The Best Land Based Gamefishing Lures

Choosing the right lures to use when gamefishing from the rocks might seem daunting but Goshie has been doing it for a long time and sheds some light on it for us in this great article.

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When it comes to targeting big gamefish from the rocks selecting the right lures for the job is absolutely essential. In this piece I’m going to look at some of the popular lures used by the current crop of Land Based Game (LBG) anglers and detail the best techniques for casting and retrieving them from the rocks. Some of these proven performers include the Surecatch Knight, Lively Lures Mack Bait, GT Ice Cream and the Rapala X-Rap. All of these lures should be included in any serious LBG tackle box as they are durable, they cast well and most importantly they have consistently captured quality pelagics around the entire Australian coastline.

Surecatch Knights

One lure that has become synonymous with high-speed spinning in the modern era of LBG is the Surecatch Knight. These metal lures are designed to imitate the shape of a baitfish and have an inbuilt swimming action. The Surecatch Knights come in seven different sizes ranging from 10-200 grams. This covers virtually every baitfish swimming in the ocean. For hunting down large pelagics my preferred size is the 85gm model.

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These versatile lures can be retrieved at various speeds for a wide variety of different species. With a traditional high-speed retrieve these lures are designed to dart and weave through the water like a terrified baitfish. Over the years I’ve had great success ripping them through the water at warped speeds for big Spaniards. I also love sight casting these chrome lures at pods of Longtail tuna, nothing beats watching a big bolting Longtail annihilate one of these lures as it’s skipping on the surface. I’ve even landed numerous cobia by jigging these chrome bars deep in the water column with a series of erratic movements. Having this ability to knock over so many species with the one lure certainly makes the Surecatch Knight one of the best all-rounders on the market.

Surecatch Knights are rear weighted and cut through the air with tremendous ease. This allows me to reach the strike zone even in moderate to strong crosswinds. Knights are made from chrome-plated brass and there is no problem with bouncing these lures over the rocks. I have also found that the large holographic sticker stays on extremely well on the Surecatch Knights. With some of the poor quality metals on the market the entire sticker can be prone to peeling off after handful of casts.

All Knights are fitted with quality Mustad hooks and heavy duty spit rings. However, when I’m chasing top line predators, I normally retrofit my 85gm Knights with a larger Mustad triple strength 4/0 hook. I have found that the increased gape with larger trebles often results in less pulled hooks, but this is only a personal preference.

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Lively Lures Mack Bait

The Mack Baits are classified as a bibless minnow and were designed by Alan Dolan from Lively Lures in the early nineties and they have been a perennial favourite amongst Aussie rock hoppers ever since. As a young keen rock fisherman who spent plenty of time fishing locations such as the Gold Coast Seaway in the 1980’s Alan wanted to create a multipurpose pelagic lure for targeting species such as mackerel, tuna and trevally.

After a year of lure sculpting and field testing Alan finally came up with a design which not only mimics the local baitfish population but also swims with a deadly action. When you observe the shape of a Mack Bait it is relatively thin across the body but broad in profile. This allows the Mack Bait to flash through the water and imitates common baitfish such as herring, mullet and yellowtail scads.

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When a Mack Bait is retrieved at high speed these lures vibrate through the water which makes them highly visible to predatory fish. To achieve this action Alan has designed the Mack Bait with a tight action which allows the lure to vibrate with the maximum number of beats per metre of travel. When casting these lures from the rocks I usually let then sink for approximately 5 seconds before cranking them in with a medium to high speed retrieve.

The Mack Baits are currently available in three sizes 4 inch, 5 inch and 7 inch. For casting and retrieving from the rocks my preferred size is the 5inch. These lures contain an internal lead weight in the front section of the lure and 5inch model weighs approximately 75gms.

In recent years I have used the 5 Inch Mack Bait at Steep Point in WA and it’s an awesome sight watching Spanish mackerel between 10-20kgs attack these lures with a sub-surface strike from the cobalt blue waters of Shark Bay. On the East Coast I have also been using Mack Baits at the Catwalk on the Central Queensland Coast. I have found that the Mack Bait will usually out fish metal lures during low light conditions and when floodwater water comes out of Round Hill Creek. The mackerel and tuna seem to be able to use their lateral line to hunt down these lures when these predators are not able to utilise their eyesight when water clarity is poor. I have also heard of anglers having good success with spinning up mackerel at night under the lights at the Mackay Breakwall in QLD with the larger 7 inch Mack Baits.

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GT Ice Cream

The GT Ice Cream is a surface plug that has been developed by enthusiastic shore based anglers from South Africa. As the name suggests they were initially made to target GT’s however in Australian waters these lures also work dynamite on species such as Spanish mackerel, Cobia, Longtail tuna and Queenfish.

These lures are made from a teflon like plastic with an internal stainless steel wire core. The Teflon material is super strong and is very resilient to constant abrasion from hitting the rocks. These surface lures come in many different sizes, shapes and colours ranging from 3/4oz to 6oz. My favourite of the GT Ice Creams are the skinny needle nose and the standard needle nose in the 4oz variety. These are perfect for sight casting surface cruising Longtails from locations such as 1770, Iluka and Forster. When retrieved from the rocks the needle nose GT Ice Creams constantly darts around with an erratic action which imitates baitfish such garfish which large predatory fish are always on the hunt for.

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Rapala X-RAP SXR14

When it comes to a finding a minnow which features a realistic swimming action it is very hard to go past the trusty Rapala X-Rap SXR14. Over the years I’ve seen this lure produce a wide variety of pelagic fish from both southern and tropical waters.

The Rapala X-Rap SXR14 is 14cm long and weighs only 43gms. The weight of this lure may seem a little bit light for shore based fishing, however any distance that you may potentially lose is certainly made up due to the superb action of these swimming minnows. This model of X-rap travels about a metre under the surface with an aggressive side to side track and this seductive action has fooled plenty of pelagic predators. These lures work best with a medium paced retrieve, avoid winding these minnows too fast as they will simply skip out of the water.

To get some extra casting distance when throwing X Raps from the rocks I like to use a lighter 30lb spinfishing outfit with a longer 9-10ft rod. Another neat trick to get a little more distance when casting these minnows is to upgrade both your split rings and trebles to extra heavy duty ones, this will add some extra weight to the lure and can improve your casting distance by around 10m.

The most popular colour amongst rock fisherman seems to be the classic glass ghost colour. These lures work extremely well on kingfish from the NSW south coast ledges. I have also seen plenty of Spanish mackerel and Giant Trevally landed on the Rapala X-Rap SXR14 from popular northern ledges like the Catwalk in QLD and the Quobba coast in WA.

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When Quality Counts

Lure casting for large pelagic fish is both demanding and very rewarding at the same time. Spinning from the rocks is all about putting in the hard yards and those dedicated anglers who are willing to put in the casts will always hook the most fish. The harsh environment associated with land based gamefishing and the size of fish encountered can really take its toll on both your gear and tackle. As a result all lures need to be of high quality. Choosing to use top quality lures will not only get you hooked up more often, but these lures will also give you the best chance of landing that fish of a lifetime.


About Goshie

Goshie has been targeting large pelagic gamefish from the ocean rocks for over 16 years and is one of the most experienced LBG anglers in Australia. This keen rockhopper began his LBG career in the late nineties by chasing smaller pelagics such as bonito, rat kings and Aussie salmon from the sandstone ledges in his hometown of Sydney.

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