I've been recommending various ways of rigging soft plastics in recent months across my articles. Often, mention has been made of applications like Texas rigging, running weights and exposed hook rigs. All of these are alternatives to the standard jighead approach.
The advantage that a running weight Texas or Texposed rigging system offers is that you get better lure action and you get to mix and match your weights and hooks giving you more options to select the perfect weight and perfect hook to suit each situation while carrying less terminal tackle and weight.
You may have heard the saying that the longer the shank you use with a jighead, the stiffer the soft plastic lure becomes and the less action this often gives the lure. Yet we often find that the squire and snapper bite just behind the hook when we use jigheads. To solve this we use a hook that can be placed just a fraction back further in the lure. And to achieve the weight of the jighead a running weight is placed on the leader in front of the lure. To my way of thinking such a rig is the ultimate squire and snapper presentation.
My last article covered the use of a running weight system such as lightweight bullet weight or alternatively a heavier egg weight. In this edition we'll look at the next step in the process, which is Texas rigging a 4" to 5" soft plastic worm.
I tend to use these worms inside Moreton Bay, particularly the shallower reefs and therefore I'll often rig the worms weedless, especially if I'm fishing the lure near the bottom. To rig weedless, the hook point is buried inside the plastic to reduce the chances of snagging. This weedless or Texas rig is particularly useful when drifting over the top of the shallow reefs around Mud Island or casting to the bommies, corners and drains in the vicinity of Peel Island for example.
The rod I prefer is the Egrell Bear S4, a mid-sized spin reel and I'll have three or four spools for it. Each spool will be filled with different breaking strain braids to give me a choice between 8, 12, 15, or 20lb line. In dark murky water I'll try to get away with the heavier lines (especially at night). But on those clear winter days I might have to go as low as 8lb mainline to increase the bite rate. And yes, I have gone as low as using 4lb braid on my bream outfit for snapper, and I consider myself lucky to have extracted a 70cm snapper from Peel Island’s reefs
The leader normally varies between 12lb and 20lb fluorocarbon – again it is good when the fish aren't shy and you can get away with the 20lb stuff. But often you'll have to fish lighter.
It's worth mentioning that a light mainline gives greater casting distance due to the reduced drag off the spool through the air yet, as always, it’s a double edged sword. Use the lighter line and you'll cast further which means that you'll be presenting your lure to fish that have not been spooked (especially if you keep working new ground throughout your trip). But the further the cast and the lighter the line the more risk that a rampaging red will run over a ledge or around a bommie and bust off the lure. And in summer the lighter line also means the longer the fight and the more chance that a shark will nail your snapper.
In the bay shallows one angler in our boat will be assigned to work their lure from a position near to the helm and all aboard are ready to fire up the engine and give chase. This dramatically increases our catch rate on big fish and is something that you can't achieve if your boat is anchored – hence we always fish from a drifting boat, with most of our casts being ahead of the drift.
In the bay a light bullet weight of either 1/16oz or 1/8oz will give you all the weight and casting distance you need and such a weight is rigged free running on the leader. A larger hook than on most jigheads is ideal. Small hooks do work, but for my money something like a 3/0 hook from my Texas rig that gets locked around a jawbone is going to hold much better than a jighead's size 1 hook that is pricked under a flap of cheek skin. Hence the 3/0 hook that I use in the accompanying photo with the worms. The RI 3/0 is the best hook I have used so far for this application and it was designed specifically for this scenario because there was nothing else on the market that fitted the required specifications.
The rigging steps are demonstrated in the photos. To start the rig, thread the bullet weight onto the leader then tie the leader to the eye of the 3/0 hook. Next thread the hook through the soft plastic lure as in the photo, step by step. And there you have it!
Next month I'll look at the deep water rigs where I'm more likely to rig the lure, typically a 6" or 7" Shad, with the hook exposed, often using a bigger hook, and sometimes unweighted.
To Expose Yourself or Not!
It’s always a pressing question, do I expose the hook or not?
I use both presentations because common thought accepts that the exposed hook gives a better hook up ratio (but more chance of snagging). I prefer the exposed presentation in a number of situations including:
1. when fish are hitting the lure aggressively well off the bottom so that the lure doesn't sink very far;
2. in open water (often for other species);
3. in deeper water such as the inside of Mud Island, or the deeper drop-offs around Peel Island, even out the front of Cape Moreton;
4. when using faster retrieves (because the lure is off the bottom and because the strikes are more likely to be a snatch and grab rather than an inhale from the fish).
Alternative Texas and Texposed rigged Reaction Innovations Flirts, plus the larger Reaction Innovations Dominator on a larger 5/0 hook.