Soft plastics have been around for quite a while now, and we’re sure you’ve all heard all the success stores and may have even received your fair share of suggestions that you "just have to start fishing them too." But some anglers still won't make the jump. And those of us who have (and don't plan on looking back), each have that one mate who, in a small act of individual defiance always says, “yeah, I really need to give that a go”, without any intention of actually doing so.
Part of the reason for this is that the tried and true techniques work just fine. It’s not like the fish have decided they only like eating soft plastics, intentionally spitting out our dead baits and metal lures in disgust as they tuck in their napkins, take their elbows off the table, and gently slice off a piece of fluorescent, artificially-scented yabby.
So why should you – or your stubborn mate – even bother if the traditional techniques work just fine? Keep reading and you might soon agree that you need to try fishing with soft plastics.
1. Soft plastics have proven more effective than traditional baits in some scenarios
Dead baits will work pretty much anywhere, but they won’t necessarily be the most effective, or efficient method of catching fish. Soft plastics are versatile in that there are some situations where a metal lure will eventually work, but a little extra motion and bait scent could help it perform better.
Soft plastics kind of act like both dead baits and lures at the same time, making them a favourite among anglers fishing close to offshore structures.
Kayak fishing is a great example. Casting from a kayak positioned close to a reef or man-made structure with plenty of wash yields great results with soft baits. The artificial bait scent, and the rapid motion of the plastic in the wash is a winner. Soft baits deserve to be treated as a supplement to your already well organised tackle box, and you'll soon be finding more and more applications on your adventures.
If you are new to fishing and need a bit of help getting set up, our guide to fishing gear for beginners is the place to start.
2. You’re not using fish to catch bigger fish
While everyone is entitled to their opinion on the ethics of fishing, some anglers and researchers agree that soft plastics are one way to reduce the impact of fishing on some fish species –most notably bait fish stocks – because you are no longer relying on the mass harvesting of smaller fish to go out and catch bigger fish.
However, that doesn’t mean soft plastics are off the hook. There is a strong environmental argument against soft plastics, with some researchers suggesting they could potentially be adding to the build-up of synthetic materials in our waterways, even though most brands claim they will break down naturally over time. The evidence is yet to stack up totally in favour of soft plastic fishing so we will have to wait and see.
3. Your fingers will stink less
This point obviously only goes for soft plastics free of artificial attractant. Even the most hardened anglers admit that it’s quite nice returning home with a successful catch without needing to spend the next half-hour rubbing toothpaste and homemade stink removing remedies into your smelly-bait-hands. Soft plastics are available with scent, and without, so you can always go for a less stinky option...and still catch fish.
4. The range of soft plastic shapes, sizes and colours is huge
Unless you have a specialty bait supplier nearby, it’s pretty rare to be able to fish with green-lipped muscles, yabbies, mullet, and pilchards all on one fishing trip — not to mention the dent that will make on your wallet! Soft plastics allow you to experiment with a massive range of bait types: from worms, to crustaceans, molluscs, and bait fish, the shapes and styles are endless. If the fish aren’t biting, switching your lure could mean the difference between fresh fish for dinner and a stop at the fish n’ chip shop on the way home.
5. The kids will love them too
Most parents will know the “joy” of baiting and re-baiting hooks for hours because their little ones think it's “icky.” Soft plastics solve that problem; a problem that’s not only to do with the smell.
The appearance of dead baits can be confronting for some kids, so an artificial lure (that sort of looks like a rubber toy) is a great alternative. Soft plastic fishing is also a good opportunity to teach your child how to bait a hook properly, without the added difficulty of slippery slimy bait. Just make sure they don’t chew on them…
Our contributor Cristie has got some more great advice for fishing with kids, and these tips are better than "make sure they don't chew on them"...promise.
So if you’ve been avoiding soft plastics because you simply don’t think they can add anything to your already successful routine, we think if you give them a go you might just start to enjoy the benefits of a bait less slimy, less smelly, and less dead.