Welcome to the soft plastic fishing techniques article by FishingMad. Fishing with soft plastics is an amazing way to target fish. Moving around on the hunt for fish as opposed to sitting and waiting for the bite is a thrill. Feeling the fish strike as you work the soft plastic with the rod in your hand. Learning to catch fish deep within the structure. Not to mention the endless choices of soft plastics and ultra-light gear which makes soft plastics fishing quite addictive.


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This article will walk you through all that you need to know about soft plastics fishing.

  • How to choose the right rod/reel
  • Jigheads
  • How to rig a soft plastic properly
  • Which soft plastics to use
  • Retrieval techniques
  • Why braid is essential
  • The purpose of fluorocarbon leaders

Below is an instructional video guide walking you through all the steps of catching flathead with soft plastics

How to select the right rod and reel for soft plastic fishing

Let’s start at the beginning before picking a suitable rod and reel combo you need to understand the water systems your fishing and the species of fish you’re planning to target. This is very important as most rod and reel combos are designed with specific species and conditions in mind. Because of this, there are major differences in the rods which will have variations in strength, length and components used. So when buying think about your desired target species and how deep the water is likely to be, how strong the current is, is their structure.

Let’s break this down even further

if you’re planning to target estuary fish such as bream and estuary perch then you will need a light rod and reel combo. A finesse setup that can cast very lightly weighted soft plastics properly, and that is light enough to cast all day and feel all of those subtle bites and nibbles. if you’re planning to target inshore fish such as flathead and snapper then you would need something heavier that can withstand a more powerful fish. The same logic would apply if you kept moving up the scale and targeted fish such as Mulloway, Trevally and so on.


Light estuary setup

Rod 7-foot 1-3 / 1-4 / 2-4 – Reel 1000-2500 Braid 4-8 lb

Inshore setup 

Rod 7-foot 2-4 / 3-5 / 4-6 – Reel 2500-4000 Braid 10-20 lb

Offshore/heavy inshore setup 

Rod 7-foot 5-8 / 10-15 – Reel 4000-5000 Braid 20-40 lb


Jig Heads for soft plastics

Jig heads play an important role in soft plastic fishing. It’s what you attach your soft plastic to and it provides weight to give you ample casting distance. Jig heads come in many different sizes and variations and it’s important to understand which ones to use for certain fishing applications.

If targeting light estuary species like bream you will require light jig heads such as 1/12, 1/16, 1/20, 1/28, 1/40. These will allow the soft plastic to sink slowly and enhances the action of the soft plastic. You should also spend some time getting familiar with weedless and HWS jig heads. HWS stands for hidden weight system and they are ideal for hiding the lead within the soft plastic whilst being great to avoid weed and debris.

HWS Jig Head Rigging technique

If targeting bigger inshore species then you will up the jig head size and weight depending on the depth and current strength that you’re fishing. This may include 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 and 1/12. With the hooks size 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0 and 5/0.

Yes, it’s all a bit confusing at first but with experience and some experimentation, you quickly start to make sense of all this.


How to rig a soft plastic properly – Fishing techniques

Rigging a soft plastic gets easier with practice. The important thing is to ensure the soft plastic is put on straight and combined with the right size jig head. This will ensure the soft plastic swims properly in the water to increase strike rates.

The video below will demonstrate how to properly rig each type of soft plastic


How to choose a soft plastic

The soft plastic fishing market is saturated with countless options and this makes the process very difficult for beginners to understand. For the most part grubs, paddle tails and worm imitations are some of the most effective soft plastics and have been for a long time.

Here is a basic guide to getting you started based on different species

Bream / Redfin / estuary perch / trout

2.5-inch grub, 2.5-inch paddle tail, worm or yabbie imitation


3-inch grub, 3-inch paddle tail, worm or yabbie imitation

Snapper / Mulloway 

4-inch jerk shad, 5-inch jerk shad, 3-inch grub, 3-inch paddle tail, worm imitation


Some of our favourite soft plastics include

  • Zman grubZ
  • Berkley gulp turtleback worm
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5-inch grub
  • Savage Gear Fat Curl tails
  • Daiwa Baitjunkie 5 inch jerk shads
  • Daiwa Bautjunkie 4 inch grubs
  • Zman slim Swimz
  • Berkley powerbait grub
  • Gulp 3-inch minnow
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow

The video below will walk you through our favourite bream soft plastics and how to use them.

Soft Plastic Retrieval techniques

There are several soft plastic fishing techniques that work remarkably well. The key thing to point out is mixing up the technique is important and different techniques work well on different days. So don’t overthink it just mix things up until you find what’s working on the day.

A few errors that anglers make is retrieving the plastic too fast. Many fish will happily take a soft plastic when it’s on the bottom or when it’s being worked very slowly.

soft plastic fishing techniques we recommend starting with 2 simple techniques.

Technique 1 – Lifts and pauses

Cast your plastic or lure and wait for it to hit the bottom. Then add several quick erratic lifts and wind in the slack then let the plastic sink to the bottom once again. Now count to 5 and repeat this process until your plastic or lure is back where you are fishing. The idea behind this technique is that you’re imitating a wounded baitfish, and when it sinks back to the bottom is when you get most of your catches.

Technique 2 – The slow roll

Cast your plastic or lure and wait a few seconds for it to hit the bottom, then simply do a slow continuous retrieve of your reel known as the slow roll. This is great with curl tails, and paddle tail plastics as the natural action of the lure a foot or two above the bottom is dynamite for many fish species.

The good thing about both these techniques is that there easy to learn and master. You will see after some practice that they are simple yet very effective.


Why is braid so important when soft plastic fishing

Braid plays a pivotal role when fishing with soft plastics for many reasons. For starters unlike normal monofilament braid doesn’t stretch and this is very important. It means that you are in constant contact with the soft plastic, and you can feel all of the nibbles and enquiries travel through the rod. It is thinner in diameter which gives you greater casting distance and accuracy.

You can see our favourite braids to use with this link best braid fishing line


What does a fluorocarbon leader do?

Fluorocarbon leader plays a very important role in soft plastics fishing. It’s essentially a fused fishing line that is thinner in diameter and harder for fish to see. It also provides some level of stretch which the braid does not provide giving more leeway, so fish don’t snap your line.

When using braid for soft plastics you will need to finish the setup with an approximately 1-rod length of quality fluorocarbon leader. This will provide increased flexibility and make the line harder for fish to see. You can attach your braid to a leader using an FG knot,  Double Uni knot or improved Albright. You can watch fishing knot tutorials here. With braid choose a line strength ranging from 15 pounds through to 30 pounds. Again, The fluorocarbon leader strength will all depend on the species that you targeting. Light estuary species may be anything from 2-8 lb whilst inshore fish maybe 10-20lb and offshore fish much greater.  your fishing areas with reefs or structures then you may want to consider going a little heavier.


Thanks for reading soft plastic fishing techniques. You can also see many fishing videos around Melbourne and Victoria. If you have any questions, corrections, suggestions or additions then please direct them to enquiries@fishingmad.com.au and we will get back to you as soon as we can.