Roll, twitch, lift, drop and boof, usually in that order.
Casting soft plastic lures for barramundi is incredibly addictive. So much so that when the tides are wrong, the fish are shut down and the heat of the day is almost unbearable, I find myself ignoring the vast array of other fishing options to continue chasing barra. There is something tantalizing about finding a submerged snag with a little current running through it and putting a lure deep into the structure. Getting the roll, twitch, lift and drop just right so the lure can dance through the entwined timber is a skill in itself so there is something extremely gratifying about sending a lure into a fish’s lair and seeing a big silver barramundi emerge to engulf your synthetic baitfish.
Floating hardbodies that dive to various depths when retrieved through the snags have traditionally been the lure of choice and for good reason. Place a jighead in a plastic big enough to attract a barra and the lure will sink like a stone as soon as it is thrown into the snag, rendering the entire ordeal useless. Pre-rigged soft plastics are even worse purely due to the fact that they are not designed to be danced through the timber. There are a few lightly rigged or weightless plastics on the market that are a real option for snag fishing but for a number of months now, I found that modifying a Carolina rig with a Bozo 4” Mullet has been working a charm.
I use the 4” unrigged Bozo in the sanger colour because of the simple fact that the lure has an incredibly thin tail wrist that gets the tail of the lure working during a very slow retrieve or sink and this plastic imitates the barras favourite meal, the mullet. It also has a little mass to it so casts very well with the tiny amount of weight that I rig it with and due to the Bozo being so tough, it can often catch numerous fish before being damaged. If there is another plastic that works as well or better then by all means, rig it.
To rig the mullets, I push a bait needle up through the lure from the bottom of the tail wrist up through the nose. You can use a sewing needle or thin knife instead of a bait needle but the idea is to cut a tunnel through the lure to push a hook through.
My preferred hook is a Gamakatsu heavy gauge worm hook and I have found that big hooks, at least a 5/0, that are rigged with the hook positioned down instead of the usual upright arrangement makes a huge difference to the hook-up rate.
With the mullet rigged weightless, I then use a small running sinker above the lure just to help it track upright and to allow the nose to sink into the snag. I rig mine with a modified loop knot that will put the sinker on the bottom of the loop, which helps the lure track upright. Without the sinker on the bottom of the loop knot, the mullet will tend to roll around too much when twitched and not be as effective when working through snags.
Once on the water, slow rolling and plenty of pausing is the key. I like a consistent slow-roll through drains and over weed beds but on snags and when working mangrove banks, I use a combination of slow rolls, twitches and pauses. Using tiny 00 sinkers will allow you to just bounce the lure along with little twitches of the rod tip.
The lure is simple to cast on medium threadline tackle. I use a Daiwa SOL outfit with a 3000 reel and 10-17lb rod loaded with 20lb FireLine. I also use a 50lb leader and for wild river barra, this outfit has no issues landing fish up to 90cms. I would love to tell you that it handles metre long fish but unfortunately, I don’t know whether it does or not.
The way a barra takes the lure is by sucking it into its mouth and as soon as the lure has been engulfed, its jaw is snapped shut. Hardbodies are very quickly rejected but plastics feel a lot more natural so you have a little longer to the set the hook. If you are working the mullet with little twitches, keep some slack line between twitches and the fish will be able to suck the lure down, taking up that slack line. You will feel two solid bites, the first from the lure getting sucked in and the second from the jaw locking down on the lure. On the slack line, these bites are obvious and a quick strike will have that over-exposed hook sent home.
I have also noticed that light plastics are less likely to be thrown when a barra jumps and shakes then a big hardbody that is being swung around as the fish shakes its head.
Once you have the simple rigging technique worked out, this is a very simple way of catching barramundi and bi catches of fingermark, jacks and big threadfin salmon are very common.Reads: 3600