Fishing with lures has a number of advantages over fishing with bait and can add to the skill and satisfaction of fishing.

  • Modern lures and soft plastics catch fewer small fish.
  • Lures lip hook fish more often.
  • Overall, the size of fish caught will increase and injure fewer fish that are released.



Use suitable tackle and line weight to ensure fish can be landed, the quicker the better. Fish that are then released have a better chance of survival.

Please move location if you are catching mostly small fish or switch to using lures such as soft plastics or slow jigs as these are less likely to hook small fish.

The size and condition of fish change during the year. Learn how to target other species as the seasons and availability change.

When bait fishing, fish actively.

Hold your rod and keep in touch with your bait, ready to set the hook once bites are detected. This way smaller fish have less time to swallow the hook. Set the hook slowly if using circle hooks by smoothly lifting the rod as the fish runs away.

If fishing with bait use big baits on big hooks preferably size 7/0 or larger to avoid gut hooking. A research study in the Hauraki Gulf found the survival rate of lip hooked snapper was around 90-95%, for fish caught in depths between 14 and 20 metres.

Try using Target appendage hooks as these are more difficult for small fish to swallow. They are especially useful when long lining and can be excellent for rod and line fishing as well.

Use circle hooks instead of J hooks wherever possible as circle hooks predominantly hook fish in the lip instead of the gut. We recommend non-offset circle hooks, especially for game fish as this is supported by international research and the International Game Fish Association (IGFA)



    Useful Links

    1. Learn how to iki different species of fish
    2. NZ Sport Fishing Council fisheries management submissions
    3. Fisheries management FAQ’s about issues that affect fishers
    4. Official fishing rules in your area for species, bag limits, size limits, seasons etc
    5. Release weights to maximise fish survival rates from barotrauma
    6. Information on fish processing and cleaning
    7. Smart fishing around seabirds
    8. Safe boating education with the Coast Guard
    9. Safety and boating regulations
    10. Free Fish Heads – Connect fishers who want to share their fresh fish heads and frames with people eager to receive them