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Posted 02th December 2022

How to Catch Sydney Snapper on Soft Plastics

How to Catch Sydney Snapper on Soft Plastics
How to Catch Sydney Snapper on Soft Plastics

By Mitchell Taylor

Along the whole east coast there are endless reefs and structures where you will be able to find snapper, but different areas may require different techniques. In this case, I am talking specifically about Sydney specific techniques that I use and will ensure you catch consistently.

Sydney can be a great place to catch snapper if you put the time and effort into them. The sheer number of shoals and reefs straight out The Heads of Sydney can all be productive when targeting snapper on soft plastics. Sydney is unlike many of the southern and northern reefs on the east coast that sit in anywhere between 10-20m which is typically an easy enough range to fish soft plastics in. Many of the reefs straight out from Sydney Heads are anywhere between 30-60m. Fishing these sorts of depths can be hard when battling wind, current & time for that matter.

A few key factors are what makes the difference in catching consistent snapper on soft plastics off Sydney with these variables.

Choosing the Right Spot

When choosing a spot to fish for snapper, I will look for reefs or shoals that come up a few metres. Bonus points for finding multiple reefs that come up and all drain into a central gutter. If the current is running substantially in one direction, I will generally favour the edge where the current hits directly, as this is where the bait will stack. Once the area is located, I will then spot lock with my electric motor (anchoring will also work) over the edge of the reef where it drops off. I find you will see that most of the bait sits right on the edges of these reefs.

Bring the Snapper to You

Burley may be the most important factor when setting yourself up for success. Before you even start fishing it is key to burley hard. This is what brings the fish to you. This will save so much time in finding the fish and you will be very surprised at how quickly they will find you. When fishing in deeper depths burley at the surface won’t be very effective as the current and wind will just push it away from the boat very quickly. The best things to use are burley bombs or cages that can be dropped to the bottom as they are weighted and can release burley quickly. Personally, I would drop a bomb one after another to bring the fish in quickly. Keep an eye on your sounder and you will see all the baitfish stacking up under the boat. Once you have established a nice amount down the bottom, its important to keep a consistent flow of burley going to ensure the fish keep coming. This can be every 10 mins or so.


My two favourite setups for this type of fishing.

1. TD Black Humphead matched with a TD Black MQ 4000 spooled with 20lb J-Braid Grand and 20lb J-Thread X-link FC. This is the heavier of the two setups I use and will be capable of stopping almost any fish including the odd bycatch of kingfish from time to time. This particular rod has specifically been designed for snapper also.

2. TD Commander Longbolt matched with a 20 Luvias LT 3000D spooled with 15lb J-Braid Grand and 16lb J-Thread X-link FC. This is traditionally my mulloway setup for the estuaries but have found it doubles perfectly for snapper on soft plastics.

Now to lure selection. Depending on current and depth, the size of the jig head you will use will be determined on the day. Sometimes you will need heavier jig heads to combat the current and some days lighter to allow for a nice slow drift down the water column when there is no current at all. This may require trial and error with multiple jig head changes until you find the right fit. The more of this type of fishing you do, the more consistent in getting the sizing right.

I have been lucky enough to be using the new Bait Junkie Jighead range for a while now and honestly say, this range of jig heads are perfect for deeper water snapper fishing as they have the perfect soft plastic holder that keeps them from coming off, especially when doing bigger jerks in deeper water as this can put a fait bit of pressure on the soft plastic. It can be a little frustrating when fishing deeper water to have a fish hit the plastic and it pulls away from the jig head and having to wind up all that line to reset. With the bait junky jig heads, you won’t have that problem.

My pic in soft plastics is the 5” and 7” Bait Junkie Jerk Shad in either white pearl, pink glow, morning dawn or baby bass. Most of the other colours will work also. Some days I will find the snapper prefer the smaller size over the bigger and some days the opposite. This is up to you to figure out. It’s a good idea to set each rod up with a different size and colour to see what is working that day.


Now that you have found your spot, brought the fish close to you, picked your rod and chosen your lures, its time to catch a snapper.

If fishing solo, I will fish 2 x rods at once to double my chances. You will cast the first rod in one direction and let it sink. Whilst this is happening, you can put that rod in a holder and cast the next one out in another direction. This way you can cover a bit of ground. You often find that the snapper like to hit the lure before it even hits the bottom. Its very important to watch your line and if for any reason it either starts running faster or goes limp, then there’s a good chance a snapper has grabbed it. Pick up the rod and close the bail arm and you’re fighting the fish. If your lure gets to the bottom and you don’t hook up, just give it a few whips and alternate between rods as you do this. Once the lure is close enough to the boat I will bring back in and do it all over again.

If you continue to burley in between casts and repeat the steps mentioned, you will consistently catch snapper. The early morning or late afternoon is usually best, but with this technique you put yourself in with a better chance to continue to get the bite all day long in most cases.

Additional Tips

Take a few sabikis with you and try for slimies and yakkas at the bait grounds and load up on bait. This will keep the costs down for burley.

Some days will be slower than others but persist and you will catch. Once you commit to a spot, its important to stick to that spot, so that your burley isn’t wasted.

The new Daiwa D-Box LSU is the perfect storage for all your new bait junky jig heads and will ensure easy access and selection when needing to select the right jig head.


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