I know this is an older thread but I thought I'd put my two cents in. I'm still a relative novice on plastics so take my advice with a grain of salt, on the bright side all the things you are and will go through are fresh to me and I wont gloss over them. Further this is a distilation of all the great advice kindly given to me at a stage when I was about to chuck the mongrels in.
shayne"I hate soft plastics" d Tips For SP Novices
1. Throw them where the fish are, they won't magically produce fish in areas that haven't been productive before. In fact start in a spot that you are confident in already.
2. Choice of rod and reel isn't the most important thing, although a specifically designed outfit is nice particularly when casting for long periods and besides it's a great excuse to go and buy more tackle. You should be able to pick up a 2-4kg dropshot rod or the like for around $80.00 on special. Use an egg beater to increase your casting options.
3. Line selection is important get some 6lb fireline or similar in a bright colour. Also buy flurocarbon leader eg Vanish in 8-10lb, this material is almost invisible in water and will increase your chances of a hit, it also takes abrasion from structure and teeth better than braid style lines. The braid will give you the feedback needed to fish sp's.
3b. Learn to tie a Uni Knot, not only can you use it to tie your jig head on leaving a loop to improve the action, tying a Uni to Uni knot will allow you to join your leader to braid with a great deal of confidence in the connection strength.
4. Windy days suck, don't bother with them at the start.
5.Important, if you can, go fishing with someone who knows what they are doing. This is the best way to learn. If you don't know anyone, don't soldier on alone post a request for help and organise to meet one of the members for a fishing trip.
6. Beg, borrow, steal a copy of one of the instructional dvd's on how to sp,
squidgeys do a good one and adam mad dog royter on burkley does an excellent one showing and explaining the basics. Just remember these dvd's are aimed at promoting their own systems and take the information accordingly.
6b. Learn the flathead song as I suspect it annoys Canoodle. :lol:
7. Bream are one of the hardest fish to catch on sp's. Flathead are the easiest followed by pike and then snapper. Most peoples first fish on sp's are flathead. If you dont know how to target flatties nows the time to do some research.
8. Jighead and plastic selection. This could be pages long, so to keep it simple just look at flatties to start. For a beginner buy some 1/16th and 1/8th oz heads with 1/0 hooks. This will suit most plastic sizes and will be heavy enough to kick up the bottom nicely in retrieve and allow better feel while you are working out whats what. Look for placcies in 2-3" sizes, particularly grub and shad tails as these have their own inbuilt swimming motion. This is important because when your technique is crap they will attract fish in spite of you. Stick baits or minnow baits are great but ignore the expert in the tackle shop who has been throwing them for years and tell them you want inbuilt action. Usually they either don't know and are just parroting info learnt by rote or are so far advanced they've forgotten what its like for a beginner and the selection advice doesn't help a newby out. In saying this listen to the advice on colour selection for your area.
Without pushing one brand, try the gulp 3" grub tail minnow as a starting point. Pumpkin seed in this set up goes good with flathead and unfortunately also toadfish. The gulp was a good starting point because I could keep telling myself"it's still just bait, I'm good with bait, it'll be OK"
Have a look at the trip reports and make a note of what works.
I've also had some success with atomic shad tails in varying colours. As I said there is a million choices and trial and error will tell you what works at what time and where.
9. As hard as this is, everyone was right less is better, don't try and work them like a hb chasing barra in the NT. Small flicks of your rod tip are best and the dvds show it better than someone writing about it.
10. Don't give up, all it takes is your first capture to get you addicted.
I hope this is some help to someone starting out as I found it very tough and frustrating. Now it is slowly coming together the rewards are tremendous and as I posted somewhere else learning to be proficient with soft plastics is only the first part of my plan to get my fat arse on a kayak before the end of the year.