Fishing Monthly is proud of the fact that these “Testing Booth” articles are only completed after the author had had a thorough test of the product. I can definitely say that I’ve put my time in using Ecogearaqua and feel confident that I can give you some tips on how to get the best from it when you put some on.
Ecogearaqua is a Japanese made ‘bio-bait’ – a manufactured, bio-degradable ‘bait’ that’s shaped and meant to be fished like a soft plastic lure. A bio-bait usually dries out when left in the open air. If you leave any of these baits on a jig head overnight, you’ll come back to a shriveled, hard little miniature of your bait the next day. One thing I’ll guarantee is that if you turn up to a bream tournament and start asking questions about Berkley Gulp!, Strike Pro Reaction Baits and Ecogearaqua, you’ll start a debate about whether these manufactured ‘bio-baits’ are actually a ‘lure’ or a ‘bait’ as in the ‘bait fishing’ context of the word. A lot of research goes into bio-baits from big tackle manufacturers and the results are obvious. Bream have no problems picking these offerings up off the bottom and eating them based on their inherent taste. Some anglers argue that it shouldn’t be allowed in a lure-fishing tournament because you can catch a fish by simply casting it out and leaving it sit there. Obviously, those who argue that have never fished a topwater or stickbait and have had one of these eaten on a slack line after the cast. In reality, though, fishing a bio-bait isn’t the panacea that it may seem. You still need to fish them in the right areas and usually attract the attention of the bream before they’ll even swim over to look at it. If anything a bream will hold on to a bio-bait longer than a plastic bait, giving you a better opportunity to set the single hook into the fishes’ mouth. Bio-baits need to be looked after once the packet is opened. At the very least, you need to re-seal the original pack with the ‘juice’ that came with them to prevent the baits drying out. Plenty of anglers choose to consolidate their opened bio-baits in a waterproof container filled with additional solvents. Ecogearaqua offers tubs and solvents as part of their product line and should be available from the same tackle stores that stock the Ecogearaqua product.
THE BREAM PRAWN
The Bream Prawn is one particular shape of Ecogearaqua that’s available in the Australian market. Available in two sizes (40mm and 50mm), it vaguely resembles an estuary prawn to look at. I believe that the action of the lure much more resembles the swimming action of a prawn rather than the bait looking like one. It won the AFTA Best Soft Lure award in 2011. In their natural environment, prawns tend to swim horizontally and rigging these baits so that they do the same will have you catching plenty of bream. This can be achieved easily with either a weightless or a HWS rigging. Both allow an Ecogearaqua to glide naturally through the water and sink relatively horizontally after you lift it off the bottom. ‘Weightless’ rigging tends to work well while targeting structure or sight casting free swimming fish. It also skip-casts exceptionally well, so you’ll end up thinking you’re a casting genius as the baits skips into corners and under ledges that you wouldn’t reach with other boats. This style of presentation works well with a braid and light leader combination. As the bait free-falls, you need to watch the line for evidence of a fish taking the presentation and the line-leader join offers an excellent strike-indicator. A variation on this technique involves fishing the Aqua like a topwater – cast and immediately start a medium retrieve – swimming the Aqua along the surface. If you see a fish following or get to the point of the retrieve where you can’t see the bottom under the lure, stop and let the lure freefall. Following bream have difficulty resisting the presentation – especially once they get close to the Aqua and get a taste of the scent. With both HWS and weightless, worm-hook rigging, it’s pretty important to strike hard enough to set the hook into the mouth. When you come up tight on a big strike, it’s a great, visual experience.
THE JIGHEAD RETRIEVE
An Ecogearaqua rigged on a jighead tends to ‘glide’ quite well. The guys I’ve fished with that catch the most on Ecogearaqua usually replace a ‘hop’ off the bottom with a long lift and draw, feeling for takes as the bait ‘swims’ back to the bottom on a tight line with your rod still high in the air. In this prawn genre, you can really see the difference between the Ecogearaqua and regular plastic baits. I’ll use a much different retrieve for the Ecogearaqua than a plastic bait.
Let me explain. If you fed a hungry bream a plastic bait and a bio-bait, the fish would eventually spit the plastic bait out. Therefore, when fishing a plastic bait, it’s quite important to detect the bite early and set the hooks before this happens. On the other hand, as the bream is more likely to hold onto and eat an Ecogearaqua, I can fish the same area with straight through fluorocarbon line. The bream is more likely to eat, rather than grab the bait, which puts the hook in exactly the right position for a more solid hookup. Naturally, the chances of tearing the hook free on the stretchier fluorocarbon are much smaller. And in my experience that’s exactly how it plays out. Braid will give you a quicker, but less reliable hookup. Fluorocarbon will give you a slower hookup but much less chance of it falling out. You need to workout what gives you and your angling style the best results. But the most important thing to remember is to ‘glide’ the bait and not ‘hop’ it. Ecogearaqua smells good to the fish and they eat it. Give them the chance to.