lure to do this but deeper in the water, allow the lure to sink and your twitching to be less frequent and the lure will glide from side to side like a submarine.
Jerking is much similar to twitching but requires the elbow and whole arm to move. This retrieve style is best with a shorter, stiffer boat rod or baitcaster. Jerking consists of longer, sweeping rod movements and the rod that is pulled downward instead of upwards and the slack line is retrieved as you do this. The action is repeated until you need to cast out again. The sweeping of the rod causes these baits to dive slightly, or swim to the side. This is often used in deeper water and resembles a darting baitfish such as herring, pilchards or yakka.
Bottom Bashing is when the soft plastic has contact with the bottom all the way back to the boat or shore. The heavier jig head is required for this technique and it is great for targeting species such as flathead and mangrove jack which is often lurking in the deeper bottom depths. The lure bounces along the bottom then taking off again which can often trigger an aggressive strike response from predatorial fish. This technique has the soft plastic likened to natural wounded baitfish which is stirring up the mud or sand to create debris to be scattered everywhere.
As you can see, the five main methods require attentiveness and practice. Once you have your technique down pat you can virtually fish anywhere in the world with a soft plastic bait. Next week we shall look into the angler's lolly-store at the many wonderful colours and varieties of soft plastic and I will recommend some specific models for use in the Sunshine Coast Waterways.
Noosa: Good sized spanish mackerel on floated pilchards from North Reef. Good bream and the odd flathead throughout the lower reaches. Better quality flathead in Weyba Creek and off Munna Point. Reports of mangrove jack in the Munna Bridge area. Mud crabs around Goat Island and in Lake Cooroibah.
Maroochydore: Good tailor, flathead and plenty of average bream in the Cod Hole. A few good grunter upstream of the Motorway and along Godfreys Road yesterday morning. Plenty of good whiting between 30 and 38cm from Picnic Point to the river mouths on the making tide. Mud crabs between Chambers Island and Bli Bli.
Kawana: Snapper and big mangrove jack from the Hards. Plenty of good snapper and sweetlip on the dirty water mark off Mooloolaba. Bream and sand crabs throughout the lower reaches. Mud crabs are on the move from the La Balsa Park area to McKenzies Bridge.
Caloundra: Tailor and bream along Currimundi Beach. Bream up to 1.8kg between the bar and Military Jetty. Whiting on the banks between Golden Beach and Coochin Creek.
Robert James did really well on the mud crabs in the Noosa River, returning plenty of big 'Jennies' but also keeping a good haul of legal size 'Bucks'. (courtesy of www.fishingnoosa.com.au)
A huge variety of colours, shapes and textures - a soft plastic for every (fish's) taste.
Snapper chase anything that passes infront of them - but especially a nice smelt coloured soft plastic!