Scratchie

ARTICLE - Snapper- Fishing with soft plastics by Scratchie

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G'day raiders,

As many of you are aware one of my favourite forms of fishing is chasing snapper on soft plastics. This type of fishing is a very active way to target a species and can be very rewarding. The beauty of this angling is obviously acquiring the target of snapper but with very little by-catch and of course the absence of bait and associated mess that comes with it. Whilst this art of angling has taken me many years to become consistent with catching the said species, hopefully I can explain enough to anyone that is interested getting started.

Setup:

Many people have differing views on what rod and reel to use, but this is the set up that works for me.

Rod:  7ft min 4-7kg

Reel:  4000 sized standard or even 5000 in areas known for big snapper

Braid and Leader:  20lb braid and 20lb flurocarbon leader or 30lb flurocarbon leader depending on terrain.

Jighead: This will depend on the depths and areas you fish, the currents, the structure and terrain. But a quick breakdown for jig size, this is what I use:

1/4 5/0 6-20 meters of water

3/8 5/0: 20-35 meters of water

NOTES: These pairings of rod, reel and braid do not have to be the top of the range or the most expensive set up you can find to achieve results. In fact, I have caught 80cm models on the cheapest shimano combo you can get. The most important thing about your setup is the braid and leader you use. After all, this is what is connecting you to the fish. Without bias or preference I use either Ocea or Power Pro braid and Black Magic leader. Why??? because this works for me and after many different trials, I've found I don't lose as many fish.

What soft plastic do I use?

This is often a difficult one and many people have differing opinions because it is something they have caught fish on in the past or something they may have been recommended by a mate or a tackle store . It is also a critical component in reaching your target and can mean the difference in success and not so successful. The reason I don't say failure is because if your out there having a go, your not failing, your learning.

From my experience, the color of soft plastics change with the seasons. During the winter months, the bait that is present determines the colors that I use. Once you start to see cuttlefish husks in the water in numbers it is time to start using whiter and lighter colors. During the summer months with the abundance of bait fish such as gars, yakka and slimies, I generally go for the more nature tones.

As a rule, I always start out using a 7 inch soft plastic until the sun appears high in the sky and then drop this down to a 5 inch.

Why??

As the saying goes, you can catch a big fish on a small hook but can't catch a small fish on a big hook. The same goes for soft plastics. The bigger fish are usually dominant in the early morning and late arvo's but remember your target is snapper and can be caught anytime of the day!

Some of my favourite types of plastics, once again without bias,

Z-man: coconut ice, pilchard, pearl

Gulp: yakka, camo pearl, garlicker

Knots and Drag settings:

I use an improved Albright (12 turns up 6 down and 3 through the loop) and my leader length is the tip of the rod until the first guide closest to the reel. 

The reason for the knot, it’s easy to tie, I can do it well and I’ve never had an issue with losing fish to it. I can also recommend the PR or FG but they take some practise. 

Leader: I’ve been working on this length for some time now and have settled with this summation as it’s not too long or too short and gets results! The beauty of this length is that you can retrieve your lure until 6 inches of the knot, lift and cast again without it passing through the guides! And because your knot doesn’t pass through the guides your cast is longer! 

As for drag settings, I have not measured this in kilos or poundage but a very firm tight drag is required for this method of fishing. This is because you need to turn the snappers head ASAP and control the fight. Once you have achieved this, DO NOT touch your drag. You have already set the tone for the battle so play it out. 

 

What area do I look to target snapper?

This is a very simple response, structure, structure and structure. Snapper are prolific on the east coast of NSW and you are able to fish for them year round. Whilst they are more commonly a winter target, some of my better catches have been around the spring and autumn months. 

The structure that I look for is a good reef system that is surrounded by a weedy or sandy bottom. When this reef/structure has a predominant drop in it's face or is the only pinnacle structure in the area, then you'll find snapper.

The presence of bait is also another major factor. You hear the saying "find the bait, find the fish". This is the absolute truth when fishing for snapper. Snapper are an opportunistic species and will often prey on the reminence of schools of bait being hammered by other pelagics. They can also be a very dominant species. So, your sft plastic wafting down the water column is a perfect meal once it's travelled through either the bait school above or the surrounding school they are following.

Once again, refer to the depths that you are targeting this species.

When you have your intended area:

Drifting is the only real way to target snapper whilst using soft plastics. The ideal way to approach your intended target is to pull up 200m or so from it and record your drift. Your drift is the most important part of achieving your goal of catching a snapper on sps. Once you have indentified your drift and intened area. Start your drift approximately 50m before it and begin to cast ahead of the boat as far as you can. 

Now, this is another very key component to this type of fishing. Long casts and allow the soft plastic to WAFT down the water column. By this I mean you don't need to impart very little action into the lure. All you need to do is maintain contact with the jig by slowly winding in the slack line so you don't have a spaghetti affect on the line. This is so you can feel any touch that you might have. Once you feel that you have reached the bottom of the ocean, lift the rod and perform big long loops back towards the boat. This is because snapper inhibit all parts of the water column and will nearly always take the sp on the drop. Don't be surprised if you get a hit in the first 3m as that's where the big ones are generally stalking. Once you have cast and played out your sp and its nearing the boat, wind up fast and repeated the process. why??? This is because I have had many of by-catch including kings, bonito, sampsonfish etc following the lure and all they need is some action. Not only that, if you cast again quicker, your back in the game.

The second part to drifting which is paramount...….NEVER DRIVE OVER YOUR DRIFT!!!

Snapper spook very easy and once you have driven over the area, you will very rarely catch something on that same drift. Instead, complete your drift, take a big circle around the area you are working and approach your next intended drift 20-30m away from your last one. This will allow you to work a small or productive area for some time. 

The other thing to mention is when you do get a bite! 

As soon as you feel a take on your line, strike for the fish and strike hard. Sometimes fishing with soft plastics you may have to try and set the hook hard up to 3 times! Often the fish may pick up the lure and swim towards you! At this stage, you need to wind and strike hard. They have solid mouths and take a fair bit to set the hook. Although, the bigger fish will generally hook themselves and take you for a ride! Just always maintain a bend in the rod and take your time. There is no rush to success! 

Overview:

Choose the right setup, indentify your target area, big long casts, allow the sp to waft, work it back to the boat! Repeat the process!!!

And as my motto goes "JUST KEEP CASTING" Now that is the key to snapper fishing with soft plastics.

 Cheers scratchie!!!

 

 

 

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Awesome write up Scratchie, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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6 minutes ago, kingie chaser said:

Awesome write up Scratchie, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

No worries! All those fish are the areas we will be fishing in June! Although, there was 10,000 casts for that collection! 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Scratchie said:

No worries! All those fish are the areas we will be fishing in June! Although, there was 10,000 casts for that collection! 

The foremost idea & most exciting method for me to try & catch something close to one of those is on SP.

Call it a dream of mine to entice one of these fish with an artificial.

BUT here for a short time not a long time so I am taking all stops to be prepared for whatever might come using any rig & bait necessary. 

Bought these snapper flashes about a year ago & haven't used them yet so seemed an ideal time to snell them up for the trip.

Also got my new Daiwa BG 5000 today, looks like a great reel for the money, paired up with a Saltist bluewater SJ 792H

BG.thumb.jpg.ebb25721e86417b0cf6c5bba6fad15ca.jpg

Edited by kingie chaser
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great write up scratchie and some great bits of info in there for people just starting out with fishing plastics, it can certainly be one o the most frustrating ways to fish sometimes but when it all goes to plan dam its fun

 

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Good one jeff  hope this helps some of the guys for june

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Great write up Scratchie!! I'm sure a lot of raiders will get a lot out of that one!!

 

Cheers

Rah

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Thanks Scratchie. I’ll certainly use the info this winter & beyond. Your efforts are much appreciated.

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Hi Jeff, Just wondering how long you normally have your leader and knot you use.

Cheers

 

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1 hour ago, Peter Nelson said:

Hi Jeff, Just wondering how long you normally have your leader and knot you use.

Cheers

 

Good point Peter. 

I use an improved Albright and my leader length is the tip of the rod until the first guide closest to the reel. 

The reason for the knot, it’s easy to tie, I can do it well and I’ve never had an issue with losing fish to it. I can also recommend the PR or FG but they take some practise. 

Leader: I’ve been working on this length for some time now and have settled with this summation as it’s not too long or too short and gets results! The beauty of this length is that you can retrieve your lure until 6 inches of the knot, lift and cast again without it passing through the guides! And because your knot doesn’t pass through the guides your cast is longer! 

Hope that helps!!!

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Thanks mate

I'll give that knot a go.

Hoping to hit broughton this Monday but I think the westerly is going to be blowing hard. I might have a bit of an explore down past fingal if it is.

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23 minutes ago, Peter Nelson said:

Thanks mate

I'll give that knot a go.

Hoping to hit broughton this Monday but I think the westerly is going to be blowing hard. I might have a bit of an explore down past fingal if it is.

12 down 6 up and 3 times through the loop! 

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On leader knots Its one one of those things thats always highly contsted & a personal preference.

Its also a bit like what knot do you use for your jighead connection?

If Im just opening the bail arm & dropping the albright is great & I usually attach it to a bimni double.

If I am casting I also really like the FG as a single strand knot, I like a long leader that as the fish gets close to the boat I have leader on the real for most forgiveness. It also runs through the guides much better.

I was actually looking at some knots on the net last night and found one I had never heard of before which I am going to practice tonigh & see how it looks.

Called the Alberto knot.

 On the jighead I usually tie a uni but if its a SP that likes a bit more action then I use a loop/rapala knot.

 

Each to their own as long as it gets the fish to the boat 😊

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1 hour ago, kingie chaser said:

On leader knots Its one one of those things thats always highly contsted & a personal preference.

Its also a bit like what knot do you use for your jighead connection?

If Im just opening the bail arm & dropping the albright is great & I usually attach it to a bimni double.

If I am casting I also really like the FG as a single strand knot, I like a long leader that as the fish gets close to the boat I have leader on the real for most forgiveness. It also runs through the guides much better.

I was actually looking at some knots on the net last night and found one I had never heard of before which I am going to practice tonigh & see how it looks.

Called the Alberto knot.

 On the jighead I usually tie a uni but if its a SP that likes a bit more action then I use a loop/rapala knot.

 

Each to their own as long as it gets the fish to the boat 😊

Hey KC,

Actually, a loop knot when fishing sps in the ocean is not necessary and can have an adverse affect on your hook up rate as it can cause a bubble trail. As I mentioned, snapper are very spooky. A simple uni knot straight to the jig head is all that’s required. The loop knot may work in brackish waters or help with action on lures for trout etc but as I explained earlier, fishing for snapper is actually more about the WAFT of the lure floating through the water column. 

Cheers scratchie!!! 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks scratchie for the detailed information on the gear, rigs & technique😎. I’m sure it will be invaluable for all raiders for the P.Stephens weekend & future fishing quests, absolute gold💰. One question re leader length if using long leader as @kingie chaser mentioned say 2 to 3m in fluorocarbon would it have adverse affects on the plastics or would mono be better suited?    Cheers Dieter 

Edited by 61 crusher

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2 minutes ago, 61 crusher said:

Thanks scratchie for the detailed information on the gear, rigs & technique😎. I’m sure it will be invaluable for all raiders for the P.Stephens weekend & future fishing quests, absolute gold💰. One question re leader length if using long leader as @kingie chaser mentioned say 2 to 3m in fluorocarbon would it have adverse affects on the plastics or would mono be better suited?    Cheers Dieter 

Fluorocarbon leader is a must! Whilst being pretty expensive, I have found no advantages to the leader being of that length. All I can say is that, after casting that 100 times and the knot passing through the guides that many times, I’d be worried if I hooked a trophy fish! As mentioned, it also can affect your casting distance which is another key component to catching snapper!

Cheers scratchie!!!  

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On 5/22/2019 at 11:39 AM, Scratchie said:

Hey KC,

Actually, a loop knot when fishing sps in the ocean is not necessary and can have an adverse affect on your hook up rate as it can cause a bubble trail. As I mentioned, snapper are very spooky. A simple uni knot straight to the jig head is all that’s required. The loop knot may work in brackish waters or help with action on lures for trout etc but as I explained earlier, fishing for snapper is actually more about the WAFT of the lure floating through the water column. 

Cheers scratchie!!! 

Just curious, whether its SP or any other type of fishing do you ever use a wind on leader?

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2 hours ago, kingie chaser said:

Just curious, whether its SP or any other type of fishing do you ever use a wind on leader?

A long leader? Or a wind on leader? 

I use a wind on when marlin fishing only. 

I’ll use a long leader when fishing live baits for kings, Jew or longtail. This is mainly because I’m not working the rod and is usually in the holder. The extra length of leader gives you a bit more stretch is those circumstances. 

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I came across black magic fluorocarbon in pink at a store today, not sure how long it has  been around for & was told it’s quite popular, scratchie have you or any other raiders used it & what are your thoughts re snapper cheers 

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29 minutes ago, 61 crusher said:

I came across black magic fluorocarbon in pink at a store today, not sure how long it has  been around for & was told it’s quite popular, scratchie have you or any other raiders used it & what are your thoughts re snapper cheers 

Without bias, that’s the only leader I use! I actually stated it on the post! Tough, durable and cost effective 

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Sorry mate I was referring to the pink coloured fluorocarbon I hadn’t seen it before 

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27 minutes ago, 61 crusher said:

Sorry mate I was referring to the pink coloured fluorocarbon I hadn’t seen it before 

Yeah mate, either one does the same job! 

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Thanks for the write up Scratchie, no doubt that will help a lot of fishos. Certainly a technique that i'd love to figure out one of these years and from what you say it sounds like i've always been working my plastics too hard when I have tried it.

Cheers,

Richard

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