Paddle Prawns With A Purpose – Lee Brake 2016

I can honestly say it was the quickest hook-up I’ve ever had while jigging. I didn’t even manage to get the reel into free-spool! This was mostly because the free-spool lever didn’t seem to be engaging, but also because the fish happily rose 15 metres to take the offered plastic. I’d literally arrived at the mark, threaded the big prawn plastic onto the 2 ounce jighead and lifted it over the side.

Then, cursing the reel, I proceeded to pull out line by hand manually as I tried to get the freespool to engage. Failing and giving in, I just had time to note the sounder was blacked out when I pushed the drag lever back up and started to quickly rip the lure in so I could change rods. Instead, the rod loaded up, the drag started singing and I was on!

Now, before I go any further – fair warning – the purpose of this article is to give you a run down on a new product. It’s not a sponsored plug or a paid advertisement – simply a review. The lure in question, and the one used above, is the newly released Madeye Paddle Prawn by Aussie company Halco. I have been playing with the 5” and 7” models of this lure for a few months now and the results have been eye-opening to say the least.

First impressions are the reason I initially grabbed some of these to trial. They are original. In a world of tackle where we’ve seen a quazillion different, yet very similar, versions of the jerkshad and paddle tail soft plastics, this is an innovation. And it’s an innovation that has a very real niche that it can fill. There aren’t a lot of medium to large prawn imitations on the market – four inches pulls most of them up. What I really like though is that the Madeye can be worked in two different ways. It has more dangly bits than the Kraken and they flutter around when the plastic is sinking, drifting or even sitting on the bottom, but it also has a small paddle tail. This paddle is something I’ve never seen on a shrimp imitation before. It has a fast beat when the plastic is worked at a medium pace and while sinking, meaning this is an extremely versatile option that lends itself to plenty of different retrieves.

Front-weighting seems to be the way to go, as it lets the tail beat unimpeded, however, the five inch variety works quite well when rigged weedless and fished around the snags. More on that shortly, but first off, let’s talk about where these badboys really shine – on the drop!

As mentioned at the start, I realised the effectiveness of the Paddle Prawn on the drop when it got smashed while I wasn’t even working it – merely pulling out line by hand! That fish ended up being a reasonable tea leaf trevally that went home to be the star ingredient in a Thai green curry.

I was lucky enough to be fishing with my best mate Strawbs. Strawbs enjoys a fish, but with two little red-headed daughters at home, he rarely gets the chance to get on the water. Lucky for both of us, his wife and his boss had both been sympathetic when he’d given them the “need to go fishing with my mate before he becomes a dad” spiel. So it was that we had a Friday RDO and 5 knot winds. I’d run straight out to an inshore mark in about 25 metres of water. The spot is a collection of rocky bottom andreo bar and other scrap metal from when they were building the Mackay harbour. It’s a spot I’ve caught an assortment of pelagics on and the odd trout, but it can be hit and miss. Luckily, that day the pelagics were on duty.

Our second drift, this time both using 7” Paddle Prawns, one green and one pink, actually saw both of us reach the bottom. I’d started the drift early so I could give Strawbs a quick tutorial on jigging plastics before we got to the mark. He’d never caught a fish on a lure before, and was keen to tick that box. His Madeye was just a few metres off the bottom and he was watching me explain how to use the tip of the rod to twitch the prawn up off the bottom a few metres before dropping it back down. He didn’t get a chance to practise though, because a very solid trevally smashed the prawn while it was just drifting without any rod action. Talk about a fight! This thing had his reel singing. I was on also, before I could congratulate him, and got smoked. Big powerful runs and then nothing. The braid had broken, or been cut. I suspect cut, because the next drift resulted in a spotty mackerel on the pink Paddle Prawn. The place was alive and they were loving the Paddle Prawns. In fact, after a run of trevally, I had an unlucky break and came up solid, snagged on the mark. I handed the rod, a 30lb ACM custom (which is very similar in feel to the old PNG Black Bass rod Wilson made famous) coupled with a Calcutta 400 (sporting a 700 handle), to Strawbs and ran the boat back towards it. Seven times in ten, if you drive over a snagged plastic it will come free. There was one problem – I couldn’t get over it. As Strawbs kept tension on the snag and slowly wound in slack, I watched the GPS. We weren’t going anywhere near our drift line – we were heading out into the open.

“Ummm…Strawbs… have you felt any tail beats or head shakes?” I asked.

“Nahhh… oh…hang on…”

Sure enough, the rod suddenly jerked in his hands like there was a boxing bag hanging from its tip getting pummelled by Manny Pacquiao. We both looked at each other and agreed that whatever it was – it was massive, like “as heavy as the bottom kind of massive”. I’d love to report that after the half hour battle that ensured – which was pretty much just a lot of groaning and boat driving –we were victorious, but alas the line touched the bottom of the boat and it was all over. My call is a big thresher shark. But, whatever it was, it love the Paddle Prawn.

Now, a few things to note before I give you a run on them in an estuary environment. Firstly, they are pliable and seriously stretchy – meaning they are tough, but need to be rigged straight and with care. Take the time to thread them on the jighead properly, as a kinked plastic’s action will suffer. Secondly, offshore, the 7” models are the way to go. In my mind, they are a perfect mantis shrimp imitation and most offshore fish treat them as a delicacy. I found the 5” had a lot less presence, and was out-fished every time when fished side-by-side with the 7”. In saying that though, the old man had plenty of success with the 5” when fishing the coastal rubble country off Cape York. We are talking a lot shallower water that is closer to shore and likely to be rich in prawns, rather than shell-cracking mantis shrimp. Lastly, fish them on as light of a head as possible. The paddle tail will still work with a heavy head, but without a slightly slower, wafting sink rate you won’t enjoy the full appeal of the lure’s fluttering legs. Rigged right, they are the ultimate plastic for newbie jiggers, as they require very little rod action to provoke a strike, and they are almost impossible to work the wrong way.

 In the estuary

I fished the 5” Paddle Prawn hard for four days straight around the flats, drains and snagsof Hinchinbrook. I found it rigged well weedless on a 6/0 worm hook, but I did struggle with weight placement. A front-weighted set-up (i.e. sinker or twist-on head under the nose) had an excellent hook-up rate and was ideal for working drains, rock bars and rubble-bottom; however, it didn’t pull through timber well. The front weight pulls the nose down and gets the tail beating, but it also means that the back of the plastic – where the hook point is – tends to come in contact with a lot of branches as you pull it over and through. ‘

This means it’s not the most snag-resistant, especially when combined with the elasticity of the plastic which happily bends to expose the hook point on contact. Rigged with a weight on the shank of the hook, this plastic hits timber belly-first and keeps its nose in the air and out of trouble. Rigged this way, it is well suited to shallow flats where you can smash it right back into the shallows in around a foot of water and slowly twitch it back, following the lines of fallen timber. Worked with a one-two-one-two tip twitch it walks the dog nicely with subsurface side-to-side action. It looks a bit like a floundering mudskipper or lizard when worked this way. I did find that, rigged this way, it had about a one in three hook-up rate, but that could change with clearer water and more switched on fish. Rigged with a front weight, the hook-up rate was noticeably better though.

Overall, I think Halco are onto a winner with the Paddle Prawn. It has a great action, excellent presence in the water, it’s almost unbreakable, it’s a great option for those looking to try something different and the fish seem to respond well to it. Personally, my favourite is definitely the 7” in the Pink Glow for offshore jigging, but I do like the chartreuse (Amber Oil) 5” for creek work. I especially think it will work well rigged with a traditional jigheadaround rocky holes on the run in tide for jacks, grunter and fingermark.

Also worth looking out for is the stretchy MadeyeOctoskirts which you can rig on the front of the prawns to give them extra pulsations in the water. What self-respecting red fish is going to resist a small octopus sucking face with a big juicy prawn? Two for one feed, eh?


Lani and I would like to report that on December 8, at 5.14pm in the afternoon, we landed our best catch to date. Weighing in at exactly 7lb and 49cm, Amelia Margaret Brake took us a little by surprised, but arrived healthy and kicking. We have decided she’s a keeper.

Dad might not be getting out for too many offshore trips over Christmas, but you never know…

Until next month, fish hard and stay safe.