We often take for granted the importance of putting your soft plastic tails and hooks together properly, so I’ll provide you with some hints and tips for getting the job done right.
Just recently I watched an angler in West Lakes throwing some small soft plastic lures for bream. I had been taking a stroll with the dog around the southern end of the system and, as usual, took time to stop and chat with the odd fisherman on the way. There are still some nice bream to be had in the Lake, and I often find myself there with spin rod in hand when I have a couple of hours to spare.
The guy I was watching had been there for quite a while without so much as a bite. He told me he had been moving around to cover a fair bit of ground to the west of the inlet pipes, but I sensed from his mood that he wouldn’t be there much longer. We got to chatting about lures, and that’s when I noticed how badly his soft plastic tail had been rigged on the jig head he was using.
The lure was a 65mm Squidgy Wriggler, which is a proven bream taker, but the way the plastic had been threaded onto the hook, there was no chance it would ever get eaten. Not wanting to upset this guy or appear to be too critical, I tactfully pointed out that his rigging job wasn’t perhaps as good as it could be. He seemed open to a bit of help and advice, so we sat down and I removed the Wriggler he’d been using and showed him how to put a new one on correctly. I’m not sure if he caught any bream after we shook hands and I left, but he seemed grateful for the advice.
It’s no secret that soft plastic lures have to be rigged correctly to work as they were intended. Unless a plastic tail is threaded onto the hook dead straight and without any bumps or bulges, you can’t expect it to look totally lifelike and subsequently catch fish. To some anglers at least, rigging soft plastic tails comes easily. These are the guys who can do the job in the dark for perfect results. There are others, however – and father Shane is perfect example of this – who struggle to rig their plastics correctly on a regular basis.
Basically, there are two types of soft plastic rigging techniques you need to know to cover most lure styles – standard and weedless. Both are pretty straightforward, and can be demonstrated clearly in a step-by-step pictorial guide. I’ll run through rigging a 145mm Squidgy Whipbait on a 21 gram Squidgy Fish Head jig, then do the same with a Squidgy Stealth Prawn on a TT Snakehead weedless jig.
Lay the jig hook along the soft plastic tail so that the top of the tail sits flush with the jig head.
Make a mark or find a feature on the lure tail where the point of the jig hook should emerge after being pushed through. Precision here is vital.
Push the hook point through the head of the plastic, making sure it is right in the centre.
Carefully thread the hook point through the middle of the soft plastic until the point is exactly beneath your mark on the tail.
When you are confident that the hook point will emerge in the right spot, push it through the plastic and bring the hook through after it.
Push the plastic tail back down along the jig hook until the top of the plastic slips up over the securing barb and nestles nicely against the lead head. Provided you have completed all steps neatly and precisely, the lure tail should be sitting straight and on centre, with no bunching up or distortion of any kind along its entire length.
Place the jig head or hook alongside the plastic so that you know where the hook should be poking in and out through both the chin and the body and make a mark if necessary.
Push the point of the hook through the head of the soft plastic and down through the chin of the lure. Once you’ve got the hook lined up properly you can then push the point of the hook through the chin and continue to slide the hook through the soft plastic until the eye of the hook is snug against the lure.
Take note of where the hook wants to go through on the belly side of the body and proceed to push the point all the way through – again keeping everything central and neat.
The hook point should come through the top of the lure and right in the centre.
Gently push the very point of the hook under the surface of the soft plastic to make the lure as weedless as possible – if you’re fishing in a potentially snaggy or weedy location.
Some soft plastics are not suited to weedless rigging. The softer the plastic, the better it will work. The plastic needs to be able to slide down along the hook or have a soft enough 'belly' section so that the hook point and barb can be exposed easily when a fish grabs the lure.
The bottom line, regardless of whether you are rigging weedless or with a weighted head, is keeping things neat and precise. Do the job right and you’ll be fishing with one of the most effective lure styles ever invented!