Spin or Soak?
When surf fishing, deciding whether to cast lures or soak baits for tailor and salmon is isn’t always clear-cut. Each day presents different surf conditions that can dramatically affect the way we fish for these two pelagic pocket rockets. While both styles will often produce the goods, there are definitely times when one style trumps the other.
Casting pilchards and strips of fish flesh into the surf is the best way to consistently target tailor and salmon. A WA pillie on a set of ganged hooks is iconic in the surf fishing scene, simply because it’s so effective at catching fish.
When fishing any beach, I like to begin the session by casting a pillie into the surf. I find that whenever fish aren’t in a feeding mood, a pillie is more likely to attract some interest than a lure.
If you’re familiar with a beach and know where the fish frequent, then the need to search for them isn’t that high. Instead, soaking a bait and waiting for a school to swim by or begin actively feeding is often an effective way to score a bite.
Spinning the surf is such an enjoyable and productive way to catch fish – when they’re in the mood! A hungry school of salmon or tailor make for great sporting fun on lure casting tackle. When the fish are thick, lures will out fish baits as more fish can be hooked and released quicker; there’s no time wasted re-rigging baits.
However, often the schools aren’t as big or as hungry as we hope. In times like this strikes can be frustratingly difficult to score, especially if you’re fishing a large gutter.
Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage a metal lure has is to be able to reach schools hanging a long way off the beach. A lure is heavier, more aerodynamic and durable than a pillie and as a result, can be belted out to sea to reach fish if that’s where they’re holding.
Starting a session by soaking baits is a great idea. When a school of fish move in on them, you can quickly swap to lures to try and maximise the number of fish caught before they move on. Often the bites are short-lived, so this isn’t always successful.
On the flip side, if you walk onto a seemingly featureless beach and have no idea where to start, covering a lot of ground by casting lures can be a good place to begin. After you find a patch of fish you can then focus your attention on them. Even if they’re not fired-up, soaking baits in the area and waiting for the fish to come on is likely to end with good results.