Want to know if the wrasse are around? Put a Black Minnow on. And the Costa del Mar winner is........

I make no apology for talking about a soft plastic that you are not exactly going to find in the bargain bucket, and if you think that this blog post is no more than an advert for the French company Fiiish, then guess what? Quite frankly I couldn't give a flying lump of horse manure about the pathetic conspiracy theories that fly about within fishing, indeed I have to hold myself back from commenting on some of them when I know the facts and therefore I know the amount of arse being spoken/written (usually very badly as well). I know plenty of people within fishing, and there are certain companies and individuals who I respect the hell out of - with Fiiish and the guys I know there being a prime example.

Please don't bother coming on here and commenting along the lines of there are loads of other paddletails out there that work just as well, or the Black Minnow bodies are too soft, too expensive or whatever. Blah, blah, blah, heard it all before and like the paragraph above, I don't give a stuff. It's my blog and all I can do is to tell you how I see it - which of course might be very different to how you see it. Taken as a system, to me the Black Minnow is a game changer. If I need to take a "paddletail on a jig head" out fishing, I take the Black Minnow in whatever size/jig head weight I deem to be the most applicable to how I think conditions/location etc. might pan out. I have seen too much "evidence" if you like that there is something special about the Black Minnow system and its fish catching abilities, and I like how the confusion over which bodies, heads and hooks to use is completely removed.

Now what I am not saying here is that you need to go wrasse fishing with the Black Minnow and the Black Minnow only. Read the blog title "Want to know if the wrasse are around?". It has happened to me too many times now for me to pass it up as some kind of fluke, indeed it happened just the other day. A few finicky bites from wrasse that tell you they are around and seem to be interested. Wind in, take the Texas rig/whatever soft plastic off and tie on a Black Minnow, cast it out, let it hit the bottom, a couple of bumps up and down and wrasse on. Repeat or take the Black Minnow off because you don't want to trash the thing. It's up to you.

If money was no object then I would feel pretty confident doing the bit of wrasse fishing I do with no other lure than the Black Minnow, but you and I know that the way that these fun fish enjoy destroying soft plastics doesn't exactly encourage us to use the expensive stuff all the time. Look at the MegaBass XLayer - a killer wrasse lure, no getting away from it, but with the premium price they are I just don't feel that happy trashing too many of them. Hence I have started to use the Black Minnow almost as a way of finding out if the wrasse are around and on the feed, and like with the "evidence" that it's a killer bass lure, my personal experience is that if there is a wrasse around, it's going to jump on the Black Minnow. Perhaps it boils down to confidence yet again?

Which in turn has increasingly made me think about the fact that paddletails are worth using more and more for wrassing. Sure, when these fish are on they will hit almost anything, but I have noticed for example that the Daiwa Tournament D'Fin 4'' paddletails are killer for wrasse (I particularly like the Ayu colour), and on Saturday I did well with the 4'' D.O.A. C.A.L. Shad Tail in the silver mullet colour - and yes, me trying to find these paddletails in a sort of two-tone colour that isn't a million miles away from the khaki Black Minnow colour is deliberate. Even when the wrasse seem to be finicky about what colour they want to chow, I have put a khaki Black Minnow on and smashed one straight away too many times now to discount it.

Now the most usual size of Black Minnow for me to carry is the 12g Shore Head/120mm body combination, as in this is the one I use the most for bass fishing - and sometimes when the fishing is quiet I like to have a go for wrasse to see if I can get a bend in the rod. Therefore the only applicable soft plastic I often have with me to have a go at the wrasse (on a bass session) is the Black Minnow, so of course right there you have at least one reason why I reckon these things are so killer for them. If you are carrying only one sort of applicable lure, then if this thing continues to catch fish for you, it's only natural to feel very confident with it. Same with my hard lures for bass - if I take one surface lure, nine times out of ten it's going to be the IMA Salt Skimmer. Same argument all over again really.

On Saturday I thought it would be good to give the smaller 10g Offshore Head/90mm body Black Minnow a go on the wrasse. I haven't used them for a while and they are a size that appeal to me for bumping along the bottom, even though to be fair the wrasse seem perfectly happy smashing the larger 120mm version. And of course I hooked a donkey wrasse and then lost it. Now it's always the biggest fish that are lost, but in my defence I saw the wrasse as clear as day and the reason it came off was because the hook straightened out on me. I was trying out a rod that is actually designed for freshwater largemouth bass fishing (more to come), and my drag is of course wound up as far as it will go so that no wrasse I might hook could take any line. Andy looked around when I yelped and got a bit of a shock at the bend in the rod, but this is what a fishing rod is meant to do - bend properly into a decent fish to get it up and out. The wrasse was up and out of any snags almost immediately, but then that hook went and straightened.

What does this mean? Well I might have been unlucky with a dodgy hook, but in truth I think the size of the Fiiish hook that comes with the 90mm size Black Minnow body is what it is - perfectly good for many fish, but perhaps not quite large or strong enough for a plucky sort of fish that does all it can to get back to sanctuary in a pretty brutal sort of way. Which is what wrasse fishing is about is it not? Short, brutal, wonderfully unsubtle scraps, beautiful fish, beautiful coastline, electric bites on the plastics that jolt right through your arm, and just a load of fun. What's not to like?

Thanks for all your entries for this Costa del Mar competition, and thanks to Costa UK for so kindly giving me a pair to give away on this blog. I think the next time I run a competition here I am going to have to change it up, because I have read through your entries time and time again and it's done me in trying to choose a winner. There has to be a simpler way!! How on earth do I pick a winner? Well I have, and the winner is Dave Hood with his entry : "I dreamt once that there were invisible rivers in the air - all you could see were the fish and the currents - maybe Costas will be like this!" I can't tell you exactly why, but this is entry that spoke to me the most. Well done all, I wish you could all win because they are truly awesome polarised sunglasses, but well done Dave, and I will post your new Costas to you later this week.