“Nine pro anglers put their stickbaits through the Mozambique topwater test. We discuss all the features of these inventive lures.”
During the 3rd week of May, I was blessed to join a wonderful group of anglers on a trip to the beautiful Linene Island Lodge in central Mozambique. Nine excited anglers met up the week before the trip, and there were many discussions on target species, tackle, equipment.
Our 1st day on the water, all anglers were brimming with excitement and the conditions appeared perfect. A light North-easterly breeze, flat sea conditions, clear with excellent visibility, and the Skipper’s decision was made to explore some of the productive reefs and pinnacles nearby.
On arriving at the marks, we found that Jigging was almost impossible! The gentle North-Easterly (it had been blowing constantly for a few days prior to our arrival) was working against us! The off-shore ocean current flows from North to South and the wind had actually speeded up the current to between 4kts and 5kts making drifts almost impossible to control. What was needed, was for the wind to swing to a South-Easterly, but unfortunately the forecasts indicated that this was not to be for the next 4 days!
With wind and current against us but good fish showings on the sounder, the frustration that we couldn’t get down to them was compounded by the fact that the fish also had lock jaw!
Our 1st day had been unproductive, and this forced us to rethink our strategy for the remaining 3 days of the trip.
Day 2 started with a new game plan. If we couldn’t get down to the fish, we would try and get the fish to come up to us. Everyone had popping and stickbait rods rigged for top-water action. The plan was to use the current and wind to our benefit by drifting over the structure while blind casting both poppers and stickbaits through each drift.
It wasn’t long before a few decent “Couta” (King Mackerel) smashed our Stickbaits, followed quickly by a lovely 30kg GT. After the pictures, the fish were successfully released and everyone continued casting with renewed vigour. We were now on the scoreboard, and things – although slow, were looking promising for the days to come.
Day 3 commenced with high expectations, and ended with even better results! At sea for less than an hour, and all of a sudden there were schooling Yellowfin Tuna busting into shoals of small baitfish that formed concentrated “baitballs”. There were a few shoals of small Yellowfin Tuna, and then bigger fish in the 15-25kg class made an appearance! Our Starwalker Stickbaits were being hammered consistently. An awesome top-water experience for all! After numerous fish, shot for shot, it didn’t take long before “chirps” about sore muscles were heard.
These fish were very selective in what they ate. The Stars of the show – no innuendo intended, were the Sinking and Floating Starwalker 160 and 180 Stickbaits in Pink and Purple! Although a number of Yellowfin Tuna were caught using Starwalkers in other colours such as Blue Sardine, Blue-Pink, Kahawai and Kohuru – but Pink and Purple were the successful colours of the day! That evening, everyone feasted on Sashimi and sushi followed by our main course of seared Tuna! A fitting end to an amazing day!
Our final day did not disappoint! An intense cold front was rapidly approaching, bringing with it bad weather and rough seas. This would limit out fishing time, so it wasn’t long before we were feeding Starwalkers to more Yellowfin Tuna, and then a good number of Yellowspot Trevally and Couta also fell victim to our lures. For a few hours, it was total mayhem with multiple hook-ups and action galore.
This also provided us with the opportunity to “blood” our new prototypes – the Darkstar Heru Bobara 100XX, and the Starwalker 110 and 140’s. These Stickbaits have performed exceptionally well during testing elsewhere, and continued to do so in Mozambique with excellent results.
Stickbaiting is relatively new in South Africa, Stickbaits were developed and used by the Japanese, adopted and made popular by Australian and French specialist GT anglers and now, are rapidly gaining huge followings in Asia, North America, Central and South America as well as here at home!
Stickbaits are used to great effect, not only by the GT Popping enthusiast but also by anglers on Ski-Boats, Jet-Skis, Kayaks as well as many shore based anglers. We regularly hear of wonderful pelagic and game-fish catches achieved by trolling Stickbaits. The occasional Billfish as well! Apart from GTs, Yellowfin Tuna and Couta cannot seem to leave them alone.
For those of you throwing a stickbait there are a number of retrieve methods. A slow “walk the dog action”, a faster winding retrieve or a slow mixed with fast retrieve punctuated by pauses – so the lure is stationary in the water (imitating a panicked fish). Try out different retrieves and see what is working on the day.
The thrill of watching an aggressive fish attack a stickbait on the surface is difficult to explain. It’s visual, brutal and a test of angler and equipment. The result invariably leaves the angler with shaking hands, sore muscles and a huge smile on his face.
A Stickbait is a very cleverly designed lure. The design, shape, length, weight, balance, and a number of other factors influence the swimming action and behaviour of each lure. This also determines the lures effectiveness on hungry or aggressive fish. All Stickbaits are not equal, with some consistently outperforming others on any given day.
From the highly sought after masterpieces, hand-crafted from exotic hard woods by Japanese Master Craftsmen, things of such beauty and price to take your breath away, to good quality factory produced stickbaits within reach of most anglers, there is a stickbait for you.
How do you choose a Stickbait?
Swimming Action: Quality stickbait designers rigorously test their lures to ensure a realistic swim action which will imitate fish and attract the predators. This is arguably the most important factor in selecting a stickbait and is generally absent in “cheap” copies.
Quality Rigging: Stickbaits must withstand huge pressures when they are hit by a large fish. Make sure that the lures are through wired with strong, thick gauge, stainless steel wire and that the terminal connections are robust.
Size: There are many different sizes of stickbait available. Your choice will depend on your target species and the size of the bait fish which the predators are feeding on. Be sure to match the stickbait weight to the recommended lure weight specified by your rod and reel manufacturer.
Sinking or Floating: Sinking stickbaits are sub-surface lures which will sink just below the surface. A floating stickbait will sit on the surface. As a rule of thumb, floating lures work best when the sea is calm and the sinking lures when there is surface chop and wind.
Colour: This is a highly debated topic. The best advice is to have a selection of colours in your lure bag. Some days certain colours will out-perform others but this can be reversed the very next day. Anglers often choose colours they feel more confident with and this in turn can influence their catch rate.
Hooks and Terminal Tackle: Use the best quality split rings and hooks you can find. These also need to withstand the pressures of fighting a large fish.
Use the internet: There are many local and International fishing forums and blogs that discuss stickbaits and their performance in great detail.
Word of Mouth: Talk to other anglers who have caught fish using stickbaits. The proof is in the catching!
These suggestions will provide sufficient information for you to make an educated purchasing decision.
Lastly, remember that you get what you pay for. “Copies” do not take the original designer’s parameters, input, materials and testing into their manufacture. This will generally result in a product that under-performs when compared to the original. At best you will have a lower hit rate, and at worst, your stickbait will destruct and you will lose your fish. Think before you purchase, and purchase wisely.
Get those Stickbaits rigged! Big fish are out there waiting for you……..
For more information on Jigstar Africa’s Popping, Stickbaits or Jigging equipment range, please visit our website at: www.jigstarafrica.co.za