Soft bait­ing

The use of ar­ti­fi­cial soft bait lures and mod­ern braid line tech­nol­ogy has cer­tainly changed the face of New Zealand sport fish­ing, and with good rea­son

New Zealand Fishing World - - How To -

The clas­sic tar­get species we love to chase; snap­per, king­fish, trevally and even bot­tom feed­ers such as blue cod, John dory and gurnard, are all suck­ers for th­ese colour­ful rub­bery bait­fish im­i­ta­tions. Not only is this method of fish­ing ex­traor­di­nar­ily ef­fec­tive, it keeps you con­stantly ac­tive, and can of­fer the salt­wa­ter an­gler a hint of the fly fish­er­man’s thrill when a fish grabs a nicely pre­sented lure.


Where once com­par­a­tively heavy rods and reels were used, soft bait rigs are scaled right down to be light­weight but still in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful. The typ­i­cal soft bait out­fit is a spin­ning or ‘egg­beater’ style combo, spooled with 3 – 10kg braid line and a 2 me­tre fluoro­car­bon leader.

At­tach the trace to the braid with an Al­bright knot (see break­out) and the end of the trace to the jig head with a loop to al­low the lure free ac­tion. The Ra­pala loop is most com­mon but the per­fec­tion loop will work well too.

The Jig head must be threaded onto the line and fed through the main loop when com­plet­ing the knot. This al­lows the jig head to swing freely and per­form with a nat­u­ral ac­tion in the wa­ter. Jig heads will usu­ally be 10 – 20 grams with 1/0 – 3/0 hook sizes.

NZFW sot­bait ex­pert Scott Mcdon­nell prefers us­ing Gulp in a 5” jerk shad. Th­ese are avail­able in a vast ar­ray of colours, many of which defy any re­sem­blance to a liv­ing or­gan­ism, but they sure work nonethe­less. Scott favours us­ing nat­u­ral colours, but great re­sults are of­ten self-per­pet­u­at­ing. Use your favourite all the time and it will nat­u­rally reap greater re­wards!


In close With this style of soft­bait­ing, us­ing stealth like a ninja

As with all soft­bait fish­ing, your soft­bait needs to be on or near the bot­tom to con­sis­tently pro­duce snap­per

is your key weapon and you need to ac­tively work the boat along the coast in close to the rocks. It is also one of the most ex­cit­ing meth­ods as of­ten a big snap­per smashes your soft­bait and screams off into the weed, try­ing to bust you off.

HOT TIP Once you cast, don’t let the soft­bait sink to the bot­tom in the shal­low wa­ter. As soon as the lure hits the wa­ter, flip the bail arm and start re­triev­ing the line at a medium pace.

This will help pre­vent it snag­ging in the shal­lows un­til you get sev­eral me­tres out into deeper wa­ter and you can slow the re­trieve, which al­lows the soft­bait to sink.

Open wa­ter method As with all soft­bait fish­ing, your soft­bait needs to be on or near the bot­tom to con­sis­tently pro­duce snap­per. As you fish with them drift­ing in the boat you al­ways need to cast ahead of the boat as it moves along. This will en­sure the jig­head reaches the bot­tom and you then work the lure along the seabed un­til the boat catches up and you drift over it. You can let more line out as you move past to keep in touch with the bot­tom but when there is too much line an­gle with the lure out the back you need to re­trieve and cast out again.


With any kind of fish­ing style, time on the wa­ter sim­ply can’t be beaten and you need to get out there to reg­u­larly fish to see what works for you. Make sure you take dif­fer­ent sizes, colours and styles and you will build a sound knowl­edge on what works best.


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