Softbaiting Q&A: Tips from a pro - Part 1

Softbaiting Q&A: Tips from a pro - Part 1
Keen salt and freshwater angler Adam Royter has been knee-deep in soft baits for the last 20 years. What started for Adam as a tactic for tournament fishing in Australia has turned into an R&D job for Berkley. This month, he shares answers to some of the most common questions he’s asked about soft-baiting…


How long should my leader be?

For most applications, a leader length of 1.5 to 2 metres will suffice. This will give you enough length to cut off and re-tie about 20 times before you need to replace the leader. Keep in mind that winding the knot onto your spool means you need to take more care and have better line management skills. A knot wound onto the spool can pick up other loops of line as you cast and create a casting tangle.

What knot do I use to tie on my leader?

There are two knots that are quick and easy to use when tying on your leader, and one that takes a little practice to get right. Knots number one and two are the double uni knot, and five-turn surgeon’s knot. Both of these knots are quick to tie and are very strong.

The third knot, the FG knot, takes more time and practice, but once mastered, it’s by far the strongest knot you can tie! There are plenty of videos online demonstrating how to tie each of these knots.

Tip: When tying PE line (polyethylene fibre line or super line) to a leader, sometimes the leader will be considerably thicker than the PE. In this situation simply fold the PE line in half and tie the knot with two strands of PE instead of one.

FG Knot

What’s with the brightly coloured line?

You’ll often see soft-bait anglers using brightly-coloured lines. This is so they can see a fish bite as the lure is sinking, by watching the line move as it sits on the water. Being able to see a bite ‘on the drop’ (as the lure is sinking) is one of the most important aspects of this type of fishing. Some days you will get 50% of your fish on the drop.

What weight jig head should I use?

The weight of the jig head is directly related to the depth of water you intend fishing, whether or not that water is moving, or both. It also plays a part in getting plenty of distance when casting into the wind.

If you need to fish in the top 30cm of water then you will need very little weight (1/50-oz), maybe even none! But if you need to fish on the bottom in 40 metres of water, you could need as much as 1-oz. Here’s a rough guide to help you out.

The lure’s sink rate is governed to a large degree by the thickness of your leader and main line. Lines are affected by water resistance and the thicker the line, the slower it sinks. Sink-rate issues can often be overcome by using a thinner line.


What soft plastic tail should I use?

There is an entire article in this one question alone, but to put it simply, and in about 100 words or less, the best thing to do is to find out what fish species live in the area you intend on fishing and then do a little investigating.

Try to think of the food types that the fish would naturally eat. There are literally hundreds of different shapes, colours and scents available. If you’re at a loss, you should always start with a minnow-style soft-plastic. Small fish are always on the menu for big fish!

If you’re in totally unfamiliar territory and you just want to see what’s around, then start with a smaller soft-bait (two to three inches) and work your way up in size.

How big should my hook be?

Two things determine the hook size you should use.

First and most important is the size of the soft-bait. A good rule of thumb when working this out is to look at your soft-bait as if it were in thirds. If the hook comes out in the middle third, then you’re home and hosed!

The second thing is the type of fish you intend on catching and where it lives. Some fish live tight against weed and structure, which means you need to pull hard to get them out. In this situation, you’ll need a heavy-gauge wire hook to stop the hook from straightening out.

Before you start fishing, always check the sharpness of your hook’s point.

From trout to tuna all with a 1/8th. The difference lies in the hook - choose wisely!

When should I use another type of rig?

Since the most popular type of rig to fish a soft-bait is a jig head (hook with lead attached), most people don’t even know there are other ways to rig your jig! Here are three others that are suitable for New Zealand conditions:

Split-shot rig: A split-shot rig is as simple as putting your plastic on a hook (there are specific types of hooks for this job) and crimping a split shot onto the line in front of the hook. This rig is excellent for when you need to fish very light weights, or are looking for a different action to the traditional jig head.

Dropshot rig: A dropshot rig resembles a paternoster rig with the only real difference being that the hook is tied directly onto the line with a palomar knot (not a paternoster loop). There’s special dropshot sinker that allows quick changes in the distance between the hook and the sinker. Drop-shotting is an excellent way to fish deep, moving water; or to suspend your lure above weed or silt.

Texas rig:The Texas rig was initially designed to be fished in very weedy and heavily snag-laden country. It uses a wide gape worm hook, a bead and a bullet-shaped sinker to create one of the most snag resistant rigs of all time. It is great for any structure-oriented fish.

Use a thin diameter braid and top quality leader to ensure you’re getting the most from your setup

What colour plastic should I choose?

This is a tough question to answer in just a few words. Confidence is probably the most significant player when it comes to choosing a colour. Truth be told, the majority of colours we catch fish on have nothing to do with what fish naturally eat on a day-to-day basis. We tend to pick these colours either because we like them or because we’ve had success using them before.

In saying that, there’s a lot to be said for ‘matching the hatch’ or trying to copy the natural food source. I can guarantee all the bite-sized morsels that live in the water will be trying their very best to blend in, so if that means changing your colour to suit, well so be it!

What knot should I use to tie on my jig head?

When it comes to tying knots, you should always use the one you have the most faith in. There’s nothing worse than trying a new knot and having it come undone!

One of the knots I recommend is a uni-knot (universal knot). This knot is very simple to tie, has excellent knot strength and can be pulled out to make a swinging loop knot.

What type of rod do I need?

A graphite one, plain and simple!

Graphite is lighter, stiffer and more responsive. A good graphite rod won’t fatigue your arm during the 200 to 400 casts you’ll make in a day. A good graphite rod will also set hooks better, cast further, work your soft -plastics better, fight fish better and look a whole lot sexier than any old fibreglass rod. Do yourself a favour, make it graphite!

Length is one consideration, but the action is more critical. You want a rod labelled ‘fast’ or ‘extra fast’. That will give you good tip speed and enough fish fighting power. Most suitable rods are around seven feet long.


   This article is reproduced with permission of   
New Zealand Fishing News

March 2019 - Adam Royter
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited


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