anthman

Soft plastics - tried and failed

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Hello Fishraider!

I'm joining the "tried SP, failed, need help! and succeeded!" group :)

I've googled till the cows come home which has taken me to a number of threads on both fishraider and some other forums

The main message I'm getting is:

  • technique: cast out, let it sink (light as possible weight to maximise time sinking), wait 30sec or so once it hits the bottom, double hop (two sharp strikes and reel in the slack), let it sink and repeat till you have to cast again. SPs are rigged straight (no bend in the base body, tail swims when observing the SP sink)
  • bait: leave the bait at home
  • target: pick a target (in my case Bream, but open to any other by-catch)
  • gear (which I have):
    • Rod (have access to both):
    • 1-2KG 7' Daiwa Generation Black ultra light, and
    • in use -> 1-3KG / 2-4 KG 6'6 Okuma Duo ultra light
  • Reel:
    • in use -> Symetre 1000FL
  • Line:
    • in use -> 6LB braid
  • Leader - using about 1x Rods length (~7 ft):
    • in use -> 6LB FC Rock
    • 8LB FC other
  • Jig heads (i have a range):
    • in use (1/16 #2) -> TT Head lockz - size #1 and size #2 hook - 1/20, 1/16, 1/12 and 1/8oz
    • TT Head hunters - size #1 and size #2 hook - 1/8oz
    • generic jig heads (similar to head hunters) - size #2 1/8oz
  • Soft plastics (here we go!):
    • ZMan Grubz Soft Plastic Lure - 2.5in, Greasy Prawn
    • ZMan Grubz Soft Plastic Lure - 2.5in, Pumpkin
    • in use -> ZMan Grubz Soft Plastic Lure - 2.5in, Motor Oil
    • ZMan Grubz Soft Plastic Lure - 2in, Motor Oil
    • Squidgy Pro Wriggler Soft Plastic Lure - 80mm, Bloodworm
  • in use -> Scent - S-factor (dedicated tube + the one that came with the wrigglers)


So i think i have the above things correct (im currently using the things with the "in use -> " next to it). Let me know if any of the above is wrong, or if i should be using a better combination/technique.

The only thing now is location!

Im based in Sydney - Northern Beaches (near Seaforth/Mosman) and travel South (Sans Souci / Taren Point) often. Locations I have access to (and have tried):

  • Spit Bridge (Mosman) - under the bridge south end, between boats that are moored up on the western side of the bridge.
  • Roseville Bridge - south side around the BBQ area (into snags) and using a 1/8oz to bounce off the pylons (not the bridge pylons, but the pylons holding up the pipe-thing), also tried the small rock that sticks out a bit (between the pylons i mentioned and the picnic area).
  • Beaches along Sans Souci - just from walking along the sand, casting out (lots of weed!). There are a few large rocks that are piled up along the beach, have cast around there too. Have yet to try under the Capt Cook Bridge (north and south - rock snags everywhere!) and the jetty at Sans Souci Park (it always seems packed and I rarely see any catch anything bigger than 10-15cm)

So far - the closest ive gotten is (what i think) was a bite at the Spit between boats close to the walkway bit at the moorings (this was at night). Apart from that, no luck at all.

My questions are (edit: have included peoples answers so that it saves future readers from having to trawl through the replies):
1. Is my gear/technique combo the best to be using?

- foolforjesus: Your retrieve sounds good, however you can vary the hop/twitches up a bit if you like. Don't be afraid to be more/less erratic.

- Captain Spanner: Try structures that cast shadows and fish both sides of the shadow line, bream don't like getting sun burnt all the time.

- Pafisho08: May be slow at this time of the yr so I switch to using vibes (TT 1/8-1/4) in gold-green colour & work them slow hops . You can pick up some cheapies on E-B-- to try & they work ok on flathead.

- stevefish: Targeting bream is kind of jumping in the SP deep end. Don't be in contact with the lure.Cast then finish with a sweep of the rod to lay the line from where it's sinking out to straight below the rod. Concentrate massively on the behaviour of the line on the water. If it does something like pull quicker, go sideways or stop where you think it shouldn't- that's your bite. Then jig it and let it sink again without being tight to the lure. Go lighter, bream are old and have seen a lot of stuff. You need to be better than the last guy. Go for 3 pound 4 pound leader, you're looking for the hook up, at this point losing a few is better than hooking none

- dirvin21: I agree with the earlier comment targeting bream when your starting out lure fishing is aiming for frustration flathead are definetly a good starting point

- Cargo05: Like Foolforjesus pointed out you could look at dropping your braid, or at least the leader size down a bit. If you have fished the same areas, at the same times, as you did with bait, I would be surprised if you do not have some success in the near future. Have you considered targeting another species to give your confidence a bit of a boost? Flatties take to SP well.

- kingfishbig: Don't be afraid to use large (4'') lures for flathead and upping the leader size to 9 or 10 kg.

- bluefin: I had heaps of problems last summer with loosing lures to Flathead. If I used a 16 lb leader I could not get the distance I needed. An 8 lb leader was bitten through like butter. So i tied 150 m/m of 16 lb as a bite leader on the end of the 8 lb. Perfect.

- Big Neil:Maybe you could try 2 or 3 lb quality leader if the fish are finnicky (about 7-10 ft), that will help getting hook ups. You may read posts and hear from people that they have caught this or that quantity of fish. You are less likely to hear how many times they have (like yourself) caught nothing. My own experiences of soft plastics fishing were that it took a while to get fish (extremely frustrating).

- fish-on: Flatties I've found are good at high tide and they can be right up in the shallows then at low tide along the deeper drop offs where they lie in wait for baitfish coming off the sand flats.

2. Are there better locations than what i described above? Im land-based, and dont have access to a boat.

- Swordfisherman: get down to the area near iron cove or Canada bay and flick your lures around there and you may well be pleasantly surprised

- Pafisho08: Try near the baths at Brighton & the rock groynes north & south.

- bluefin: Location, Think like a fish, They rest in eddys. They hide in and around structure. They eat baitfish, crabs, Yabbies. They avoid strong sun,prefering shade,or deeper water, or a choppy surface due to a bit if wind.

- kingfishbig: You will do better in Botany Bay when the weather warms up in a few weeks. You should get flathead at the spots you mentioned, though generally you want to reach the deeper water over the drop off. So you can use the groynes to get out deeper or wade out at low tide from the beaches.

- adamski: Location wise, just speaking from personal experience, but Roseville Bridge has never produced a decent-sized fish for me and it's snag-tastic. I'd make a point of trying different areas and moving about to cover as much area as possible, but at the same time putting a few extra casts into the places with structure, which are more likely to hold fish.

- fish-on: If you live in Seaforth hit up Clontarf and Sandy Bay. Middle Harbour is my main fishing haunt and 95% of my fishing is with soft plastics. There's plenty of flatties and bream, the salmon schools also move through the area. Wade out on the sandy sections and cast all along the sandy drop offs.

3. Whats an optimal tide? (rising, at high, falling, at low etc...)

- bluefin: Tide.. Traditionally a rising tide for Bream, Falling tide for Flathead. Bream move up onto the flats, or up to the oysters to feed, Flathead sit on the drop off from the flats into deeper water waiting for the tide to drain off the flats and bring the smaller fish with it. Bream eat fish too! they will often cruise the drop off as well.

4. Does day/night matter?

- foolforjesus: Any time is a good time to be fishing, and the best tip I can give you...be patient and KEEP casting!

- Tastee: I think it depends a lot on where you are. In general rising tides give the fish an opportunity to forage over flats they don't have access to at low tide, so you can try fan casts over mudflats, into gutters etc. The falling tide can draw bait into gutters and channels, so the predators will hunt around drop-offs and snags. This is where you can cast upstream and hop the plastic down to the (hopefully waiting) opportunists.

- bluefin: Time of day.. My favourite, First light to sun rise, A magic time of day !! Late afternoon as the shaddows come and dusk. But fish feed all day long, the trick is finding where they are feeding.

5. Are there better scents to be using?

- bluefin: Scent, My opinion is that it adds the two things bait has over plastic, smell and taste. Smell attracts them, taste makes them hang on longer giving you more time to set the hook. I use S factor and Sax Scent in Crab Flavour.

6. I don't berley as I move around from location to location, so it doesnt make sense to me. Should i be?

- foolforjesus: No need at all to burley when SP fishing.

7. How long would you pepper a spot before abandoning it? Would you stick it out at a location in the hopes that a school comes by?

- foolforjesus: I would probably have a good dozen casts in any one spot before moving. If you have success in a particular area, you could stick around for longer in the hope of fish coming through. Or as a spot regularly gives out fish, you can give those areas more attention in future visits.

8. Should i be rotating the zmans that I have? I stuck with motor oil cause that seems to be what everyone is using (and catching with!) - just trying to reduce the number of variables...

- adamski: Your 2.5" Z-mans will 100% catch flathead, trevs and bream (I was in an area I'd never fished before last night and had a couple of flatties on your motoroil colour). One extra tip I'd add is a little touch of superglue on the jighead to secure the lure in place, which'll stop it coming off if you're using a more aggressive whip of the rod and increase your hook up chances. Try the Z-man bloodworm colour too- if you look at the bait that schools around a lot of the wharves in Sydney/in some of the rivers it looks almost identical in colour. You can also try lightly-weighted crab-profile SPs for bream (Z-man Crusteaz, Squidgy Critter, Gulp/Powerbait Crabbies).

9. Is there any thing else I should try? Tips?

- kingfishbig: Don't be afraid to use large (4'') lures for flathead and upping the leader size to 9 or 10 kg.

10. I've had this thought - if there are other fishos fishing in the same area you're in, but they're using bait, does this affect your chances when using soft plastics?

- bigneil: yes it should help if other anglers are using bait in the same vicinity. Look on their bait as a form of berley, if you like. Just keep at it mate. You've got us all hooked now, waiting for your first report. Good luck.


I'm a bait main and have been using fresh yabbies to date which has been working for me, but absolutely want to give SP a go! My approach with bait has been cast out a couple and prop up the rods, wait, and then reel em in. I want to try SP as it looks like a more active (and rewarding) fishing experience!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Ive been using fresh yabbies to date which is gun bait, but absolutely want to give SP a go!

Edited by anthman

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Hi Mate,

Your retrieve sounds good, however you can vary the hop/twitches up a bit if you like.

Don't be afraid to be more/less erratic.

I would drop your braid line to 4lb, which will be more than enough for Bream, and possibly bigger by-catch species.

If you go say a Fireline braid, 4lb will break much higher, more likely around 10/12lb.

The main advantage to dropping to 4lb braid, you'll be able to cast further.

No need at all to burley when SP fishing.

I would probably have a good dozen casts in any one spot before moving.

If you have success in a particular area, you could stick around for longer in the hope of fish coming through.

Or as a spot regularly gives out fish, you can give those areas more attention in future visits.

Any time is a good time to be fishing, and the best tip I can give you...be patient and KEEP casting!

Cheers,

Chris

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I know this sounds like a lazy answer but it's the truth. Everything seems fine. Just keep persisting and trying different retrieves/different spots. Things will start to get easier as the weather and water warms up. Try structures that cast shadows and fish both sides of the shadow line, bream don't like getting sun burnt all the time. Continue to focus on structure, the tackle shop man will love you for it.

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You are doing everything right...get down to the area near iron cove or Canada bay and flick your lures around there and you may well be pleasantly surprised

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Hi

May be slow at this time of the yr so I switch to using vibes (TT 1/8-1/4) in gold-green colour & work them slow hops . You can pick up some cheapies on E-B-- to try

& they work ok on flathead.Try near the baths at Brighton & the rock groynes north & south.

Bob

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Thank you all for the responses, ive crossed out the questions i reckon i have an answer to. Any help with the other questions would be much appreciated!

1. Is my gear/technique combo the best to be using?
2. Are there better locations than what i described above? Im land-based, and dont have access to a boat. Let me know if there are any other areas people have had luck with using SPs (preferably northern beaches/south sydney)
3. Whats an optimal tide? (rising, at high, falling, at low etc...) Any thoughts on this?
4. Does day/night matter? Any thoughts on this?
5. Are there better scents to be using? Any thoughts on this?
6. I don't berley as I move around from location to location, so it doesnt make sense to me. Should i be?
7. How long would you pepper a spot before abandoning it? Would you stick it out at a location in the hopes that a school comes by?
8. Should i be rotating the zmans that I have? I stuck with motor oil cause that seems to be what everyone is using (and catching with!) - just trying to reduce the number of variables...
9. Is there any thing else I should try? Tips?

*new question* 10. I've had this thought - if there are other fishos fishing in the same area you're in, but they're using bait, does this affect your chances when using soft plastics?

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Hi

May be slow at this time of the yr so I switch to using vibes (TT 1/8-1/4) in gold-green colour & work them slow hops . You can pick up some cheapies on E-B-- to try

& they work ok on flathead.Try near the baths at Brighton & the rock groynes north & south.

Bob

Are these the groynes (there are lots of them) along the Grand Parade? Do you go all the way out to the ends? What tide works best? Do you cast out into the ocean or along the edge of the groynes?

Sorry for the questions, but i think ive seen them so am curious to see how to fish them.

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Targeting bream is kind of jumping in the SP deep end.

Don't be in contact with the lure.Cast then finish with a sweep of the rod to lay the line from where it's sinking out to straight below the rod.

Concentrate massively on the behaviour of the line on the water. If it does something like pull quicker, go sideways or stop where you think it shouldn't- that's your bite. Then jig it and let it sink again without being tight to the lure.

Go lighter, bream are old and have seen a lot of stuff. You need to be better than the last guy. Go for 3 pound 4 pound leader, you're looking for the hook up, at this point losing a few is better than hooking none

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Anthman your post is very comprehensive and it sounds like you are doing lots of things right. Like Foolforjesus pointed out you could look at dropping your braid, or at least the leader size down a bit. If you have fished the same areas, at the same times, as you did with bait, I would be surprised if you do not have some success in the near future.

Have you considered targeting another species to give your confidence a bit of a boost? Flatties take to SP well.

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For your rising/falling tide question, I think it depends a lot on where you are. In general rising tides give the fish an opportunity to forage over flats they don't have access to at low tide, so you can try fan casts over mudflats, into gutters etc.

The falling tide can draw bait into gutters and channels, so the predators will hunt around drop-offs and snags. This is where you can cast upstream and hop the plastic down to the (hopefully waiting) opportunists.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Scent, My opinion is that it adds the two things bait has over plastic, smell and taste. Smell attracts them, taste makes them hang on longer giving you more time to set the hook. I use S factor and Sax Scent in Crab Flavour.

Location, Think like a fish, They rest in eddys. They hide in and around structure. They eat baitfish, crabs, Yabbies. They avoid strong sun,prefering shade,or deeper water, or a choppy surface due to a bit if wind.

Tide.. Traditionally a rising tide for Bream, Falling tide for Flathead. Bream move up onto the flats, or up to the oysters to feed, Flathead sit on the drop off from the flats into deeper water waiting for the tide to drain off the flats and bring the smaller fish with it. Bream eat fish too! they will often cruise the drop off as well.

Time of day.. My favourite, First light to sun rise, A magic time of day !! Late afternoon as the shaddows come and dusk. But fish feed all day long, the trick is finding where they are feeding.

Regards Howard.

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You will do better in Botany Bay when the weather warms up in a few weeks. You should get flathead at the spots you mentioned, though generally you want to reach the deeper water over the drop off. So you can use the groynes to get out deeper or wade out at low tide from the beaches.

Don't be afraid to use large (4'') lures for flathead and upping the leader size to 9 or 10 kg.

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I had heaps of problems last summer with loosing lures to Flathead. If I used a 16 lb leader I could not get the distance I needed. An 8 lb leader was bitten through like butter. So i tied 150 m/m of 16 lb as a bite leader on the end of the 8 lb. Perfect.

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Thanks again everyone - im going to try the groynes at Brighton tomorrow. Will my 2.5" zman grubz pickup flatties?

(ill update my primary post with the responses in blue)

1. Is my gear/technique combo the best to be using?
2. Are there better locations than what i described above? Im land-based, and dont have access to a boat. Let me know if there are any other areas people have had luck with using SPs (preferably northern beaches/south sydney)
3. Whats an optimal tide? (rising, at high, falling, at low etc...)
4. Does day/night matter? Any thoughts on this?
5. Are there better scents to be using? Any thoughts on this?

6. I don't berley as I move around from location to location, so it doesnt make sense to me. Should i be?
7. How long would you pepper a spot before abandoning it? Would you stick it out at a location in the hopes that a school comes by?
8. Should i be rotating the zmans that I have? I stuck with motor oil cause that seems to be what everyone is using (and catching with!) - just trying to reduce the number of variables...
9. Is there any thing else I should try? Tips?

10. I've had this thought - if there are other fishos fishing in the same area you're in, but they're using bait, does this affect your chances when using soft plastics? Any thoughts on this?

Edited by anthman

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anthman keep trying - everyone has validated you findings!

I do like your organisation of your info --- you must be a Project Manager or researcher :)

Can't wait to read your "first catch" report

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Ok Anthman. Everyone has said that you are doing all the right things so don't despair. Maybe you could try 2 or 3 lb quality leader if the fish are finnicky (about 7-10 ft), that will help getting hook ups. You may read posts and hear from people that they have caught this or that quantity of fish. You are less likely to hear how many times they have (like yourself) caught nothing. My own experiences of soft plastics fishing were that it took a while to get fish (extremely frustrating). I don't go often but still have days with no result...it happens. If you keep trying, you WILL catch fish...GUARANTEED. Good luck buddy. Incidentally what do you do for a job?

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I am in no way trying to be offensive, but I think your overthinking it, your research and structured Q and A is genuinely impressive, I would say try just winging it, remember the fish see hundreds of lures presented almost exactly the same way so try something new it might not work but then it might, I still get doughnuts but thats part of the fishing experience

I agree with the earlier comment targeting bream when your starting out lure fishing is aiming for frustration flathead are definetly a good starting point

good luck look forward to seeing your captures

Dave

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Hey mate,

As other folk have already said, your gear sounds fine and you seem to be doing everything right. The fish will definitely come and once you get one, you know they work and you'll feel a lot more confident. Just keep trying and don't get disheartened. Your 2.5" Z-mans will 100% catch flathead, trevs and bream (I was in an area I'd never fished before last night and had a couple of flatties on your motoroil colour). One extra tip I'd add is a little touch of superglue on the jighead to secure the lure in place, which'll stop it coming off if you're using a more aggressive whip of the rod and increase your hook up chances. Try the Z-man bloodworm colour too- if you look at the bait that schools around a lot of the wharves in Sydney/in some of the rivers it looks almost identical in colour. You can also try lightly-weighted crab-profile SPs for bream (Z-man Crusteaz, Squidgy Critter, Gulp/Powerbait Crabbies).

Location wise, just speaking from personal experience, but Roseville Bridge has never produced a decent-sized fish for me and it's snag-tastic. I'd make a point of trying different areas and moving about to cover as much area as possible, but at the same time putting a few extra casts into the places with structure, which are more likely to hold fish.

Good luck, once you get a fish on plastics you'll be hooked and never need to use bait again!

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In relation to Q10, yes it should help if other anglers are using bait in the same vicinity. Look on their bait as a form of berley, if you like. Just keep at it mate. You've got us all hooked now, waiting for your first report. Good luck.

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If you live in Seaforth hit up Clontarf and Sandy Bay. Middle Harbour is my main fishing haunt and 95% of my fishing is with soft plastics. There's plenty of flatties and bream, the salmon schools also move through the area. Wade out on the sandy sections and cast all along the sandy drop offs. You're doing everything right, it's just coming down to right time right place. Flatties I've found are good at high tide and they can be right up in the shallows then at low tide along the deeper drop offs where they lie in wait for baitfish coming off the sand flats.

I haven't wet a line for a while due to work and uni, but will have plenty of time from early November. I live in Balgowlah and more than happy to catch up for a fish. PM me I you're interested!

Edited by Fish-On

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Hi all - thank you for the advice and encouragement! Will definitely try out clontarf beach!

One of the fishraider regulars, DerekD, kindly offered a lesson for my mate and I on soft plastics. Had a very detailed lesson (as well as lots of reaffirming the good advice in this thread). I did manage to pick up a couple of flathead down south on the rock groynes around Dolls Point - a 38cm and one that got away (lesson:bring a net!).

For now I'll be targeting flathead with my mates - heavy-ish jigheads, 4" soft plastics and rough vigorous retrieves. What are people's thoughts on what would be the next fish to target in terms of difficulty? (e.g. bream requiring finesse)

Long weekend ahead - will post back with results!

Edited by anthman

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Ok Anthman. Everyone has said that you are doing all the right things so don't despair. Maybe you could try 2 or 3 lb quality leader if the fish are finnicky (about 7-10 ft), that will help getting hook ups. You may read posts and hear from people that they have caught this or that quantity of fish. You are less likely to hear how many times they have (like yourself) caught nothing. My own experiences of soft plastics fishing were that it took a while to get fish (extremely frustrating). I don't go often but still have days with no result...it happens. If you keep trying, you WILL catch fish...GUARANTEED. Good luck buddy. Incidentally what do you do for a job?

Hi Big Neil - I work in the field of IT Risk as a consultant.

Edited by anthman

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hi ant we fish lake Macquarie often and some days we can get upwards of fifty flatties..some days we can get donuts no matter where and how hard we try..things to look at are tide phase moon phase barometer and luck factor can play a big part ...advise is to stick at it as weather is warming bait will start moving and fishing will improve..good luck..rick

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