Spooled Magazine Winter Issue 2022

Page 1

Winter

2022

SURF

FISHING 101 KANGAROO

ISLAND

SALMON

BACKPACKING

SURFACE COD

SOFT PLASTICS & JIG HEADS PART 2


Contents EDITORIAL

Our Cover... Jamie Stewart with a monster Winter cod. (see article page 60)

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8 30 KANGAROO ISLAND

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SOFT PLASTICS & JIG HEADS PART 2

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60

SURFACE COD

86 SEARCHING FOR SALMON – BACKPACK STYLE

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SURF FISHING 101

108

NORWAY BOUND WHAT’S NEW

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THE LURE OF IT ALL – OLLIE HARDT COMPETITION PAGE

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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From the Editor

From The Editor

SHANE MENSFORTH

WINTER WONDERLAND

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Largely because of Australia’s vastness and massive geographical variations, winter invariably means different things to anglers in each state. With maximum winter temperatures fluctuating from 30 degrees-plus in Darwin down to occasional single digits in Hobart, it’s inevitable that we chase different species in different locations. 04 Those who aren’t keen on the chill of southern winter often take the opportunity to head north, while others are happy to stay at home, wetting a line when the weather allows and spending time on overdue tackle or boat maintenance. Personally, I love winter and the challenges it presents. It’s big surf salmon time in my home state, and also a prime period for King George whiting. For those happy to rug up and fish through the night, there’s some terrific big mulloway action available, particularly in the Port River — Adelaide’s major estuary system. Jewies to over 30kg are taken regularly between the end of May and early September, usually on live baits, but occasionally on big soft plastics. These are great fish, particularly as they are available in suburban Adelaide to anyone with access to a small tinny. Winter often produces some of the year’s best southern bluefin tuna fishing for those with the right boats and tackle to head offshore. From south-eastern SA, through south-western Victoria and down along Tasmania’s eastern and southern coasts, bluefin can be expected throughout the cooler months. These usually vary between 8-20kg, but when currents and baitfish aggregations align, much bigger ‘barrel’ sized tuna often join the party — and then it’s on for young and old. My best bluefin, a 108kg fish caught out of Robe a couple of winters ago, took more than two hours to boat on 24kg tackle, and I can tell you that one was definitely enough for the day! While the cooler months are regarded as slow for tropical barra chasers, it’s still possible to head for one of Queensland’s stocked impoundments and hook metreplus fish. As the dam waters cool, the barra change their feeding patters, moving into shallower water and presenting sight fishing options for both lure and fly casters. It’s simply a matter of adjusting your fishing styles and lure choice to be in the game. Winter, of course, is still a great time to chase Murray cod, both in the rivers and impoundments. Many knowledgeable anglers tend to upsize their lures as the water cools off, as the cod are generally a little less active, but will still respond to something big and noisy that strays into the strike zone. For those who fish the bigger rivers during winter, it’s imperative to find pockets of relative clear water; it’s in these stretches that lure fishing is usually at its most effective on our biggest freshwater native. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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From the Editor

Tasmania’s public trout waters are closed for much of the winter, but it’s possible to visit some of the private fisheries and still catch trophy-sized browns, brooks, tigers and rainbows. Locations like 28 Gates and Currawong Lakes offer excellent fly fishing year-round, and although it’s all wets during the winter, the average size of available trout usually makes the trip worthwhile. The bottom line with all of this, of course, is there are still countless angling options available during winter. Travel interstate, travel intrastate or simply stay on your own patch; all you need to do is rug up, choose your target species thoughtfully and get out there!

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COMP WINNERS Congratulations to our competition winners from last issue, Dean Ballard (QLD), Graeme Hunter (NSW), and Carl Hofstee (SA), will all receive a RTB lure pack. www.spooledmagazine.com.au



Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

SHANE MENSFORTH

KANGAROO SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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Island -

A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

THEY SAY K ANGAROO ISL AND IS SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S BEST KEPT ANGLING SECRE T. HOWEVER, AS SHANE MENSFORTH REPORTS, WORD IS OUT THAT IT’S ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S PREMIER LOCATIONS FOR A FISH-FILLED VACATION.

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Adam Christies releases a chunky landbased whaler shark at Vivonne Bay www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

When English explorer, Matthew Flinders, sailed along Australia’s southern shores in 1802, he charted one of the most rugged and exposed coastlines in the world. Flinders’ ship, Investigator, was a smallish sloop with a crew of 88 and his log tells of wild seas and a paucity of safe anchorages. One of the relatively few parts of the South Australian coast Flinders wrote of in glowing terms was the place he called Kangaroo Island.

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Although he spent relatively little time ashore, Flinders named the 10 island after its most abundant natural inhabitant. He noted that there were no aborigines present, but made several log entries referring to the unprecedented availability of food, and particularly fish. It’s a matter of some conjecture if it was Flinders who coined the name King George whiting after his monarch of the time, but he does refer in his log to “a sandy and spotted fish from shallow water which pleased the palates of all on board”. Now, over two centuries later, that “sandy and spotted fish” is just as popular as it was with our European explorers and Kangaroo Island still evokes warm feelings from everyone who visits the place. If you don’t count Tasmania, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s second largest piece of offshore real estate. Only the Territory’s Melville Island is bigger. KI (as it is most commonly known down this way) is roughly 145km long by 50km at its widest point, with an area of 4,350 square kilometres. It has 450km of coastline, much of which is now accessible via sealed or well- maintained dirt roads. I first started fishing on Kangaroo Island as a kid with my father and brother. There was no boat in the Mensforth angling arsenal in those days and, as dad was something of a jetty fishing specialist, our efforts were focused on several of the Island’s better piers, where we regularly caught big silver trevally, garfish, snook, squid and tommy ruffs. Those early KI fishing holidays were always among my favourite trips away. I’ve been to Kangaroo Island hundreds of times since and have fished right around its perimeter from both shore and boat. Although the fishing isn’t quite as hectic now as it was back in the “good old days”, catching a good feed at Kangaroo Island still rarely presents a problem. It remains among southern Australia’s very best all-round angling destinations.

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Each year the Island copes with an increasing volume of visiting anglers. For the most part they come from mainland SA, but the number of interstate and overseas fisherfolk is increasing annually and they are now counted as a significant group by those who oversee KI’s economy. As a direct result, charter operators and accommodation houses are well geared to handle the influx.

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Vivonne Bay jetty produces great fishing at times www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

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All of KI’s piers yield southern calamari www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//LAND-BASED FISHING Although there are only four jetties on the Island to speak of, they all fish particularly well when conditions are right. The long pier at Kingscote, KI’s principal settlement, is by far the most popular and generally the most productive. This pier used to accommodate a daily passenger and cargo ferry service from Adelaide, but now is maintained more for its recreational value and hosts thousands of anglers during peak holiday periods. Kingscote jetty probably produces more quality fish than any other single pier in South Australia. Big tommy ruffs, silver trevally, garfish, squid and snook are available year-round and this is one of very few jetties which yields big numbers of solid King George whiting. It’s also possible to hook big sharks and the odd yellowtail king from this pier for those with the right equipment.

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Penneshaw’s Hog Bay marina at daybreak

Vivonne Bay jetty, on the Island’s rugged and windswept south coast, is nearly always good for a feed of oversized tommy ruffs at night time, along with squid, trevally and a few big whiting. However, Vivonne Bay is often swell affected and only fishes well when outside ocean conditions are favourable. Penneshaw jetty, which handles KI’s only mainland ferry link, often produces salmon of various sizes, as well as the customary tommies, squid and snook. This jetty fronts Hog Bay, a large, sandy inlet that regularly holds vast schools of salmon and big mullet during the autumn and early winter. Penneshaw is a delightful little township with plenty of rental accommodation, an old style pub and a visitors’ information centre that is well worth checking out. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

The north coast is good for land-based KG’s

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The wharf at beautiful American River isn’t as highly regarded as the other KI jetties, but it’s a location at which I have invariably done well. There are usually plenty of tommies, mullet and salmon trout (juvenile salmon) and, for those prepared to put in the time, the odd nice King George whiting as a bonus. American River was settled by American sealers early in the nineteenth century and probably has more maritime history than any other location in the state. It really is a ‘must visit’ location for any travelling fisho. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Southern bluespot flathead are common in autumn www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

The Island’s south coast is punctuated by long surf beaches, rocky headlands and kilometres of rugged, weather-worn cliffs. It’s Australian salmon country for the long rod brigade, often yielding big black-backs to five kilos. The beaches at Pennington Bay, Mouth Flat and Hanson Bay hold vast schools of salmon in the cooler months, along with a few small sharks and the occasional mulloway.

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Most fishable rock platforms along the south coast have salmon, trevally, sweep, leatherjackets and other rock species in big numbers, but as this shoreline is open to the brunt of Southern Ocean swells, it must be fished with caution. Probably the best rock fishing is available towards the south-western corner 16 near Cape DeCoudic, where big blue groper are also relatively abundant.

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Because Kangaroo Island’s north coast is immune from ocean swell, it’s generally easier to fish for the land-based angler. Mullet are caught from most of the beaches during autumn and early winter and there are good numbers of trevally, medium salmon and whiting to be had from the rocks in several locations. Coastal access becomes generally more difficult as you move towards the north-western corner, but the fishing available at locations like Western River Cove, Snug Cove and Cape Borda is often well worth the effort. Most of KI’s rivers hold bream of varying sizes year-round, particularly those waterways that remain open to the sea for long periods. Small bream can be a hassle in the rivers’ lower regions, so it’s vital to use large, resilient baits like rock crabs and live shrimps to avoid being ‘picked out’. Lure fishing for bream is becoming very popular these days and regularly accounts for some of the trophy specimens taken each year.

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Pennington Bay offers first class surf fishing for salmon at times www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

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Emu Bay provides multi-lane boat launching to access Investigator Strait

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Flounder are a welcome bycatch when targeting flathead

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Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

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Penneshaw is the Sealink ferry arrival/departure point //OFFSHORE FISHING It’s often said that Kangaroo Island’s offshore fishing action today is like it was around Adelaide 50 years ago. Despite a rapidly increasing number of visiting boaties, the overall catch is still very healthy, particularly on species like whiting, trevally and snapper. However, as is the case with any fishing location, it’s rarely a matter of simply launching the boat and catching a bag limit. Knowing where to go is vital. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Because it’s so weather-affected for much of the year, Kangaroo Island’s south coast sees very few recreational offshore anglers. There are no all tide boat ramps on the south coast and about the only location that sees any recreational traffic is Vivonne Bay, where a tractor beach launch is the best alternative. However, there are a couple of large charter boats which operate out of Vivonne during the autumn and they regularly put clients on to massive blue groper, samson fish, bluefin tuna, red snapper and yellowtail kings. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

American River is one of KI’s most popular small boat fishing venues, especially for the thousands of anglers who enjoy chasing King George whiting. It’s an expansive inlet at the Island’s eastern tip which undoubtedly offers more sheltered fishing water than any other location. There’s a double-lane, all-tide launching ramp adjacent to the American River township and a general store (with bottle shop) for those in need of supplies.

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Both American River and adjacent Eastern Cove are first class whiting areas. They can be fished from a car topper in most weather, although the southern shore of Eastern Cove can chop up a bit under the influence of a strong northerly. Whiting abound on the sand patches and areas of broken bottom and there are also good 22 numbers of snook, salmon trout, garfish and tommy ruffs all year round.

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Nepean Bay and the Bay of Shoals, which flank the Kingscote township, are once again prolific producers of whiting, although the average size of the fish caught isn’t generally anything to get excited about. There’s a good launching facility in the Bay of Shoals and again this is an ideal all-weather location for small boats. Good numbers of salmon to around a kilo are available along the edges of the channel in the Bay of Shoals and it’s a great place to dab garfish at night with the aid of a spotlight and long-handled net. The only reasonable launch site on Kangaroo Island’s north coast is Emu Bay. Emu has a three-lane concrete ramp and small breakwater, but it’s open to weather from the north-east and north, which can render the ramp quite dangerous at times.

Some of the state’s biggest King George whiting come from Investigator Strait, with kilogram-plus specimens commonly encountered. A few of the more reliable whiting grounds occur offshore from Stokes Bay, Middle River, Western River, Snug Cove, Cape Forbin and Cape Torrens. This is deep water, fast tide fishing and, as such, demands far heavier tackle than most anglers would normally associate with whiting. To operate successfully on these grounds it’s almost a prerequisite these days to use gel spun line and sinkers which may need to weigh as much as 170 grams. Despite the ‘elephant gun’ equipment, however, pulling thumper whiting from 40 metres below is still a lot of fun and when the fish run between 800 grams and 1.5 kilos, I’m rarely concerned about anything other than catching my daily limit of 10!

The small township of American River attracts thousands of visitors annually www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Investigator Strait, the corridor of water which separates Kangaroo Island from the foot of Yorke Peninsula, is immediately accessible from Emu Bay and this is where most of the Island’s deep- water whiting, snapper and trevally action occurs. Average water depth at the eastern end of the Strait is about 25-30m, but things get progressively deep as you travel westward.


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

Blue morwong are regulars on the offshore grounds

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www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The same grounds also yield heaps of small to medium snapper, blue morwong, red snapper, silver trevally and the occasional yellowtail king. It’s pretty much a lucky dip affair when you’re plumbing the depths along KI’s north coast and I was busted on traditional whiting tackle on several occasions over the years before eventually making a conscious upgrade to heavier gear. Those who enjoy trolling lures for salmon can often find plenty of these great scrappers to play with in several locations along the north coast. Cape Cassini, Cape Dutton and the little sandy cove at Kangaroo Beach all hold big schools of salmon at times, with individual fish ranging from 1-4 kilograms. Unfortunately, however, these salmon are regularly netted by professional purse-seiners and end up as either pet food or cray bait — an ignominious end for such wonderful sportfish.

As is the case with most offshore fishing around Kangaroo Island’s north coast, Investigator Strait can chop up very quickly with the onset of weather from the north or north-west. It’s definitely no place to be in strong winds from either direction and has claimed several fishing boats over the years. Fortunately, weather information these days is far more reliable than it used to be and only those who ignore the Adelaide Bureau’s advice seem to get into trouble any more. Common sense will always be the bottom line here.

Anything from whiting to blue groper can be caught from KI’s rocky coastal areas www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Investigator Strait is also renowned for its big samson fish, which usually turn up from winter through until late springtime, and often top 25 kilos. These are hooked on fresh natural baits, livies and jigs, generally from Western River Cove westward. Bluefin tuna run through the Strait as well, varying between 10-25kg and providing exciting action for those in the right place at the right time.


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

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Ki’s wildlife has come back strongly after the catastrophic bushfires in 2020 www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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I have always been an admirer of Matthew Flinders for what he achieved in such a short voyage to our shores and have found his log book truly fascinating reading. He was quite obviously enchanted by Kangaroo Island and, from his log entries, would have liked more time to go ashore to explore its flora and fauna. Had Flinders been a keen angler, it’s a fair bet he may have hung around a day or two longer to stock up on those “sandy and spotted fish” which pleased his crew so much! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Kangaroo Island — A Visiting Anglers’ Guide

Accommodation, Travel And Charter Operators Never before has it been so convenient for visiting anglers to get to or stay on Kangaroo Island. Today’s crop of charter operators is also first class.

GETTING THERE: Sealink Kangaroo Island runs a regular ferry service between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw. Contact number: 131301

WHERE TO STAY:

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Hotels Ozone (Kingscote) 1800 083 133 Queenscliffe (Kingscote) (08) 8553 2254 Parndana Community Hotel (08) 8559 6071

Caravan Parks Kangaroo Island Caravan Park (Kingscote) (08) 8553 2325 Penneshaw Caravan and Camping Park (08) 8553 1075 Western KI Caravan Park (Near Flinders Chase) (08) 8559 7201 Emu Bay Caravan Park (08) 8553 2325

Private Rental Accommodation Century 21 (08) 8553 2688 Island Court Tourist Services (08) 8553 2657 Kangaroo Island Holiday Village (08) 8553 2225 White Crane Beach House (American Beach) (08) 8559 4201 Corey’s Island Beach Cottages (08) 8553 7178 Hanson Bay Cabins (08) 8553 2603 Eleanor River Cabins (08) 8559 4250 Loverings (D’Estrees Bay and Emu Bay) (08) 8553 8261 The Mud Brick House (Western end) (08) 8559 7341 Tandanya Wilderness Lodge (Western end) (08) 8559 7275 Middle River Homestead (08) 8553 9119 Emu Bay Holiday Homes (08) 8553 5241

WHO TO FISH WITH: Fishing Charter Operators Kangaroo Island Fishing Adventures Ph: (08) 8559 3232

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Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING

Soft Plastics & JIG HEADS PART 2: SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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The Finer Points

Soft plastics have transformed snapper fishing right around the country. This lovely pinkie fell for a paddle tail. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


STARLO CONCLUDES HIS T WO-PART DEEP-DIVE INTO THE RICH AND REWARDING WORLD OF SOF T PL ASTIC LURE FISHING WITH A DE TAILED EXAMINATION OF THE DIFFERENT ST YLES OF SOF TIES, AS WELL AS THE VARIOUS JIG HEADS, HOOKS AND OTHER “PRESENTATION VEHICLES” USED TO DELIVER THEM AND — MOST CRITICAL OF ALL — HOW THESE ELEMENTS COMBINE TO CREATE A DEADLY MODUL AR SYSTEM FOR FOOLING EVEN THE MOST FICKLE FISH!

(autumn issue) I delved at considerable depth into the fascinating history of soft plastic lures — both internationally and here in Australia. In particular, I talked about what I refer to as the “three waves” of the soft plastic revolution in this country, and the small part that my mate Bushy and I were lucky enough to play in that all-important third wave — the one that finally established these lures locally in a major (and permanent) way. In this concluding instalment I want to take a close look at the major styles of softies and how to fish them, as well as the rigging paraphernalia for presenting those tails, in an effort to help you crack the code and catch a lot more fish on these deadly lures. Let’s get started by looking at the major categories of soft plastics. It’s possible to divide most of the popular softies on the market today into a dozen or so broad families, although defining the boundaries between these categories is tricky at times. That’s because one angler’s soft stick bait is another’s drop-shot minnow, while the dividing line between a thin, curly-tailed grub and a small worm can be a bit blurry. But let’s have a crack at categorising the 10 major soft plastic types used in Australia today: www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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In the first part of this double header


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

Hidden weights, worm hooks, Texas rigs and a myriad other tricky delivery methods help take plastics well beyond the standard jig head strategies familiar to most anglers.

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//CURLY TAIL GRUBS Curly tail grubs are one of the largest and most popular families of plastics, and they’ve been around for decades. They typically have a fairly thick, often segmented or ribbed body and a flat, tapered tail, usually in the shape of a question mark. Beyond these basics there’s lots of variation. One thing that all good curly tails have in common is a strong, built-in action. Pull these things through the water and that tail kicks, squirms and wriggles like something alive. This makes curly tails an especially good choice for less experienced anglers, or those who simply want to chuck a lure out, crank it back, and let it do its own thing. But grubs are also a great tool in the hands of more experienced anglers. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//T-TAILED GRUBS AND SLIDERS Charlie Brewer’s Slider was likely the first T-tailed grub, and it spawned a legion of followers. A T-tailed grub, as the name implies, is a relatively short plastic worm or grub with a flat, circular, oval or triangular flap on the end of its tapered tail, usually oriented at right angles or thereabouts to the lure’s body. In other words, the tail forms a little T-shaped piece at the rear of the plastic.

When pulled through the water, this flap causes the end of the tail to wag back and forth. This action is typically quite subtle, and mostly confined to the rear portion of the lure, yet it sometimes drives fish wild. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Curl tail grubs can be fished using a range of methods, but are especially effective when simply rigged on a jig head that’s just heavy enough to suit prevailing conditions, then retrieved using a fairly slow lift-droplift or stop-start action, or even simply “slow rolled” with a static rod tip and a slow, steady rotation of the reel’s handle.


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

While they work in many scenarios, T-tails are especially effective on deeply suspended fish such as impoundment-dwelling bass and yellowbelly. There probably hasn’t been a better lure made for dropping through these deep-holding fish and slow rolling — vertically or at an angle — back up to the surface. Interestingly, the same approach works well on bream and estuary perch holding deep in tidal estuaries, or on redfin and even trout in our inland lakes, dams and rivers.

//SHADS, FISH AND SOFT SWIM BAITS

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34 Just like curly tail grubs and T-tails, shads, fish and other soft “swim baits” are

near-foolproof soft lures. They have plenty of in-built action, and start to swim the moment they’re moved. So, they’ll catch at least some fish if simply chucked out and cranked back, or trailed behind a boat moving at the right speed.

Starlo regards bream as one of the most important species in the development of moderns soft plastics and the strategies for fishing them. Fluke-style plastics like this one have little in-built action, but when combined with a darter-style head, light line and some clever rod work, they can be brought alive in a most seductive manner.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Yep… they do get chewed up! That’s just a fact of life. But be sure to collect all your bits and bring them home.

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Thanks to their pronounced, built-in action, shads and fish are often the first soft plastics used by anglers making the transition from hard-bodied metal, plastic and wooden lures to soft plastics. That’s because you can fish these softies almost exactly like a hard lure and catch plenty of fish on them. Shads, fish and swim baits have a particularly strong appeal to all those predatory species that eat other fish, and this makes them especially popular in most saltwater applications. But they’re also deadly in many freshwater scenarios, especially where bait fish (and particularly deeper-bodied forage species like bony bream) make up a significant part of the food base. Along with curly tail grubs, T-tail grubs and the soft stick baits or flukes discussed next, shads, fish and swim baits represent a “core” soft plastic style for Australian fishing conditions.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

//SOFT STICKS, JERK BAITS AND FLUKES The first soft jerk bait or stick bait was most likely the Lunker City SlugGo. Like all good things, it was quickly copied and adapted. Subtle variations on this theme with little forked, fish-like tails are often called flukes. Today there are scores of soft plastic stick baits, jerk baits and flukes in the tackle catalogues. All of them catch fish, especially if they’re used correctly.

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One of the more successful soft plastics on the local scene during the early to mid 2000s was Berkley’s Bass Minnow. Originally designed as a drop36 shot lure, it was rarely used in that role here. Instead, anglers mostly rigged this little fluke on relatively light jigs, particularly darter-style heads.

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To say that this lure spawned a phenomenon in Australian fishing circles would be an understatement. By 2004, severe supply shortages were being experienced as local anglers snapped up every packet of the 7.5 cm version they could find, especially in the most popular pearl/watermelon colour. Bream and bass fishers, in particular, were quick to recognise the effectiveness of a Berkley Bass Minnow rigged on a light darter head and flicked or jerked under bait schools or near structure. Although now often overlooked in favour of other plastic styles, small flukes remain just as effective today as they were then, and larger flukes are also deadly offshore on snapper and many other species.

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//INTEGRATED SWIM BAITS Despite their very close resemblance to the soft fish and shads described earlier, prerigged swim baits with built-in weights and hooks deserve their own category. This classification had been around for some time before the Squidgy Slick Rig really put them on the fishing map here in Australia. Today there are lots of options in this category. These lures mostly feature a fish-shaped or shad-shaped body, but they usually have the weight, hook and line attachment point pre-molded into their soft PVC body, making them a single, integrated unit. Their big advantage is the fact that integrated swim baits are easy to use, as no assembly or rigging is required. They can simply be tied or clipped to your leader or line and you’re in business! The downside is that tail damage from toothy fish can render the lure useless and, because of their construction, they’re relatively expensive. Integrated swim baits represent an evolutionary link between hard-bodied lures and soft plastics, and this is a big part of their popularity. Lots of anglers use them just like hard bodies: either trolling them behind a moving boat or casting and cranking them with a straight slow to medium retrieve. Of course, lots of variations can also be added to these presentation strategies, too. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

//SOFT PLASTIC WORMS Soft plastic worms are one of those lure-fishing enigmas. In the US they out-sell most other lures. Yet, here in Australia they never really took off. Unlike an American largemouth bass, many of our Aussie fish don’t have either the mouth nor the disposition to cleanly suck in a long bait like a rubber worm in one go and get hooked.

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Smaller worms that better match our natural prey items and better suit Australian fish have slowly carved themselves a small niche for this 38 category on the local scene, but they remain under-utilised here. Soft worms can be rigged on standard jig heads (with or without trailing stinger hooks), or on various “worm hooks” with or without weights on the line ahead of or below the lure. Mostly, these plastics are fished fairly slowly, close to the bottom.

//PRAWNS, SHRIMPS AND CRAYS Considering how popular they are as fish food, it’s hardly surprising that many soft plastic manufacturers have spent a lot of time and effort trying to imitate crustaceans such as prawns, shrimps, yabbies, crayfish and crabs. Overall, their results have been fairly mixed; ranging from downright ordinary to dazzlingly effective. One of the most impressive is the American-made DOA Shrimp. These lures look a lot like a prawn but, far more importantly, they swim like a prawn. Prawns tend to glide steadily through the water when unmolested, then flick and dart away erratically when alarmed. That glide is a real strike attractor. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Imitation yabbies and crayfish are also well represented in the ranges of many soft plastics. Crab imitations are also available, and the better ones have a role, on everything from bream down south to javelin fish and even permit (snub-nosed dart) and golden trevally up north.

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Ever thought of fishing a plastic — particularly a “critter” — under a float? Trust Starlo when he tells you that it definitely works! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

//SURFACE PLASTICS, FROGS AND TOADS

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Virtually any soft plastic lure can be rigged unweighted and fished on or very near the surface, but that doesn’t necessarily qualify them as true surface plastics. When I use that term, I tend to think of hollow or floating plastics designed specifically to be fished as topwater lures. Traditional examples 40 that spring to mind include Mann’s Goblin and Ghost and the Southern Lure Company’s benchmark Bassrats, Scum Frogs and Tiny Toads, to name a few. Soft versions of various poppers, fizzers, paddlers and other topwater lures are also offered by some makers, providing all the attractions of their hard-bodied alternatives, but with the added charm of that lovely, soft “plop” when they land. To these can be added a whole raft of plastics which sink at rest, but are designed to be fished on or near the surface using a high rod angle and steady retrieve.

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//TUBES AND GITZITS Soft plastic tubes or Gitzits (the name of a particular brand) are another plastic style that hasn’t really taken off here in Australia.

Most tubes have little or no built-in action and rely on rod manipulation and lots of pauses and drops to appeal to fish.

//CRITTER BAITS These days there are some truly incredible soft plastic creations on the shelves of better-stocked tackle shops, not to mention spilling and crawling from the multicoloured pages of overseas mail order catalogues. Rubber spiders, snakes, centipedes, hellgrammites, mudeyes, rats, mice, frogs, lizards, newts, salamanders, toads, crabs and even soft plastic chips or French fries (I kid you not) are all available. Some even catch fish! Critters are ideally fished on relatively light heads (or even unweighted) and often do their best work when simply cast as close as possible to likely fish-holding structure and given a gentle shake or shimmy as they drop through the water column. They can even be suspended under a float with good results at times! The addition of some scent or feeding stimulant can be a big boost to results, as well. Various critters also make excellent “trailers” when fitted to spinnerbaits and bladed jigs (chatter baits). www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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As their name implies, tubes are hollow soft plastics shaped a bit like an un-inflated party balloon, a water bomb or, let’s face it, a condom! They are normally rounded and closed at the front and have shredded tentacles at the rear end. They can be rigged in a conventional manner on a jig head (with the lead head in front of the tube), but were really designed to have a jig fitted inside, with only the hook point and hook eye protruding from the top of the lure. Rigged this way, tubes present a soft, edible morsel, with few external hard bits to deter bites. They also tend to sink fairly slowly because of their bulk, water resistance and a propensity for air to get trapped inside the sock part of the tube. This can be a bonus, prolonging “hang times” in a likely strike zone.


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

The addition of blades to plastics such as these integratedweight Squidgies adds a level of flash and vibration that can be very handy in dirty water or at night.

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//PRESENTATION VEHICLES Considering the extensive amount of magazine space and instructional video time devoted to the subject of fishing with soft plastics over the past couple of decades, it’s surprising how little attention has been paid to the delivery vehicles used to present these lures to fish. In other words: the hooks, weights, jig heads and other bits of paraphernalia we actually rig our plastics on. Fact is, the best soft plastic tails on the market are useless as fish-catching tools without the addition of a hook and, in many instances, some extra weight to allow longer casting and also to carry the lure down through the water column to the desired fishing depth. There are a number of ways of achieving these goals. Plastics can be rigged on standard hooks of the type used for bait fishing, or on specially-shaped (often wide-gape) “worm” hooks, and then weighted with fixed or running sinkers of various styles. These sinkers or weights can be placed either above (in front of) the plastic, or below it, as is the case when using a paternoster or “drop-shot” style set-up (options we’ll look at in more detail further on). Believe it or not, soft plastics can also be suspended under floats, and although this technique hasn’t been all that common in Australia waters in the past, a few more anglers are giving it a go these days, often with surprisingly good results. Of course, as already mentioned, some soft plastics are also sold pre-rigged, or have integrated, internal weights with built-in hooks and hook connections. These integrated plastics are viable alternatives, especially for newcomers to plastic fishing, www.spooledmagazine.com.au


or those who only dabble occasionally. On the other hand, more serious users of softies tend to prefer the flexibility (and long-term economy) of the modular system — mixing and matching their own tails, hooks and weights to suit changing conditions. All of the possible presentation alternatives — pre-rigged plastics, unweighted presentations, “weedless” or “snag-proof” rigs, drop-shotting, Texas and Carolina rigging with fixed or running sinkers, Ned rigs, float-suspended plastics and even oddball presentations such as the “wacky rigs” — have a place in the arsenal of the complete soft plastic angler. (You can Google any of them and find lots more info’ online.) But I want to look in more detail here at the most common and popular of all plastic presentation vehicles for most Australian fishing conditions: the humble jig head.

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A little bit of scent or bite stimulant can make a world of difference some days.

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Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

Jo starling with a gorgeous northern saratoga taken on a weedless-rigged plastic.

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//GETTING JIGGY WITH IT In soft plastic fishing, a jig or jig head is simply a hook with a built-in sinker or casting weight attached to it. Within that broad definition, there are an incredible array of possibilities and permutations in terms of hook pattern and size, head shape, head weight, head density, construction material, tail keeper set-up, weed or snag guard… and so on. The simplest (and most popular) jig heads consist of a straight-shanked, roundbend, Aberdeen-style hook with an unpainted or painted spherical head made of lead or a lead alloy. Traditionally, these jigs are built on purpose-made jig hooks that have a 60- 90 degree bend in the shank near the hook eye. These hooks are placed in a mold and the molten alloy poured in to form the head around that shank bend. This configuration places the hook eye on top of the finished round lead or alloy head: on the same plane as the hook bend and hook point. There’s also generally some form of holding device or “keeper” to help keep the plastic tail secured snug against the weight on the hook. The result is a jig that sinks and rides point-up in the water, significantly reducing snagging or fouling with weed. I hate to think how many of these simple jig heads I built myself between about 1998 and 2003, by bending the shanks of hooks (usually only to 45 or 50 degrees, to avoid snapping them) before crimping and gluing split shot to the bend. That was painstaking work, but it was essential in those days, due to the limited availability www.spooledmagazine.com.au


of good, commercially-made jigs, especially at the smaller and lighter end of the spectrum. All that DIY stuff also helped teach me many important things about jigs, and how best to make and use them. Thankfully, high quality jig heads suited to a wide range of local fishing scenarios are now widely available in this country, so I rarely need to craft my own heads these days, unless I’m seeking some particular set of unusual characteristics not commonly found in the factory-made models.

Preparing to rig some soft prawn imitations. When it comes to presentation, there’s almost always more than one option.

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//TWEAKING THE VARIABLES By changing the design features of jig heads, manufacturers can tailor them to do different jobs. For example, jigs intended to catch big, powerful fish living in snagstrewn waters call for heavy-gauge, extra-strong jig hooks. There will be a price to pay for this, because you’ll often need a little extra force to drive such a thick hook into a fish’s jaw. By contrast, if you’re targeting fish that live in open water, you might choose a jig built on a very fine, light-gauge hook. This hook will have the best possible penetration characteristics, especially at longer casting ranges and on lighter tackle. Although not as strong as a heavy-gauge hook, on the relatively light line and drag settings that can be used in open water, this fine hook shouldn’t bend or break. Keen, versatile soft plastic users will have examples of both of these jig head styles in their tackle box (as well as everything in between), ideally in a range of weights and hook sizes to suit the plastics they use and the fish they chase. Matching the hook size (length and gape) to the tail you choose to use is mostly a matter of common sense. Hooks that are way too big or too small for a particular tail simply look wrong and don’t work all that well. There’s a degree of flexibility in www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

all of this, although hook size can be quite critical at times. The gape of the hook needs to be wide enough to allow for easy rigging of the plastic and to provide good point exposure, but not so large as to throw the lure out of whack, nor make it look unnatural and unbalanced. Like I said, it’s mostly common sense.

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Small barbs are also favoured on modern jig hooks, and the over-sized “ski jump” barbs of yesteryear really have little place in sophisticated soft plastic tweaking. In fact, increasing numbers of anglers are choosing to squash their barbs down and go completely barbless. While this might cost the odd fish (especially on jumpers like barra, trout and Aussie salmon), it’s also kinder to fish and anglers, makes for speedier 46 hook removal, and prolongs the life of rubber tails, which stand much less chance of being damaged as you wrestle to remove the jig head from a struggling fish.

Standard, unpainted ball-head or round jig heads are the author’s weapons of choice for more than half of all his soft plastic fishing. Sometimes simple is best. Choosing the optimum weight jig head can be a slightly trickier matter than picking the right hook. Trial and error will often show you the right one to use in any given set of circumstance, and you’ll eventually develop an innate “feel” for picking the right heads to suit the prevailing conditions. In many finesse situations — particularly where fish are becoming increasingly choosy and difficult to tempt — using the lightest head practical can sometimes be a key to getting more bites. However, note my use of the word “practical”. It’s no use going so light that you simply can’t cast the lure far enough www.spooledmagazine.com.au


to reach the fish, or get it down in front of their face through a deep, swiftly flowing current. It can also be counter-productive to use a head so light that the tail refuses to “swim” on the drop, while the jig is sinking. This last point is an important and oftenoverlooked consideration, and it’s well worth watching how various head weights influence the swimming action of different tails as they sink on a slack or semi-slack line.

//HANG TIMES AND KEEPERS

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Head weights and sink rates also directly influence what I like to call “hang time”: in other words, the period a lure spends falling through a particular strike zone. I first really twigged to this when barramundi and jack anglers started complaining that many standard jig heads sank too fast for their needs. By the time they got up to a hook and head size suitable to match the tails they preferred using on those tropical species, these northern fishos found that the lure was so heavy, it simply plummeted to the bottom or straight into a snag, often hanging in the process. One answer is for manufacturers to make jig heads that are less dense. These are typically made from lighter metals like aluminium or various plastic resins, or they incorporate a small amount of lead set within a lighter resin casing. These approaches provide the bulk to match big tails and carry hefty hooks, but at a considerably lighter density, to prolong those all-important hang times in and around snags or over weed beds. Nowadays, you’ll find such offerings on the market (if you search hard enough), allowing you to play around with those all-important sink rates and hang times.


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Darter-style heads offer a more erratic action. This darter head is made from an acrylic resin, rather than a lead alloy, meaning it is much lighter and sinks more slowly. Speaking of jig head variables, the design of any holding device, keeper or collar on a jig is quite important as well. Most jig heads also come equipped with a keeper or keepers. These devices are intended to secure the soft plastic tail to the hook or jig head, prevent it twisting or sliding out of alignment. Keepers also resist the tendency for a biting fish to drag the rubber tail down into the bend of the hook. Getting “pantsed”, as this is colloquially called (as in having your pants pulled down) is not only annoying because it spoils the action of the lure for the rest of that retrieve, it also dramatically reduces the life of the tail. Each time a plastic is slid back into its correct position on the jig after a “pantsing”, the hole made by the hook shank and keepers is enlarged until, eventually, the tail simply won’t stay put. Then it’s time to fit another tail, or reach for the tube of super glue! Many jig heads feature a fairly fat lead collar, often with one or more lead spikes or ridges. These work pretty well on thicker plastics, but can cause problems with some of the slimmer styles of plastics, splitting and tearing them. Smaller wire prongs or barbs tend to make better keepers for slim-line plastics. Again, it’s a matter of horses for courses. Finally, before leaving the subject of keepers, I’ll give you a hot tip: If you are using a particularly energetic style of plastic presentation (such as “whipping” plastics for flathead), or are getting “pantsed” rather too often, think about adding a small drop of super glue to the hook shank, keeper and the back of the jig head before sliding the tail forward into its final place. Give it a try, but always use the smallest drop of glue possible. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//HEAD SHAPE Head shape is another variable you can fine tune when looking for optimum performance from a jig-rigged plastic. Beyond the basic round or ball-head jig, which suits so many common fishing styles, there are all manner of shapes worth considering in specific applications. Some of the most popular include football, stand-up, bullet, fishhead and various wedge designs, as well as heads with built-in diving or wobbling lips, weed guards, rattles and various spoon or spinner blades attached to them. Each design has its place. It’s worth noting, for example, that bigger bullet heads are particularly useful for getting down fast in deeper water or strong currents.

Painted, fish-shaped jig heads offer a very natural profile that fits nicely with many tails. As a bonus, this particular jig head even glows in the dark! The mulloway seemed to approve.

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Perhaps the most useful of all designs beyond the plain ball or bullet head for common Australian fishing scenarios is the so-called darter-style jig, with its pointed nose and (sometimes) flattened sides and “keeled” underside. When worked with a series of short, sharp rod tip flicks, this head (more than any other design) jinks and darts from side-toside in an erratic manner that can be a real fish turn-on in many, many situations. These darter heads work especially well with stick bait or fluke-style plastics that have little in-built action or movement of their own. The combination of a light darter head and a soft stick, flick or fluke bait has a proven track record on tough targets such as bream, most notably in hard-hit waters where these fish get to see lots of lures every season.


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

//BEYOND JIG HEADS There definitely are situations where a modification of the time-proven standard jig head rig has its place in Australian soft plastic fishing. There is also a range of quite radically different presentation strategies and vehicles for presenting plastics, all of them having at least some application to the local scene, and many of which are likely to see a lot more exposure here in coming years.

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Almost all of these alternate presentation strategies evolved in the United States (with the exception of drop-shotting, which originated in Japan), and most were 50 developed specifically to target the ubiquitous American largemouth bass (and its cousin, the smallmouth bass) in what are frequently very weedy freshwater lakes and impoundments or snag-studded rivers. It’s worth bearing all of this in mind when looking at these rigs. Very often, when we take on these rigs, we are attempting to adopt an approach that was designed to do something quite specific in another part of the world altogether. Those things don’t always translate well to the local scene — at least, not without a few subtle modifications. It’s also worth making a comment in passing about the names of some of these rigs. Again, these owe their origins to North American bass fishing, and therefore many of them carry uniquely American handles. Just as some spinnerbait blade shapes have been named after U.S. states (Colorado and Indiana), so have some soft plastic rigs (Texas and Carolina). Others are a little more creative; like the “wacky rig”. To make things even more confusing, there seems to be a degree of flexibility in the precise definition of some of these descriptions, and a propensity for Australian writers and editors to sometimes get it completely wrong (for example, I’ve regularly seen running Texas rigs incorrectly described as Carolina rigs in local magazines). There isn’t room for me to go into the details of all these rig variations here, but there is plenty of information about them on line and YouTube, should you wish to broaden your horizons. However, one thing a lot of these rigs share is the use of “worm hooks”.

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//WORM HOOKS One of the most popular presentation vehicles for softies after lead-head jigs are the so-called worm hooks. So, what are worm hooks? Coming at it from an Australian perspective, many anglers might assume that anything called a worm hook was meant to have a scrubby, a squirty, a sandy, a beach worm or a blood worm impaled on it. The same kind of logic would also lead one to believe that a baitcaster reel was designed to cast baits… Wrong on both counts! We can blame the Yanks for these seemingly eccentric names. They call lures “baits”, so a baitcaster is actually primarily intended for chucking lures. And a worm hook is for rigging soft plastics, including those rubber worms that are so popular over there for catching largemouth and smallmouth bass.

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Worm hooks have a wide, rounded or angled gape and a point that typically lies in line with the hook’s eye (meaning they’re not usually kirbed or offset). They may also have a kink or short straight section ahead of a sharp bend in the shank, not far behind the eye. These hooks are intended to be threaded into a plastic by piercing the front end of the tail with the hook point and bringing it out a short distance back, under the plastic’s ‘chin’. The hook is then pulled right through until the short front section or kink is inside the plastic’s head, with the hook eye still exposed. The hook is then turned over and brought up through the lure’s belly and (usually) out of its back. (This is shown in detail in the accompanying rigging photos.) www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

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Sometimes fish hang out deep inside the branches of drowned or fallen trees and rock piles and refuse to venture out. Often, the only way to catch them is to rig a plastic lure in as “snag-proof” a way as possible and to throw it right into the mess of twigs and branches and rocks. Similarly, many fish feed in, under and around weed beds, submerged grass and dense mats of lily pads. Again, the only way to extract them may well be to throw a lure right back into all this hook-grabbing vegetation. The best way to rig plastics so that they resist catching on snags and dense weeds and foliage without constantly hanging up or fouling is to use these specially shaped worm hooks and then carefully rig your soft lures on these. For such specialised jobs, worm hooks work very well indeed, being especially 52 effective on saratoga and barramundi in the tropical lilies and weeds, as well as all manner of fish, including mangrove jacks, around thick snags. Smaller worm hooks also do a good job on bass, estuary perch and even bream in thick weeds and snags further south.

So-called “hidden weights” slide completely inside the plastic. Choosing one with a bright colour can add another dimension to the presentation. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//ADDING WEIGHT Once you’ve placed a plastic on an unweighted worm hook, or even an unadorned straight hook or jig hook, it can either be fished unweighted as already described, or some weight can be added to the line ahead of (above) or below the lure. The two traditional rigging methods for adding weight to plastics in this way are the Texas rig and the Carolina rig. A Texas rig has the sinker or weight sitting right on the nose of the soft plastic, hard up against the hook eye (either pegged in place or free-running). A Carolina rig separates the weight from the lure by using a stopper such as a swivel, split shot or fixed bead. It’s really as simple as that.

Weedless or snag proof rigs open up all manner of opportunities, especially in northern barra waters.

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Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

I tend to use a slight modification of the Texas set-up when rigging weedless or snag-proofed soft plastics for Aussie fish that consists of adding a ball sinker to the loop knot when tying a hook to my leader. It works for me. Split-shotting and drop-shotting are two other technique worth knowing about. Splitshotting involves the addition of a split shot in front of a rigged soft plastic, while drop-shotting presents one or more a soft plastics on a paternoster or dropperstyle rig — with the weight attached below the lure. Both have their place.

All you need to create a trimmed-down, thin profile rig.

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Don’t worry about being too neat… The fish don’t really care!

Trim away with your braid scissors, taking off a little at a time. Collect all your offcuts for correct disposal at home.

The end result has a different profile and action, plus a slightly faster sink rate. All these things can be handy in certain scenarios. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//RIG ’EM RIGHT! Regardless of the presentation vehicles you use and the rig you ultimately choose, it’s critical that you rig your soft plastics right — the way the manufacturer intended. That means straight and true, so they swim correctly in the water. Study the photos and video with this article closely and always take the time to rig ’em right! You won’t believe the difference it can make to your results.

If your rigged soft lure looks neat and straight on the jig head or worm hook, and the point emerges smack on the centre line of the plastic’s back (or at least within a millimetre or two of it), you probably have it pretty right. On the other hand, if the finished package looks in any way dodgy — as in slightly crooked, bent, skewed or bunched up — do it again! Seriously, it’s worth the effort, as getting it right can potentially make a huge difference to your catch rates. No matter how good everything looks, you should never cast a rigged soft plastic and begin fishing with before dropping it in the water on a short length of line at your feet or beside the boat or kayak and pulling it along for a metre or so to check its action. Do this every time you rig a plastic. If the lure swims straight and looks good on this test run, the tail wobbles or kicks enticingly, and the whole package imitates something that might actually be alive, then you’ve rigged it properly and you can start fishing. But if anything looks the slightest bit odd, lift the lure out of the water and tweak it. This could be as simple as twisting the tail ever so slightly on the hook, or pulling on it to straighten it, or it might involve removing the plastic from the jig completely and starting all over again… Whatever needs to be done, do it! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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A sooty grunter taken on a darterstyle jig head rigged with a T-tailed, fish-shaped soft plastic. Note the use of a loop knot to free up the lure’s action, especially when attached to such a heavy leader (used as insurance against chew-offs from barramundi).


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

To rig a paddle-tail plastic “weedless” or “snag-proof” on a wide gape hook such as this TT set-up, begin by inserting the hook point dead centre in the plastic’s “nose” and bringing it out the “chin”, as shown here.

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Pull the hook shank carefully through the plastic and measure it alongside the body to establish the entry and exit points for the final step.

The final rig with the hook inserted up through the paddle tail. Note the loop knot in the heavy leader for enhanced lure action.

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A Squidgy Slick Rig body ready to be rigged “weedless” or “snag-proof” on a wide gape hook, with a sinker in the loop knot for weight.

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Begin by inserting the hook point dead centre in the plastic’s “nose” and bringing it out the “chin”, as shown here.

Pull the hook shank through and insert the point up through the plastic’s belly.

This is how the finished rig should look… nice and straight! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Soft Plastics & Jig Heads Part 2: The Finer Points

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58 An old (now sadly discontinued) Squidgy

Lobby ready to be rigged “weedless” or “snag-proof” on a wide gape hook, with a sinker in the loop knot for weight.

Begin by inserting the hook point dead centre in the plastic’s tail and bringing it out a short distance back on the underside, as shown here. Pull the hook carefully through the plastic and measure it alongside the body to establish the entry and exit points for the final step.

The completed rig is extremely weed and snag resistant, but will still hook a fish if you strike positively at any pick up or tug.

I can’t stress strongly enough how much difference a little bit of attention to detail can make when it comes to rigging your plastics. Getting it even 10 per cent wrong can decrease your strike rate and hook-up rate by 90 per cent… truly! I hope the lessons I’ve taught you in this detailed two-part feature put you on the road to becoming a better and more successful soft plastic fisher. These really are phenomenal lures. Once you learn to get the best from them, you won’t look back! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Getting On Top Of Surface Cod

ROD MACKENZIE

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Surface

Cod

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On Top Of


ROD MCKENZIE PROVIDES A HEAP OF VALUABLE INFO THAT WILL HELP YOU HOOK MURRAY COD ON TOP-WATER LURES.

It’s still dark as we boat our way down the Murray River to catch the predawn bite. A thick fog hangs like an impenetrable curtain, cutting visibility to mere metres as the torchlight reflects a wall of white. Fingers numb to the chill, our speed is an idle, but fast enough in the current-rich waters as numerous giant snags glide within feet of the gunwale. Out of the darkness another snag would appear, twisted and jutting clear of the water, an earie sight at such close range.

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Getting On Top Of Surface Cod

I had picked a bank the previous evening that hung heavy with old snags and looked for all it’s worth a prime location for big fish. The plan was to be in position at first light and work the area with large surface lures — a ploy that had been working well the previous few weeks in the run-up to the start of winter.

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We arrived at our chosen spot right on cue, and with just enough light to make out the snags, the large lures were cast into the semi-darkness, landing with 62 a heavy splash. The paddling sound amplified in the early morning stillness was broken by the bird song that signals the start of dawn. Time and again the popping lures would return to the boat unscathed, only to be re-cast to the next likely looking hold.

Early starts on the Murray are the key to surface success.

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If I had to choose one method to fish for Murray cod, it would be surface.

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Midway back to the boat, one of the lures was engulfed in an implosion of water that ripped a hole in the morning calm. The waters churned as the unseen giant rolled beneath the surface and the rod loaded tight. This is high octane fishing, where an explosive strike instantly takes your mind from other distractions like the numbing effects of the morning chill to the task at hand. Heart in your mouth, the fight is on, and you know it’s a big fish simply by the take and the water the fish has moved. Surface fishing has really taken off the past few seasons, with most cod fishing enthusiasts giving it a run. There are many benefits to top water fishing that include few, if any, lost lures, as you can see the snags, and the known fact that most top water bites are past the metre-plus end of the brag mat. If big Murray cod have one sure fire weakness, it’s the chance to grab a top water treat that in real life terms probably comes in the form of a duck or some other smaller water bird. Rodents too, like water rats and mice, are on the list, as is the odd reptile and moth. All those mentioned are a welcome treat to a large predatory fish that’s looking to store some fat for the leaner times ahead. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Getting On Top Of Surface Cod

Like all techniques used to target Murray cod, surface fishing comes with its own set of problems, not the least of which is the fact that early rises and late evenings are par for the course. In saying that, I have caught plenty during the daylight hours in between, but in general those low light periods are the best. Warm clothes, including thermals and a good jacket, are advisable for this style of fishing, as is a hot mug of coffee to break the early morning chill.

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Now we come to the second and most frustrating piece of the surface fishing puzzle. You have got up early and are on the water pre-dawn. You spend the next few chilly hours working your way downstream, casting the snags before a huge strike from 64 a giant cod fails to find the hooks. It’s a sad, but true fact that for all your time and effort there is no guarantee things are going to stick when the strike finally comes.

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In fact, when you talk to most anglers who do a lot of surface fishing, it’s a common gripe, with many admitting a strike to hook up rate of 50 per cent or less. Now do three mornings in a row for that one strike, only to have it miss, and you are suddenly introduced to the frustration that is surface fishing for big Murray cod. Sure, you had the chance at a giant fish, but it came and went in a single spectacular detonation. In the early part of my surface fishing journey I suffered this ‘if only it had stuck’ scenario far too many times, and stepped back to look for change. With most things in angling it is the smallest details that make the biggest difference, and getting top water takes to stick is no different.

To watch the full DVD of ALMIGHTY COD!

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Let’s start with lures. It’s a sad, but true fact that many lures, not just surface lures, are designed or manufactured by people who hardly fish. Therefore, in the case of surface lures, design is often complicated, as they need to float, and secondly, they need to exhibit a paddling action. Next comes the paint job and then the price tag. They will all catch fish, but what sets the better ones apart? How do we move forward from the 50 per cent hook up rate, and what small details will help us do this?


Getting On Top Of Surface Cod

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Some of our favourite surface lures rigged with Mustad trebles.

Jamie Stewart with a beautifully marked Murray cod taken in the dead of winter. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


We have accepted that a surface lure needs to float, and it’s here in the buoyancy factor that the small differences begin. Larger body shapes that sit high in the water look great from an above water visual perspective, but for an implosion feeder they are far harder to draw beneath the surface when struck. The better it floats, the harder it is for a fish to pull it under during that split second implosion. This is also true of lure shape, where some are far easier to pull under the water than others.

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Isaac Tang with a ripper surface cod caught on a Wake Walker surface lure. Surfboard designs, or those that exhibit a flat or wide base, are most obvious. If you think of these as surfboards, built flat so they can carry the full weight of the rider, pushing them under the water is impossible. Now transfer these designs into a lure that’s required to be sucked below the surface in order to hook up, and you begin to see the problems. Narrow or rounded body shapes pop under much easier, as do those that already sit lower in the water, pre-designed with less buoyancy. When you’re looking at surface lures, think on these things, as they will ultimately increase your strike to hook up ratios. Hook size and thickness is another key contributor to increasing the hook up rate. On some of my larger surface lures, especially those that carry three trebles, I have dropped back down a size and gone for hooks with a finer diameter that are still www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Getting On Top Of Surface Cod

2X strong. The Mustad range fits this style of lure perfectly, and it takes but one hook to go in past the barb to hold a good fish. I have now landed several metre-plus cod that have been pinned in the top of the lip or head in such a manner — the biggest a sizeable 124cm model. Not all surface takes are executed with precise accuracy, so the chance to break skin and hold is greatly enhanced with the right trebles.

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Low light windows provide the best bite opportunities and some spectacular viewing. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Next, we come to soft hands and calm rod work. It’s far easier to remain calm and resist the urge to strike when the lure is hit at distance. I have watched a squillion takes on YouTube and other visual media, and notice the same pattern on most close takes where the angler strikes during the detonation, pulling the lure out of or away from the fish. At these shorter distances the slack between rod tip and lure is minimal to none, also making it hard for the fish to inhale the lure. I began to notice this on the water also, and shifted my casting distance back so as to deliver the lure at range.

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Jamie Stewart giving the 230mm Bassman Wakewalker prototype a thorough work out at Lake Mulwala. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Getting On Top Of Surface Cod

The first thing you will notice when you commence the wind is a sag in the line from rod tip to lure that will swing from side to side during the retrieval. Most trikes come close to where the lure lands, so this sagging line allows some freedom from direct tip pressure, enabling the fish to inhale the lure and turn before coming up tight. The take is also less confronting, as it’s further away and the strike from the angler is less likely to be premature. I have now watched heaps of footage and recall many of my own captures where most big strikes came up solid at distance. Of course, you can’t hook them all, but these few smaller factors have vastly improved my hook-up rate on large surface feeding cod over the past few seasons. Why not give these smaller things a try and see if you can’t swing the percentage in your favour when it comes to hooking up on big Murray cod using surface lures?

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During its trial period the Bassman Wakewalker prototype had a whopping 90% hook up rate on big Murray cod. Designed to sit low in the water and armed with three trebles this is a must have lure for serious top water sessions. Look for more on this new addition to the Bassman range in coming issues of Spooled Magazine.

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Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

LACHLAN JONES

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Salmon – Backpack LIKE SO MANY ANGLERS IN THE CONTINENT’S SOUTHERN HALF, LACHY JONES ADORES HIS SURF FISHING FOR BIG AUSSIE SALMON.

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Style


Trudging down the sand with a whopping great surf rod and hurling pilchards to the horizon is somewhat of a rite of passage for fishos in Southern Oz. The target is usually Australian salmon, arguably the most accessible and reliable sportfish for land-based anglers along our southern shores. While there’s a lot to be said for sitting back, watching the swell roll in and waiting for your rod to buckle, tapping into these bullies of the beach doesn’t always have to be about long days in waders hurling dumbbells of led into the surf!

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Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

It’s no secret that salmon are well-known lure lickers and, as I’ve come to learn over the years, a no fuss, low mess and light-weight approach can make for a serious session in the suds! In my junior years, fishing trips meant gear, and lots of it! Many a mission saw me dragging rods, buckets, bait, berley and tackle boxes along the soft sand until I reached a good looking spot, and then dragging it all home again. While I caught the odd fish, the overpacking was often more of a hinderance than a help, and through years of learning the hard way, I’ve come to recognise the many benefits of searching for salmon, backpack style.

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Travelling light allows you to cover more territory in your search for salmon.

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//WHY LURES? They say less is more, and when it comes to chasing salmon, I’m a big believer. Not only is having a lure mowed down by a pack of fired up salmon an absolute hoot, artificials will, on many occasions, outfish bait by a significant margin. While there are many reasons for this, the primary factor is that casting lures turns fishing from a waiting game into a hunting game. Let’s face it, the sea is a big place and there can’t be fish everywhere!

After finding the fish, targeting them on lures provides further advantages that allow you to capitalise on their presence. Some days, schools can move on quite quickly, so I personally don’t want to waste time lumbering up the beach to dispatch fish and rebait hooks. Fishing time is precious, and the more time spent actually fishing, the better! Casting lures obviously negates the need for rebaiting and eliminates the moments of frustration when you see your carefully baited pilchard fly off into the abyss, mid-cast! With a catch bag slung over your shoulder, you can stay amongst the action and easily move with a school if needs be.

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Being mobile when salmon fishing is a huge advantage, as it allows you to actively find where the fish are holding, rather than hoping that they come to you. Travelling light provides the ability to prospect each of the likely looking areas in a location with relative ease. Four or five casts are usually enough to learn if there are fish about in a particular spot, and quite often it will only take one! On numerous occasions I’ve walked a beach for 75 little success, only to find a school of salmon parked up in the last gutter on the beach. The excitement and satisfaction of actively finding these fish is something special in itself, and the schooling nature of salmon means there’s often significant reward for the walk!


Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

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Another advantage of travelling light in your search for salmon is that it allows you to get a little adventurous when the fish are sitting just out of casting distance. There have been numerous occasions when a standard cast just hasn’t got the job done, so it’s into the deep blue I go! With no need to bait up, I can happily wade out to a protruding sandbar in search of a few extra metres and I’m often grateful for this flexibility, provided it is safe to do so. In the accompanying 76 photograph you can see a large school sitting beyond the sand bar. On this day I was no chance off the beach, however after pushing past the breakers I was able to reach the edge of the school – and there were some beauties amongst it!

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Finally, the ease of slinging on a backpack, clipping on a lure and heading off for a walk ultimately means more fishing sessions. Time is precious for most and a lure-centred approach to flicking the salt allows you to make the most of short windows of opportunity. There’s no need to buy or prepare bait, berley or the kitchen sink here! A rod and a backpack of basics and you’re away. A streamlined approach makes it pretty easy to justify a quick ‘walk on the beach’!

//WHERE DO I START?

A salmon fisherman’s dream. How quickly can you get down the stairs? www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Salmon can be found along the majority of our southern coastline in various sizes and quantities at different times of the year. While some fish can be caught yearround, a quick discussion with your local tackle store will put you in the know with the typical migration trends of these fish, meaning you can be there to meet them when they show in numbers. There’s no doubt that Western Australia and the west coast of South Australia boast the largest Australian salmon and the most consistent action, however there’s plenty of fun to be had for those of us a little further east.


Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

Stereotypically, salmon fishing is associated with surf beaches. While the expanse of these beaches can be a little intimidating at first, your search for success can be narrowed down to the key features that offer a point of difference. Fringing reef, rock points and deep gutters that have been churned out by constant swell are often congregation points for baitfish and, as a result, the salmon are usually not far behind.

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When fishing a new location, the best thing to do is observe the beach from a high vantage point, such as the top of a sand hill. This height will allow you to identify points of difference and steer you in the right direction. Better still, schools of salmon will usually reveal themselves to you in the form of a black mass, often 78 circular or oval in shape. This truly is a sight for sore eyes, and you tend to find a little extra speed and fitness when hurtling down the beach in pursuit! While surf beaches get the majority of attention, calm bays and rock ledges often play host to salmon as well. In keeping with the theme of this article, it pays to stay mobile, wherever you are, to increase the chances of stumbling across a school of these awesome Aussie scrappers.

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//GETTING THEM OUT THERE As the introduction indicated, my early years of salmon fishing involved gear that, in hindsight, was way over the top. If opting to chase salmon using lures (or bait for that matter), there’s no need for such cumbersome equipment, and selecting one light outfit to accompany you on your walk is all that’s required. Graphite rods in the 9-10 foot range and 4-7kg line class offer good distance on the cast while maintaining a light weight, and I match my stick with a 4000 size spin reel loaded with 15lb braid. If fishing protected bays with the absence of menacing reef, I’ll lighten up even more, opting for a 2-5kilo spin stick and a 2500 size reel, allowing me to cast lighter lures such as poppers and small plastics a suitable distance. This certainly makes for some serious fun when a solid fish shows up!

It’s not all about the sand! Rock ledges are always worth a cast if conditions permit. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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One of the most crucial elements in your salmon spinning set up is the use of braided line. While the finesse benefits of braid are not particularly pertinent to salmon luring, there is no doubt that it does offer a greater casting potential. Importantly, ensure your spool is filled to capacity, as a partially empty spool reduces casting capability immensely. Finally, attach a short length of 20lb leader using an FG knot or equivalent and select a small, high-quality snap swivel to be the connection point between your leader and lure. With all this intact, it’s time to think about the business end!


Opting for single hooks results in a greater conversion rate and a healthier release.

Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

//LURES

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When spinning the surf for salmon, the mantra is to keep things light and it’s no different when selecting which lures to pack. There really is no need to get carried away with mountains of artillery, as this poses little, if any advantage. It’s rare to lose many lures during a salmon session if you choose the right option in the right scenario, so exercise some discipline when stocking the lure tray. I limit my 80 packing to one small tray of lures, and I’ve never been left wanting more. It is, however, essential to have a variety of lure types to adapt to a range of fishing scenarios that may be presented to you.

//HEAVY METAL Cranking a metal lure through a school of fired up sambos is rock and roll fishing at its best. It’s not pretty, there’s no place for finesse and, like a late night set at the Big Day Out, it can leave you thinking ‘did that really just happen’? Metal ‘slugs’ are the quintessential salmon lure, and should take pride of place in your backpack lure tray. While there’s great variety in shape, size and colour, the advantages remain the same, regardless of your metal selection. They’re heavy enough to cast good distances, they sink quickly, even in rough water, and they distribute a flash and flutter that says ‘eat me’ when cranked through the suds. When packing metals for a salmon session, it’s important to choose weights that align with your rod selection. There’s no use trying to hurl an 80g brick on a rod designed to throw 40-50g offerings. Most rods these days indicate their prime lure pairing weight, so keep this in mind when you’re making a purchase. I can assure you you’ll cast much further with a correctly balanced outfit. In saying this, it is a good idea to carry a few different weights within your rod’s capacity. For example, my preferred lure weight is 40g, but I always www.spooledmagazine.com.au


carry some 50g options in case the wind or swell is making life tricky. A little extra weight does allow you to maintain some control when dealing with the elements. When it comes to shape, some metals offer greater aerodynamics compared to others. I have a strong preference for smaller lures with a streamlined profile compared to those with a greater surface area for the same amount of weight. Furthermore, look for lures that are weighted towards the tail, as these tend to cast like bullets!

//RETRO METALS While metals account for massive numbers of great fish, they’re certainly not perfect. Salmon have relatively soft mouths and are notorious for violently shaking their heads and spitting lures, usually in the final breaker before you have them high and dry. This can be incredibly frustrating, particularly on days when the backwash from large waves is prominent. In an effort to reduce the number of lost fish, I choose almost religiously to change my treble hooks to single ‘in-line’ options. These tend to hold a lot better, particularly in larger fish, and aid the conversion rate significantly. Another approach is to move away from the traditional back hook and opt for assist hooks, such as those seen on deep water jigs. Assist hooks seem to minimise the salmon’s ability to use the weight of the lure to its advantage when jumping and attempting a jail break. Finally, opting for single hooks rather than trebles makes for a far easier and safer hook removal, reducing the potential injury to both angler and fish! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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In terms of retrieving metals, nothing fancy is required. I tend to let the lure sink momentarily before completing two rips with the rod to bring the lure to life. I believe that this creates a bit of commotion that can raise interest in salmon patrolling the nearby gutter or reef edge. From this point it’s a simple case of a medium to fast retrieve, keeping your rod tip down where possible to reduce the instance of the lure finding its way to the surface.


Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

Salmon on metals – so much fun!

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A small variety of lure types and weights is all you need! //PLASTICS If looking to change things up or present something a little more lifelike, soft plastics are a brilliant option for salmon. While they can be challenging to cast great distances, they prove to be absolute dynamite when conditions allow for their use. Baitfish profiles in the 3-5 inch range are terrific and are my preferred option, as they tend to cast a little easier. In saying that, paddle tail plastics and even curl-tail grubs have a tendency to also get walloped, provided they reach where the fish are holding. If flicking plastics from the surf, you’ll need to beef up your jig-head weight to aid your casting, so keep this in mind when stocking your lure tray. One of the distinct advantages to fishing plastics is that salmon seem to find them harder to ‘spit’ when they become acrobatic. Their light weight and single hook profile are advantageous here, so ensure you’ve got as stash of plastics and jig heads at the ready. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//POPPERS AND SURFACE STICK BAITS Surface strikes are, in my opinion, the pinnacle of fishing and, at times, salmon fishing offers an opportunity for some top-water tango. While these lures are not conducive to high energy surf beaches, if fishing calm bays, estuaries or lagoon-like reef systems, you’ll be stoked to have one or two in the lure tray. Offerings in the 4-5 inch range are ideal and a steady retrieve that creates some commotion on the surface can see a brutal pack attack arise. Not only does this provide a visual element to your fishing, top-water casting also allows you to explore some fierce country that would eat heavy lures in a heartbeat. Again, a variety of lures allow you to fish a wide range of fishing scenarios effectively.

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A solid salmon and a deserted beach. Backpack fishing allows you to get away from the crowds. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Searching For Salmon – Backpack Style

//ON THE PLATE

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If you want to start a fierce debate amongst fishos, bring up the table qualities of Australian salmon. Some people love them, many turn their noses up at them and others just go along with hearsay and never give them a try. The fact is, like all things, it’s a matter of personal opinion, so I encourage you to make up your own mind by giving it a go. Australian salmon, particularly larger models, are quite strong in flavour, so if you are dispatching a few for the plate, ensure they are bled immediately after capture. Further to this, I like to cut out the dark blood line as part of the filleting process so that I’m left with a clean, light pink fillet to work with. While some go for a traditional method of cooking, my preference is to make Thaistyle fish cakes from my catch using a red Thai curry paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and spring onions. I think it’s a great way of utilising a relatively plentiful resource, and it’s always nice to bring home some tucker as a result of your efforts on the sand.

Salmon make the perfect base for Thai-style fish cakes. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//CONCLUSION Traditional bait fishing for salmon has always, and will always, account for some wonderful fish. However, the benefits of downsizing your gear, travelling light and actively tracking down these fish are immense. There’s so much joy in hitting the sand, clocking up a few steps and keeping things simple, so grab a backpack, hit the sand and start your search for salmon!

Calm seas and fired up salmon – happy days!

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Surf Fishing 101

Surf Fishing 101 THE SURF BEACHES ALONG VICTORIA’S RUGGED COAST ARE ALWAYS AT THEIR BEST WHEN WINTER WEATHER SE TS IN ACROSS THE STATE. JARROD DAY REPORTS.

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JARROD DAY

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You remember those days — the ones where you would rather pull the blanket back over your head and smash your alarm clock rather than get dressed. You then drive 100-plus kilometres, only to stand on a beach with another dozen or more hopeful anglers, all keen on getting tight to chunky surf salmon. Well, that time is now and those almost Arctic mornings are the key to a successful session, right along the Victorian Coastline. Surf fishing might not appeal to some, but when the weather is not practical for fishing on the bay or offshore, hitting the surf can be extremely rewarding and a whole lot of fun.

//PICK YOUR GUTTER AND FISH THE TIDES

Firstly, it is imperative that you find a ‘gutter’. Gutters tend to be bluish or greenish in colour, signifying deeper water. These can be spotted by standing and viewing the beach from a higher vantage point rather than on the shoreline. From here, by scouring

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Successful surf anglers know all too well the importance of both fishing in a gutter and fishing the tides. The approach to surf fishing shouldn’t be that complicated — unless you don’t know what you are looking for.


Surf Fishing 101

the beach both left and right, you’ll notice waves breaking and distinct sections where they are not. These areas where the waves are not breaking are known as gutters or rips. Gutters are the deepest sections along a surf beach and where the fish will be lurking looking for food.

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With each tidal movement the crashing waves dig out the gutters, meaning that they can change location along a beach. A gutter you fished one 88 week might be slightly left or right of where it was before, or could run horizontal to the beach. These changes all depend on the tides and wind conditions that cause gutters to form. As the tides rise and push up the beach, the waves pound the sand, digging it away and creating the gutter. In doing so, this action stirs up any crustaceans what may be living under the sand, exposing them. Fish are accustomed to this and naturally will hold in gutters looking out for food. When approaching the beach, select your gutter. You don’t have to be too specific; just find one that you’ll have to yourself. Overcrowding a gutter always ends in line tangles, so be wary when you hit the beach. Unless you have the flexibility of being able to fish almost every day, you’re not always going to be able to fish when everything aligns. In saying that though, you can still pick which day is going to be best simply by watching the weather conditions/moon phase and tides on one of the many weather apps. Furthermore, prime time for fishing the surf is the lead up to high tide. This means getting there a good two hours before the peak and leaving around two hours after. This way the gutters have begun to be formed and the fish will be in close looking for food. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Also keep in mind the weather conditions. While I’m not too fussed about the rain, wind can be the biggest challenge. It is always important to watch the wind strength and direction. While a strong wind can make the swell bigger, it also makes it really messy and with that, you then have side wash to combat. Side wash is a nightmare, preventing your baits from staying in the gutter. The force of the wash will drag your sinker either left or right down the beach. Then, due to the swell also ripping up hordes of kelp, it becomes an almost unbearable situation to fish. This is because you’ll constantly be battling the side wash and snagging up on the kelp.

That’s one huge stretch of beach with many gutters. You can see why using berley to attract fish to your location is important.

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Surf Fishing 101

When looking for a gutter, just find the bluish/greenish coloured water. If you can refrain from fishing until one of those days of overcast and 15 knot southerly or south westerly wind directions, you’ll be in for a treat.

//BAIT ‘N’ BERLEY

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Getting to a nice deep gutter and lobbing out a four-inch piece of bait along a 90 5-10km stretch of beach isn’t really going to bring in a multitude of fish. Don’t get me wrong; you’ll catch a fish or two, but for numbers of fish, especially if there are a lot of anglers on the same beach, a proven fishing method is to use berley. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count with to tell you how many times I have hit the beach armed with a bag of berley and repeatedly watched other anglers just casting out their baits and catching nothing while I’m doing well.

There are many ways to berley in the surf, and using a bag is the most effective. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


On approach to your chosen gutter, it is good to begin a berley trail right away before rigging your rods. This can be done by putting a concoction of chook pallets mixed with mashed up pilchards and tuna oil into an onion bag. Once the end of the bag is closed off and tied to a long rope, securely attach it to a fishing rod holder and stake into the sand. The bag should lay on sand above the shore break so that each wave hits the bag, taking with it some berley. This method works exceptionally well if you have around 3-4kg of chook pellets and will ensure a consistent trail for a good three hours without you having to do anything. If your berley is going too fast, move the bag further up the beach maybe another metre or more. Aim to have the bag on the sand in a position so that each wave that washes up the beach half covers the bag. Australian salmon are the least fussy fish I know and, providing the berley smells fishy, they’ll have a crack. Despite all the bait options available, it is still good to use a bait that does contain a high oil content and has quite a fishy smell about it, such as bluebait, whitebait and pippis. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Surf Fishing 101

Generally, when it comes to threading on a whitebait or bluebait onto the hook, I am more likely to cut the head off. This makes a bait that is more easily threaded onto the hook and small enough that most sized fish will eat it in one go and not pick at it.

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Pippis, on the other hand, do require a little more patience in threading on, as they can fall off more easily during a cast, as well as fish being able to take them without hooking up. In this case it is a good idea to put two pippis on and really wrap them onto the hook. Going one step further, you can use bait elastic and tie the 92 pippi to the hook, which will further prevent it from coming off.

//RIGGING IT RIGHT There are a multitude of fishing rigs you can use in the surf, but none are better than the traditional two dropper paternoster rig.

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In its simplest form the paternoster rig allows two baits to be suspended above a sinker on small dropper arms. This is tied from a single length of leader line, preferably in 20-pound strength. Lighter leader can easily break if the beach has a lot of kelp about, so that little heavier and more abrasive leader will help. In some cases anglers may use a surf popper and put this onto one of the droppers. If so, the bottom dropper is the better choice, as it prevents any sand crabs from taking your bait. They are less likely to take the top dropper. Though surf poppers are

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Using a surf popper on the bottom dropper will help to avoid sand crabs stealing your baits.

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Surf Fishing 101

Half a bluebait or a whole bluebait with the head removed makes a top bait.

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The right terminal tackle is vital for catching salmon, strong lead and sharp hooks get the job done.

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effective, I personally like fishing a bait on each dropper. In most cases I’ll put a bluebait or whitebait on the bottom dropper and one or two pippis on the top dropper. On some days salmon will take one bait over another and by doing this, you can find out which they prefer. On other days they are just greedy and will take anything; in that case it really doesn’t matter. Having the sinker on the bottom of the rig will allow the entire set-up to be cast further due to the bulk of the weight being projected first when the cast is made. However, while many anglers attempt to cast their bait/rig as far out into the surf as possible, there is no need to do this if you’re using berley. You will only need to cast just beyond the shore break into the berley trail. Keep that in mind and adjust your sinker weight to combat any side wash or for your casting distance. Where possible, try to keep your sinker light (4-6oz) to aid in feeling for those bites when the fish are having a go at the baits. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Surf Fishing 101

Victoria’s surf beaches hold some quality salmon throughout the winter months.

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//THE ONE PER CENTERS Every angler has that one little thing they do differently to others that brings them a reward. While this could be a myriad of things, these ‘one per centers’ play a huge roll in fishing success. Despite knowing a lot about fishing, there just maybe that one thing you pick up that brings a lot of change. The use of berley and its effectiveness is most certainly one key piece of the puzzle that guarantees success as this is what will attract the fish to your gutter. While there can be plenty of little bits and pieces, aside from using berley, the second most important key in surf fishing is holding onto your rod at all times. Countless times have I seen anglers on a beach, all waiting for the bite with their fishing rod standing vertically in a rod holder. I am sorry, but with the surf battering the fishing line with each crashing wave, the only bite you’ll see is the one when a fish is hooked and thrashing about. What about the other ten bites you missed because they were disguised by the waves crashing? This is the main reason that you should always hold your rod in your hand with the line resting on your finger. Doing this will enable you to feel even the smallest bites from a salmon, allowing you to strike setting the hook. You will find by doing this, you’ll catch a lot more fish than you would have by leaving your rod in the holder. Winter surf fishing around Victoria is great fun. There are plenty of salmon to be caught, and some of quite respectable size. Simply by paying attention to the tides, fishing the gutters and flicking out some berley, you’ll be sure to catch your share. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Norway Bound

K AREN BROOKS

Norway Bound SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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AUSTRALIAN L ADIES FLY FISHING TEAM TO TAKE ON THE WORLD. K AREN BROOKS REPORTS.

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The first ever Australian Ladies World Fly Fishing Team has been selected to compete in the inaugural World Ladies Fly Fishing Championships, which will be held in the region of Rendalen, Norway (about three hours’ drive north of Oslo) from the July 4-10, 2022. There is much excitement in the team. The World Ladies Fly Fishing Championship has been postponed for two years due to COVID, but now looks sure to proceed in the coming months. Eleven Teams from countries around the world have entered Championship, including USA, South Africa, France, Czech Republic, New Zealand and Norway, the host country.

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Norway Bound

The Australian Ladies Team has been selected on individual rankings from Fly Fish Australia (FFA) State Competitions and National Championships over the past three years.

The team members are:

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Left to right: Casey Pfeiffer (SA), Julianne Stevens (Tas) - Team Manager, Julie Butler (Tas), Marian Miller (Vic), Jane Forster (ACT/NSW), Karen Brooks (Tas) - Team Captain.

//PREPARATION Serious preparation has been going on over the over the past five months. Aside from individual preparation, several group training sessions have been scheduled. A practice session was held in January on the Tyenna River in Tasmania. The team members fished with each other working on different techniques and skills. Sharing their knowledge and working together in a team environment was a bonding session for the girls. A second practice session was held over two days at Mount Beauty, Victoria, after the FFA National Fly Fishing Championships in February. This involved learning specific techniques aimed at catching Arctic grayling, which will be the target fish in Norway. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Taking a much needed time out after another practice session.

The team honing their skills on Tyenna River.

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Results like this will serve Casey Pfeiffer well in the upcoming championships. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Norway Bound

A presentation by Tom Jarman from FFA on the Kiewa River involved analysing and discussing fishing a river ‘beat’ in a competition. A ‘beat’ is a section of the river that a competitor is allocated to fish over a set period of time. Tom then demonstrated fishing the beat and improving competition techniques. One sector in the World Championships will be lake fishing from a boat. The second day practice involved improving still water or lake techniques. Glenn Eggleton of FFA discussed and demonstrated casting techniques that could be beneficial for the lake sessions, including being in touch with your flies, various retrieves and the “hang”.

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After the workshop a few members of the team stayed on to practise on the Mitta Mitta River. A further practice session was held in Tasmania in April where members of the team met with Coach Martin Droz on the Mersey River to refine techniques and work on further skills for targeting grayling. The girls were fortunate to have a casting ‘tune up’ day with Bob Young, who is a Master Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International – a beneficial session. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Still water Casting Demonstration with Glenn Eggleton.

Tom Jarman discusses fishing a river ‘beat’ with the team.

Julie Butler is all smiles with this nice healthy brown. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Norway Bound

Casting Tune Up with Bob Young.

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Tassie locals Karen Brooks (above) and Julieanne Stevens (right) with the results of another good practice session. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Marian Miller netted a nice brown during the river sessions.

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Jane Forster was more than happy with this nice rainbow.

Team with Coach Martin Droz.

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Norway Bound

//FLIES Additional preparation for the World Championships involves working out what flies to use in Norway. After much research, the team has been working with a Norwegian fishing guide who has been in the Norwegian Flyfishing Team. The team has recently received some examples of flies he uses for grayling. The team is now tying a selection of these flies and others on different hook and beads sizes so that they will be well prepared when they arrive in Norway. The team arrives one week prior to the Championship for practice on the designated practice waters.

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//FUNDRAISING To attend the World Championships in Norway is costly, and the Ladies Team has a generated a fundraising program. A raffle was held at the National Championships in February in Victoria, with a fly rod donated by one of the team’s sponsors – Essential Flyfisher in Launceston. The team was also approached by the Winter Gin Company in the Central Highlands of Tasmania, who offered to make a small batch gin to help with fundraising. This fundraiser has been a huge success. You can go on-line and buy a bottle of this small batch gin, 50 per cent of the sales supporting the team going to Norway. www.winterginco.com.au The Team felt it was important to them to give something back to the fly fishing community while they raised funds for Norway. This led to them organising a fundraising event to support Casting for Recovery. Casting for Recovery is a health and well-being program run by a group of breast cancer survivors and dedicated Fly Fishers who volunteer their time to hold free weekend retreats for people with, or who have had, breast cancer. www.castingforrecoveryvic.org Proceeds were shared 50/50 with Casting for Recovery and in addition to this, the proceeds from the raffle, held on the day, went entirely to Casting for recovery. The team would like to thank Manic Tackle for providing the first prize, a Primal Fly Rod valued at $499. Two boxes of flies tied by Stuart Young were the other prizes valued each at $150. During lunchtime, speeches were made, the raffle was drawn and the Team members were presented with their Australian Team blazers. The whole day was a huge success, and everyone involved had a great day of fun and fly fishing and making new friends. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


A major raffle was drawn on June 18, one week prior to the team departing for Norway on June 25. First prize was donated by Miena Village, home of the great Lake Hotel, and is three days’ accommodation with food for two anglers and two days boat hire, valued at $2000. Second prize is one day’s guided flyfishing for two anglers by Karen Brooks, Captain of the Team, valued at $1,100. Third prize is 100 Competition Trout Flies tied by the Team members, valued at $400.

Fundraising Day for Casting For Recovery

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If you would like to support the women’s team, you can contact me as well. The team is continuing to practise as much as possible. They are very excited about representing Australia and Australian women who fly fish at the inaugural World Ladies Fly Fishing Championships. They also look forward to meeting and fishing alongside many great female fly fishers from around the world.


The Lure of it all - Ollie Hardt

the lure of it all

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STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING

STARLO SHIF TS FOCUS TO ANOTHER OF AUSTRALIA’S AWARD-WINNING BOUTIQUE LURE MAKERS.,

Ollie Hardt Ollie loves his trips up north, chasing fish like hard-pulling trevally…

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Queenslander Ollie Hardt has been crafting beautiful timberbodied lures for almost a quarter of a century, yet his stunning efforts may well have flown under the radars of even some of the keener connoisseurs and collectors of Aussie hand-made lures. There are likely a few reasons for this, not the least of them Hardt’s modest, unassuming nature, his limited output, and a couple of name changes for his product line across those decades. “I started making lures under the name ‘Ollie’s Lures’ back in 1989,” Ollie explained. “In the mid 90s this changed to ‘Stingray Lures’. However, in more recent years, I’ve re-named my lures ‘Ollie’s Handcrafted Lures’, to emphasise the hands-on aspect.”

… and poppersmashing queenies! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Ollie grew up in Germany and began fishing as a youngster, targeting rotfeder (rudd), blei (freshwater bream), and schleie (tench) using a range of popular coarse fishing methods that mostly involved light tackle, finely-balanced floats and various small baits.


The Lure of it all - Ollie Hardt

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“I remember hiding my telescopic rod up under my jacket, because I wasn’t old enough to have a fishing licence!” Ollie laughed. “Later, I moved on to chasing eels, redfin perch, pike and zander, using both live baits and spinners. As well as having lots of fun, I almost always seemed to manage to bring something home for our cat to eat!” These days, in addition to crafting exquisite wooden lures, Ollie runs his own wellestablished horticultural operation, as well as a successful graphics business called ’Xpose Signs & Graphics. As a result — and just like a lot of the other successful lure makers I talk to — Ollie doesn’t get anywhere near as much time to go fishing himself these days as he’d like. “I’m so busy running my businesses,” Ollie lamented.

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Ollie Hardt’s lures are unique and truly exceptional. No wonder he’s picked up so many awards!

“Also, for the past two years, I’ve been a volunteer Exhibitions Coordinator for Sculpture Queensland. But I’m looking to change all that very soon, and to get more heavily back into making lures… and going fishing! “I’ve always enjoyed the different environments fishing takes me to, especially with friends,” Ollie continued. “From the tropical extremes of Weipa and its big pelagic species, to the beautiful fresh waters of the New England area, chasing trout and Murray cod.”

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The Lure of it all - Ollie Hardt

As already mentioned, Ollie first began making lures in 1989. “I was fishing a lot with lures at the time,” he explained. “I remember thinking I wouldn’t mind having a go at making them… especially after losing a few! I thought it’d be great to make a lure that specifically suited my style of fishing, particularly walking creek and riverbanks chasing bass. So, I started carving a small, shallow-swimming style of minnow lure that was around 50 mm long. I also did a deeper-diving version of it for the dams.”

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Amazingly life-like detail and stunning, vibrant paint jobs are among Ollie’s recognisable trademarks.

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Soon, Ollie began selling some of his unique products to other keen anglers and later they became ‘Stingray Lures’. The name came from the fact that, when viewed from above, one of his models had a similar profile to a stingray. But despite Stingray’s growing fame, lure making has always been more of a hobby than a career for Hardt. He even laughingly refers to it as his “therapy”.

Hardt’s lures catch fish all over the world!

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The Lure of it all - Ollie Hardt

“I really enjoy crafting lures, but I think I’d look at it differently if I actually had to make a living from it,” Ollie admits. “Back in 1998 I started investigating plastic injection moulding, and I did manage to get some moulds made for the Stingray 65, 50 and 40 mm models, as well as the Drazil in 95, 65 and 50 mm lengths. I produced small quantities, but quickly saw that it was going to be a numbers game, where I’d need to churn out a lot of lures to make any sort of living. That wasn’t for me. I just enjoy working with timber a lot more, so I went back to 114 it, and I’ve decided to stay with timber. SPOOLED MAGAZINE

“I’ve always loved working with timber,” Ollie continues. “Very buoyant timbers like red cedar, jelutong and beech give a nice ‘busy’ action to a lure, while denser timbers like Queensland maple, Chilean myrtle and silky oak are required for the toothier pelagic critters.”

Ollie has been a big supporter of the annual Lure Expo.

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I asked Ollie to list some of the achievements he’s most proud of: “My proudest moments in lure making mostly come from helping others catch their first fish, or first of a new species, on a lure — and seeing them become hooked for life,” Ollie enthused. “It brings back great memories for me — about how stoked I was when I started lure fishing.

Ollie with a few of his welldeserved Lure Expo awards.

It’s not hard to see why Hardt’s work wins accolades!

Ollie currently makes close to 20 different lure models, but his personal favourite remains the Stingray. “It’s a unique design, has a busy action, and offers great hook exposure,” Ollie explains. “It’s had plenty of fine-tuning over the years, and it’s

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“Winning some awards at the annual Lure Expo is something else I also remember proudly, but very humbly. I was fortunate enough to take out the Most Artistic Lure award for the first time in 2013. Then, in 2015, I scored Ornamental Lure of the Year and was runner-up in the Artistic category, and in 2016 I won both the Most Artistic Lure and the Ornamental Lure of the Year categories.”


The Lure of it all - Ollie Hardt

A solid red bass taken on one of Ollie Hardt’s poppers.

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a great fish catcher. The Mac-ray 125 — a solid lure with an alloy bib — has also caught some nice fish over the years. My Fraser Popper, being a surface lure, is very exciting to fish with, too, especially for longtail tuna. And the Bony — inspired by observations of bass harassing a school of bony bream — works great in impoundments.” I asked Ollie to outline the harder parts of designing a new lure: “It can take some time to get a lure right for a particular target species or environment,” he responded. “I remember my first trip to Weipa testing lures. Lures needed to be bullet proof, as the fishing is savage up there. The finish, strength and action need to be exactly right, too.”

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Insects…

Fish...

Crustacea… Ollie has them all covered!

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The Lure of it all - Ollie Hardt

Ollie Hardt’s awe-inspiring work often blurs the line between lure making and art.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Ollie’s advice to anyone getting into lure making or thinking about 118 doing so is to first visit LureLovers. com and learn the absolute basics. He also suggests being creative and different, rather than copying what’s already been done. Ollie reckons the possibilities are endless: if you think outside the square and really study the habits of fish and their prey.

Not surprisingly, more and more collectors are getting onto Ollie’s lures every year. “But have a theory and a reason for all aspects of your lure designs,” Ollie stressed. “By that I mean, have a reason for using a keel design here, or a fat tail there or whatever. Don’t just do it because you can, or you think it looks good. There needs to be a genuine, practical reason for every aspect of lure’s design.” www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Squid and cuttlefish brought to life in timber.

How’s the detail in this paintwork? Gob-smacking! But, above all, Hardt stressed that it’s also important to really enjoy lure making, and to not let it become a chore. “I think lure making will always be a hobby for me,” he admitted. “I enjoy the process from concept to the end result — and there’s always room for improvement!” Ollie sells his lures directly to keen fishers and collectors, who can contact him via his page on Facebook or his Instagram account. With all his other activities and businesses to balance, Ollie’s lure output remains relatively modest, and sometimes it can take a little while for him to fulfil an order… But with Ollie Hardt’s exceptional lures, that wait is always worthwhile. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


What’s NEW? SPOOLED LOOKS AT WHAT’S NEW IN THE MARKE T. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY OF THE PRODUCTS, SIMPLY TAP THE BUT TON SHOWN.

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MUSTAD MEZASHI KEEL TAIL MINNOW The Mustad Keel Tail Minnow plastics are constructed from Japanese PVC using German plasticisers and American colouring material. This combination brings to the market a brilliant range of soft plastics that are easy to use and can be rigged in numerous ways. Rigging options include jighead rigged, weighted and unweighted worm hook rigged or used as trailers for jigs and spinnerbaits. The Keel Tail Minnow comes in two sizes, 3” and 3.5”, with 8 colours in the range

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


DAIWA TD SOL MQ Daiwa’s new TD Sol MQ has received the full body treatment to elevate it to a new level of design, performance, and strength. It has never looked so good or performed so well, with its new Monocoque Body (MQ) technology delivering all the benefits anglers have enjoyed in higher-end reels such as Exist, Certate and Saltiga.

Daiwa’s high carbon composite Zaion V materia is used in the MQ, resulting in a reel body that is incredibly strong and rigid and impervious to corrosion from the harsh salt water angling environment. Rotor and bail arm design takes a leap forward as well, with a zaion air rotor and seamless onepiece Airbail construction usually reserved for reels like EXIST and Certate. If you’re in the market for a feature-packed small spinning reel capable of tussling with a host of fresh and salt water predators, look no further than the eye-catching TD Sol MQ.

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This is the biggest upgrade in spinning reel design from Daiwa for many years, eliminating traditional two-piece body construction. MQ design allows the use of larger internal gearing and eliminates the use of side plates. Its screwless body design eliminates potential entry points for water and grime, as well as significantly enhancing overall body strength and rigidity.


What’s New?

SHIMANO LUGGAGE

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The Shimano Wading Bag with Rod Rest is a premium waist pack purpose designed for all forms of beach and flats fishing. This super comfortable bag has two large side pockets and a heavy duty rod holder designed to keep your rod dry when unhooking fish, tying rigs or changing lures. The large main compartment has mesh sleeve storage 122 and an adjustable Velcro divider to make the most of the space. With one tackle tray included, the Shimano Wading Bag with Rod Rest comes primed and ready for action. The Shimano Surf Shoulder pack is packed full of features for the dedicated bait fishing beach angler. Designed for use in the sand and salt, the clever design has a heavyduty draining mesh bottom and a removable internal PVC bait sleeve on non-corrosive press studs. With an integrated 30cm guide measurement and plenty of storage pockets for tools and line, the Shimano Surf Shoulder pack is perfect for keeping essential tackle sorted when fishing for bream, whiting, and other surf dwelling species.

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22 TD ZERO The all new 22 TD Zero rod range combines contemporary looks and Daiwa’s latest advanced designs and technologies. An HVF Nanoplus blank provides optimum sensitivity and minimum weight, while the X45X full shield construction used in the lower section of the blank increases torsional stiffness. This provides resistance to twisting, eliminating blank distortion and enhancing blank strength and durability.

A combination guide train of Fuji Stainless Steel and Titanium SiC anti tangle guides is the key to the new TD Zero rod range. The use of lightweight titanium framed guides on the tip section of the rods removes weight, increases responsiveness and heightens angler feel. Daiwa’s new Air Sensor reel seats deliver in looks, strength and efficiency. The TD Zero rod series features 16 models, including nine spin and seven baitcasters.

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The mid join two-piece models in the range receive the benefits of V-Joint Alpha technology, with the bias wrap construction within the ferrule eliminating weak and flat spots and keeping the weight down to create a truly one-piece feel.


What’s New?

22 DAIWA LUGGAGE The new Daiwa Luggage for 2022 bridges the gap between fishing and everyday lifestyle bringing you a fresh range of luggage that looks great on and off the water.

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Combining both function and style the new Guide Series introduces three items designed to standalone or be combined as part of our bag-on-bag system. The Guide Backpack is tailor made for long days walking streams, travelling, and working, and is the perfect everyday bag. Each Guide Backpack comes with 1x Tackle Trays inside. The Guide Waist Pack is a great hip or waist bag for the angler who is on foot all day long and is made from tough Denier material. The Guide Phone Pouch is the essential item for the mobile angler with a clear touchscreen-friendly front window, waterproof zip, and storage room for credit cards and folded notes making it ideal to keep your phone safe and secure while out on the water. A restyled DVEC Sling Bag is the perfect bag for land based anglers and features a one shoulder/sling design that swivels around to the front of the body for easy access. There’s no better time to get packed and ready for day on the water with the new Daiwa luggage range.

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SHIMANO JIJIL FLASHBOOST The Bantam Jijil FlashBoost is a new and exciting jointed finesse stickbait that has been designed to imitate a variety of common baitfish species. It has a unique action and can be used in several ways. It can be retrieved using a simple, straight wind and pause for a subtle gliding surface profile. Alternatively, you can activate the Bantam Jijil’s ultra-realistic hinged lure head with gentle twitches of the rod tip to trigger those aggressive surface strikes. Featuring Shimano’s patented FlashBoost technology and Kyorin holographic scale, the Bantam Jijil is deadly on Australia’s iconic surface feeding natives like bass, estuary perch, mangrove jack and even flathead in shallow water. It’s fitted with high quality treble hooks and rings.

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What’s New?

J-THREAD FC X-LINK

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Daiwa’s introduces a new leader and a new concept in line design and construction with the release of the new J-Thread FC X-Link (Cross Link). An innovation in fluorocarbon line developed exclusively by Daiwa, the X-Link 126 construction method alters the molecular structure of the line itself, bonding individual particles on a chemical level to alter line form and function. This change in the chemical composition results in a line that is stronger for its given diameter than non-XLink fluorocarbon lines. The X-Link method also produces a line that is incredibly limp and supple, resulting in a more manageable line with a significant higher knot retention rate. Made in Japan, J-Thread FC X-Link sets a new benchmark for leader material in Australia. Available in 4-20lb breaking strains in 70 or 50m spools J-Thread FC X-Link is the new go-to leader to reach for for Aussie anglers.

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ZMAN HERCULEZ SWIMBAIT Born of a collaboration between ZMan Fishing Products USA and Tackle Tactics Australia, the HerculeZ has been developed and refined over a couple of years, with sketches, CAD drawings and eventually samples travelling back and forward between countries. A detailed natural shad body has all the features to represent a wide variety of baitfish, drawing aggressive strikes from predatory species. The unique boot tail design puts out plenty of thump and vibe, while upturned 3D eyes provide an additional strike trigger. Best of all, this swimbait is made from ZMan’s amazing 10X Tough ElaZtech material — soft, life-like, supple and buoyant for a natural presentation, and virtually indestructible. Built on a tough, extra heavy-duty Mustad hook, the HerculeZ is ready to take on the big hitters, with an additional throughwire, stainless steel belly attachment point that is ideal for adding a treble or stinger, for additional hook points, or blade for added flash and vibration. Available in 4” and 5” sizes, HerculeZ comes in 8 proven ZMan colours. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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What’s New?

ZMAN 4” GOAT TOADZ The ultimate topwater presentation has arrived, designed in conjunction with ZMan customers and fans over a period of about a year, as they offered feedback on shape, size, design features, colour and more, throughout the digital design, 3D printing, single shot moulding, and testing process.

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The 10X Tough ElaZtech construction provides extreme durability and buoyancy, while a bulky, yet streamlined body allows for long casts on a 5/0 or 6/0 TT ChinlockZ hook and a plastic that skips extremely well. Once it’s on the water the thin legs and cupped kicker feet create that fish attracting bubbling and gurgling that drives fish crazy on a slow, medium, or fast retrieve. The GOAT ToadZ is 4 inches in length, initially available in 8 colours and other key features include a V-shaped keeled belly that assists with stability and rapid lift out of the water, belly hook slot to assist with weedless rigging and ridges on the back to help protect both single and double weedless hooks from snagging or fouling.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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STEEZ ASROC SPINNERBAIT Featuring the advanced design and detail we’ve come to love and expect from Steez products, the new Asroc spinnerbait has an ultra-strong construction, is built on one of Daiwa’s legendary super sticky SaqSas hooks and features double- bound and glued hand-tied skirts. In contrast to the original Steez Spinnerbait the new ASROC models delivers a higher level of vibration through the water, with a double Colorado blade configuration increasing blade and bait pulse and vibration. A characteristic that is tailor made for dirty water and for vibration and flash loving species such as yellowbelly, Murray cod and sooty grunter. The Steez Asroc is available in two sizes (3/8oz and 1/2oz) and six high detail colours, destined to catch anglers and fish alike. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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What’s New?

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TOADFISH – STOWAWAY FILLET SYSTEM The Toadfish Stowaway Fillet System combines both the Folding Fillet Knife and Folding Cutting Board in a neoprene case designed for ease and safety of transportation. All items are available individually or as a Stowaway Fillet System in two sizes — a 7-inch knife and standard board or an 8.5-inch knife and extra large board. The clever Stowaway Folding Fillet Knife combines the high-end performance and ergonomics of a full-length fixed knife with the safety and versatility of a folding knife. Features include a full-length ergonomic handle, titanium corrosion-resistant components, titanium coated blade, non-slip raised rubber grip and stowaway carabiner. The Stowaway Cutting Board fits easily into kitchen drawers, boat boxes, tackle bags, or travel packs, and is constructed from solid, non-porous, highdensity polyethylene material for safe food handling. It’s equipped with a built-in two-stage knife sharpener (carbide section and ceramic section) and anti-skid bottom. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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TATULA SV 70TW The Tatula baitcaster family welcomes its newest and smallest member with the release of the new Tatula SV 70 TW. A new frame size for the famous reel line-up the new finesse inspired 70-size reel is the smallest, lightest, and most palmable Tatula reel Daiwa has ever produced.

Reel performance is further enhanced with Daiwa’s SV spool and T-Wing System (TWS) delivered supreme casting performance and consistency. From feather light soft plastics to heavy topwaters and spinnerbaits the new Tatula SV 70 TW delivers ultimate casting versatility. The Tatula’s list of features and technologies is long and detailed with Magforce Z, UTD Drag, Aluminium Body, Infinite Anti-Reverse, CRBB, Alloy Handle, and Zero Adjuster combining to make the new 70 sized Tatula one of the standout baitcaster releases of 2022.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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The design and performance brilliance of the new 70 size Tatula begins with Daiwa’s Hyperdrive Design Concept, a four pillar concept featuring Hyper Armed Housing, Hyper Tough Clutch, Hyper Double Support and most importantly Hyperdrive Digigear. The result is a finesse sized baitcaster with unmatched smoothness, strength and durability.


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