Henry Gilbey

Wrasse fishing with soft plastics



The simplest rig for fishing soft plastics for the wrasse, called the Texas rig – see how to put it together here. The Texas rig consists of a weedless/wide gape hook (sizes 1 and 1/0 are a good starting point), a worm weight (sometimes called a cone, nail or bullet weight – I carry 7g and 10g versions, but you can also use a standard drilled bullet) and a soft plastic lure. Hugely simple and very effective for bouncing, trundling and shaking along the bottom over rough ground where we all know that wrasse just love to live and feed over.

It might seem like madness to deliberately fish something like a Texas rig into rough ground, but if you come from bait fishing for wrasse like I do then you will be amazed at just how little gear you end up losing when fishing the soft lures. One vital trick is to “skin the lure” – once you have rigged your soft plastic, lightly nick the hook point just under the skin of the lure to help it stop snagging up, and make sure to regularly check this and “re-skin” when necessary. Don’t worry, when you strike a bite the hook is designed to hook the fish properly.

There are most likely a million different ways to take wrasse on soft lures, but the simplest way to go about starting this kind of fishing is to cast your Texas rig out, let it hit the bottom, and then slowly start bumping, trundling and literally shaking it back – while maintaining contact with the bottom all the time. Make sure to stop your lure and simply leave it there sometimes, or literally give it a shake via your rod tip. This is the key to this fishing – feel. The more you can feel what is going on at the business end, the more you can react to how your lure is fishing over the terrain and bites from the fish. Fishing with your rod tip up is a good way to fish the lures and help feel what is going on.

Presuming that you are coming from bait fishing for wrasse, you need to come at this lure fishing with a completely different approach. Gone are the heavy rods, big reels and lines as thick as ropes. It’s a leap of faith to fish light for wrasse, but I assure you that in no time you will be wondering why on earth you were fishing with such heavy gear beforehand – as I did. A light approach gives you that all essential feel, and in the end you are dead in the water unless you can sense what is going on with your lure as you fish it along the bottom. There are a few specialist rock fishing lure rods out there now, but in its basic form you are looking for a 7’ to 8½’ lure rod that is rated somewhere in the region of 5-30g, a spinning reel to match (Shimano 3000 size or Daiwa 2500 size work well) and a decent braid mainline of around 15-20lb breaking strain. Tie on a 15-20lb fluorocarbon leader (a little longer to give a bit of abrasion resistance at the business end) and then make up that Texas rig.

Here are a few ideas for rods that work well for wrasse fishing. All these rods are available to buy off the shelf/on the internet here in the UK and Ireland. I have fished with a fair number of them myself, and as I come across more rods that I think might work I will add them to this list :

  • Graphiteleader Tiro 7’9’’ 4-22g GOTS-792ML
  • The Anyfish Anywhere 7’6’’ lure rods
  • Century HPR 7’3’’
  • Century HPR 7’7’’
  • Graphiteleader Tiro MR 8’3’’ 7-28g GOTS-832M-MR (I fish with this rod)
  • Major Craft Crostage CRS-762 M/S 7-28g 7’6’’
  • Major Craft Crostage CRS-732 ML/S 5-18g 7’3’’
  • Spro Vortezza S70ML 7’ 3-28g
  • Spro Vortezza S80ML 8’ 3-28g
  • Tenryu Injection SP82M LCF 8’2’’ 8-30g
  • Tenryu Injection SP73M 7’3’’ 5-28g
  • MegaBass XOR Shadow XX SXX-85L 8’5’’ 5-21g

Spinning reels to have a look at :

  • Daiwa Exceler and Exceler S 2500 and 3000 sizes
  • Daiwa Theory 2500 and 3000 sizes
  • Daiwa Team Daiwa X Match 2500 and 3000 sizes
  • Daiwa Caldia Mag Sealed 2500 and 3000 sizes
  • Daiwa Certate 2500 and 3000 sizes
  • Shimano Aernos 3000 and 4000 sizes
  • Shimano Rarenium 3000 and 4000 sizes
  • Shimano Technium 3000 and 4000 sizes
  • Shimano Stella 3000 and 4000 sizes

Also make sure to look at the Fishing Tackle pages on this website, and especially for more details on some of the rods, reels and lines.

It does seem to be the case that wrasse can be picky when it comes to the colour of the soft plastic lure. Good “standard” colours seem to be various shades of green and brown, but also bear in mind purples, blues etc. There is no way to find out what the wrasse might want on a particular day other than to experiment, or when you are fishing with a mate or two, start off using different colours until you start getting bites. And then on some days or even at some stages of the tide that the wrasse will hit virtually any colour going !! Go figure………

There are literally any number of different soft plastic lures out there that can, do and will work for wrasse fishing, and the good thing is that you can pick many of them up really cheaply. This wrassing on plastics can be a very cost effective way of going lure fishing. As a starting point, look for soft lures around the 2.5’’ to 4’’ size – a senko (soft plastic stickbait) or the Slug-Go are always a good starting point, and then simply experiment from there.

Here are a few suggestions for soft plastic lures that I know work or have heard work well, but please bear in mind that this list is in no way definitive or in any kind of order, and I will add items to it from time to time :

  • Hawg Wild Sticks (senkos)
  • Hawg Wild 4.25’’ Kodiak Craw
  • 4’’ Yoshikawa Superworms
  • 4.5’’ Nojo’s Serpent Worm
  • Gary Yamamoto senkos – the original senko
  • Gary Yamamoto Medium Craw 4’’
  • Gary Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog 3.75’’
  • Wave 4’’ Baby Tiki Stick
  • Wave 3’’ Grasscraw
  • Wave 3’’ Tiki Monkey
  • Culprit 3.5’’ Great Lakes Goby
  • Culprit 4’’ Stinger Senko worm
  • Wave 3.5’’ Tiki Drop
  • Ecogear Grass Minnows
  • Ecogear Bug Ants 3’’ and 4’’
  • Ecogear Fat Claw 3.5’’
  • Ecogear Aqua Swim Shrimp 4’’
  • Slug-Go 4.5’’
  • MegaBass XLayer – great lure for wrasse, but they don’t work out cheap to fish like this
  • Sakura Snoop 100mm
  • Reins Ring Shrimp 4’’
  • Reins Bubbling Shad 3’’ and 4’’
  • Reins Rockvibe Shad 4’’
  • Reins Bubbling Shaker 3’’
  • Keitech Live Impact 4’’
  • Keitech Swing Impact 3.5’’
  • Various Berkley Gulp products
  • Daiwa Tournament D'Fin paddletails