Looking at lures
by Michael Bok
Soft plastic lures are some of the cheapest lures that can be brought and are every bit as good as any other more expensive variety of lure.
These lures cover a range of fishing applications, from trout fishing to game fishing and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They range from worms, twin tail and split tail wagglers, vibratails, manipulators, snakes, grubs, shadows through to shades.
Some of their packaging is also as strange as their names, there are snack packs, boxes of bait and buckets of bait. These packs vary in their content and can have anywhere up to 100 lures in them, making them a very cheap alternative.
Manns retail their 100 lure bucket of bait for around the $20 mark, making each lure a paltry 20 cents each - dirt cheap and I doubt if you costed out real bait if it would be much cheaper.
One of the big advantages of soft plastic lures is that it is squishy and more realistic when a fish "˜mouths"it. Thus resulting in a better chance of good hook set. The action of these lures vary from the slight action of the worms to the aggressive action of twin tailed wagglers. There are several colours in these lures but the ones I have had the most success with are white, black, chartreuse, green, pink, blue and purple. Multi coloured versions are also starting to appear about as well. These types of lures can be fished with a hook inserted, a lead head attached to the hook or a sliding weight.
The type of weight that is attached to these lures has a large bearing on their action. Try using one large enough to enable you to cast with some ease and then either decrease the size of the weight or lead head to give the lure a different action.
Lead heads can be easily filed down to decrease the weight. Adding a lead head jig or weighted hook increases the rate of decent. It can be easily controlled to keep the lure in the strike zone for longer periods of time. While the lures are dropping try twitching your rod to give the lures a bit more action. Quite often you will get a strike before it even gets to the area you are trying to fish. The lead heads also enable you to fish greater depths than traditional lures.
If you are going to fish weedy areas, try to find a lead head that has a weed guard attached, or use a "texas rig".
If you are going to produce your own lead heads try experimenting with the hook position ie. Put the hook up rather than down, or put two hooks in, one going up and one going down. I have heard that this is successful where these lures are used in jigging format but have not tried it myself yet. For freshwater fishing the grubs or worms are the best bet.
I know that the wattle grub imitations catch as many trout as the real ones and know of cases where they have in fact out fished the real grubs. With both the worm or grub you have to be careful with your rigging technique. I have only ever seen it referred to as a "˜texas rig'. The basic method to fish these is to cast them out, let them settle to the bottom and retrieve them with a very slow retrieve, twitching the lure occasionally and even letting the lure fall back to the bottom.
For use in saltwater the best lures are probably the split or multi tailed wagglers. These lures must be worked at a reasonable speed to keep the tails wiggling. Fish these lures with a lift and drop retrieve that keeps the lure moving and contacting the bottom every metre or so. These lures are deadly on flathead. I was talking to a gentleman known Australian wide as "˜Flathead Fred"at last year's Melbourne Tackle Show. Fred reputedly catches more 5 kg plus flathead than any one else in Australia.
He was espousing the virtues of these vibratail or multi tailed lures for flathead. He went so far as to join an extra head section on to the lure and used a normal hook and treble hook. The normal hook was point up and the treble trailed below and the join gave the lure extra action. He also cut down the weight of the lead head by filing down the sides. He works these lures on the edge of channels or drop offs with great success. If you find the body of lures slipping down the hook, try fastening it with a bit of super glue.
Make up a few of these sort of combinations at night whilst watching television so you don't waste valuable fishing time doing it out on the water. Last time I went out flathead fishing, we tried different combinations of lead heads, using sinkers instead of lead heads and different colour choices.
All caught fish, even some of the silly combinations. You can also try injecting some fish oil into these lures with a syringe to create an extra scent. I have caught several other species on these lures ranging from mackerel through to salmon. When fishing these lures try using the new spider wire type lines on a stiff slow taper rod and you will find that your hook up rate will improve dramatically. On the mainland, in the game fishing area, there is a lot of debate about the value of the new soft plastic headed lures. They are finding that they are getting more hook ups on the soft lures than the traditional hard head lures as they think the fish find them more natural during the bite and don't tend to spit them as much. Mouldcraft lures have a very good selection of these as well as making an excellent soft squid which I have seen catch several tuna this year off St Helens.