SOFT PLASTICS fishing first focussed on bass, bream and flathead, but now it seems there isn’t a fish in the ocean that doesn’t like a well-presented plastic.
An increasing number of anglers in Southeast Queensland are targeting the shallow reefs and ledges in the bays and inshore reefs for all manner of mixed bottom dwellers, particularly snapper.
On last month’s QFM front cover we saw Dan Stead holding 6kg of Moreton Bay snapper he’d caught on a soft plastic. It wasn’t the only fish they caught that day either, with a number of smaller snapper and a 10kg trevally over one of the wrecks.
There’s now an army of light rods about for fishing soft plastics for bream and bass and it seems like every manufacturer has a few in their range. For the home rod builder, however, there aren’t many blanks to chose from for the heavier style of fishing where you still need a softer tip but more guts down in the butt end.
For a few years now we’ve been importing a range of blanks from Shikari in the USA. These high quality graphite blanks are ideal for fishing with a variety of lures from light to heavy, including soft plastics.
Having been appointed as the Australian distributor for these blanks we are now able to offer them to fellow rod builders.
The blank we’re going to look at for our snapper soft plastics rod is the Shikari ISB 704, which was the rod used by Dan with his snapper on last month’s cover.
The SH III, 42 million modulus graphite fibre used in this blank delivers a crisp, light, sensitive action with a deceptive amount of power in the butt section. This allows you to feel the slightest bump from those inquisitive fish with the power to hook up and fight them.
At 7-foot long it’s the preferred length for most anglers and the beauty of this particular stick is that you could also use it for flathead, mangrove jack and barra. Not a bad combination for the one rod.
Around 10-12lb braid is the norm for this style of fishing, and because most reels come with two spools these days you can load the other up with lighter line or braid when it comes to chasing those flathead.
We’ve found that when making the butts on these rods it varies a great deal from angler to angler, depending on what species they’re targeting and their own particular fishing style. On our production rods we’ve taken the path of average length, which in this case is an overall butt length of 13cm.
The FUJI people here in Australia, Frogley Offshore, have sourced some rear cork grips that incorporate the rubberised cork butt cap so the one piece of cork does as the rear grip and cap. It adds a very nice touch to the rod and keeps it all nice and light.
The reel seat is a FUJI DPSM 17 with the fixed hood to the bottom. The fixed hood to the butt is more comfortable to use as most anglers will encompass the reel foot and reel seat when fishing and casting for this particular style of fishing. If you were to turn it around the other way you would find that the thread on the seat becomes annoying and there can be a tendency for the constant ‘on and off’ contact of your hand to work the screw-down hood loose.
We use only a small foregrip, 75mm, which doesn’t really get used until you hook and play a fish. I know it might seem a bit strange to be describing a snapper rod like this, but it certainly does the job well in presenting plastics in this manner.
Some nice lightweight guides keep the overall weight of the rod down and retain that crisp action. For this we use the FUJI Alconites, which are now becoming more widely used in many rods around the place.
We’ve used a 7/2.0mm FUJI BFAT tip which, while still on the small side, allows leader knots to pass through without a problem. The average leader used is 15lb fluorocarbon tied to the main line.
From here, a couple of number 7 BLAG single-foot guides are used, followed by a No. 8 BLAG and then the higher frame No. 8 BYAG style guide. The low profile BLAG guides are quite strong as far as single-foot guides go, lying almost flat on the blank.
All the lightweight components used in conjunction with the lightweight graphite blank makes for a very nice outfit which is a pleasure to use.
The blanks are a nice burgundy/brown finish which lend themselves to a number of different colour binding to be used, which can either blend in with the colour of the blank or smartly contrast with it.
This is the style of fishing I believe we’re going to see a lot more of. Queensland has plenty of shallow reefs to fish, both in the bays and along the coast, while those in NSW will find that those shallow reefs covered with kelp will return some surprisingly good quality fish.
Blank - Shikari ISB 704
Butt - 130mm x 12mm cork
Winch - FUJI DPSM 17 (fixed hood down)
Foregrip - 75mm x 9mm cork
Tip - FUJI BFAT 7/2.0
Guides - FUJI BLAG 7-105; 7-25; 8-135; BYAG 8-160; 10- 80;16-275; 25-335