It’s no secret, I am addicted to fishing with soft plastics! I was going to name the species that I like to target with plastics but there are simply way too many to list. In fact I’m struggling to think of a species that can’t be caught on one! Soft Plastics were a game changer many years ago now and I remember back to one of the first times I ever used one. I was with a mate at one of our favourite local Trout waters. We were belting out our old hard bodied lures for a couple of hours without so much as a follow so I decided I would try one of these Squidgy Fish thingys. From memory it was a 65mm Gary Glitter with about a two gram Jighead. I cast, I let in sink a metre or so and before I could even get a wind in Bang! I’m on! A nice trout of some two pounds. So to cut a long story short I proceeded to nail three more Trout in almost as many casts! I remember my mate saying “they will @#%? Ban those things” Since that day, I have been hooked.
Since the early days, there has been so much improvement in not only Soft Plastic Lures themselves but the technology and gear that is available to us now is simply mind blowing. The Ultra Light responsive high modulus Rods with super smooth Reels and thin diameter Braided lines almost give us Anglers an unfair advantage! Looking back I’m not sure how I even caught anything on my old floppy glass rods and stretchy mono lines!
Just like the gear has improved, so too have techniques and while you will pickup many valuable tips from magazine articles and other fishing nuts, you will still have to do whole lot of fine tuning and groundwork for yourself. One thing that I have learned over the years is that we will never stop learning! The best way to do that is to get out there and spend as much time on the water as possible. Try new things, different lures, retrieves and fishing spots. Maybe start a fishing diary that you can add your catches, Times, Dates, the weather, Barometer, Moon, Tides etc. After a while you will see a trend and this will all help to improve your catches.
Living in Tassie I am lucky to be not only be surrounded by the Ocean but I am always in close proximity to some World Class Trout Fishing. While I still do enjoy catching Trout on other Lures, Fly and even bait, I find myself throwing Soft Plastics probably 80% of the time. Mostly because they are so effective and with our busy lives these days, most of us want to catch as many fish in our limited free time as we can. I know I do! Soft Plastics, fished effectively, will help you do that.
In our local lakes and some of the deeper rivers, Trout can be found not only in quite shallow, but many and in some waters most fish, are in relatively deep water (4-8m) throughout the entire year. This deeper water is where Soft Plastics will shine and really come into their own. The main reason for this in my opinion is that you can, on every single cast, basically cover the entire water column. Other lures simply cannot do this. Once you work out where the fish are holding, you can concentrate your retrieve at that depth range. More often than not though, Trout will be either feeding on or close to the surface, or like they do in many of my favourite waters, feed on or close to the bottom.
So If I may pump my own tyres up a little, I like to think of myself as a bit of a deep water specialist. That said, my retrieve is pretty basic when it comes to this style of fishing and when it comes down to it, Trout in the deep really aren’t that fussy if they are in feeding mode so there is no need for any fancy double lifts or twitches! When I cast out I always aim to let the plastic sink straight down to the very bottom. To do this you must allow enough slack line for it to sink down almost vertically and as naturally as possible. If you cast and you don’t have slack, your plastic will sink yes, but on maybe a 45% angle and so you wont be covering anywhere near as much of the bottom. You can tell when your plastic has hit the bottom when your line goes completely or extra slack. So then I simply use one small rod lift, aiming to hop the lure up off the bottom no more than about a metre. Then pause, again with enough slack line to let it drop as vertically as possible to the bottom again and repeat this all the way in. Controlling the slack is the absolute key. Not enough and you wont get the bites. Too much and you will miss fish on the strike. If you’re new to this style of fishing I always say you are better off to start with too much slack than not enough! Trout will mostly hit the lure on the drop/pause so watch your line like a Hawk and if you see any unnatural twitch or movement in your Braid at all then Strike! Even if you’re not sure, Strike! Don’t die wondering! I like a fairly tight drag when fishing plastics as it helps to really set the hook on the strike. Once the hook is in then you’ve usually got time to adjust and back it off if you’ve hooked a big fish. I also find it easier to see bites/hits and control my slack line by holding my rod tip a bit higher and almost at eye level. By doing this too you wont need to lift as far when you strike on a fish.
My Favourite Soft Plastics combo and gear of choice at present is the amazing Shimano 3Zero 6102 2-5kg Rod with the super light and smooth Shimano Rarenium ci4+ 2500fb spooled with 5lb Power Pro in yellow and either 6lb or 8lb Ocea Flourocarbon leader. There are many plastics on the market these days but I find myself always coming back to the Squidgy range and the Squidgy Fish and Whipbaits are a standout on Trout. I use varying jigheads weights from 2-9 grams + depending on the depth I’m fishing and I usually err on the heavier side as Trout really respond to a fast dropping lure.
What I love most about this style of fishing is that it’s so visual. You really have to concentrate and be on your game and there’s nothing better than seeing that telltale twitch of your Braid and striking hard on a solid Fish!
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