Initial forays into the world of using soft plastics for smaller targets needn't be overcomplicated, full of fancy gear, jargon and smoke and mirrors, as in essence it's mostly a straightforward and highly efficient way to fish. There are however a few basics to have in order that will give you a jumpstart with this caper and see you catching fish quicker.
One of the more important pieces of equipment for soft plastics success isn't just the Squidgy you have tied on, but is also the delivery system you're fishing your lures with. Using the correct outfit is even more vital when you're flicking around smaller soft plastics and lighter jigheads, and require more 'finesse' style presentations for the likes of bream, whiting, flathead and many others as will be looked at.
Putting together a light soft plastic outfit, roughly in the 2-4kg weight range should be about creating a balanced combo that's relatively lightweight, allowing for long spells of casting; the outfit should enable lengthy and accurate casts; and finally it should provide responsive hook setting and let you impart subtle movements on your lure as required. There's no room for cumbersome, unresponsive outfits for this fishing!
Starting with rod selection for your light soft plastics outfit, there's a general thought process that you ideally want a responsive, crisp tipped rod for this fishing. By 'crisp' we mean a rod with a relatively fast action /stiff tip section. Give a rod a shake and look at the tip, if it's still wobbling around like a bowl full of jelly after a second or two then it's probably not ideal for twitching tiny Squidgy Bio Tough bream plastics around.
Graphite rods, more so than 'glass, or 'glass composite rods, tend to have a desirable action for this fishing. Having a responsive tip section to your rod will let you effortlessly twitch your soft plastics and set hooks when your lure is sucked down.
A rod length of 6'6" to 7ft plus in a one or two piece configuration will be ample to give you the ability to make long casts, and work your lure with subtle bite triggering movements. A line rating of 2kg or more is a fine place to start, and if you need more stopping power bump this up a notch or two.
Shimano have plenty of entry level rod models that have all these attributes and more, through to top end alternatives. Something like a Shimano Raider 721 Bream would be a great place to start, while the extra investment in a finesse Shimano Zodias for example will see you with a fish catching weapon in your hands!
When it comes to reels for a light soft plastic outfit, generally a 1000 to 2500 threadline / eggbeater style option is preferred for this job, where large line loads aren't required and you're mostly fishing a line class from 2kg up to say 3 or 4kg. A 150 metre shot of braid like Power Pro or the new Kairiki 8 will land most light tackle species, fished on a shallow spool reel. This said you could step up to a deeper spooled 2500 threadline for instance if you want extra capacity if larger fish are possible targets or bycatch - no one likes to get spooled!
Take your time filling up your reel to ensure you have a full spool of braid on it. Using a short length of mono backing will pad out the spool nicely and get the braid right to the rim of the spool. A well filled reel will cast a whole lot better than one that's under filled and provide improved casting accuracy also for presenting lures to snags or visible fish.
Shimano has you well covered in terms of light soft plastics reel options. From something like the Nasci 1000FB through to the Stella 2500HGFJ there's a reel for all budgets and soft plastics freaks out there.
Before leaving the tackle store fit the reel to your rod and make sure the outfit feels comfortable and balanced in your hands, and if so then it was meant to be! Get to you know your rod and reel limits also by testing it out thoroughly, as it may need to be pushed at times to tame above average fish.
With your shiny new soft plastic combo full of braid it's time to attach a leader to your mainline. There's a range of line to leader knots to consider, from the Albright to FG, and a bunch in between that can be adapted to the lighter leaders and mainlines in use here. The key being slim knots that will run effortlessly through the small rod runners used, and not take too much wear with repetitive casting.
A decent rod length of EX Fluoro Ocea Leader attached to your mainline in a suitable strength, with 2-3kg for bream and whiting, and 6-10kg for flathead, school jew and smaller snapper, and your favourite jighead and Squidgy soft plastic on the end, and you're all set to get flicking. Some seriously addictive and productive fishing awaits - good luck!