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ALEX'S COLUMN 1 JUNE 2023



Recently, I was fishing with friends up a saltwater creek on a day that started off slowly.

Initially, we were using hard-body lures but there were no takers.

This surprised me at one particular gutter which nearly always produced fish on a falling tide similar to the one we were fishing that day.

For most serious barra anglers nowadays, it’s standard procedure to switch to soft plastics if hard-bodied, diving minnows are not working…and vice versa too.

So I tied on a small (80mm) Squidgy Slick Rig in the Pro Range which comes with a tube of S-Factor.

S-Factor is a water-soluble scent additive, which you can buy separately, and I squeezed some on the softy, rubbing it down both sides.

So, the first cast with the Slick Rig was hit on the drop by a nice little barra which was duly landed.

The second cast produced another immediate strike and hook-up on a feisty barra.

Naturally, we then all changed to softies, smeared with the scent, and we all began to catch fish.

It was remarkable to think that there were barra at the mouth of the gutter the whole time we were fishing with hard-bodied minnows, and that we would never had known that had we not changed to soft plastics.

Mind you, I didn’t have my Active Live Target with me, which no doubt would also have revealed the presence of fish in the gutter.

The day progressed, and we steadily moved up the creek, nailing barra in patches, especially at one junction which produced at least 20 fish.

Now I can’t say positively that the S-Factor had something to do with our success that day, but one thing that did happen just can’t be ignored: a barra about 60cm that we caught had swallowed the little lure down further than I have ever seen before.

Peering down its throat, all you could see was the knot and the tiniest tip of the softy poking out of the fish’s stomach.

We reckoned the fish must have picked up the lure on the drop, and swam towards us as it casually tried to digest it.

It reminded me of times when I fished with small, live poddy mullet for barra, and catching fish which had swallowed the mullet so far down that only the tip of the tail could be seen.

The inventor of S-Factor is Dr Ben Diggles, a consultant marine biologist and a bloody good bloke to boot.

According to Ben, fish can taste the flavour of a food item without having it in the mouth.

This is because some fish have taste buds outside their mouth, and all species pull water into their mouth while breathing.

An enormous amount of research went into developing S-Factor.

I had to laugh at Ben’s findings that: “It’s easy to develop fish repellents; the laboratory research showed 95% of attractants on the market did not work, and 75% were actually repellants for Australian species.”

The most-amazing finding was that, with all the major species tested, including barramundi, Squidgy Pro Slick Rigs smeared with S-Factor were retained in fish’s mouths more than 10 times longer than the same lures without S-Factor on them.

Ben also cautioned: “Care must be taken to avoid deep hooking when fishing catch and release.”

Well, I can certainly vouch for that!


1. Roger Sinclair enjoyed a terrific Shady Camp trolling session, catching several 90cm-plus barra.


1. Steve Beckingham with his best barra from a recent trip to the Top End.


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