Reel Life October 2022

  • Southland
  • 20/10/2022

Reel Life October 2022

There’s no doubt about it, soft baits have certainly revolutionised spin fishing for trout.

If you are yet to give soft baiting a try, I suggest you give it a go this season because soft baits are affordable, realistic, and highly effective.

To consistently catch fish using soft baits there are a few things to think about.

Firstly, your soft bait needs to be rigged appropriately.

The soft bait should be flush with the shank of the hook, and you shouldn’t use a snap swivel – just tie your line directly to your jig head.

Above Right: A correctly rigged soft bait (top) alongside some incorrectly rigged soft baits.

Then, you need to consider using the correct jig head weight.

In most Southland situations, a 1/16th through to a 1/8th of an ounce jig head will get you by in most situations.

On a recent fishing trip to the lower Oreti River, I was reminded of the importance of choosing the correct jig head weight.

I was using a 1/8th of an oz jig head so I could cast that bit further.

However, the problem was the trout would chase my soft bait but would not commit to biting.

Lower Oreti light soft bait 3

Dropping down a jig head size can help bring on the bites.

I changed to a 1/16th of an oz jig head which gave my soft bait a more delicate presentation and drift, and the bites started coming thick and fast.

Soft bait colour is another consideration, though, in my opinion, not overly important.

I have caught fish on bright fluoro soft baits and drab, natural-coloured soft baits.

As a general rule, I like to use bright colours in water that is discoloured due to rain or tannins and more natural colours in clear water conditions.

Far more important than soft bait colour is fishing the soft bait appropriately.

Unlike hard lures, where your cast the lure out and simply wind it back in to impart action to the lure, with soft baits, you help impart the action to the lure by twitching your rod tip.

Try casting upstream, letting your soft bait sink, and then swinging (drifting) the soft bait across the current whilst you twitch your rod tip.

Finally, many anglers like to use braid to fish soft baits because it enables greater casting distance and bite detection.

If you do elect to use braid, you will need to attach a monofilament trace (approx. 1-1.5m in length).

If you don’t want to use braid, use six pound (2.7kg) monofilament line for best results.

For more information on soft baiting in Southland, see this video:


20220921 181545

A pre-spawn perch caught alongside a weed bed on the lower Oreti River.

Now is a great time to target perch.

During the spring, pre-spawn perch will congregate around weed beds in the deep, slower-moving sections of our lower rivers, and this can make them easier to find and target.

In my experience, the larger female fish will arrive on the spawning grounds first, followed by the smaller male fish.

During the peak spawning periods, several perch can arrive and spawn on a patch of weed, and during this time, they are aggressive and will readily take a soft bait.

Try using a brightly coloured soft bait with a 1/8th of an oz jig head.

Cast out your soft bait, let it sink to the bottom and then bounce and retrieve the soft bait alongside the edge of a weed bed.

Top spots to try for a perch:

The lower Oreti, Mataura and Makarewa rivers, as well as the Waiau Arm of Lake Manapouri.


This season will be the third season that fishing on the Clinton and Worsley is managed using a ballot.

Anglers can enter the ballot to fish these rivers for a two or three-day period.

Over the last two seasons, we have received some great feedback from anglers who have won ballots.

Anglers have appreciated the great fishing, and fantastic scenery and knowing that their fishing in these remote rivers was not going to be disturbed by other angling parties.

If you want to enter the ballot to fish the Clinton and Worsley or want more information, check out this link:

Tight Lines

Cohen Stewart, Southland Fish & Game.

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