Picking Plastics: The Selection Process

Scott Amon with a lovely Coffs Harbour (NSW) snapper taken on a 145mm pilchard coloured Squidgy Flick Bait soft plastic.

Over the course of a year, I get to talk to a lot of soft plastics fishers from around the country. Some I meet at seminars and shows. Others I chat with via the various pages on Facebook that I run or help to administer (especially the StarloFishing, Fishingscool and Squidgy Soft Plastics pages), or through my blogs here at www.starlofishing.me Still others send their letters or emails to me via the magazines I write for. However, no matter what the source of the enquiry, one question (or variations of it) dominates the calls for advice that I receive. Typically, that query begins with the words: “What’s the best soft plastic for…?”

The rest of that sentence almost always contains a species of fish and a precise location: What’s the best soft plastic for bream in the Patterson Lakes? What’s the best soft plastic for trout in the Murrumbidgee River? What’s the best soft plastic for flathead on the Gold Coast? What’s the best soft plastic for yellowbelly in the Murray? What’s the best soft plastic for redfin in Lake Eildon? What’s the best for barra in the Daly? And so on…

This big dusky flathead obviously approved of Andrew Badullovich’s little Bloodworm coloured Squidgy Wriggler!

I can’t help but smile at the geographic specificity of these well-meaning questions. Anglers clearly have their favourite fishing spots and they seem to expect that the fish they chase in these beloved haunts will behave just a little differently to those living down the road, around the bend or across the border. Generally speaking, this is not the case. I’ve caught redfin perch in the New England rivers of north western NSW, and also in the very “old England” rivers around the historical university city of Cambridge, in Great Britain (where they’re simply known as perch). Rather unsurprisingly, these fish looked the same, behaved in a similar manner and happily ate identical lures in both locations, literally a world apart

Rather than asking me (or someone else) to nominate the best softie for catching trout in Tasmania’s Arthurs Lake, an angler would be far better off seeking advice and opinion regarding the optimum approaches for targeting wild brown trout in relatively shallow, fertile lakes with fairly clear water and lots of healthy weed beds. That way, the answers they received would be applicable across a whole range of waterways featuring similar target species and conditions.

The message I’m trying to get across to you as we begin this examination of the process of picking plastics is a fairly simple one: Fish are fish, and a particular species will behave in a very similar way when presented with a particular habitat type, season, degree of water clarity and set of food sources, regardless of the precise geographic location. This is a great thing to know, because it means that once we sort out some effective guidelines for one place and time, we can apply them in the future whenever we encounter similar conditions, even if we’re a long, long way from home. That’s a useful lesson to learn, but there are many more, as I’m about to show you: