There are very few anglers who have not heard of the Berkley range of plastics. They have been scoring fish with reckless abandon right across Australia and this does not look like slowing down.
A favourite pattern of mine has been the 4” Power Minnow. Wherever I have fished it, this lure has taken fish. From the southern reaches of Port Phillip Bay right up to the very tip of Australia, the 4” Power Minnow has been a standout performer.
At the recent Tackle Trade Show held on the Gold Coast, Berkley Australia announced the old favourite 4” Power Bait was to be replaced with an upgraded version – a version that was touted to be stronger and more durable. There was also a change in the manufacturing process and the general appearance.
Being a fisherman I am as resistant to change as the next person when I find something that really works well. I was, and still am, incredibly comfortable with the old 4” Power Minnow hanging off a jighead on my rod. Rigged on a bullet head jighead, like the ones TT Lures make in their tournament series, I could get the Power Bait to dance and sway in a way that the fish really liked. The only problem was how soft the lures were. This two-edged sword of softness had the lure working really well with subtle wrist flicks, but as soon as a decent fish or a small toothy fish grabbed hold, you could almost guarantee the plastic would have to be replaced.
Whichever colour I used I caught fish, but there were some firm favourites including the pumpkinseed that was my go-to colour for snapper and flathead. It was a rude shock for me that was bought about by a change in the USA supply, something little old Australia could do nothing about.
Being that I was already addicted to the Berkley plastics I thought I’d better grab hold of some new models and give them a serious go, so it was out with the wallet and about $100 later I had a bunch of new plastics that were sitting there waiting to be thrown at some snapper and flathead.
Ripping the packet open and grabbing the first plastic that came to hand there were some immediately noticeable differences with the new model.
Firstly they had 3D eyes. These eyes almost made the plastic look alive and really put a focus to the lure’s front end. At the depths and speed some of these plastics are fished, it’s hard for me to say fish can see these eyes, but up in the shallows (less than 2m) and fishing slowly for flathead, I am sure these eyes would be visible. But they come at a cost. If you use jigheads with a thick plastic keeper on them you can split the plastic while you’re rigging it, or even pop out an eye. On jigheads with weights less than 1/2oz this is rarely a problem, but in some of the deep-water applications where 2oz jigheads are used, you do need to be a little careful when rigging. Regardless of the care taken though, you will split the occasional plastic. This doesn’t destroy the lure totally as you can snip off the head and rig the rest of the plastic and use it just as effectively still.
There has also been a new scale pattern added to the mould. Instead of the sleek sides of the old version, the new model has a fine scale pattern. This scale pattern may disrupt water flow over the lure and could help send out a bit more flash in the fleck patterns, but I am probably not subtle enough in my fishing to appreciate the finesse aspect of this design. I just accept it as part of the new model and don’t waste my time thinking about why it’s there – so long as the lures work that is!
The lure itself is also much stronger. You can feel the difference in the plastic when you hold the old and new together and you can feel the extra strength in the new model when you thread your jighead through the plastic. But best of all you can see how much more durable the new model is when a 60cm flathead is angrily shaking its head on the surface and the plastic doesn’t fly off to parts unknown or get so torn it has to be replaced.
My first day out with the new plastics saw me targeting flathead in shallow water. Using a 1/4oz jighead, rigging was no problem and fishing the lures slowly soon saw some flathead show interest in the new plastics. I was using the perch pattern because it was the first one that came to hand, but I also tried to convince myself that the perch pattern had a good contrast which the flathead were noticing in the clear, shallow water.
To test this theory I swapped to a clear gold fleck and the catch rate went up. So much for me knowing anything about fishing!
Flathead are a favourite right along the east coast and everyone knows they wreck plastics quickly, but the new models tended to last on average three times as long. Sure there were still fish that destroyed the plastic first go, but there were a lot more fish caught per plastic and with 8 plastics per packet, it meant I didn’t have to go through half a dozen packets of plastics, just a couple.
In other fishing since, I have targeted snapper in shallow reef areas and deep water, reef fish up north, queenfish and trevally and also trout in some southern lakes. Each situation has seen the new models come up trumps and I am slowly getting over the fact that some rude American changed my favourite plastic.
The extra strength is a bonus, but I am still struggling a bit with the eyes popping out occasionally – and trust me it’s hard to concentrate on rigging properly when baitfish are getting smashed a cast away from the boat.
The 4” size is appealing to so many fish it’s almost frightening. Big fish find it an easy meal, with the biggest fish we’ve hooked being a 15kg plus longtail tuna, while even small fish will try to stuff a 4” plastic into its mouth like the 5” bream Tony Zann caught on a 4” Power Minnow. Competitive anglers are upsizing their plastics to catch bigger bags of bass and bream, while average anglers are scoring great bags of snapper and flathead on the 4” model.
The nest time you’re thinking about chucking out a pilchard for a red or a flattie, or going trolling for trout with a glassie in Victoria, think about substituting it with a Berkley 4” Power Minnow. I think my catch rate has gone up since using them and I reckon yours will too.
Selling for around $12 a packet, the new model Berkley plastics should have a place in every anglers tackle box. Oh yeah – make sure you rig them out of site of the fish too!
Clear Gold Fleck
Glow Chartreuse Shad
Pearl Watermelon Smelt
Pearl Blue Smelt