Sunday, 17 June 2012

HRF - Wrasse and soft plastics ....

With the weather disrupting my course of LRF sessions this past couple of weeks my mind has gone back to my favourite target species...the Wrasse!! And with this I have been thinking about my current soft plastics and getting them back in the water.

As I have mentioned before HRF soft plastics can be split into a couple of areas, one being for Wrasse. I was introduced to Wrasse by Mike SULLIVAN of Rockfish Revolution about 12 months or so ago. When others were conversing about the fight Bass give on lures and others were catching many different species often on light game I was learning about Wrasse behaviour, weedless texas rigging and the item that brought me into Rockfishing in the first place.. the softie :)

Soft plastics, when rigged weedless, allow the angler to really search out the fish in the most insane structure and feature known to the shore angler. If we look at Wrasse and their territory we generally end up in an area of rough ground which has many rocks about the place covered thick in weed and ledges formed from gullies and reef. Perfect ambush features and good bolt holes to run when they get threatened! And believe me Wrasse are THE dirty tactics fish when trying to escape. Many a time I have had to stop a Wrasse running for its bolt hole and have lost some of those battles. This is an important concept when we look at rods.

Generally I have also found Wrasse to be very close to where Im fishing. There is little need to cast out to the horizon to catch Wrasse as they just aren't out there unless there is a holding feature present. Of the Wrasse I have caught the majority have been within 8-15ft of where I was casting. This is where the pitching technique really comes into itself. Pitching is a casting technique where you "underarm cast" the lure out to your target area within  approximately 30-40 feet. This cast also makes little surface splash and helps to reduce the chance of spooky fish. To really understand this technique I would recommend you either read articles in the Rockfish Files #1 by Keith WHITE or search on "pitching cast" on Youtube to watch it in action.

So onto the world of Soft Plastics. There are a number of different types of lure on the market when it comes to soft plastic lures. Worms/Stick, Paddletails, Creature and Goby style lures are all available but for Wrasse I think they prefer a simple worm/stick bait over any other.

I have tried many lures over the past 12 months and I have always found my go to lure for Wrasse has been the awesome Snowbee Stinger Slider. This lure will always perform well when any other has let me down. I'm so confident in this lure I have recommended it to many fellow Wrasse hunters who have also had success on the lure. This is the first lure used at the start of a session and I will usually swap to a lure im testing once I have had a few fish on the snowbee.

Other lures Im currently using with some success are -

From top to bottom - Gary Yamamoto Senko, MegaBass Xlayer, Lunker City Sluggo and Hawg Wild Lures Stick.

From top to bottom - OSP DoLive stick and MegaBass Hazedong

From top to bottom - Ecogear Aqua Bug Ant and Swim Shrimp

And so to how I use these fantastic pieces of plastic. I will use a Texas rigged plastic for 95% of my Wrasse fishing. It allows me to get the lure into thick weeded areas and dense boulder rough ground and retrieve the majority of my gear. We all probably know that area of ground deemed to be a "tackle graveyard" whether its using lures or bait. Texas rigging is the tackle graveyard beater. I will rarely lose more than one or two lures to a snag during a decent 4 or 5 hour session. Most of the time Ill leave the shore with all the gear I brought. The other 5% of the time I may try a weedless presentation with the weight.

So here is a quick guide to rigging a Texas Rigged Snowbee. Same principles apply to any lures you rig. For this rig you will need a weedless (offset or EWG) hook, a worm (bullet head) weight and a bead. I tend to use the Rockfish hooks from Decoy in a size 1 to 2/0 generally. Jacks LRF also do a great selection of lighter gauge hooks, again generally in the 1-2/0 range that work well with slimmer and lighter lures. Worm weights.. well you can spend a little to alot on these. I would recommend 3.5, 5 and 7g as essential with maybe a few 10g for bigger lures and stronger tidal current. You can get cheap lead weights right up to, my favourites, the eco pro tungsten weights and beads. A word of warning with anything you use in salt water, particularly weights, if you do like I do and carry your weights and hooks in a small bits and bobs case be careful if you have cheap metal weights. As with most things salt water will rust and rust spreads like the plague. I have learnt from experience that if you dont rinse your kit before replacing in your luggage you'll end up with a rust epidemic. The reason I now use the tungsten weights which seem to have the power to repel any rust issues :) Beads are much of a muchness. I use Eco Pro beads as the last and dont shatter. They are also designed to go well with the Eco Pro Weights in as far as they fit well and make a really good noise. I also like the plastic "plaice" beads. But its down to your own personal choice.

To start with thread the worm weight and then the bead onto your leader. You can peg your worm weight if you want a stable compact presentation or you can let it run free. I dont think it makes a huge difference other than on the sink rate of the lure on the drop after a cast. A pegged lure will sink quicker compared to a weight that has entered the water say 6-8 inches up the leader due to the cast. The lure will have 6-8- inches of line to drift down slightly slower than its pegged counterpart. Pegging a weight also minimises the action of the weight on the bead and by default a pegged rig will generally make less noise as there is less action of the weight hitting against the bead. Personally I dont peg my weights but have started to experiement with pegging to see if it helps or hinders my fishing. Next tie on your hook and we are ready for the lure. On hook size to lure size. I have always followed the very good advice that a hook should be approxiamtely 1/4 to a 1/3 the length of the lure itself. I generally go more to the 1/3 end of the scale and I have rarely had any hook up issues if I have had a take.

So to set your lure you will first need to work out where your hook will be exposed and skinned so you know which way to insert the hook tip in the end of your plastic. On this Slider we want the hook to be skinned on the flat side of the lure. Therefore we will insert the hook into the end of the lure and bring it out on the ribbed side. How deep to put the hook into the plastic depends on whether you want the lure to cover the hook eye once rigged or leave it exposed. I have recently started to cover the hook eye on my rigs as I believe it helps retain the lure prsentation when the rig is complete and fished. Measure where you want the exposed hook shank to be as below.

Weight, Bead and Hook attached
If you want hook eye exposed
If you want hook eye covered

Once the hook is fully through the lure you need to twist it around the shank of the hook so the 90 degree bend comes straight out of your lure where we threaded our hook tip and the hook point is facing back toward the lure body. You may want to apply a little bit of angler glue to hold the end of the lure on the shank by the eye. I dont do this yet but do see the benefits and this would make a better presentation on some of the lures I use.

Bring hook point out Where you want the right angle bend to be.
Twist lure about the shank so we have the hook point parallel to the back of the lure body.

With the hook lying over the body of the lure we know need to work out the point at which the hook will pass back through the lure prior to skinning the hook tip. This is done placing your thumb tip and the bottom of the hooks "bend" to measure off on the lure the right spot then push the hook tip right through the lure as straight as you can.

Mark the lowest part of the hook with your thumb here.

Push the hook point through the lure body as straight as you can.

The lure should know look like this

Nearly done....

Finally with the hook tip laying flat against the flat side of your lure you can now skin the hook point to prevent it from snagging. This is achieved by pulling the lure body above the hook point toward the hook eye, pulling it up tight against the hook point and then letting the lure body relax back to its original shape. The hook point will embed itself in the lure body. You dont want it too dep in the lure but enough so you can run your finger over the hook point without it catching on your finger!

Push the lure body, using my left hand above toward my right, and let the hook pint settle into the lure as you let the body relax back to its normal shape.

Hook point is "skinned" which means it is now protected by the lure body to avoid a snag but will be exposed should a fish put pressure on it.

Voila a rigged and ready snowbee slider!! This method works with all lures. Some lures have features like small gulley like incisions in the side of the lure to house your hook tip, therefore eliminating the requirement to skin a lure.

If you have a heavier lure and the tidal current is not huge you can rig your lure in the same way but do not thread the weight and bead on your leader. This is a weightless weedless rig allowing a slower sink rate through the water column and for the lure to move with any current that is present. This rigging is particularly good with the senko/sluggo stick and the DoLive lures.

So that pretty much covers the basics. My favourite way to fish for Wrasse and other coastal HRF species. There are other ways to achieve the method I have presented to you including weighted EWG (Extra Wide Gape) hooks and weedless Jigheads. I have yet to try them extensively and will post about them as I do.

Do try this tactic with Wrasse and I'll gaurantee you will be hooked on this HRF species and method of fishing!!

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