Angling tipsSOFT-BAITS DAMAGE-FREE STORAGE OPTIONSMany anglers will have opened their container of soft-baits to discover the contents have, over time, turned themselves into a gluggy, oozing mess or that the tails have become permanently bent. Grant Dixon talks to several key players in the soft-baiting scene to find the best way to store these popular lures. When targeting big snapper like this Far North trophy caught by Jason Neute, you need to present your soft-baits in perfect condition. It is common knowledge that not all soft-baits are compatible, and most anglers will have discovered that the hard way, as did I. It is easily prevented by knowing what your baits are made of and choosing the proper containers to store them in. All the distributors spoken to can agree on one thing – storing tails in their original packaging is the best way to keep them in pristine condition. In researching the subject, the main themes I came across were not to store soft-baits in sunlight; avoid plastic containers such as tackle trays (unless they are designated as ‘worm-proof’ )as they may interact with the lure; use a purpose-designed storage system; don’t mix colours, even if they are the same brand; use an oil-based fish attractant in the container to keep the lures moist; and finally, do not bend lures in their packets as the material they are made of can have some memory, making it difficult to straighten the bait out again. Many lures are manufactured from plastisol. These can be stored together, but the colours must be separated to prevent leeching or bleeding. Thermoplastic elastomer, known as TPE, is tricky stuff and does not play well with others. Keep these lures well away from others, regardless of what they are made of, as they will melt. These are best stored in the original packet. ElaZtech, the basis for Z-Man lures, like their TPE cousins, will also melt when mixed with some other brands. The colours also bleed, so keep like with like. Mark Kitteridge – Z-Man lures One of soft-baiting’s senior patrons, Mark warns against “throwing handfuls of Z-Man tails in different shapes, colours and sizes into the one container.” “While this may be convenient with having a good selection close at hand, there are risks. The Motor Oil colour, in particular, tends to bleed into other colours, producing some crazy colour schemes, although these accidental mixes sometimes prove advantageous, resulting in some spectacular catches.” Mark points to a slight possibility that Z-Man lures might react with the plastic container or when placed with some other brands. He warns one thing: don’t place them in containers alongside Berkley products. “While no one can question Z-Mans’ durability, Gulps! are to Z-man tails what kryptonite is to Superman – they turn them to jelly.” Storing Z-Mans at high temperatures – such as leaving them on your boat’s dashboard – can result in them becoming compacted, flattened or distorted. “It pays to keep them reasonably straight in their zip-locked packaging and not in direct sunlight or other super-heated scenarios. This especially applies to the smaller models, which generally come in plastic trays which separate them into their individual compartments. Keep them in their original packaging, and they will be good for many years.” Like other brands, Z-Man has soft-bait wallets, which are especially useful for smaller tails. For the bigger versions, the Bait LockerZ takes care of the keener soft-baiter’s requirements, and it also has space for leader, jigheads, and those Secret Sauce additives. Z-Man tails can also be left rigged overnight and longer periods without affecting their action. Mark Phillips – Berkley Berkley Gulp! and related products were the first cab off the ranks in this country’s soft-baiting renaissance. The brand and its then NZ manager Mal Dawson introduced many Kiwi anglers to this ‘new’ way of catching fish, with the Hauraki Gulf snapper fans, in particular, being early adopters.1) The consensus is that soft-baits are best stored in the packaging they are sold in. 2) While it may be convenient to keep a variety of soft-baits in one container, you risk colour contamination. Different brands of lures should never be stored together this way. 3) If you want to keep a variety of tails in a storage box for convenience, don’t mix the brands and make sure the container is ‘worm-proof. Berkley’s Australasian brand manager Mark Phillips says it is essential to keep Gulp! and Powerbait baits in the containers or packets they are purchased in. “Powerbait packets are best stored in our Berkley single or double bait bags, which keeps them separate from baits manufactured using reactive materials such as TPE,” Mark says. “Gulp! can be stored the same way.” Gulp! purchased in packets can be placed in the Gulp! tubs to store and refresh them. Anglers that have limited storage available to them can have a variety of Gulp! baits in the Gulp! Alive tubs without any problems. Plano Liquid Bait Lockers, designed explicitly for Gulp! style soft-baits, offer a practical way to store the Berkley product. Mark recommends not storing Berkley Powerbaits loosely in trays unless each colour is isolated to prevent bleeding. “Our Plano and Berkley tackle trays are wormproof and wellsuited to storing jig heads.” Berkley recommends keeping jigheads separate and washing them in fresh water at the end of the day’s action. You cannot store Gulp! soft-baits rigged on a jighead where they are exposed to the air for an extended period. Even overnight, they will lose their moisture and elasticity, reducing their effectiveness considerably. Left longer, they become rock hard and must be cut off the hook. John Donald – Catch! Involved in recreational fishing for many years, John Donald’s company Catch! designed and distributes Catch! Livie soft-bait tails and rigging systems. He shares the opinion of others – the ideal way to store soft-baits is in the packet they come in. “These keep the tails laying straight. Polymers such as TPE and TPR have some memory, so if the tails get bent, they will stay bent, affecting their presentation,” John says. “Original packaging prevents the baits from becoming contaminated, resulting in some having a meltdown, as well as the colours running.” He says leaving the tails in their packets makes it easier to find each colour and size. “Having said that, divided tackleboxes can work okay, but wash the tacklebox first if they have previously been used to store other lures or soft-baits. Catch! offers a variety of storage options for soft-baits and jigheads. John has adapted his larger Catch! reel bag for carrying an extensive range of bait and rigging options. Steve Newlands – BMT ABoA Dartspin Dartspin lures, distributed by Black Magic Tackle (BMT), are manufactured from a ‘Soft Tough’ material. Noted lure designer and Dartspin manufacturer Patrick Sebile does not disclose its exact composition. “What I can tell you is the lures are made from a non-toxic material and has no phthalates, PVC, or plastisol in its components which is a good thing to protect our fisheries for future generations,” Steve points out. “Kudos to manufacturer ABoA for making a soft plastic without phthalates, PVC, and the like. “ Steve says not to store or mix SofTough-made lures with other soft-plastics as deformation will occur. They should not be stored in direct sunlight.Other storage options for packets of soft-baits include the Berkley Tackle Wallets. These include plastic ZipLock compartments attached to the wallet via a binder system. Suitable for baits up to 7” in length, each compartment can take up to three packets of 5” inch tails or two of the larger 7” ones. The wallets zip up to keep the contents in place for storage or transport. PRO TIPS Z-Man Jelly Babies need a little care to keep them in top-notch condition after use. Ocean Angler’s Paul Senior says the best way is to wash them in fresh water, dry them thoroughly, dust them with unscented talcum powder, and place them back in the original packet to store them. This keeps the ‘legs’ separated and soft, trip after trip CONCLUSION The key points to storing soft-baits are… • Keep them in their original packaging. • Use a storage system to keep the packets in order. • Ensure the tails are kept straight in storage. • Don’t mix your tails with other brands to prevent ‘melting’. • Keep your baits stored away from the sun and other heat sources. • If using tackle trays, make sure they are ‘wormproof’ to prevent interaction. • Keep like colours stored with like to eliminate ‘bleeding’. • If all else fails, read the label! “I would also keep them away from synthetic or foam rod grips,” he says. BMT has several storage options available, and Steve says that while none have been designed explicitly for soft-baits, they will serve that purpose. I would check the compatibility of your favourite lure with the BMT storage boxes to ensure neither the tails nor the containers are harmed.” STORAGE SYSTEMS There are plenty of options when it comes to soft-bait storage. By consensus, it seems that storing your baits in the original packaging has several advantages. The following options reflect this… Berkley Berkley recommends that Gulp! tails are stored in either the PLANO Liquid Bait Locker or the GULP Alive Tubs. These should be topped up with Gulp Alive ReCharge to ensure they are well hydrated and in optimal fishing condition. Other storage options for packets of soft-baits include the Berkley Tackle Wallets. These include plastic ZipLock compartments attached to the wallet via a binder system. Suitable for baits up to 7” in length, each compartment can take up to three packets of 5” inch tails or two of the larger 7” ones. The wallets zip up to keep the contents in place for storage or transport. Catch! Originally designed as a reel container for travelling anglers, the larger Catch reel bag is a good option for storing good numbers of soft-baits up to 10” in size. They can be kept in their original packaging where the baits remain flat. There is also space for jigheads, trace, and a few essential tools such as pliers and braid scissors. If you want something smaller, the double-sided lure box does the trick where only a few tails are required. This keeps the tails straight; depending on size, a couple of baits can be controlled in each compartment. Daiwa BaitJunkie ‘Grab Bags’ are designed to keep tackle organised and readily accessible; the Grab Bag is ideal for storing your favourite soft-baits, lures, and terminal tackle. They are manufactured from durable materials that are both water resistant and transparent. Available in three sizes, BaitJunkie Grab Bags are ideal for storing just about anything during a day on the water. The Grab Bag is made from transparent PVC and is a whopping 60 x 36cm – the largest size option. Anglers should be able to easily fit their entire bait collection while quickly identifying their desired tail through the transparent PVC before plucking it out and fishing it. Bitz Box and Tackle Trays allow anglers to create their own compartments based on length, colour, ad shape. There is nothing wrong with getting soft-baits out of their flat packet and storing them somewhere more convenient for the angler. Daiwa Bitz Box or tackle trays are ideally suited for this. The Bitz Box is a tackle tray available in five different sizes. And while they’re often used to store terminal tackle, they can keep your soft-baits safe, dry, and neatly organised. The same goes for the tackle trays available in the Daiwa fishing luggage range – namely, the tackle backpack and the tackle tray carry bag. Anglers can use one or two of the bag’s several tackle trays to dedicate to soft-bait storage. Simms The new Simms Stash Bag is a structured storage solution for everyday pursuits that has been thoughtfully designed with flexible organisational options. It is ideal as a complete soft-bait/lure fishing storage system, built to stash tackle, tools, and everything in between. The rugged polyester ripstop material with TPU coating is water-resistant and durable. Access to the main compartment via rugged zips reveals another sizeable zippered mesh pocket under the lid. The main compartment is spacious and contains adjustable internal dividers that can hold up to five Plano 3700 boxes. The external organisation features zippered spool and accessory pockets on either side with an additional stretch mesh stash pocket for quick storage. Laser-cut lash ports and webbing loops offer different options for attaching tools and other Simms packs and accessories. It comes with a padded and removable shoulder strap and a solid rubber handle, making it easy to carry. Shimano Shimano NZ offers three soft-bait storage solutions. The Softbait Tackle Wallet has plastic sleeves that make packets of bait easy to carry, store and find. There is space for essential extras such as jigheads, leaders, tools and bait additives. The System Case is not specific to softbaiting but can easily store soft-baits in their bags, having room for jigheads to be carried in a small case. It is waterproof, so any ‘juice’ spills will be contained. A system the on-foot soft-baiting angler will appreciate is the Rapala Urban Sling Bag. Freshwater anglers fishing the likes of the McKenzie Country canals will appreciate this one. The sling contains plenty of storage with a hard plastic case for the lures and separate spaces for line clippers, leaders and jigheads. Z-Man For anglers wanting to have a variety of Z-Man packets kept in order, Z-Man has Soft-bait Wallets in two sizes suitable for 2”-5” sized ‘baits (holes are punched in the packets’ bottom corners for securing them onto the wallets’ ring binders) along with compartments for the necessary accessories. Not big enough? The Z-Man Bait LockerZ takes care of the keener soft-baiters’ requirements, storing dozens of packets through to 7” Jerk ShadZ, assorted jig-heads, fluorocarbon trace and Secret Sauce, all secured with heavy-duty clips and a magnetic lid.
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