We’ve all had sessions on the Bream where the bite is slow, and the fish are seemingly nipping at, or short striking the lure. A frustrating occurrence that’s compounded by the lack of regularity of the bites.
When fishing a soft plastic lure, the remedy is usually to employ a small stinger hook fixed to the jig head with a heavier leader material, and pinned into the tail of the lure, thereby increasing the probability of pinning those timid fish nipping at the tail.
Recently I’ve been employing a similar technique with my hardbodied lures. It’s not a new technique, and certainly one I can’t claim for my own. Experienced and switched on tournament anglers like Stewie Dunn have been tying their own trailing stinger hooks for their blades for some time. In fact, Ecogear’s ZX blade with a pair of stinger hooks, have been deadly on local bream populations across the country.
The ZX blades are a lot more snag resistant, and I like to use these on the odd occasions when I’m fishing blades around moored boats, specifically targeting the mooring blocks. I’ve found them to be particularly good when the bite is a little slow, and a more finesse approach required – fishing them slowly with small subtle lifts and long pauses. Take one of these ZX blades and drop it in a fish tank, and you’ll also notice that the small rubber filaments tied with the hooks, wave around enticingly in the current.
Recently at Mallacoota, Mark Gercovich explained to me how he uses the ZX hooks (which incidentally, can be purchased as replacement hooks for the ZX blades) on the Daiwa Gakkabijin Vib’s. These tiny little vibe lures are like Bream “lollies”. Unlike a blade they don’t plummet through the water column, but instead fall slowly and more enticingly. I’ve had good success using these lures straight out of the box, but figured that I’d give them a try, after replacing the treble with replacement ZX hooks, whilst fishing the Marlo Kayak tournament last weekend.
During the pre fish, I found that the fish weren’t committing to lures, and were either nipping and missing the crank bait, or were only pinned lightly by the rear treble. Employing the pimped “Gekka” Vib, fished more like a crank bait with small, fast, lifts and drops followed by a long pause, I landed 5 of my 8 legal fish on day one, and my only legal on day two (after I pulled hooks on 2 early fish whilst fishing a chubby).
These “stinger” and ZX Hook upgrades needn’t be limited to blade and vibe style lures either. During the Australian Open this year, after noticing that the bite on the boats was quite timid, Chris retrofitted ZX hooks to the rear split ring of his Atomic Cranks with good success.
Similarly, Steve Morgan uses these ZX hooks on his top water lures. When I asked him for an explanation for this technique, he explained that Bream are hard to hook when they ‘sip’ at the lure. This often occurs when the lure is stationary in the water. When you rig a bait with the ZX hooks, and you stop the bait, the hooks fall straight down. Steve reasons that Bream have a habit of grabbing the lowest part of the bait when they sip, and if this is the hooks, then you’ll get more hookups. He doesn’t always use the ZX hooks, just when the fish are delicately sipping. Any time the bream are eating a moving topwater, he use trebles.
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