Learn to Fish Soft Plastics - Matching the hatch
We quite often hear the term “matching the hatch’, but what does that really mean and what possible use could it be to us as fisherman.
This weeks blogs inspiration came from discussions on the Soft Plastics Anonymous page
What does it mean?
Well the term stems from its use in fly fishing. Our wafting, wand waving brethren, get all excited and twitchy when there is an insect hatch happening. This usually means greater insect activity on the surface of the water. So they are expert at working out the type of the insect that hatched so they can ensure their dry fly matches the insect hatchlings. Hence the term, ‘matching the hatch’.
So why does it mean for me?
This also translates across to other types of fishing too, which is where it becomes of particular use to us. When we talk about prolific baitfish numbers, undoubtably the predators will follow. This normally means the predators are exclusively targeting the type and size of the baitfish. Therefore, any smart angler would match the hatch with their soft plastic.
I have spent countless hours throwing everything in the tackle box at tuna in Moreton bay, watched as they approached the lure close to the boat only to shy away as it was not exactly what they where chasing. The hatch did not match, and they knew it. Being spoiled for choice, there was plenty of other baitfish for them to feed on. If you are gorging yourself on steak and someone offers you gluten free sausages, well you get my drift...
How do I work out the hatch?
So knowing your targets favorite food source is a great start. It helps to work out what you need to present to your target to get that all important strike.
So how do you work this out? Well general observation will get you most of the way there. Watching for bait activity out on the water is a good sign. If I get to a spot and there is a lot of bait activity, then this to me is great sign as most of the time the predators are not too far away.
If you know that the creek is beginning to fill up with prawns, then it stands to reason that if you match the general size and profile of a prawn and imitate its jumping and flicking as well as its general paddling then you may well be matching your hatch well.
The Rhino Lure above is close to the right size but not the colour of the prawn pictured.
While close to what we are looking for, the Rhino Lures Jelly prawn sparkle wriggler could be used quite effectively in this situation however probably needs to be slightly larger to match the bait size.
In this case the Rhino lures Motoroil-light colour could pass off as close to the prawns colour and better suits the size of the live prawn.
If the creek is full of herring, then try your best to match that. If there are mullet running, then it stands to reason that the predators will be after them.
The 5 inch paddletail is the right size, although perhaps a little lacking in depth, but is the wrong colour to replicate the hatch.
The Rhino Lures paddeltail in a Ghost colour seems to more accurately match the colour profile, but still lacks in depth which will always be an issue for replicating this baitfish specie.
Is the matching the hatch enough?
It is not enough to match the size, shape and colour of the target bait profile, you also need to imitate the action of them also. In the fast paced pelagic world, a slow rolled plastic that looks like it is out for a lazy Sunday afternoon swim, may not be as effective as a panicked and fleeing baitfish, like all the others in the school. The only exception to this is the injured baitfish retrieve, where by your plastic is set to imitate a wounded baitfish that is not capable of fleeing anymore and is sinking in darted retrieves through the school, if you have matched the hatch, then it is likely to be picked off as fair game. The trick is holding the school close enough to do this as they are generally moving at warp speed to avoid predators.
In more sedate estuarine environments, matching the hatch for our bread and butter species is also incredibly important. Slow retrieves with a correct matched soft plastic will nearly always see you with tight lines, especially if you know the fish are on the chew with a high or rapidly changing barrometer (read more here on this).
Till next time Skulldraggers, have fun, fish responsibly and remember take only what you need and post the rest to social media.