Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

The humble shad/paddletail ?

Every single saltwater angler is surely aware of the millions of different soft plastic shads/paddletails out there. Those things that lots of us used to (and still do) buy pre-rigged (Storm, Calcutta etc.) and either lob out for pollack off the rocks or tie on the end of one of those infernal, ever-tangling flying collar rigs and drift over wrecks and reefs. Fish like GTs even love them as well. Surely a paddletail/shad (call them what you will) is as simple as that ?

I am not going to get into the multitude of different ways that these amazing and versatile plastics can be fished, for that is a whole book on its own - and to be perfectly honest, I am only on about page two myself when it comes to this particular learning curve. I make no pretense about it. But what I have noticed recently, and especially on my recent trip over to Ireland, is that certain paddletails/shads seem to take casting better. It's pretty obvious that some of them were not designed for repeated hard casting and retrieving (and this is not a criticism, for action/rigidty etc. comes into it), but on the flip side is the fact that sometimes these kinds of lures can be seriously lethal from the shore. However you choose to fish them, but that is not the issue here.......

What I did find when we were fishing a particular couple of spots the other day was that some paddletails that I really liked the look of were just not lasting very long with repeated casting. They were tearing and splitting. OK, so it's probably not that often that you are going to be whacking these things as hard as you can, (finesse fishing ?) but sometimes we need to because it just works really well. Imparting lots of action on lures is vitally important in many situations, but never forget that a good old fashioned straight-retrieve is sometimes a killer. Some paddletails though really take lots of casting and retrieving very well and just last for ages, and these are going to have to be the ones that I turn to in the future when I need to "whack and wind".

Leaving different actions and body shapes aside, the Xorus Rolling Shad you can see above seems to be tough as anything out there that I know of - it just seems to do the job, and lots of anglers know all about how they catch lots and lots of bass. Fish them on all manner of jig heads and they just don't tear up very easily at all, indeed I still have some rigged up here that were the first ones I ever got hold of. I took a few nice bass on them in Ireland the other day in fact.

I will not pretend that the whole "Vios" thing with some of these MegaBass soft plastics does not drive me mad, but the simple fact is that they kill. Just like all the MegaBass lures it seems. Proven bass catchers all the way. From my understanding, any of their soft plastics that have the word "Vios" on the packet means that you can not mix them with any other lures - i.e. you need to carry them on their own otherwise they will literally melt if mixed together A bit of a pain as I said, but the MegaBass Spindle Worm (see above) especially is a seriously lethal paddletail. So the inconvenience of having to carry them separated from each other is hugely outweighed by how seriously bass love them. And although it might not look like it, these paddletails are tough as hell and take lots and lots of casting and retrieving without and undue hassle. A little trick with all these soft plastics is to apply a little bit of Anglers' glue (ask these guys here about it) to the back of the jig head where the lure flushes up against it.

The French company Delalande make a whole load of different paddletails, and mates of mine continue to do really well on their GT Shad - which also happens to be tough as old boots. Fantastic action as well. I know for example that Cian likes to use them over in Ireland (check here, give them a shout and ask away). Mates of mine over in Jersey are also starting to rave about the huge Reins range of soft plastics - have a look here. Bigger is not always better at all. I can not pretend to be a leading authority on paddletails, but the simple fact is that they work, and we have lots and lots to learn about them. Those tails going mad in current must turn bass on in such a big way............I love looking for solutions to problems, or matching certain specific lures to certain specific spots that I fish. Please do give me some feedback on this stuff, I would love to know more about other paddletails that cast, catch and last.

I check on various different fishing blogs, and I have come across another really good one that is loaded with bass fishing info - check out bass nut Iestyn Jones' Plus Fishing staff blog right here. Some great work avoidance !! It's great that more and more bass fishermen are taking the time to blog about their experiences. Again, if you know of other blogs out there that I should be aware of, please let me know.