Learn to fish soft plastics- Retreives- Slow roll vs Lift and drop
Our previous blogs have focused on preparation and planning for your fishing trips and if you are interested, you can check out them out here. But as we start to get to the pointy end of the blog we start to look at the types of retrieves you can use for soft plastics, what action they impart and why is it important?
There are many different types of retreives that you can use with a soft plastic, many Skulldraggers out there would have their favorites I am sure. But when you are starting out, it’s tough to know why is it important and how do I do it?
This blog will, for simplicities sake, focus on just two to try and draw a comparison. We will look at the slow roll Vs the lift and drop. This has been an interesting bone of contention between Rhino Lures founder Nick Hughes and myself at Skulldrag Industries, so we thought it was time to put it to the test. With an ex-cyclone tropical low bearing down, plunging barometer and windy conditions what ensured was comical yet a lot of fun, you can see the video here.
The slow roll is exactly how it sounds, it is a normal cast into fishy looking water, a sink of the plastic to your desired depth ( this depends on the size of plastic and weight of the jig head) and then the slow and steady retrieve back to the boat without any lifting of the rod tip. A flat, seductively slow, tantalizing, in no hurry retrieve back to the rod tip. This can be harder than you think and sometimes you have to consciously slow down your retreive as generally a bump or missed take will get your adrenaline pumping and you will speed up you winding. Relax and slow it down. Designed to impersonate a baitfish going about it’s everyday thing, unaware of predators. Sometimes this retreive is deadly and we wanted to know why?
The second is the lift and drop, which is a staple of the soft plastics industry. This involves a cast out, sink to your desired depth and then a quick rod lift (or two) and then dropping your rod tip and allowing slack line to drop the plastic back to the bottom. The plastic hops off the bottom, then nosedives back down with the lure skirt wiggling around behind. The height of the lift depends on your rod lift, the drop speed depends on your lure weight and the amount of drag your plastic makes through the water. This is designed to make the plastic look like a startled or possibly injured baitfish and with all that movement, surely it will get the attention of our predatory target right?
So which is better?
Whilst hardly scientific, our testing really came up with a few things to consider. The first was the species and their hunting method.
We targeted estuary species, in relatively shallow water. This is where the Slow roll might have and advantage as it’s a straight retreive with little vertical movement and skimming along the bottom. This may be an advantage when fishing from a sloping bank as the retreive may match the rising bank contour. We were from a boat, so that means that there is a lot of dead time the plastic is hanging in mid-water coming back to the boat, however this could also be an advantage if you are after mid-water or pelagic species. Therefore the slow roll may not be effective for bottom dwelling deep water species.
The Lift and drop will work in most places but is a little restricted in really shallow water, it can still be done but the most seductive part of the fluttering lure during the drop is limited. Likewise this retrieve can be used in deeper water, bottom bouncing like a jig on the drift or hopped back up the sloping bank if fishing from the shore.
While both retreives are clearly effective, the moral of the story is, feel free to mix it up. If one retreive style is not working then try the other. This may have the advantage of matching your lure to the baitfish activity on the day. If bait is being smashed all over the place, then a leisurely slow rolled plastic may not really be all that life-like, whereas a paninced, injured plastic/baitfish dropping to the bottom might seem more realistic. Likewise a dropping injured plastic might not be as realistic in a quite backwater as a tantalizing slow rolled fish Mars bar.
Its really all about observing your surroundings, trying out different approaches and sticking with it until you find what works.
So to answer the question of Slow roll Vs the Lift and drop, we will just have to put it to round two.