How to Rig Soft Plastic Eels and Shad Fishing Lures

Soft plastic shad fishing lures are proven fish catchers, partly due to the wriggling action they get from their paddle tails and their realistic apperance. Remarkably, some even smell and taste like the real thing too!

They're so-called after the fish species of that name, which are members of the herring family, and - unfortunately for them - a popular baitfish for pretty much all saltwater predators.

Plastic shad lures are relatively inexpensive to buy, which in view of their lack of long-term durability, is good news indeed.

In fact they're cheap enough to have a number of different shapes, sizes and colours in your lure box so for those days on which the fish aren't being entirely cooperative.

They can be fished unweighted, or fitted with separate leadheads - otherwise, with no leadhead, they remain a plastic shad fishing lure and must be rigged with a special single-cranked 90o jig hook specially designed for the purpose, like this Mustad Aberdeen version...



Rigging Shad Fishing Lures

This is easy:~

A soft-plastic shadSoft-plastic shad, correctly rigged
  • First mark the point at which the hook should emerge from the lure's back, which must be on its centreline, then;
  • Insert the hook point in the nose of the lure and, in a single movement, thread the hook through the lure and out at the marked point.

Then check...

  • Is the lure is bunched or stretched along the hook shank? If it is you've not got it right - remove the hook and start again;
  • Does the hook point emerge on the centreline? No? You've guessed it, start again.

It's just a matter of practise. Soon you'll be doing it right first time, every time!


Rigging a Plastic Sandeel, or Similar Lure

Unlike shad lures, soft plastic sandeel imitations sport a wriggle tail, not a paddle tail - it does the same thing though. These long, narrow lures need to be similarly impaled carefully on a specially cranked hook.

But, as the sandeel doesn't have sufficient body depth to conceal the hook shank, their special hook has an additional crank in it - the Z-bend hook - so the lure sits in the bend of the hook and lies along the shank of the hook.

Soft-plastic sandeelFor long, thin shads like this sandeel you'll need to use a Z-bend jig hook

Here's how:~

  • Insert a z-bend hook in the top/front of its head and push it through;
  • Feed the lure up to the eye of the hook and turn it so that the shank lies along the underside of the lure;
  • Mark the point at which the hook point should be inserted on the underside, and where it should emerge on top - a few millimetres further aft - and push the point through both marks so that the lure sits neatly in the bend of the hook.

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