Aussies anglers first learned about the shaking technique with soft plastics through bass fishermen returning to our shores down under after learning the tricks from Californian based professional bass angler Norval Pimental in 1999. The technique evolved on the west-coast of the USA and much of the continued development still comes from the Pacific coastline. Although I originally learnt it as a freshwater bass technique, I’ve recently seen it refined in southeast Queensland as one of the best methods for chasing snapper with soft plastic.
Lures that shake well include the Aussie saltwater favourite the straight tailed shad, but only the most flexible, wiggly if you like, of the straight tailed shads. The stiffer variations will never shake like the supple plastics…never!
Some of the 5” shads are pretty much useless as shaking baits. Yet some other shads are purposely designed to be flexible and they’ll shake their booties off. You can compare them yourself by holding two different lures in the same hand and wiggling them. The lure that wiggles the most after you’ve given them just one twitch is going to be the best for shaking. As a benchmark use a shad like the 5” Gambler Super Stud. If the lure is too much stiffer than a 5” Gambler then you’ll probably find shaking with it no better than leaving the rod in a rod holder. This article is about an active technique that you can use to tempt a fish into being interested in eating your lure and the lure you choose needs to be able to respond to your input.
As we learn more about shaking in Aussie offshore waters the more popular the 7” and 6” shads become. The longer the lure the better they shake. Many of the different lures offer an asset or two that make them the best in certain scenarios, the trick is to know which lure to pull out of your tackle box when. The 7” Assassin for example has the big benefit that it is a larger lure, with more mass and thus it casts further. Another favourite, the 6” Slugger Shad, is only available to Aussie anglers and is a lure that has been expressly designed to shake, hence it is half the width of a normal shad, in the style of a strip with more wiggle in your jiggle.
Other lures that can be sufficiently shaken include any of the 6” soft plastic twitch / slugger genre’.
The cornerstone of the shaking philosophy is that a baitfish doesn’t dart around all over the place all the time. In fact for much of the time a baitfish just hangs around doing nothing. A little tail flick here and there, maybe a tail wiggle, but not moving much at all.
That’s shaking! Give your rod a little tremble (not a big movement), just a very subtle tremble, about as much of a wobble as tapping the butt with your hand would generate. Then stop shaking, a very long pause, often a very, very long pause, then shake a little bit again. The idea is to shake a little to imitate a typical baitfish (or maybe a dying last kick of life situation) to attract the attention of something like a big snapper and then do not move the lure too much. Let the interested snapper mooch over to and around your lure before inhaling it.
Shaking fits into and is part of the cast ahead of the drift technique. You can shake the lure on freefall ahead of the boat (even with the bail arm open), after it gets to depth you can shake it near the bottom and even once it is drifting through the water out the other side of the boat you’ll find shaking to be a winner. Just remember, shake a little, pause a lot.
Rods play a very important part in the shaking technique. It’s the life in the tip that you look for. You want a rod that you can easily flick the tip into a controllable, non-tiring, inch or two of wiggle. Certainly you do not want one of those stiff rods that when you move the butt the only reaction in the tip is either nothing or a big wide arc. Also the rod should not tire your wrist, shaking is about you doing a little every now and again to tempt the fish and that means holding the rod in your hand, all day too.
I’ve written before that Australia’s offshore snapper (and kingfish and amber jack and pearl perch etc) deepwater fishery is pretty unique in the world and thus rods for the heavy spin shaking application are not to be found elsewhere. Fortunately as my regular readers would know we have the Eric Grell made Egrell S10 in Australia which is very much the best damn offshore heavy spin shaking rod made anywhere in the world.
I’ve heard of people trying to find a rod nearly as good as an Egrell to compare it against. The problem is that arguably the next best rod costs twice as much, and it’s definitely nowhere near as good as an Egrell. Hence it seems a waste of time to even bother with a comparison.
Some local tackle stores have told me the S10 is the best selling rod of its type that they’ve ever experienced. Hundreds of anglers can’t be wrong.
Eric won’t like me saying this because it might encourage someone to do the same. I’ll say this now, “Don’t do this with your own rod”. But Dad hooked up to a few XOS fish on an S10 last week. Actually it wasn’t just a couple of fish; it was four fish in a row. Dad was using 40lb braid (heavier even than Eric uses on the rods) and 0.7 dia fluorocarbon leader. Because the fish were burrowing for the bottom, Dad was locking up on the reel and unfortunately busting the 60lb leader through the midsection of the bent rod. Watching on Eric was sure the rod would break. All Dad could say was, “that’s one hell of a rod, so much butt power, yet full of life in the tip”
For the bay snapper scene where the finesse of lighter leaders is required (20lb max, often down to 12 or even 8lb) and shaking with worms is a technique that can turn a fishless day onto a full bag limit, I’m currently using the Egrell Bear S4.
To match to these rods I keep looking for top notch budget reels, cheaper than $600, $800 even $1000 spin reels, to recommend to local anglers. Jack Erskine, a family friend with whom who I’ve had the pleasure of fishing and enjoying many tackle chats, suggested for this application the Penn Slammer 560. Since then it has been getting a work out on one of our rods with 40lb Platypus Super Braid. In the $200 to $300 reel market this is a good tough yet smooth reel that does everything needed. I’m very impressed with the drag performance of the stock off the shelf reel. I can’t recall any other reel in this price bracket that has performed so well.
My current bay snapper reel is a SureCatch MRF635 spin reel. I used one of these on a fishing trip with the boys from Brisbane based Wilsons tackle company (the SureCatch distributor) and at the end of the trip I said, “I like this reel, I like it a lot, umm, mind if I take it with me for some more testing.” The smaller versions of this reel would also make great bass and bream reels.
To rig your lure for shaking, either a jig head, or Tex rig (Texas weedless, or Texposed, even a pegged weight) will do the trick. Mum and I have worked on some Tex rigging articles to follow this one so look out for them in future editions. Match the weight to the current, wind and depth situation, then shake it baby!Reads: 1521