Experienced tournament angler Brad Hodges lets us in on a few secrets for targeting Murray cod with Berkley Hollow Belly soft plastics.
Over the past few years Murray Cod have captured not only my interest, but the interest of most keen lure fishers across the country.
As a target species they are up there with the most challenging. From impoundments such as Lake Eildon, the sunken forests of Lake Mulwala or river systems like the Goulburn, Murray Cod are prolific throughout Victoria and the eastern states of Australia.
When it comes to chasing Murray Cod, lure choice is always topical and finding the right lure for the conditions on the day is vital.
One thing I’ve learnt from my copious amounts of bream fishing over the years, is the way to set up for a day on the water. Most of my lure choices are thoroughly thought out before the day begins. I tend to tie on a range of lures at the start of the day Which often I won’t change. As a result, I pay special attention when tying my rigs to be certain they are going to last the day.
If there’s one lure, I’m confident in that will work in a range of conditions, it’s the Berkley PowerBait Hollow Belly rigged on an Owner flashy swimmer weedless hook. This weedless approach is so versatile as it can be thrown around rivers, impoundments, and sunken forest lakes with success. It can be worked through shallow laydown timber, cast under overhanging trees, slow rolled over weed beds and hopped down drop offs.
One of the keys to success when using the Berkley Hollow Belly is to use a line with stretch. The reason this is so important is because when a cod inhales the lure, the stretch in the line will allow time for the fish to close its mouth before you set the hook. I’ve found using braided line often results in missed opportunities. Currently I’m using Berkley FluoroShield in 30lb, as it has a high abrasion resistance and it’s near invisibile, making it a great line for this application.
The way I like to retrieve my Hollow Belly is a slow, steady retrieve. This is my predominate way of working the lure, although I’ve found that when working the lure through laydown timber in particular – a strike will often be induced immediately after the lure has deflected off the structure.
I also like to create a little action once or twice throughout the retrieve when working in open water with a quick flick of the rod tip or a short pause with my retrieve. I call this kicking the lure out of gear, which sends the lure into free fall. A big tip here, is to be ready for a cod strike on either the beginning of the free fall or when you continue the retrieve.
The Owner flashy swimmer comes in a variety of hook sizes and weights and are available in Colorado or Willow blade configurations. I often lean towards a Gold Colorado blade.
When it comes to the colour of Hollow Belly I choose, I either ‘match the hatch’ with a bait fish representation such as Blue Gill, Bone Shad & Mullet. I find these colours work best in clear water. When fishing dirty water, I tend to go for a bright coloured option such as Pearl White or Ayu.
The Hollow Belly comes in 4”, 5” & 6” with my preferred option being the 6” when targeting Murray Cod.
The tail action provides a thumping vibration which encourages Murray Cod to venture out & investigate. The Hollow Belly’s realistic presentation combined with the flash of the blade from the Owner Flashy Swimmer often produces a strike.