Jump to content
sbarnden

Soft Plastic Rigging and Techniques

Recommended Posts

There are a few soft plastic techniques that I've read a bit about and had a go with in Europe but don't seem to have taken off here at all. From all the guides, tutorials, fishing shows and in-store tackles for Australia the sole plastics techniques I can see are free-lining and jig-head. So I thought I would write up a piece for this new section and see what people think, have you heard of these techniques and rigs, have you tried them and what sort of success have you had. Apologies for the quality of my phone pictures, it doesn't do well in indoor lighting. Plenty of high quality pictures and videos by other people on Google if your interested!

 

First up is the "Carolina Rig" and "Texas Rig:. Otherwise known as a running sinker rig with a soft plastics instead of bait. The key with both of these rigs is the worm hook allowing to to be setup in weedless configuration.

 

The Carolina Rig below has the sinker running on the mainline above a swivel with a short trace to the unweighted plastic. Also a selection of soft plastics that would typically be used with this kind of rig. They are also very commonly rigged with a "worm bait" which is just a soft-plastic stickbait without any tail. My worm hooks are a bit large for some of these baits, need to find a good wide gape worm hook in the smaller sizes.

DSC_0034.jpg  DSC_0033.jpg

 

The advantage of the Carolina rig is that as you bounce the sinker over the bottom kicking up puffs and getting attention the soft plastic is unweighted and should suspend weightlessly overhead on the stop, looking like a spooked bait item kicked off the bottom. I would suspect this would be a good rig for flathead allowing the bait to waft just over bottom with small movements getting attention. Being weedless it can be thrown straight into weed beds and other structure and slowly bounced out without risking too many snags. Being a sliding rig this also allows high sensitivity for bites and also stopped the fish feeling any suspicious weight when it attacks the lure. As the weight is above the swivel it should also allow a larger and heavier weight to be used than otherwise as the plastic itself it unweighted and its action should not be affected by the weight down the line.

 

The Texas rig is very similar to the Carolina rig except for the sliding weight being below the swivel.

DSC_0035.jpg  DSC_0036.jpg

 

I've got some conical bullet weights for making this rig up which also help reduce snagging. This allow this type of rig to be thrown straight into heavy weed, rocks, timber or other structure without so much worry as there is not much it can catch on. Very similar in this configuration to using a jig-head but the running weight gives the plastic a slightly different action in the water and more sensitivity with the bite.

 

Lastly there is the "drop shot" technique. This is a very popular and successful technique in Europe and North America with freshwater species but I don't see any major reason why it should be equally effective in the salt for some situations. The idea of this technique is to have a hook perpendicular to the main line with the weight below it. It primarily used from boat but can also be cast, although with the drop shot weights detailed below you can't cast too hard without loosing the weight. The finished rig looks like this:

DSC_0042.jpg DSC_0041.jpg

 

In the water the bait sits horizontal with the tension on the line and every small bounce or jerk causes it to flick about in the water looking like a distressed baitfish. When casting and retrieving or on the drift no rod action is really needed as long as the bottom is fairly hard as when the sinker hits and bounces along the bottom it sends jerks up the line giving action to the plastic.

 

The knot used to make the hook sit like that on the line is usually a Palomar knot, except instead of trimming the tag you leave it long as your sinker line. There are a whole range of dropshot hooks on the market overseas but here in Adelaide I've only found the worm hooks and mosquito hooks which work well with this technique, although and straight eye hook could probably do.

 

A selection of plastics and drop shot weights used for this technique:

DSC_0037.jpg

 

The best plastics are flickbaits and curly tailed grubs. Paddle tails can be used but the speed they need to be retrieved at to get the tail working means you are probably better off with a jighead.

 

Now the dropshot weights are a little unusual, they have a swivel on them but its designed to have a hole and slot. This allows you to just thread it on and pull the line into the slot to grip instead of having to tie them onto the line and allows weights to be changed and removed very easily. Haven't found drop-shot weights anywhere in Adelaide on the shelves but grabs some packets from Fisherman's Paradise in town that he found in an old bag of imported stuff from the States I believe that was stashed out back.

 

However it is possible to make your own. All that is needed is a swivel weight, a pair of pliers and jewelers screwdrivers or similar and wire. First you start off with a standard swivel weight:
DSC_0038.jpg

 

Then you put a piece of wire or use a flat head jewelers screwdriver to keep open the section at the base of the wire and crush it with your pliers. This creates a hole-and-groove. You can then slot your line through the hole and pull it into the groove to grip.

DSC_0039.jpg

 

They actually stay on fairly well. If you get snagged they just slide off the line so you can expect to lose a few, however the plus side is if they get snagged they slide off your line rather than loosing part of your rig! You can reduce the loss by tying a simple overhand knot at the bottom so they slide down and get caught on. Overhand knots reduce the breaking strain by about 50% so it will still be sacrificial if you hang up somewhere and have to pull to the break.

 

Because they just grip the line with the slot they can easily be pulled off and reset at any height along the sinker line.

 

With this rig because there is line coming out top and bottom of the hook fluorocarbon is important. The advantages are that the bait can be effectively suspended at a given height above bottom which can be adjusted as needed so you can make it so the sinker bounced through a weedbed with the bait jumping around just over the top of it. It also means that the weight and the plastic are separated, so you can have quite a heavy weight without effecting the action of the plastic if your over deep water or in strong current situations. It works with all sizes of plastics one of the most popular uses in Europe is targeting small perch with tiny plastics rigged like below:

DSC_0045.jpg

 

One of the biggest advantages is that it means you can have your plastic suspended in the water and just with jiggling the rod tip putting tension on and off the line cause your plastic to jerk around getting attention like a piece of distressed bait without actually moving anywhere. Great for targeting holding schools of fish which may be picky or off the bite as it can just sit there getting attention until they decide to commit.

 

I think it could work well for targeting holding bream, King George whiting schools with something like a gulp sandworm being positioned just above the top of the weedbed, any reefy fish in structure, snook bouncing a baitfish-style over the top of weed or broken bottom and many other. In Europe and North America this is a go-to technique for many fish and often catches a surprise species not being targeted.

 

I would love to get out on a boat chasing snapper sometime with the dying minnow plastic I have from Europe (bottom one below):

DSC_0043.jpg

 

This sits sideways in the water with a flat profile and looks like a dying fish just keeled over on its side and should work perfectly with the drop shot technique.

 

Above it is a worm-style bait on a drop-shot hook with a stinger. For the larger baits stingers can be useful to prevent short-striking.

 

For all these rigs I've got a rig-roll setup, easy enough to make your own. A cylinder of foam with cuts in it to hold the line. You can see the benefit of being able to slide the sinkers on and off when putting the rig away:

DSC_0046.jpg

 

I haven't been able to put many hours in so far testing these techniques out, so if you are interested give them a go and let me know it works out! Anyone out there already using these techniques? They are some of the favorites of tournament American Bass anglers and also for European Perch anglers. Drop shot seems to catch all sorts of things very successfully.

 

And if anyone has a boat and planning to go out for snapper and wants a decky I'm really eager to get out and try drop shotting for them as I suspect it would be a very effective technique on the drift or over structure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A thread like this is good enough for a fishing magazine.

I like seeing a method of fishing SPs I have never tried before, thanks for that mate.

Reckon you could be in the running for the S&H comp with this little article, you definitely got my attention, and explained things easily.

Good luck in the comp, and thanks for a new angle on fishing softs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the very informative post. I have been using all 3 techniques for a number of years. The drop shot system will come into its own as the water cools and fish become more lethargic. Lots has been written about Carolina and Texas rigging but dropshotting has been a much more closely guarded secret. The cat is now out of the bag. A couple of shops have had a limited selection of gear for years. Diawa and GLoomis have been marketing the rods for this style of fishing for a long time. You do not really need the specialised drop shot rods but the increased sensitivity will boost results. Just as a tip. Do not shake the rod, Hold it in one hand and tap the butt with gentle hits. This will make the lure dance enticingly and you can control the pulsing of the lure more accurately. All three systems work just great on Aussie fish. Like all newly adopted techniques, it may take people a while to work out what works. Perseverance pays.                                          PS small worm hooks are freely available in the better tackle shops.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fantastic work there sbarnden - thanks.  I've experimented myself with some self tied ganged hooks in a gulp sandworm without a great deal of success.  can you supply a little more detail re that rig with the treble in your second last photo please?  I cant quite see how that treble is connected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its very simple ScaledUp. The treble is attached to a short wire link with a tiny crimped loop on the end. That is just slid over the hook and a rubber disk pushed over to hold it in place.

 

It was a pre-build bit of the dropshotting kit I bought in Finland and is used for the larger plastics targeting pike and zander, hence the wire to deal with sharp teeth. So long as pressure is kept on the line when fighting the fish the gape of the hook and the rubber disk prevents it sliding off.

 

For gulp sandworms you could do similar but with fluoro or mono and a very small tied loop instead of a crimped one. I would probably use a single instead of a treble, maybe size 4 or 6? And just hooked in the tail. They actually had really good 'stinger' and 'livebait' hooks in small sizes for Perch when I was over there, they have the large main hook and a very small attach hook with a strong barb that you use to stick them onto the bait instead of hooking it through. Sort of like a double hook but with one of the hooks being a midget one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks.

 

There is lots of information and gear out there overseas for drop-shotting. In order to stand the hook out more for better action they have these other types of hooks:

45106_-_sg_drop_shot_inline_hook_-_size_   VMCSS-1.jpg    SU51.jpg

 

Not seen any of them or similar in Australian retailers yet, probably a bit too exotic for our market :-)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×