Getting in touch with your softer side
  |  First Published: December 2008

When I first contemplated fishing with soft lures the concept of skipping a piece of plastic along didn’t fill me with much confidence, nevertheless I was prepared to give it a go.

So it was off to my local tackle store where I can admit to being totally overwhelmed at the variety, and I had absolutely no idea where to start! So many brands, colours, styles, scents and sizes, and what the hell was a bio bait? Honestly, some of these plastics looked more like lollies than bait.

Feeling totally clueless I turned to the staff and asked lots of questions and I recommend this as an important step for anyone getting into softies for the first time. The tackle shop expert has lots of info on local hot spots as well as popular products; they often get to try out new stuff and are only too happy to offer advice. The staff provided me direction on lure types for different fish and they gave me some tips on the technique to make the lure appear like a tasty snack to an unsuspecting fish. It was on this day that my addiction to fishing with softies began.

The early days saw me reading lots of fishing mags and watching lots of DVD’s, such as Squidgie Secrets 1, 2 and 3 and the Berkley Soft Plastics DVD featuring Adam ‘Mad Dog’ Royter. These DVD’s provided useful tips on lure types, rigging and techniques and seeing the pros catch fish with a plastic gave me confidence that it was actually possible.

My first target species were flathead, as everyone had been telling me that flatties couldn’t resist a soft plastic. So with all of this under my belt and plastics on board the boat I set about catching fish, only to quickly learn that this was going to be a little harder than the pros made it look. It took me quite a few outings to hook up a fish and I can remember considering returning to livies just to get a feed.

However, I was determined to crack softie fishing so I kept practicing and asking questions. I learnt that there was more to this style of fishing than just the lure and technique. I found out that the type of rod and line had an impact on the action of the lure.

A graphite rod was not only lighter than my old bait fishing outfit it had an action that ensured the movement I was putting into my technique wasn’t being lost in the rod. A graphite outfit ensures that the lure behaves like a wounded baitfish, prawn and similar. I also changed to a braided line and fluorocarbon leader that gave greater sensitivity and better contact with the lure. I was now feeling both the bottom and the take better and this resulted in a greater rate of hook-ups.

Once armed with the right gear, I turned to thinking more about where the fish would be sitting. In the case of flatties, I fished a run-out tide and targeted drop-offs where water washed over a bank. These types of locations are where the fish hold in numbers as they await food being washed in their direction. I began having success and more and more fish were being netted.

My favourite fishing grounds are those in the Jumpinpin area, and exploring for good spots was half the fun in the early days.

My advice is to try and think like a fish; go where you think they will be at certain times of the tide. Team this up with the right size jighead and softie to make sure you stay in touch with the bottom. As a general rule, the shallower the water and lighter the current, the smaller the jighead and lure, and vice versa.

My technique has varied since I first began fishing soft baits, I used to be more violent with my action, ripping the lure through the water and constantly retrieving the line. I have now subdued this and I have also experimented using different actions in different locations and tides. The tip is to ensure you keep some contact with the bottom, if your action continually keeps the lure too far away from the bottom you will catch less fish. That’s not to say that the violent action doesn’t get attention, you just have to be sure whilst using this action you give the fish a chance to have a go at the bait.

My journey to the softer side whilst slow to start has resulted in success. We love nothing more than getting out and flicking plastics for flathead and have also ventured into fishing for other species using softies. I fished the Gold Coast Flathead Classic for the second time in October and my team Flickchicks scored some big flatties and fished consistently over the three days in the strong northerly winds. We won runner-up Two Angler Team and Champion Female Team and this is testament to the time we have put into fishing with softies.

The club do a great job with this event, I love the social side of the comp and encourage anglers of all levels who enjoy flathead fishing with lures to give it a go.

My advice for those of you getting into soft lures is to ask questions, read lots of fishing articles, be persistent and make sure you team this with the right fishing outfit. Now is a great time to get out and chase a few flathead and with the right set-up you too can get in touch with your softer side.

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