Spinning has grown so fast recently that it seems to have left the ever-popular dropshot fishing in its dust. By Raymond de Bruyn
These days there is a huge variety of hard plastics and metal spoons available. This offers the light tackle enthusiast ammunition that can catch just about any species of fish from a shore-based location along the entire South African coastline.
Before I get too much into the various spoons and lures, let’s cover the tackle used for spinning. The beauty of spinning is that the tackle becomes a lot lighter than usually used for shore angling, making the fight a lot more challenging and way more fun. Because of the huge variety of spoons and lures and their weights, it is important to decide what you want to achieve and which species you would predominantly like to target.
Because of the new technology surrounding the good old ‘coffee grinder’ or spinning reel, spooning has evolved into a much more widely practiced art of angling. This art is not new. Rather, the combinations of rod, reel and braid are brand new, allowing us to get great results from the lightest of outfits; once again, the important part of angling is moved to the forefront, namely fun.
There are two main outfits which I use, my most used being the Exceler Saltwater 10’ 5” rod matched with a Ballistic 4000 reel loaded with 15lb Gator braid. This outfit is lightweight and easy to handle for all-day fishing. The other is the Daiwa Exceler Elite 11-footer matched with the Daiwa Opus Plus 4500E reel. This reel is seriously nice to use and, at its price, unbelievable value for money. On this reel, I use a slightly heavier 30lb Gator braid as I do use this rod when targeting bigger fish like kingies and for casting slightly bigger lures like chisel-nosed poppers or stickbaits.
The lighter outfit can cast spoons and lures up to around 2½oz, while the heavier outfit is designed to cast up to 4oz. This gives me a pretty great variety of lures that can be used in order to convince a fish to eat one of my offerings. When venturing out for an early morning throw, one will invariably take both outfits along and, according to sea conditions, decide there and then which one to use. If the sea is a little up, then casting distance becomes an issue; one would therefore use the heavier outfit with a heavier lure in order to get into the more productive water. If the sea is flat, then the lighter outfit is the immediate first choice. Also, if there are smaller species about like shad, then the lighter outfit provides a lot more fun and, along with that, better results. Well, that’s my recipe for the tackle; now for the juicy bit (which generally has everyone stumped).
There is a huge variety of lures in all shapes and sizes that have done the trick for me in the past. Some you may know very well or have heard of on more than one occasion, others are new on the scene. I will cover each of my favourites with the 'when, why and how' relating to each.
The Chase range of bullet spoons remains one of my all-time favourite spoon choices. These spoons are made using white metal, which makes them incredibly durable and allows you to easily add some shine whenever they start looking a little dull. What I really enjoy is the fact that each model is individually swim-tested, which sets your mind at rest that you are getting a really good swimming action going. Being cast tested on top of that means that each of the models is designed for balanced long-distance casting, allowing you to target fish off the South African shore that are usually reserved for some tropical island that most of us cannot afford to go to.
Chase bullet No 5 (45g)
This is my all-time favourite and has accounted for more fish than any other spoon I have ever used. It is very aerodynamic and truly casts a mile; the short, sharp edges give it an erratic swimming action that very closely resembles a fleeing bait fish, which in my opinion will even get a goldfish interested. Being made of white metal, this spoon is robust and very easy to shine up using the back of a knife.
This spoon is designed to be cast out as far as possible and retrieved in order to imitate a fleeing or injured bait fish. My favourite method is to cast the spoon out there and allow it to sink to the bottom – you can feel the kick on the braid as it touches Mother Earth. Then retrieve it. Here I vary the retrieval speed until I get a bite; once you have found the speed producing the bites, then stick to it as you will find this will be exactly what the fish wants.
The Chase bullet No 5 has accounted for many species, not only for me: many anglers have notched up some awesome catches. The most commonly caught fish on this spoon is the queen mackerel. However, I have also caught springer, kingfish, shad, garrick and wolf herring, while I have also seen queenfish and couta (king mackerel) caught.
Chase spoon No 3 (70g)
This is my favourite spoon for sardine-run time. Its slightly larger profile is the perfect imitation of a sardine and its aerodynamic design with longer edges gives it a great swimming action. With a slow retrieve, it kicks its tail-end back and forth. A fast retrieve has it darting about erratically, just like a sardine fleeing for its life, and occasionally splashing on the surface. Most game fish that hang around sardine shoals find this spoon irresistible. Out of sardine season, I like this spoon for targeting garrick, especially off the beaches of the north coast.
This is a bullet-shaped spoon that casts a mile – and that is your aim. Cast out, allow it to sink and work it back to the beach or rocks with the rod held low. Vary the retrieve speed until you find which speed triggers the fish to pounce. In the sardine run, I like to crank this spoon relatively fast, which causes it to dart about, occasionally splashing on the surface. This action gets the fish excited often enough.
Being a spoon I use regularly in the sardine run, it has accounted for many game fish species – Natal snoek, couta, springer, kingfish, queenfish, shad and even the occasional blackfin shark. Using this spoon along the Mozambique coast has also reeled in a variety of reef dwellers.
Maria Mucho Lucir (45g)
While still on the spoons, there is one more spoon that I have found to be rather deadly. It is more like a small vertical jig designed and weighted in order to facilitate shore-based angling. It is made by Maria, is called a Mucho Lucir and comes in various colours, mainly with a hologram-type finish. My best colour is the silver, pink and blue combination (colour code BPH). It is supplied with treble hooks, which I quickly remove and replace with a slightly stronger split ring and a 4/0 J-hook. I add a split ring and small No 6 power swivel to the nose.
This lure performs well with the traditional cast-and-retrieve method but equally, if not better, with the cast-and-jig retrieve which on some days can produce as many bites. Basically, this means that you cast the spoon out to sea, allow it to touch bottom and then proceed to use long jerks of the rod as you retrieve the line. It often gets eaten as it is being dropped between jerks, which nearly always results in the rod being almost pulled out of your hands.
The target species will be much the same as for the spoons above. However, it is important to have all of them in your arsenal, as on some days fish will prefer one or the other. Experiment – if you are not getting bites on this spoon, then swop for another spoon or another colour.
Maria Duplex (31g)
The next feature lure is the Maria Duplex. This is casting crankbait, or lipped bait, which means that it has a lip on its nose that gives it a specific swimming action. This lure only weighs 31g (a touch over 1oz) but using it on light tackle with light braid, one can still cast it more than far enough to get a bite. On some days, the snoek eat very close indeed and this lure can get even the most stubborn fish into a feeding frenzy.
It is a sinking lure, which means that, like other crankbait styles, it sinks rather than floats. Therefore, when fishing from the rocks, it is important to lift the rod tip as it nears the bricks so that it does not snag up. The best results with this lure are obtained by casting it out and winding it back slowly, while giving short, quick jerks on the rod. This causes the bait to look like a fleeing bait fish and can get even the most lockjawed fish to open its mouth and feed on it. Because of the price of these lures, I would recommend that you only fish with them in areas you know they won’t snag up on. The best places would be off ledges or rocks where you can bring the lure back to your feet before lifting it out of the water.
Once again, your target species don’t vary too much from those caught using the spoons above. However, again, a lure like this can produce bites on days that spoons don’t. So it is a must-have in your lure box.
Maria floating stickbait (43g)
The last lure I am going to discuss is probably the most exciting of all lures to fish with. This is due to it being a surface lure, which means you work the lure along the water surface. This imitates a fleeing or injured baitfish dashing along the surface, trying to escape being eaten by a predator from below. The explosion of a fish attacking this type of lure can get even the calmest angler shaking at the knees.
This bait is designed as a surface bait that basically is made to dart and splash along, jumping and at times diving below the water surface. Most of these stickbait-style lures dart from side to side with each twitch of the rod tip. Once you get a fish boiling at this lure, dipping the rod and winding the bait quicker – even in a straight line – can get the boils into serious splashes. The fish then gets over-excited and latches onto the bait with a vengeance.
This lure works exceptionally well for kingfish, but other species like couta, snoek and tuna will not swim past without having a go at it themselves. Another fish that likes the stickbait is the garrick. Not many people target them with this, rather preferring to use the traditional chisel-nosed plug. However, I can vouch for the stickbait working very well for them and, in fact, mostly out-performing the traditional chisel-nosed plugs.
Well, there you have it: some of the more commonly used outfits and lures for the new spinning craze, which seems to have left dropshot in the dust. If you have not tried it, or have and not had the desired results, get to your closest tackle store and ask for the above lures. You may end up with a big smile on your face for the rest of your day, while you sit in your office and relive your awesome early morning spinning outing.