Prong 'Em
  |  First Published: October 2009

One of my aims as a professional guide in far north Queensland is to be versatile; in my fishing ability and my choice of tackle. I try to assess each product independently and choose my gear based on its performance and durability. In the soft plastics department, this has led me to a number of favourites, which include the Saltwater Assassin, Bozos Mullet, and the Snapback, but most recently my go-to lure is the Atomic Prong.

The characteristic I like most about the Prong is its versatility. It could be a prawn, it could be a squid, it could even be a worm, which makes it very appealing to a huge variety of marine predators. This trait has been reflected in the sheer number of species the Prong has attracted, from pikey bream to cobia.

Another attribute of the Prong is the fact that it is so simple to use. There are enough curly bits from head to tail to attract attention, even when it is not being moved at all. Current or wave action is all that is needed to make it enticing to anything swimming in its vicinity. In fact, it can be detrimental to its performance to retrieve the lure any faster than snails pace or to jig it rather than just give a gentle shake.

In fact, the technique that I’ve found best suited to fishing the Prong over Weipa’s bauxite reefs is to hold the rod and practically do nothing at all! All that is required is to keep the Prong off the bottom, which generally means feeding line at regular intervals after fitting the lure with an appropriately weighted jighead.

Wind, current and water depth must be taken into the equation when calculating the jig weight, but it is important to let the Prong do its thing with a minimum of interference. Its action is so good that it doesn’t need to be worked like conventional jigs, metals or hardbodied lures. I know experts out there are well aware of this ‘plastic’ fact but most ordinary fishers think that a lure won’t appeal unless it’s doing underwater gymnastics! Wrong for the Prong – and most other softies.

So, what has the Prong been catching? Well, just about everything but here’s a few of the interesting ones!

There’s not many lures a trevally won’t eat but they absolutely adore Prongs. Both the 3" and 4" models have been snavelled by a range of trevors, including the more choosey types like golden and diamond. Even Mr Finicky himself - the Indo Pacific permit or snub nosed dart - has succumbed to the lure of the Prong (or should that be the prong of the lure!) with the capture of a hefty snubbie at the Jackson River.

On the reefs using the no retrieve technique, the Prongs will hold their own with the best. Even with 50lb braid and jig tackle, attrition rates can be very high when big fish and coral encrusted reefs mix it up. I’ve been enjoying using one of the ‘lighter’ Saltiga outfits when Pronging the depths and have managed to extract some trophy heavyweights, including estuary cod to 15kg, fingermark to 7kg and a couple of black jewfish to 17kg!

Other unexpected admirers of the Prong have been Spanish mackerel; narrow barred and broad barred. When these toothy critters get in the act, they usually make short work of even an 80lb leader, which depletes plastics and jigheads very quickly. Add a bit of wire and the macks get shy, which proves to be a problem when a photo is needed – or tasty mackerel pieces are expected for the table. Still, perseverance pays off, but usually at the price of a post trip visit to the Atomic Guzzlerz section at the local tackle emporium!

The upshot of the Prongs impressive performance is that the 3" and 4" softies have a permanent presence in my tackle bag and are one of the lures I recommend to clients. While it’s my suggestion not to come north without them, there’s probably a pretty good case for presenting them to southern species as well, given their success up this way.

From my experience, it’s a fairly safe bet that Atomic have a certain winner here!

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