Soft plastics are becoming all the rage in the UK after being largely ignored for many years. I'm as guilty as the next lure angler, but am now finally converted.
This conversion came to a head (no pun intended) last year when I bought a couple of realistic looking plastic shads in Germany. Once I was back in the UK they immediately started taking a lot of pike and so I regretted not buying more. Then I happened to see what appeared to be the identical lure in the Masterline catalogue. A call to Chris Leibbrandt quickly secured half a dozen of Masterline's version, called Head Cases.
These come in both slow and fast sinking versions, with 4 sizes from 3 to 6 inches, and 3 head colours plus 3 tail colours in each size, making a total of 72 different combinations. I say combinations as the bodies are interchangeable, which makes Head Cases extremely versatile. The fast sinkers vary between 13 and 68 grams, whilst the slow sinkers weight in at from 3 to 30 grams.
I've found the slow sinking versions the best in the moderate depths I usually fish in, but the fast sinkers should be excellent for trout reservoirs and lochs, especially in warm weather when a fast retrieve may be needed.
The results I've had with Head Cases have been outstanding, sometimes with savage takes even after other lures have been followed and refused. In fact, I've even had several fish when the lure has been stationery on the bottom for almost a full minute! Giving the Head Case a twitch in these circumstances invariably provokes a reaction and often a take.
As you can see from the picture the heads are very realistic indeed, whilst the plastic tail vibrates on the retrieve. Talking of retrieving, even a straight retrieve will produce fish, whilst a sink and draw motion is often even better. However, by manipulating the rod with or without winding in you can almost make Head Cases perform a dance! Just about any speed will score, including dead slow - a particular plus in winter.
One of the reasons for the attractive action is that Head Cases come with just one single hook. This can lead to missed takes, but the soft feel means that often the fish will hit them several times. Additionally, unlike some hard baits, once hooked they rarely come off on Head Cases.
To sum up, Masterline have got another real winner here! Prices range from £1.99 to £4.99 for a ready-rigged Head Case plus 2 spare bodies of the same colour. You can also buy packs of either heads or tails in 3 different colours. In fact, it's a good job they're as inexpensive as this 'cos pike soon destroy them when they hit. And, believe me, you'll get plenty of hits!
Copyright Steve Burke, July 2001