How to

Stick it!

THE world of lures and lure fishing is not always what it seems. Strange as it seems, less is often actually more.

I rate the soft plastic stickbait as one of the all-time best fish-fooling lure types. Many anglers disagree with this and completely disregard them. I find this a bit weird, but the reasons that stickbaits are so good at catching fish and so bad at catching anglers are probably easy enough to find if we go looking.

For a start as humans when we spend money, we want something for it, and when we spend money on a fishing lure we sure as hell want that lure to be all-dancing and all-singing. And if it has bells and whistles as well that must be even better. Let’s face it – all the really good, deadly soft stickbaits look as boring as bat poo in the packet. It is a leap of faith for an angler to tie on a lure he already feels is going to be a dud. After all, every brand of soft plastic has lures with fancy flagellators and fins that cause all sorts of ducking, diving and wobbling when they are retrieved. These are the lures that attract anglers and in the right situation they also do the job on fish.

The stickbait is a bit of a wall-flower in the shop but if you do ask one for a dance you will probably be surprised at the results. Anglers generally just don’t like soft plastic stickbaits  – especially at the first meeting. But fish do.

Fish don’t see the world as we do and in many cases their direct prey items are slim baitfish that are perfectly adapted to their watery world. These baitfish generally do not have a wide undulating swimming motion such as we expect to see from an eel. Baitfish are so efficient at swimming that they just seem to move with no apparent motion at all  – they just appear to glide or dart. They are often transparent to one degree or another as well. I hope you are starting to see a pattern emerging here  – a long skinny piece of semi-transparent plastic looks more like food to a fish than just about any other form of lure.

Another strike against stickbaits from an inexperienced angler’s point of view is that you have to actually put some effort into rigging and fishing the lure to maximise its potential. Stickbaits are probably at their least effective if they are just cast out and wound back in without any variation in pace  – although I have to say that I have had some fantastic sessions on pelagics doing exactly that!

Stickbaits need to be fished with some form of jig head and, although this puts some anglers off, it is part of why these lures are so deadly. You can fit any size of stickbait with a heavy head to fish close to the bottom or a very light resin-head to fish near the surface. You can also select a jig head weight somewhere in between to fish at any level in the water column. There are no rules  – just muck around with a selection of jig heads and different sized stickbaits until you hit a combination that suits the fish. This flexibility makes for a lethal lure in many different habitats and on many fish species, but paradoxically it just puts this style of lure in the too-hard basket for the average fisho. If you can take a lure straight out of the packet, tie it to your line and then cast it out and catch some fish, there’s little doubt you’ll sell a pile of those lures. If anglers need to think about rigging the lure and also think about how to fish it, even though that lure will catch a whole bunch of fish , it probably won’t set the world on fire with sales.

If you’re already a competent angler and you want to be a diabolically good angler, you need to add a selection of soft plastic stickbaits to your lure collection and then work out how to use them effectively.

Soft plastic stickbaits can be deadly on species such as estuary perch, bream, bass and barra but where they have been the most underrated is on pelagics. Yellowfin tuna, kingfish, bluefin tuna, trevally, queenfish, longtail tuna and many others are just complete suckers for the soft stickbaits.

If I’m on a trip to parts unknown, the first lures packed are the soft stickbaits because a range of sizes and colours doesn’t take up much room and I know
I can match just about any baitfish very easily. Sometimes pelagics get in a feeding frenzy on one particular size and colour of baitfish and they can just drive you nuts not eating the metal slugs you are casting at them. Often a small soft stickbait will fool the same fish so effectively you just have to cast out and the fish will eat the plastic before you even move it. These lures are just fantastic on pelagics and it does surprise me a bit that more anglers aren’t switched on to it yet.  If you can bring yourself to try a couple of packets of stickbaits and you get around to putting them in the water you’ll be surprised at just how natural and life-like they look when you watch them dart and flash with a few flicks of your rod tip.

Once you start to catch fish on these lures, their use can become addictive  – it’s sort of neat to catch fish on a lure that requires a bit of angler input. The fact is soft plastic stickbaits can be super effective, but only if the angler adds a bit of skill and finesse.
Soft plastic stickbaits are cheap, effective and fun to fish  – what’s not to like?

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