Soft Plastics Tips

You know there has been a lot written about the art of soft plastic use – the do’s and don’ts, the why the why not’s, the how’s and the how to. In this informative article soft plastic specialist ‘Squidgie’ tells all there is to know about ‘plastics.

In the hands of someone that knows plastics, they can out-fish a bait fisher most times day or night. Yes, even night time is a good time to use plastics! With so many plastics on the market proper selection can get confusing. To name a few there are curly tail grubs, T-tail grubs, worms, shads, fish and swim baits, flicks, shrimps, minnows, and many more to mention.
Jacks are suckers for well-presented soft plastics as proven in this picture.

Jacks are suckers for well-presented soft plastics as proven in this picture.

Where To Start?

Some of the brands are, Squidgys, Berkley Power, Berkley Gulps, Atomic Ripperz, Ecogear, Fire baits, Manns, Samaki, Sliders, Snapbacks, Surecatch, Storm, Tsunami, Z Man and a many new others on the market. A newbie to walking into a tackle shop can be faced with a mind boggling decision. “Where do I start first?” . My advice is to ask the man behind the counter. It’s his business and his lively hood to know what works and what don’t in the local area. First don’t be put off by people saying plastics fishing is too hard. It’s not and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use them.

The KISS Principle

Employ the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) policy and you can’t go wrong. All you need is a jig head and a soft plastic and you’re on your way (well almost). When I first started of using plastics I was a diehard bait fisher and nothing could turn me to the dark side. That sort of fishing was for the new age fisher not some old salt like me. I didn’t like the smell of them let alone the look of them.
Another top-quality snapper caught on a plastic.

Another top-quality snapper caught on a plastic.

A Change Of Habits

First off I had to change my fishing habits from bait fisher to lure fisher. Out with the old bait rods as they are too soft for plastic work. And out with the old mono line as well – too much stretch and lure will not swim so well. You will need to put in to get plastic working new reels as well as the old plastic cover reels just won’t hack all the work that they will be up for.

Rods To Match

A suitable rod for plastics casting needs to be graphite. To get started you will need a soft plastics rod. There are heaps on the market, I would suggest a 1gk to 3kg for bream or a 2kg to 4kg for flathead work,. Some of the better rods available are from Samurai, G Loomis, Daiwa, Shimano, Wilson, Samaki and Pflueger. The list is endless. If you stick with a good brand and you can’t go wrong. The 1kg to 3kg outfits are good for light jig heads – say to 1/12 of an ounce in weight. The 2kg to 4kg is perfect for flathead fishing, it has the balls to handle school jew and also bream in deeper water on heavy jig heads. I use this rod for all types of fishing – even when using lures and outside in the deep blue fishing for snapper on plastics.

Bream and plastics go together perfectly.

Snapper on plastics - a great way to catch these fine sports fish.

Snapper on plastics – a great way to catch these fine sports fish.

What To Pay?

Most tackle outlets will have combos specially designed for soft plastic work. Prices start around $80, most upward of that price point are of good quality. When you are first starting out to use soft plastics I’d suggest keeping an eye out for Squidgy, Berkley Gulps, Z Man or Atomic Guzzlerz’s. With these you can’t go wrong. They cover all types of fishing from bream right through to trout. With jig heads I’d suggest the Squidgy range or TT (Tournament Tackle) and Nitro. So many new soft plastics have hit our shores with vengeance and many have been catching heaps of fish. Be open to new ideas and if you see an interesting product give it a go, you never know.

Early Days Fishing Soft Plastics

Soft plastics have been around for a bloody long time. I can remember Mr Twisters in pink being use on the South Coast of NSW  when I was just 12-years-old.  I thought nothing more of it and yes, Mr Twisters are still around and still catching fish. Haven’t things come a long way? Many of us would not be using them but for all the shows on TV such as Steve Morgan and that bloke who loved to kiss, fish Rex Hunt. Things really took off when Starlo and Bushy come on to the scene. There are so, so many ways to us soft plastics it’s not funny.  

Jig Heads

Let’s concentrate on jig heads now. Round dart heads work well if used correctly. If you’re fishing in deep or shallow water I reckon the best way is to fish them is lift and drop. When I say that I mean toss line out with soft plastic attached and let the lure sink. If you are using braid you will see the line when it hits bottom it will flatten out on top of water. I then take up the slack, feel the lure, and then give a couple of very fast lifts. Let it sink again and repeat all the way back to the boat or shore.
It's important to always use the best balanced jighead/ plastic combination.

It’s important to always use the best balanced jighead/ plastic combination.

Faves For Flathead

Soft plastics I use for Flathead are Squidgy fish Black & Gold 70mm,100mm, Squidgy Drop Bear 70mm, 100mm, Any Squidgy Flick Bait 100mm, Berkley Gulp almost all, Atomic Guzzlerz, 4”Prong in all colours, just those few will catch you heaps of Flathead. For bream this is a kettle of fish we all have our own ways, for me I like to use 1/20 gm to 1/6 gm jig head, bream can be so bloody touchy but you can catch heaps if you slow your action right down by this I mean let lure sink and only use your wrist to bring lure of bottom, very finesses fishing, also around pontoons use hidden weights for slow decent bream tend to fish under pylons slow decent gives them time to look at lure and decide if they want to eat it.

Everyone’s favourite, the humble bream.


Bream Options

I love fishing for bream in deep water I will use anything from 1/20 to 1/6 in weight but the tide will dictate what weight. A lot of my fish will be caught on the drop say half way down most times you don’t even know they are on until you take up the slack and, ‘oh bugger a fish’. Using your sounder you can pick up the schools of fish. Using your electric you can hang over them or you can drift lure down to them. I love nothing better than drifting along picking up the odd fish here and there most of the time these are big fish. The main plastics I use for bream are Squidgy Wrigglers Blood Worm (any size up to 100mm), Berkley Gulp Shrimps in natural, Banana Prawn, Pepper Prawn, New Penny, (Minnows),Pepper Prawn, Sardine. The Atomic Guzzlerz in 2” Prong area also very good.

Finally, A Word On Braid

Braided line is a must but there are so many on the market. For beginners I recommend Berkley Fire Line Extreme, or Shimano Power Braid. Once again there are heaps of good products on the market and they all work just some better than others. Just remember it’s up to you to choose your rod, reel and soft plastic. The main point is don’t give up! Fishing with plastics is brilliant sport – once you master it you will never return to bait again.

About Gary Palmer

My name's Gary Palmer, I live on the North Coast of NSW and most fishers up this way know me simply as Squidgie. I have been fish since I was a kid growing up down the South Coast of NSW and cut my teeth on bream and flathead in Lake Illawarra. I've been living up here for over 30 years and have not used bait for many years. Soft plastics and hard body lures are my drug - well they say once you use these rubber bands it's welcome to the dark side. I write for fishing mags and had my own radio show on fishing for a long time until I became ill and couldn’t continue, but still do small reports on radio. I love bass and estuary perch fishing but bream and flathead are still up there for me. I also love blackfish don’t think there is anything better than watching a float go down with fish on. I am a river rat I love fishing rivers but I do fish beaches and occasionally go out in the deep blue.


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