By Nick Jones
A new gunslinger steps off its horse onto our shores. Intrigued anglers peek out from behind the window shutters. Tumbleweed rolls through. The foreigner swings the saloon doors open. Barkeeps, who’ve been serving Kiwis established softbait brands for years, take notice. The newcomer walks calmly towards the NZ Fishing News table and pulls not a gun out of its holster, but packets of colourful, synthetic baits. The patrons raise their eyebrows…
Mitch Bunting enjoyed great success with the Fishbites E-Z Baits.
Did I take the American theme a touch too far? Fine then, I’ll put my whisky down and ditch the fanciful Wild West prose.

The background

American bait brand Fishbites has entered the NZ market. The Floridabased company is known for its artificial baits that have successfully caught quality fish worldwide in surf, inshore, offshore and freshwater environs.
“New Zealand is an exciting market for us. We knew that once we got our product into the hands of anglers, it would be huge for the fishing industry there,” Terry Dillinger, President and CEO of Fishbites, says.
Fishbites have formed a partnership with Proline Products’ Bite Fishing to serve retailers throughout New Zealand. Bite Fishing is proud to be New Zealand-owned and operated providing high-quality fishing tackle to recreational fishermen, including rigs and jigs for all species.
Founder and owner of Bite Fishing, Brent Mossman adds: “We are extremely excited to bring Fishbites to our local retailers and anglers. Fishing is a huge part of our lifestyle here and these products are going to revolutionise how anglers fish here and make them more successful.”
Fishbites are new to NZ but are already proving effective on a range of Kiwi species.
George Bourke found plenty of action using a Fishbites 5” Brawler Jerkbait.
The Fishbites E-Z Baits offer a huge variety of convenient applications for NZ anglers, such as simple ledger rig fishing.

The products

Fishbites ranging in NZ largely fall into two key categories: synthetic, scented softbaits, and synthetic, scented strip baits. The softbait offerings – jerkbaits, grubs, curly tails, paddle tails and shrimps – are pretty conventional in shape and appearance. Their names, however, are not. For example, you’ll find the ‘Butt Kicker,’‘Fight’n Shrimp,’ and ‘Dirty Boxer,’ amongst others.
I was intrigued by the artificial strip baits. Fishbites offer them as long strips that can be cut to desired lengths (E-Z Baits) or smaller, pre-cut portions (Strips). These all come in various bait flavours (e.g., crab, squid, clam, shrimp) and colours. My initial reaction was that the E-Z Baits resemble something you’d buy from the local dairy (or should I say candy shop?).
So, what are they? They’re a synthetic alternative to natural bait, heavily infused with a mixture that Fishbites ingeniously calls ‘Flavour/Scent’. The scent element is designed to replicate stimulants found in prey animals that trigger feeding behaviours in fish, while the flavour part of the equation is aimed at giving the fish the taste they were expecting when they strike.
NZ consumers can also buy Jig Heads, Weighted Worm Hooks, and Chum (which look like vegetarian burger patties) at Fishbite retailers.

Do they work?

Apparently, Fishbites have been in the hands of a few NZ fishers this season and have accounted for many species of fish on our shores. After a brief Facebook investigation, I can confirm there is photographic evidence of Fishbites used in NZ already fooling snapper, blue cod, gurnard, blue moki, kahawai, trevally, tarakihi, john dory, bluenose, flounder, baitfish and more. It seems the variety of flavours helps spread their appeal to species that have more specific palates, such as blue moki.
The Fishbites softbaits look great, have flexible actions, and are firm and resilient.
The strip baits offer a huge variety of potential applications for NZ anglers. Basically, if you have a hook on your line, you could add some on – be it by itself or accompanying natural baits, hardbody lures, or other softbaits. They’re very firm, and there’s an inner mesh in the middle of the cross-section that provides extra durability on the hook. This means they can be used for surfcasting, dropping down deep, and everything in between. You can cut them into very small pieces so they could even be used on a sabiki rig. As Fishbites recommend, do not attempt to remove the inner binding mesh with your teeth!
The Fishbites softbaits look great, have flexible actions, and are firm and resilient. I was disappointed to see the colour options we were given were not two-tone as I prefer softies that offer a strong colour contrast, but that’s just me!
My somewhat controlled (but perhaps not statistically significant) experiment consisted of a trip out in the Hauraki Gulf with a bunch of mates – half using Fishbites products and half using the alternative equivalents (natural baits and other brands of softbaits). Early September can be slow on the fishing front, but we got lucky with our test day throwing us glassy conditions and some decent snapper action.
Over our afternoon session, the Fishbites synthetic baits, fished on flasher rigs, outperformed the natural skipjack tuna and pilchard offerings. The official tally comprised nine keepers for the Fishbites and seven for the natural baits. On the softbait front, the Fishbites anglers ended up on par with those using other softbait brands (four keepers each).
I love the convenience factor of the synthetic baits – you can just leave a few on the boat or in the tackle box ready to go – and it’s nice to know they’re effective for normal Kiwi ‘bait’ fishing endeavours like ledger rig bottom bashing. Being extremely durable, they can handle casting and withstand pickers until a better fish turns up. They also offer the option of tipping lures when the fishing is tough.
Check them out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
To find a store near you, or become a retailer, vist:
To learn more about Fishbites vist: