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By Tackle Tactics Pro Angler Justin Willmer
First published: Jun 8 2023

Justin has spent his life fishing and is happy to target any species land based or from a variety of watercraft, including boat, kayak, SUP (stand up paddle board) and float tube.

Jetty Fishing with Soft Plastics

By Justin Willmer

Jetties or piers often attract anglers as they allow access to more water, often deeper water and they also create structure that attracts bait and in turn predatory species. I recently travelled to attend a wedding and my research showed a jetty in the area that was worth a flick, so in went a couple of two-piece spin combos and my TT Tackle Sling bag loaded with a selection of gear. Even though I only had an opportunity to fish the jetty once, I managed to work out the bite and land a mixed bag of species. In this article I hope to share some tips to assist you in breaking down jetty fishing, the environment around you and the bite, so that you can make the most of your jetty session.

Combo Selection

Combo selection will depend on your chosen jetty and target species, from finesse spin, potentially through to heavy overhead gear. I hadn’t fished the jetty before; however, I was expecting to encounter smaller estuary species, with the chance of some surf species, topping out with a slim chance of a rogue tuna of kingfish.

I have overdone the weight of combos selected for adventures like this before and it ends up frustrating trying to cast light lures and target smaller species on heavy gear, so I opted to pack two combos.

Light Combo – My light combo consisted of a TT Red Belly Spin Rods – RBS702ML 7’ 2-4kg 2pce rod, which is a light, fun rod to fish, paired with an Okuma Ceymar HD Spin Reel – CHD-2500HA, loaded with 8lb Platypus Pulse X8 Braid in White and 10lb Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader.

Heavy Combo – The heavier combo that I included, just in case, consisted of a Red Belly Spin Rods – RBS702MH 7’ 4-8kg 2pce rod, paired with an Okuma ITX Carbon Spin Reel – ITX-4000, loaded with 20lb Platypus Bionic Braid X9 and 20lb Stealth FC Fluorocarbon Leader.

Unfortunately, the heavier combo didn’t get a run on my adventure, however it’s still worth having a couple of combos with you in case something goes wrong… or that school of marauding larger predatory species start terrorizing the baitfish that seek shelter around the jetty.

Lure Selection

When it came to lure selection, I wanted to cover everything from bream and flathead to trevally tailor, tuna, and other pelagic species, while also keeping my Tackle Sling Bag light and comfortable, so that I could remain mobile. ZMan plastics are ideal for adventures like this as they are 10X Tough, so you can catch plenty of fish on a single soft plastic.

I selected three different ZMan plastics, opting for two colours in each and sticking with paddle tails to ‘match the hatch’ as the main food source around the jetty would be baitfish.

ZMan 1.75” Shad FryZ – This is a great plastic to represent tiny baitfish and I have caught plenty of quality bream, grunter, trevally, and flathead on this Micro Finesse BaitZ. It will keep you busy even if there are only small fish on offer.

ZMan 2.5” Slim SwimZ – This little paddle tail is a great allrounder that has more presence in the water, with its under hooked tail offering loads of action and it gets eaten by a wide range of species, including big fish.

ZMan 3” MinnowZ – I included the ZMan 3” MinnowZ in case I encountered larger bait or target species while walking the beach around the jetty or fishing the jetty itself.

Jighead wise I kept it simple, throwing in some 1/12oz and 1/8oz size 2 HeadlockZ Finesse jigheads for the Shad FryZ and 1/4oz 1/0 DemonZ for the Slim SwimZ. For the 3” MinnowZ I added a few 1/4oz 3/0 HeadlockZ HD jigheads to stop the big ones, along with a few Big EyeZ in colours to suit my chosen plastics.

Other Gear

My jetty session pack consisted of a TT Tackle Sling Bag, with a small tray in one of the front compartments loaded with jigheads, Hard Core metal lures and Fish Inc. Flanker Stickbaits, just in case there was an opportunity for some pelagic spinning.

In the other front compartment, I carried Pro-Cure Super Gel Scent, leader, and a selection of ZMan soft plastics. The main compartment housed my water bottle, snacks, basic first aid kit and a light rain jacket.

The Tackle Sling has three ‘D’ ring attachment points, so I had my braid scissors connected to one of the ‘D’ rings with a zinger for easy use while still attached. My split ring pliers were safely stowed in the tool pocket, with the Velcro strap locking them in place. The bag also comes with a built-in rod holder that makes it simple to stow your rod when rigging or just stopping for a snack, keeping it off the ground and out of the water. I was really impressed with how functional and effective this addition to the bag was and it’s perfect for keeping the combo out of trouble when fishing land based.

Key Structure

I have often seen anglers walk straight to the end of the jetty and start fishing, without taking the time to scope out the environment on their way out. Many times, I have caught fish well back from the end of a jetty after paying attention to the signs, including water movement, bait, structure and even fish that are cruising or feeding around the jetty.

When fishing from a jetty remember that you are standing on some fantastic structure as a starting point. Take some time to look over the side and around the oyster encrusted pylons, making note of how the water is moving, what additional structure is in the area and if there is any bait or fish moving around the pylons.

It’s worth noting what structure is available in the form of weed beds, rubble, drop offs, rock walls and so forth, that is within casting distance of the jetty. Anglers are often attracted to the end of the jetty or the deepest water they can find, when the fish are holding in drains or around structures near another section of the jetty.

 On my adventure I worked out the that the trevally were holding over a patch of weed within casting range, while the spangled emperor were holding hard around the pylons where the tide was pushing against them, creating eddies for ambush and for holding bait. With a single cast I could reach the weed bed, allow the plastic to sink and twitch it over the weed targeting trevally. If I didn’t attract the attention of a trevally, I could then allow the plastic to fall to the sandy bottom, once clear of the weed, and hop it back along the bottom to the base of the pylons, where the strikes were often brutal from spangled emperor of all sizes.


Prime tides to fish a jetty will vary depending on location, however I have generally found that jetties fish more effectively when they have more water around them. More water probably means more access and cover for predatory species, making them less spooky and more fired up to feed. When fishing on longer jetties, it can be worth moving along the jetty at different stages of the tide to understand the area better and access bait, the desired water depth, accessible structure and feeding fish.

If I am on a jetty and fishing the side where the tide is pushing toward me, I generally make a long cast away from the jetty and toward any available structure, then hop or twitch the plastic back toward the jetty. Depending on the target species and bottom type, this could be a fast retrieve above the bottom or a slower retrieve making regular contact with the bottom. Once the lure is back at the jetty, depending on how much structure is under the jetty, you may allow the lure to drift back under the jetty, which can often lead to brutal strikes and some white-knuckle battles getting the fish out. If you plan to fish back under the jetty it can also pay to upsize your gear.

If I am fishing the side of the jetty where the tide is moving away from the jetty, I will either drop my lure presentation straight down beside a pylon or cast back slightly under the jetty. The aim is to have the lure presentation fall vertically as close to the pylons as possible as this is often where bait and predators hold. From here I will allow the lure to hit the bottom, hop it a few times and if it is lifting off the bottom with the flow, I will open the bail arm and allow some line to free spool from the reel and the lure to drift back with the flow, before closing the bail arm and imparting action on the lure again. You can effectively work the lure while allowing the tide to move it away from the jetty to cover water and access any available structure.

If there is less flow you may be able to cast on this side of the jetty and work your lure back into the flow. This can also be effective with hard body lures as the current can make them swim actively and cause them to dive, while soft plastics may require a heavier jighead to get them down into the strike zone. Remember to mix up your retrieves until you crack a pattern.

Landing & Handling Fish

There are options for jetty anglers to assist with landing fish, such as long handled nets and gaffs, drop nets on a rope and flying gaffs. As a bare minimum I would suggest taking the time to make note of what landing options are available, should you connect to a quality fish. Some jetties have lower platforms with ladders or stairs connecting them, or it could be as simple as noting where on the bank you can safely beach your catch, in which case it is a matter of tiring the fish and then towing it back to your landing point. I have seen many fish hooked on the end of the jetty and eventually landed on the bank where the jetty is connected. You will find many hardcore jetty anglers will have landing options available and may assist you when landing your fish. Always remember safety first.


A key consideration when fishing land-based from a jetty or pier is selecting clothing that is appropriate to the environment you are fishing. Keep in mind the sun, wind, temperature, and possible bugs. Clothing that keeps you safe and comfortable will improve your experience, keep you focused and allow you to fish for longer periods of time.

My uniform for fishing the jetty includes water shoes, long fishing pants, long sleeve fishing shirt, fishing gloves, head scarf and cap. I am covered from head to toe in terms of sun protection, while remaining cool and a waterproof windproof jacket isn’t far away, stowed in my Tackle Sling Bag. A quality pair of polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from the elements, while also cutting the glare to allow you to locate structure, bait, and fish more effectively.

Safety First

I have already mentioned safety first but will touch on this again as jetties are made up of structure that itself can be dangerous, combined with the addition of water and all sorts of creatures that come out of it. Grab a fish ID book and if you’re not sure don’t touch them. Be aware of the environment that you’re in, the way the water is moving around you, tidal movement and make note of a safe exit point should you end up in the water.

My Jetty Session

I totally enjoyed my recent jetty session, with the TT Tackle Sling Bag making it simple to carry everything with me and stay mobile. I’m never worried about the size of the fish that I’m catching, and I started off the session chasing the extremely smart, big bream that reside toward the middle section of the jetty I was fishing. I landed a bunch of small Moses perch and spangled emperor, which were great fun, before I finally managed to get a big bream to eat the ZMan 1.75” Shad FryZ shaken on the bottom. It lit up, I struck, and the drag screamed. Two solid runs and I had the bream almost under control, before it smoked me with one last run around an oyster encrusted pylon. That’s fishing and I was happy that I had convinced one of these monsters to eat my artificial presentation.

After that the bream became even wiser and I couldn’t get the lure near them, let alone get another to eat. I moved further out on the jetty and noticed an area of weed within casting distance. I scored a few trevally on the Shad FryZ, before stepping up to the ZMan 2.5” Slim SwimZ for increased weight on the 1/4oz 1/0 jighead, allowing me to cast further, get the plastic down deeper and access the base of the jetty pylons as part of the retrieve, resulting in some fun size spangled emperor on light gear. The trevally changed with the change of presentations, and it was big eye trevally that got in on the action this time.

I had a ball and although I didn’t land any monsters, I had the satisfaction of working out the bite and catching some cool fish, much to the surprise of onlookers. Sometimes the challenge of working the fish out and getting a bend in a light rod is enough to scratch the fishing itch and you’ll generally find something that’s willing to bite when fishing jetties and piers. As for the wedding, the weather was magic and a massive congratulations to Mike and Chelsea.

That’s a Wrap

Jetties and piers are a great place for beginner anglers to learn about fishing as they allow access to plenty of structure, generally attract fish and they also allow you to meet and learn from other anglers. For the more experienced anglers they can produce trophy fish and the challenges that come with fighting and landing them around heavy structures.

Hopefully these tips help you prepare for your next jetty fishing adventure and remember, if you’re travelling around the country for work or leisure, there could be a local jetty or pier that may allow you to scratch the fishing itch, catch a few and maybe even land a new species or trophy fish.

See you on the water…
Cheers, Justin