Why Do Soft Plastic Prawn Lures Outfish Real, Live Prawns?
Can soft plastic prawns outfish live prawns (or other live baits)? I reckon they do, consistently, when anglers take the time to learn how to use them. Maybe other people are more skilled at collecting and using live baits than I am, but for me, casting lures is just so efficient. And since nearly everything eats those tasty little crustaceans it’s often a “no brainer” to rig a soft plastic prawn.
#1 You Spend More Time Actually Fishing With Lures Than Bait
Taking the time to collect live prawns to use for bait may be therapeutic for some people, but I’d personally rather spend that time actually fishing. Even in places where cast netting is allowed, you still need to head to the bait collecting grounds and get yourself all wet and muddy for an hour or two to gather enough live prawns (or baitfish) to get you through a session.
That’s why it always amazes me when I hear people say “we didn’t catch much, bait was really tough to get”. Why not just switch to lures? I think many people who grew up using live baits are convinced that soft plastic prawns are more difficult to use and are less effective than live prawns.
I’m not against using bait and accept that there are times when it will outfish lures. But my personal experience suggests that a soft plastic prawn will not only catch more, but will catch a better quality of fish than live prawns.
Lures save a fair bit of time in other areas, too. You don’t need to stow, clean or maintain cast nets, lights or prawning gear, for example. You also don’t need to clean the cast net mud from your boat, nor do you need to clean or maintain a livewell of aerated bucket.
Once you’ve put them on your hook live prawns are on a short timeline. You’re doing well if you get a few casts in with them, they deteriorate quickly and then you’re no longer fishing a live bait. Maybe not a problem if you cast them in the right place and they get eaten quickly, I suppose! With lures you can just keep casting and you can make them as lively as you want them to be.
You also know that your lures is still on the end of the line. How often does a live prawn get plucked off the hook without the anger knowing about it until they “check their bait”? That line might have been out there for ten minutes or so without any bait on it….. You could put ten casts of a lure into a bunch of nooks and crannies in that time!
#2 You’ll Catch A Better Class Of Fish On Soft Plastic Prawns
Yep, I agree that sometimes baits have the edge. If 140cm jewfish are your target you’ll probably get more consistent results with baits from the right beach than you’ll get with lures. Or some bluewater fishing scenarios, inshore trolling, clifftop fishing and so on. Horses for courses – and like I said I don’t have a problem with bait fishing.
But when it comes to fishing prawns in estuaries or coastal areas it’s a different ballgame. I recently listened to a local complaining that he couldn’t catch a decent barra from a local waterway. Apparently the whole place is so full of catfish, small grunter, trevally, small pikey bream, cod and other nuisance fish that his prawns get picked off the hook pretty quickly.
That was news to the lure fishos, who had caught very few of those species but picked up some nice barra. Sure, nuisance fish will sometimes pick at a soft plastic prawn. But they can’t really damage it or pick it off the hook. In fact, the activity of small pickers around the lure can attract the attention of a bigger fish. Occasionally they’ll get hooked but are quickly released and the lure is flicked straight back out. No rebaiting, no undersized fish damaged by hooks in the gills or gut and minimal time wasted.
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#3 Soft Plastic Prawns Find The Active Fish
When you soak a bait you’re essentially waiting for the fish to come to you (unless you’re trolling or drifting baits). If they’re feeding and you’ve chosen your fishing spot well that might not take too long. But if they are not feeding….. zzzzzzz.
With lure fishing you’ll cover ground either casting or trolling, which means you’ll increase your chances of finding fish. It’s one of the reasons why lures can be so much more deadly at catching flathead than baits.
You can very quickly prospect an area with lures by making a bunch of casts at all of the key structures and then moving on, if no fish show up. Make a bunch of casts with live baits and you’ll go through your supply of baits pretty quick. Live prawns quickly die or fall off the hook if you are constantly winding and casting them.
Also when you’re using lures it isn’t always necessary for them to be actively feeding to eat what you cast at them. You can target inactive fish with various techniques aimed at getting a reaction bite. Or you can smash a lure through structure, making it collide with objects and annoying fish into biting.
And that’s another great point. Have you ever tried to skip cast a live prawn under a mangrove curtain, pontoon, undercut bank or laydown? You can’t do it. And even if you could, a live, unweighted prawn with or without any small amount of flow would quickly wrap your line around a snag. No problem for a weedless rigged soft prawn though – and those are the sorts of places that bass, perch, jacks, jewfish, threadfin, bream and a host of other species actively hunt for a feed of prawns!
#4 Soft Plastic Prawns Are Awesome When You’re Fishing With Kids
I hear people say that it’s better to use bait when you’re fishing with kids. I tend to disagree. For the one thing, if you have a bunch of younger kids they’ll be losing baits faster than you can re-bait them. Either that or they’ll get bored waiting for a bite.
Kids want to be doing something, and whilst it’s handy to be constantly pulling up a mixed variety of smaller species, I’d rather they were honing their skills.
Live prawns don’t handle getting reeled in and cast out constantly, but that’s what kids want to do. But soft plastic lures will take that kind of treatment all day. Getting the kids casting and working their lures back is good practice and stops them getting bored. A piece of bread floating on the water surface is perfect for target practice and a small sized soft plastic prawn should keep enough fish coming to keep them interested. Rig them weedless and you might even get some casts in for yourself.
Find Out How To Choose, Rig And Fish With Soft Plastic Prawns!
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#5 Soft Plastic Prawns Are Better For The Fish
Yep, ok. Plastic isn’t great for the environment, so losing a few soft plastic lures isn’t great. Neither is indiscriminate cast netting though, I’ve seen plenty of ripped up cast nets wrapped around mangrove roots and left to kill whatever swims by.
Bait collection can be both damaging to bait stocks (yes, I know there are lots of prawns – but there are lots of cast netters, too) and can transfer disease if you are carting bait species from one waterway to another. For fear of running out, too many anglers collect far more bait than they need, then discard a bunch of prawns or baitfish that are dead, or have little chance of surviving.
Soft plastic prawns leave more real prawns in the system to feed up the fish and that’s much more sustainable, in my eye at least! Plus, you’ll find nearly all lure-caught fish will be hooked in the mouth and can be released easily with minimal damage, which isn’t always the case when bait fishing.
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