Breaming for beginners

By Ryan Dixon

Lure fishing is quickly becoming one of the most popular sports in Australia, with more and more people wanting to try their hand at artificial bait fishing. On my last few fishing trips I’ve been joined on my boat by people who have never even cast a lure. The satisfaction I’ve experienced, from teaching them and seeing the smile on their face when they catch their first fish, has been more rewarding than catching a fish myself. With the amount of different lures, scents, rods, reels and line available to anglers these days, choosing what to use can be most confusing, especially to someone who has never fished with soft plastics before.

In this article I’m going to outline my secrets and the techniques that I use and share with people learning to fish with soft plastics for bream. From what tides to fish, lures to select, rod and reel to use and the best places to cast.

Rod & Reel Selection

When casting soft plastics for bream, choosing the right rod for the job is very important. A light graphite rod around 1-4kg and 7 foot in length is perfect, teamed with a 2000 size spinning reel, spooled with light braid from 3-6lb. Using light line is imperative, as most lures used for bream are small and light, with the light line allowing you to get maximum distance when casting. A fluorocarbon leader is also important when lure fishing, as braided line shouldn’t be tied directly to the lure. A rod length of leader (7 foot) is ample and can be tied easily to the braid with a simple double uni knot. The breaking strain of the leader should change in relation to the structure that you fish, but as a general rule I like to use 6lb leader.

Casting

I believe that casting accuracy is the most important aspect of lure fishing. The ability to be able to land a lure within a few centimetres of the structure that you are fishing will optimise your chances of catching. When I first started casting lures I recall putting a bucket in the backyard under a tree and I would try and cast into the bucket without getting caught in the tree. This definitely improved my catch rate as the difference between hitting the mark and falling short can often be the difference between catching or not.

Likely Areas to Catch Bream

Bream love structure and normally where there’s structure there’s bream. Bream can be found almost Australia wide and can be caught from most types of structure as they hunt for bait, barnacles, crabs and other tasty morsels. Structure can also provide a location from where bream can ambush prey and somewhere they can rest, out of the current. The structure doesn’t always necessarily need to be in the water, with overhanging trees and mangroves providing shade and creating a perfect place to target bream in the middle of the day. Fallen tree snags, rock walls, oyster leases, weed beds and bridge pylons are all good spots for targeting bream, with bridge pylons being my favourite. It’s worth searching for snags out of the water at low tide and coming back to fish them when the tide is high.

Tide

Choosing the right tide for the area you fish is also very important as bream will hold and feed in different areas at different times of the tide. Periods with less current also make structure easier to fish, as you have more chance of keeping your lure in the strike zone for longer. I find that on the top of the tide casting up into the mangroves is a perfect way to catch bream as they move up looking for food that they can’t access at low tide. Also on the top of the tide I stay away from deeper water, as bream will commonly move into spots where it’s normally shallow. At low water, when the tide has dropped out of the mangroves, the best spots to fish are fallen tree snags, bridge pylons and deeper channels.

Lure Selection

With the number of lures on the market these days, choosing what to use can be a tough decision. Personally I prefer a smaller plastic and one that needs as little action as possible added by the angler. There’s three lures that I rig when I take out people who are learning to use soft plastics.

Firstly the ZMan 2.5″ GrubZ. The GrubZ is the perfect lure for the first timer as it has maximum action for little work and can catch just about anything that swims. The second is the ZMan 2.5” Slim SwimZ which only requires a slow wind of the reel to get maximum action. Last but not least is the ZMan 2” CrusteaZ which is a small crab pattern that again doesn’t require much action from the angler.

Knowing what jighead to rig your chosen plastic on will depend on the amount of current in the water. As a general rule of thumb the slower the lure sinks the better, but not too slow that the current will wash it out of the strike zone. I find the TT Lures HeadlockZ 1/12oz weight is the perfect weight for most situations that I fish. Hook size will change from plastic to plastic but for the three lures mentioned above I use a size 1 for the GrubZ, a size 2 for the CrusteaZ and a size 1/0 for the Slim SwimZ. Adding a small amount of scent to your lure will also maximise your hook up rate, as not only does the lure look real, it will taste real. When using scent it pays to re-apply once you catch a fish or get a bite.

Retrieve


The biggest problem I see, when it comes to people learning to fish with soft plastics, is the way that they retrieve their lure. Most people fish their lure far too erratically, with their lure rarely getting down deep enough for a fish to eat it. I find that most of the time the soft plastics that I fish need as little movement as possible, often with just a slow wind and pause being enough to entice a bite.

Once the plastic has been cast it needs plenty of time to sink. It’s important to keep a keen eye on your line as it sinks as bream will often eat it before you have a chance to start your retrieve. When your line goes slack it means the lure has reached the bottom and it is time to start your retrieve. A couple of small hops of the plastic is a good starting point, whilst making sure the lure regularly comes back into contact with the bottom.

Obviously different structure requires a different retrieval, as fishing your lure too slow over a rocky bottom will increase your snag rate. When fishing bridge pylons, rather than casting as close to the pylon as possible it’s worth casting a couple of metres further and retrieving your lure past the pylon. You can learn a hell of a lot about your retrieve by swimming your plastic in a pool or in the shallows as you can see how the lure reacts to certain movements of your rod tip. Practice definitely makes perfect with soft plastics fishing and I believe knowing how to correctly work your lure is crucial.
Bream fishing can be rather frustrating at times but knowing what to use and how to use them will give you the edge you need to improve your catch rate.

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