Alistair Arkel shares what he looks for when selecting an outfit for snapper soft baiting.

Soft baiting for me is all about hooking big aggressive snapper in shallow, often crystal-clear water. In water, only 2-5 metres, the fish punch well above their weight and usually some boat driving is necessary to get a better angle on the fish and prevent it from wrapping you around a bombie. It is the most exciting way of catching Snapper and always gets the adrenaline pumping.

For this style of fishing, I look for overcast days to put the odds in my favour. But the essential part of the equation to catching a big snapper in rough terrain is the rod and reel I am using. The reel must be light in hand and well balanced on the rod. I am casting all day or at the minimum 5-6 hours and having something heavy in hand is not an option. It must be a pleasure to pick up and cast, especially if the bite is not hot.

Often when we hook a big fish, it is right near a bombie or in some gnarly terrain with the odds firmly in the fish’s favour. Here you need to get winding and winding hard! Braid might be ripping off the reel, but you must keep the pressure on and turn the fish as soon as possible. For this, you want a reel with tough gears, tight tolerances and a screw-in handle to transfer winding force directly to the gears.

When we talk about strong gears, we mean CNC machined alloy. The Clash II series uses state of the art technology to machine the gears from a single piece of metal, creating tight tolerances, ultra-smooth performance and most importantly a seriously tough gear set that is ready for battle.

Most of my fishing is from a centre console, and something that always happens in any boat, is the reels take a pounding from saltwater. It is almost unavoidable. Having a reel that protects from saltwater intrusion is a critical element of my gear selection, and the Clash II protects all the essential parts of the reel with its new Clutch Armour system.

It also makes life so easy when you’re cleaning your gear – I tighten the drag right up, rinse in warm water, take the spool off and dry all visible parts of the reel. I do not need to exert significant drag pressure when soft baiting, but it must be smooth, and it must be able to dissipate heat and handle repeated punishment without ever slipping. Both scenarios could result in losing that fish of a lifetime. The Clash II is an obvious choice as it has all these elements in spades – an ultra-smooth and steady drag throughout the drag range.

Softbaiting with the Clash II

I run two Clash 3000 sets on my boat, and both rigged and ready to cast a moment’s notice, generally with different weighted jig heads to accommodate various fishing situations I am likely to encounter. The Clash is light in hand, smooth and a pleasure to cast repeatedly. It is the first reel I pick up and the last reel I put down.

– Alistair Arkel

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