There is certain fish that don’t come along often. We know what they are. Big mulloway, 90cm+ flathead, 120cm barra. Often termed ‘unicorns’ in their class, these are the type of fish that can take years on the water, and often require you to get 99.9% of things right until you are rewarded with a bite. So, it only makes sense that if you are going to chase these fish, then you need to have a lure that offers you an advantage in more than just one component. Profile, colour, hook points, tail, componentry – you name it, these are things that need to be considered when we are choosing a lure of choice.
In the cool southern waters of NSW, as the baitfish works its way into the inshore reefs and deeper sections of the estuaries, my focus has turns to sounding the deeper waters of my local estuary in a bid to find two key indicators that I am on for a session: bait schools with big arches behind them. This style of fishing isn’t for everyone. It requires patience to stare at a screen and scout new areas where bait might be sitting, constantly manoeuvring your boat to get on top of the mark, and hours of time on the water to find active fish. But that’s the reason I love it. For me, it captures the reason why I love fishing – finding a target, understanding the technology we have to help us capture that target, and then getting out there doing it.
With each year I spend on the water, I come up with new methods and techniques that I like to fish in these scenarios, and this year my attention has turned to casting the Shimma Pro Rig from the Berkley stables around bait schools. In a situation that would often see me choose a soft vibe, I wanted to try something that offers a little more freedom on the lift without compromising on hook points and weight. Whilst also knowing that I am throwing a lure that a ‘unicorn’ would eat.
Fitted with a removeable weighted hook and both a single Owner hook and a STX Taff wire treble, the Shimma Pro Rig offers that traditional bait fish profile that you expect to see congregating around this time of year, but still offers 4 hook points which you need when chasing those ‘unicorns’.
With a thick body profile and a tapered off paddle tail, the Shimma Pro-Rig has a strong body roll and a wide tail action, perfect for either slow rolling through some active bait, or hopping along a wreck where some likely ‘unicorns’ might be sitting. Built from durable Thermal Plastic Elastomer (TPE), the body is super tough and withstands plenty of punishment from predators with serious jaw strength, and raspy or toothy mouths, which is perfect with making sure that tailor don’t push you to bankruptcy.
Approaching two months into the winter season, with a dozen session in the account, I have enjoyed the level of freedom that this lure gives me. Aside from knowing that if I hook a unicorn I won’t be missing the hook up, I like that my retrieve can be changed up without me worrying about the traditional vibe ‘blowing out’. Now don’t get me wrong, vibes are the most prominent lure in the last decade, but at times its worthwhile switching it up and trying some different.
The boat is in position. Spot lock on. Wreck in site. Wind behind me. Tide Changing. Time to cast.
The heavier weight of the Shimma Pro Rig is perfect so covering distance, which is a big element in my ‘play book’. If these fish don’t come along often, then it only makes sense that you want longer casts to cover ground. This is balanced, however, with the wide tail which gives the lure some hangtime as it works its way down in the water column. If there is one ‘profile’ you want to imitate in the southern waters in NSW, then a poddy mullet or herring is it.
With the ‘unicorn’ still in transit, a few smaller models have hit the deck, which is enough for me to continue with this new option. For now, its cast, cast, cast. But I know the rewards will come.
Until then, unicorn…
By Jono Bleakley – Berkley Pro Team