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By Shaun Taylor

Tackle Tactics Pro Angler and professional fishing guide Shaun Taylor talks us through weedless rigging and how it is a blessing for fishing guides and an advantage for anglers.

The advantages of weedless rigging and the leaps and bounds with which tackle development has advanced has made this system even more deadly. Gone are the days when an assortment of different size ball sinkers needed to be carried around to chin rig your weedless hook, to a weight required for the job at hand. Although this method worked well, it had its downsides. Occasionally the ball sinker would impact the loop knot on the strike, resulting in a bust off... often followed by some colourful language.

Research and development by the TT/ZMan team and the eventual release of the SnakelockZ system solved these problems, with interchangeable weights to fit a variety of sizes of the weedless ChinlockZ hooks making life easier amongst the weeds and the snags.

The benefits that this system offers are magnified once you put yourself in a guiding scenario, with three anglers on your boat, often with limited experience and ability (but high expectations). As any lure angler knows, it can often be a matter of centimetres between getting the bite and drawing a blank. I always encourage my clients to get their lures right in amongst the snags. (To quote old Rexy 'It's no good being where the fish aint!) This of course can also be a guides' nightmare, with lures flying through the scrub, 30 metres up the bank, 100ft up a tree, or worse through your earlobe!

This is where the SnakelockZ system has been gold for me. Once a client is shown how an errant cast up the bank, through the snag or around the wrong side of a log can be slowly walked through the snag, usually ending up smack bang in the bite zone, their confidence and in time accuracy grows.

I have seen it hundreds of times, where the initial response of clients trying to free a placcy from the trees is the 'violent jerk method' which usually results in a tree tangle that Houdini himself couldn't unravel. It is a common thing for a guide, once you spot a lure landing in a tree, to quickly instruct the angler to 'Hold Up' and then to instruct them to slow wind the weedless offering up, under, through or around the branches until it extricates itself and 'plops' straight into the mouth of a hungry barra, jack or toga. I have seen this happen many times.

Several of the systems that we fish in the Maningrida area have areas of spindly timber piles. Bank slides that have broken away in the wet and then settled downstream somewhere, providing perfect habitat for ambush predators. These spots are custom made for the SnakelockZ system, as it enables you to work your plastic (usually a ZMan 3" MinnowZ, ZMan 4" DieZel MinnowZ, or 4" SwimmerZ) through the gaps in the timber, or even right through the thickest areas. Quick rod work and a heavy drag setting is recommended as a decent fish doesn't have far to go to stitch you up in the rough stuff!

One of my favourite river systems, that holds quite a few jacks as well as the barra, fingermark, threadies and blue salmon, along with the occasional black jewfish, has seen me find a new favourite in the 3" MinnowZ range! It's no secret that Redbone Glow and Rootbeer Gold have been firm favourites of mine for years now, but in this particular system my old favourites have been relegated to the bench, with Chartruese Glow proving itself as best on ground!

The mangrove jack especially have been all over this colour, like the proverbial fat kid on a Mars bar! I have had some amazing sessions this season, with up to 30 jacks falling for the little three inch 'green machine'. It brings to mind the old saying from fly fishing guru Lefty Kreh that 'if it ain't chartreuse, it ain't no use'.

In the interest of diversity I will usually have one angler on this lure, another on a Pearl ZMan 4" SwimmerZ and the third on a small suspending hard body. It has become standard now for the other punters to request 'one of those little green buggers' when the chartruese is outfishing all other offerings.

Of course another advantage to this weedless method is that when a bite goes quiet and fish retreat deep into the snags, this is pretty much the only method available that can put an offering in front of their face. I recall a great session earlier in the season, at the mouth of a feeder creek that runs into the mighty Liverpool River, where the barra were smashing my clients' lures, with many double and even triple hook ups. Just to the downstream side of the feeder stood an old bank slide of spindly timber and after picking fish off around the edges of the snag pile and the small back eddy associated with it, the bite went quiet. A quick change to 4" SwinmerZ rigged weedless and swum right into the thickest nastiest parts of the snag pile re-ignited the bite and another 12 or 15 barra were landed. Without this rig it would not have been possible to get a lure to them.

This is why this method has become a firm favourite in our guiding arsenal and when added to the durability and fish catching ability of the ZMan range (and of course a generous dollop of Mullet Pro-Cure) it makes for a user-friendly, fish catching system that's hard to beat. 

Fish on!


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