Matrix Paddletails: The Effectiveness Of Bait, Combined With The Convenience Of An Artificial

Written By: Cal Kellogg, March 13, 2012
Species: Landlocked Salmon Trout

Matrix Paddletails: The Effectiveness Of Bait, Combined With The Convenience Of An Artificial

As most avid trollers know, rolling shad, basically trolling rigged shad minnows, is one of the best ways to catch big trout and land locked kings, yet shad can be tough to obtain, store and rig. They are not legal to use at many of our lakes and even where they are legal, when using them you are restricted to trolling one mile per hour or less.

The Matrix Paddletail is the Shasta Tackle Company’s answer to rolled shad. Paddletails are about 3 inches long, exceptionally soft and closely resemble the shape of a threadfin shad minnow. They come in a variety of baitfish imitating colors and every color features a piece of halography tape imbedded in the body that gives off a realistic minnow like flash.

Paddletails can be rigged in many different ways, in fact at this point since Paddletails are still relatively new baits, so I don’t think all the possible rigging methods have been explored.

I had the pleasure of being one of the first anglers in the state to get my hands on Matrix Paddletails a few years back before they were available to the general public, so I’ve had a good deal of time to experiment with various rigging options. At this point I use two different methods on a regular basis.

My preferred method is to snell two No. 8 octopus hooks on a section 8 pound test fluorocarbon leader material. The top hook is inserted through the Paddletail’s nose from bottom to top. The second hook is allowed to swing free. When trolled the water pressure keeps the hook near the tail of the bait. I like to snell my hooks so that the rear hook actually rides from a quarter to a half inch behind the bait.

I find that a lot of trout and kings will come in and gently nip at the bait’s tail. When they try that with the hook riding behind the bait’s tail, the hook ends up imbedded in the cartilage in the top of the fish’s mouth.

The second way I rig them is to use the same leader I’d use for rolling shad or anchovy tails with a sliding octopus hook snelled on the leader and a small treble hook on the end of the leader attached via a Palomar knot. With this rig the octopus hook is passed through the bait’s nose from bottom to top and the treble is inserted in the side of the bait near the tail. The leader is pulled through the octopus hook’s sliding snell until a slight curve in the bait is achieved. This curve causes the bait to rotate through the water.

When shad are rigged this way, you have to troll very slowly or you risk damaging the bait. With Paddletails this isn’t a concern. You can troll at 2 to 2.5 miles per hour to trigger reaction strikes from big fish without having to worry about tearing your bait up.

I’ve used another rigging method in the past that has proven to be pretty effective too. For this approach you’ll need a bait needle with a closed eye. To start, attach a No. 10 treble hook to the end of a piece of 8 pound fluorocarbon using a Palomar knot. Insert the bait needle where the tail of the bait joins the body. Push the needle through the bait and pop the tip out just below the bait’s eye. Put the leader through the needle and pull it through the body. What you end up with is a bait sporting a treble hook in its tail that moves through the water with a very tight spin.

Recently Gary Miralles came up with yet another way to make a Paddletail spin. Gary takes a fine piece of copper tubing that is the same length as a Paddletail and shoves it through the bait from head to tail. He then inserts a hook tipped leader through the tube. The soft copper tube bends easily, allowing you to make the bait roll slowly for salmon or spin quickly for trout. Gary now sells all the components needed for this rigging method in a single package complete with instructions. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

No matter how you rig your Paddletails, for the best results you’ll want to team them with dodger. Gary Miralles recommend using them in combination with either a medium or large size Sling Blade. For deep water fishing go with a UV Sling. In shallow to medium deep water the UV blades work well too as do the standard tried and true color combinations.

To check out the full line of Paddletails and the new Paddletail rigging kits visit the Shasta Tackle Company on the web at

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