Soft plastics tactics
  |  First Published: September 2012

As a keen angler fishing around the Sunshine Coast, soft plastic lures would have to be pretty much all I use consistently. Over time, my use of soft plastics has increasingly improved, but there is still lots to learn on this style of lure fishing. There are so many different techniques, styles, weights and colours that come into account when targeting a certain species of fish.

The Sunshine Coast river systems have had a bad run with the weather over the last couple of months, but it looks as if the river is making a good recovery. This is a good chance to get out on the river and to have a go at using soft plastics for the many species on offer.

There is an expansive range of soft plastics that just keeps on getting larger. This includes prawn, split-tail, flick baits, wrigglers, shad and paddle-tail soft plastics. Many young fishos will wonder what to use when targeting a particular species of fish. Since there are many factors to this style of fishing, a lot needs to be taken into account for a successful trip.

Colour can be one of the main focuses when using these lures, which will depend on the colour of the water. A general rule is when the water is murky, use really dark lures or bright coloured (chartreuse) colours. Using darker colours in murky water is effective as it creates a silhouette or outline in the water, which attract the fish. The same is true for the brighter colours.

When the water is clear or even crystal clear, use more natural looking colours or lures that have the ‘see through’ effect to them. This tricks the fish into thinking it’s just another prawn or small baitfish swimming by.

The weight of the soft plastic is another factor to consider. These weights, or jigheads, come in many different sizes down to the small, finesse 1/20oz, to the heavier 1/4oz. This range of weights is most commonly used in the river systems. They also come in different hook sizes as well; this choice depends on the size or length of the soft plastic being used.

When fishing for smaller finicky river fish, including bream and whiting, smaller weighted jigheads rigged with smaller style soft plastics. When fishing deeper water in the river or fishing a large hole, heavier weighted jigheads are preferred. This will get the lure down into the strike zone, and keep it down.

Heavier weighted jigheads are used when fishing for larger river dwellers along the coast, including mulloway, mangrove jack, trevally and even monster flathead!

Even fishing nearly unweighted soft plastics throughout the river systems can produce the goods when targeting the larger predators. It’s always a good thing to have a bit of variety and to mix it up when using these kinds of lures.

Now that colours and weights has been covered, the focus can now turn to the style of lure. There are just too many styles of soft plastics to choose from, but there is always one thing to remember – match the hatch. This means that, for example, if there are a lot of prawns going through and occupying a river system, then use a prawn style lure. Squidgy Wrigglers are a favourite to use around the river systems, as they can imitate a spooked fast moving prawn, to a sick or injured baitfish moving along the bottom.

Having a variety of different styles of lures can improve your chance of catching good fish.

Regardless of all of the above, the most important thing to get right is the technique – how the lure is worked. There are many different techniques to use when fishing for different species of fish. For example, when fishing for whiting, a fast twitching action of the rod tip can imitate a spooked, fleeing prawn. On the other hand, when fishing for flathead, using the ‘slow roll then twitch’ technique is effective. This means working the lure close to the bottom of the water body and employing a slow roll of the reel, then giving the rod tip a small twitch.

Remember to always have a pause when working these lures. This allows the lure to drop down to the bottom, tricking the fish into thinking it’s a sick baitfish, and they can’t resist!

Even though there are many different things to consider when using soft plastics, and can generally be great fun. If the family is thinking of heading up towards the Noosa area for a fish, drop into Hooked on Angling and Outdoors at Tewantin, as any of the friendly team will guide you in the right direction for a productive day of fishing!

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