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Old 11-20-2016, 10:36 PM
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Lightbulb Softhead vs. Hard

Hi folk,

This is my first post on this forum. I have heard quite a few people swear by softheaded lures such as Moldcraft, but I see majority of marlin trolling lures produced have hard heads. What are the pros and cons of both? Which one would you prefer, if you had to choose only one lure. The only success I have had so far has been with a Moldcraft Standard Wide Range (blue and white) coupled with a Moldcraft Standard Bird; but then I do not have enough experience in this type of fishing.

Thanks!
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Old 11-24-2016, 03:46 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

Hi Syed,

Most of us would rather not fish at all than use only one lure! (I'm kidding of course, but not totally so...) Soft head lures, both the mold craft product and ones with clear resin in different grades of softness, have been around for quite a while now. Marlin fishermen can be ruthless in seeking every edge and if soft heads were demonstrably better, hard heads would be extinct like T-Rex but they aren't.

If you look through the archives you'll find lots of discussion about the pros and cons of soft and hard heads, you'll know why the forum is called Marlin Nuts after reading one or two threads. The main issues with the mold craft products are that outside the US it's often quite expensive to bring them in, and if your area has toothy fish like wahoo the skirts and even the head can be badly damaged after just one or two fish. Wahoo will destroy the skirts on hard head lures just as efficiently of course, but it's much easier to change the skirts. I prefer hard resin lures because I make my own but have had some good fish on soft head lures. Sea conditions, and what you want to target are more important in choosing a lure than the head material.

Where are you fishing?

dustin
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Old 11-28-2016, 04:58 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustin View Post
Hi Syed,

Most of us would rather not fish at all than use only one lure! (I'm kidding of course, but not totally so...) Soft head lures, both the mold craft product and ones with clear resin in different grades of softness, have been around for quite a while now. Marlin fishermen can be ruthless in seeking every edge and if soft heads were demonstrably better, hard heads would be extinct like T-Rex but they aren't.

If you look through the archives you'll find lots of discussion about the pros and cons of soft and hard heads, you'll know why the forum is called Marlin Nuts after reading one or two threads. The main issues with the mold craft products are that outside the US it's often quite expensive to bring them in, and if your area has toothy fish like wahoo the skirts and even the head can be badly damaged after just one or two fish. Wahoo will destroy the skirts on hard head lures just as efficiently of course, but it's much easier to change the skirts. I prefer hard resin lures because I make my own but have had some good fish on soft head lures. Sea conditions, and what you want to target are more important in choosing a lure than the head material.

Where are you fishing?

dustin
Thanks Dustin.

I fish out of Karachi, Pakistan. I understand what you mean by damaged skirts. The only Moldcraft I have is a standard WR in blue and white. I got it second hand with half of its outer skirt gone. I have it rigged with a standard MC bird 4 feet ahead on 300 lb leader. I also have a Chaos Marlin Master, a blue-pink resin slanthead (manufacturer unknown) that runs pretty cool, a green machine clone, and a few others. I started targeting billfish only recently. Out of arond 9 trips, the first time I had a bill come up to my spread was an 88 lb sail that I landed. The very next trip, another bill came and played with my lure for around 10 minutes and then abandoned it. On both these occasions, it was the damaged moldcraft that the bills were interested in. Anyhow, I know I have not enough experience, so I am not being judgemental, and would love advice from old hands on here.

Syed
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Old 11-28-2016, 04:37 PM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

Perhaps you should focus on availability. Dustin's point about the lifecycle (cost) of baits is important too.

The first time I ever put a Moldcraft WR in the water I got a strong bite in the NW Providence Channel (Bahamas). That one bite was also nearly the end of that lure -- both inner and outer skirts were damaged. The inner can be replaced, but the outer is more difficult.

That said, I'm a big fan of the Wide Range. It catches fish for me. There are some hardheads that are similar in shape and are popular; the Black Bart mini 1656 is an example.

It should also be noted I'm not much of a billfisherman -- I can target sails here, but even so I am really more of a troller that gets some sailfish as by-catch. I do love to dream about billfish, I just don't focus on them in most of my fishing.

Definitely have a look in the archives here; they are a treasure trove. There you will see many disparage the WR, but it also gets its due -- even from the likes of well known lure maker Peter Pakula.
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Old 11-29-2016, 04:11 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

Hi Syed,

That's an interesting place you're fishing, and one that - unlike many of the areas we fish - probably won't have a great deal of sport fishing pressure both now and for some time to come.

I have never fished in your area of the Indian Ocean, but the area for some distance around your home port seems quite shallow and will probably have a different mix of game fish than if you have the range to get to the edge of the continental shelf. In particular, if spanish/king mackerel are in your area you'll need to consider the damage these darlings of the fishing tackle industry can do to lures and skirts.

If you're targeting sailfish your tactics will be different to fishing for a mixed bag. Most experts would agree that live or rigged natural bait is more effective than artificial lures for sailfish, but you need a bit of experience to use bait effectively. I recall there used to be a pretty good sailfish fishery in Dubai fished by crews that were either from Kenya or trained by Kenyan crews. If that fishery still exists a few days fishing there (or better yet in Kenya) would give you the experience needed to fish that way in your home waters.

Sailfish will of course come to artificial lures and I think the size of the lure is more important than head material in raising them and getting a good hook up. Smaller lures (standard wide range or smaller, down to about 6 inches overall length) and smaller hooks are normally more effective. Teasers become more important in raising fish when using smaller lures and although you'll see very elaborate teaser setups used in places where there is intense sport fishing pressure, just a couple of basic squid daisy chains (Moldcraft make good ones) should work just fine in your area. It's quite common to see them pop up behind a lure or bait as you describe. If that happens, pick up the rod and try to tease the fish into hooking up. Sails are often in small groups so if you raise a fish and don't hook it, take a turn around and go over the area again.

I didn't take a photo of the last couple of sailfish I released on lures, but here is an old photo of one from the other side of the Indian Ocean. The lure is a "peanut" hard resin head with 6.5 inch skirts.



Good luck out there and let us know how you get on! I'll send you a private message.

dustin

Last edited by dustin; 11-29-2016 at 04:20 AM.
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Old 11-29-2016, 11:37 PM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

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Originally Posted by dustin View Post
Hi Syed,

That's an interesting place you're fishing, and one that - unlike many of the areas we fish - probably won't have a great deal of sport fishing pressure both now and for some time to come.

I have never fished in your area of the Indian Ocean, but the area for some distance around your home port seems quite shallow and will probably have a different mix of game fish than if you have the range to get to the edge of the continental shelf. In particular, if spanish/king mackerel are in your area you'll need to consider the damage these darlings of the fishing tackle industry can do to lures and skirts.

If you're targeting sailfish your tactics will be different to fishing for a mixed bag. Most experts would agree that live or rigged natural bait is more effective than artificial lures for sailfish, but you need a bit of experience to use bait effectively. I recall there used to be a pretty good sailfish fishery in Dubai fished by crews that were either from Kenya or trained by Kenyan crews. If that fishery still exists a few days fishing there (or better yet in Kenya) would give you the experience needed to fish that way in your home waters.

Sailfish will of course come to artificial lures and I think the size of the lure is more important than head material in raising them and getting a good hook up. Smaller lures (standard wide range or smaller, down to about 6 inches overall length) and smaller hooks are normally more effective. Teasers become more important in raising fish when using smaller lures and although you'll see very elaborate teaser setups used in places where there is intense sport fishing pressure, just a couple of basic squid daisy chains (Moldcraft make good ones) should work just fine in your area. It's quite common to see them pop up behind a lure or bait as you describe. If that happens, pick up the rod and try to tease the fish into hooking up. Sails are often in small groups so if you raise a fish and don't hook it, take a turn around and go over the area again.

I didn't take a photo of the last couple of sailfish I released on lures, but here is an old photo of one from the other side of the Indian Ocean. The lure is a "peanut" hard resin head with 6.5 inch skirts.



Good luck out there and let us know how you get on! I'll send you a private message.

dustin


Thanks again Dustin!

You got it right... the coastal areas around Karachi are pretty much shallow. I have been fishing these inshore waters for the last 23 years and happen to be one of the few professional fishing guides here. It's the edges of the continental shelf that I have recently started targeting. My main quarry is any of the 3 species of (Striped, Indopacific blue and black) marlins and YFT's when we get the schools close enough. Of course sails are welcome too.

The main reason for not targeting big game earlier on was that the fishing grounds were out of my reach. The sport here is pursued by most, including me, on crude wooden boats with no facilities for keeping live bait. One has to take one's own sonars and gps. The local village boats are affordable but slow and uncomfortable. There are better, but outdated seaworthy launches plying out of the port area - British designs dating back to early 1900s, but they charge a fortune to take you on a 24-hour trip to the canyons, as they always go in twos. I use these boats to make occasional trips to an offshore area about 21 to 29 nautical miles out of Karachi. This is an area of around 50 sq nm, 50-70+ meters deep and has lots of underwater hills that mostly rise up to where the depth becomes anywhere between 40-50 meters. I love to speed-jig there for different types of jacks and trevallies, and specially for amberjacks. This area is frequently visited by the bills, and it was on such a recent trip I caught my first sail that also earned me the national all-tackle record broken after 18 years.

As a rule, I never troll skirts in the inshore waters. Here the Rapalas, Halcos and Storms do most of the work. I also love to livebait with squids caught at the spot during night fishing on the inshore reefs and structures.

As for the trips to the edges of the continental shelf, we always go on small open wooden boats from a village about 37 miles drive from here. from there we make a round trip of about 70 nm in a single day at an average speed of around 6 knots. We leave in the dark and come back before sunset. We troll a mix of 2-3 bigger skirts for marlin and 2-3 smaller ones for mahi mahi, which is our primary catch with any consistency, and sometimes mix in a deep-diving hard bait or two when YFT's have been reported but there is no visible surface action or spinner dolphins around. Once in a while we've had a lone wahoo take a diving plug.

There is a marina down here where there are good well equipped powerboats, but they are private and only the rich can afford to buy, keep and maintain them.

You have mentioned Dubai. I have fished out of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Khor Fakkan and at the Musandam Peninsula while I was working in the UAE back in 2003-2009. I never went on a sailfish charter there, however.

I'll post photos of my skirted lures in a separate thread to get an opinion on what would be the best possible spread I could put out with what I have.

Cheers!

Last edited by Syed; 11-29-2016 at 11:39 PM. Reason: Quoted twice by mistake...
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Old 12-01-2016, 03:59 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

Hi Syed, I've sent you a private message, please check your notifications. I would like to see any photos of those old British era launches you might have. Some of my best fishing memories are from fishing on old British vessels (and indeed from pretty crude wooden boats). A few years ago I snapped this shot of a Huntsman (I think) while passing through Male. It would be quite interesting to catch a marlin from one - billfishing James Bond style! You'd need to be quite sure it was in good working order before going 30 miles out though!

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Old 12-03-2016, 12:23 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

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Originally Posted by dustin View Post
Hi Syed, I've sent you a private message, please check your notifications. I would like to see any photos of those old British era launches you might have. Some of my best fishing memories are from fishing on old British vessels (and indeed from pretty crude wooden boats). A few years ago I snapped this shot of a Huntsman (I think) while passing through Male. It would be quite interesting to catch a marlin from one - billfishing James Bond style! You'd need to be quite sure it was in good working order before going 30 miles out though!

Hello Dustin!

As promised, I am posting some of the photos here....

From left to right: 88 lb sailfish that earned me the current Pakistan All tackle record; An amberjack on jigging, 29 nm out of Karachi port; The 123lb cobia I caught on 20lb line back in 1995, also my first tournament win; A British era launch slightly modified to have a small platform at the stern; the country boats we usually fish from.
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Old 12-08-2016, 04:06 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

Pretty basic vessels to target billfish from (was expecting maybe an old Nelson or similar pilot boat when you referred to ex-British launches) but it can be done, the main issues being sea conditions and getting to where the fish are. Did you get my email Syed?
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:10 AM
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Default Re: Softhead vs. Hard

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Pretty basic vessels to target billfish from (was expecting maybe an old Nelson or similar pilot boat when you referred to ex-British launches) but it can be done, the main issues being sea conditions and getting to where the fish are. Did you get my email Syed?
Billfishing in the Wild East!

Nope, didn't get any email. Check PM.
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