Often you start out chasing a particular species with a certain technique, and if it catches fish you’ll comfortably adopt it as the main string in your bow. Sometimes you even overlook a simple variation, but eventually the light comes on.
So it was with spinnerbaiting for cod. My first ever cod captures on big diving plugs were only a few years ago, so I’m no expert on this species, and I’ve been using spinnerbaits for this legendary Aussie native for only a couple of years. My first cod on spinnerbaits were caught on 1/2oz shad head double willow or tandem spinnerbaits. Those buddies I fished with often advocated 1/2oz or heavier so I went along the same proven path and we certainly caught fish.
Last season I tried something different with spinnerbaits and used 1/4oz versions. The experiment was a success and I wondered why I’d overlooked them for so long. They have produced fish for me on many occasions since then and have caught the attention of a few of my friends, who have also adopted them.
Now let’s have a look at some of the scenarios where you could open up a new packet and give the lightweight spinnerbaits a try on Murray cod.
When the water is low the deep pools are few and far between in inland rivers. You can make the most of the long walk between pools by fishing a lot of the shallower stuff where you don’t really need that big heavy 1oz spinnerbait. It’s certainly a better option than a deep diving plug, which is just too much bib for the shallow water.
If the water is shallow and there are weedbeds all around, a 1/4oz lure will flutter along above the weed without needing an excessive amount of retrieve speed.
A slowly sinking spinnerbait might just be the ticket if the cod are a bit lethargic. After casting out past the chosen structure, amble the lure up to the log with a slow retrieve and bump the stump with the lure. Then stop winding to let the lure flutter down into the strike zone of the cod that’s hopefully holding position in the shelter of the log. If the lure sinks too fast it might be out of the strike zone before a sluggish cod can react. But a lightweight lure that sinks slowly might spend enough time in the slot to garner a strike.
Some days, particularly in the colder months, the cod are more responsive to a slow retrieve. While all lures can be retrieved slowly, the 1/4oz spinnerbaits will cruise along at a steady to slow pace without sinking as much. So if you’re casting parallel to the bank and the fish are holding only a few centimetres down in the undercut bank, a 1/4oz offering could be just the ticket. The same goes for bankside timber and partially submerged logs.
When streams are shrivelled up with drought and the holes are smaller and shallower, the resident cod can be a lot more wary. Some days it doesn’t hurt to wake them up with some noise, but on other days it’s the subtle approach and gentle touchdown of a lighter lure that the cod like best.
Once you start going lighter, your mind opens up to a whole host of new possibilities. Our soft plastics were begging us to experiment with them, and first morning we caught a few cod on 3” Pearl Sliders. We rigged these plastics weedless on 1/4oz and 1/8oz Texas jigheads. Rigged in that way, they come through the brush with hardly a hang-up, and watching cod pounce on them as they wiggled past was a buzz. And because they freefall so slowly, they stay in the shallow water strike zone for ages.
We’ve found that cod will regularly come back for a second and third go at weedless rigged soft plastics. A bit of scent sprayed on the lure doesn’t go astray either.
I throw 1/4oz spinnerbaits on a typical fast or extra-fast taper triggergrip rod with baitcaster reel and 20lb fused gelspun polyethylene. For the plastics I’ve been using a 2.1m spin rod and threadline reel. I did try a shorter rod but the 2.1m stick has all the shorter stick can offer plus a lot more castability, manoeuvrability and lure control. The spinnerbaits can be thrown on the spin stick but it’s easier to control the lure’s flight path with a baitcaster when one of your casts inevitably goes wrong.
The lightweight approach has worked for us in rivers and creeks from Queensland through New South Wales and Victoria, so add it to your arsenal when you’re out chasing cod.
1) The author with a healthy cod taken on a 1/4oz Gary Yamamoto spinnerbait while walking the bank.
2) This spinnerbait was rigged with a 3” glow-in-the-dark Slider for more fish appeal and a slower fall rate.
3) A close up of a white 1/4oz Sugoi spinnerbait inside the mouth of a Murray cod. This spinnerbait took about 20 cod and was still going strong.
4) The author with a cod taken on a 3” pearl Slider rigged on a weedless Texas head. The lure hangs from the hook-keeper just in front of the rod’s foregrip.Reads: 690