Words & Images: Peter Morris
I was recently sent Berkley’s new and improved PowerBait Hollow Belly range for review and, while I was well aware of the Hollow Belly’s established reputation, I was excited to put the new version to the test. They needed no introduction as over the years these plastics have been star performers for impoundment barramundi and a range of salt water species.
The new range has certainly seen some upgrades, and if it was even possible to improve on the originals Berkley has most definitely done so. The main feature is given away by the name – an internal vent that runs inside the body of the soft bait. This contributes to the swimming action but also provides interesting rigging options. Jig heads can be hidden inside if desired and scent and rattle chambers can also be placed inside. A smooth, slick finish is provided by a ‘clear coat’, providing a shiny and super-realistic finish. Another feature is the near-alive 3D eyes that stare back at you and further enhance this stunning profile.
As phenomenal as they looked, it is on the water where things matter most. In my view, testing any lure is always best done in highly pressured waters to get a fair and accurate assessment. The plan was to rig these very simply with a conventional jig head in open water for trevally, flathead and juvenile jewfish, while fishing among snags and vegetation would see them rigged weedless. The swimming action was seriously impressive as I fired off several casts in open water. Not looking to hook a fish initially, the name of the game was to simply observe, and on a slow to medium-paced retrieve the plastics feature one of the most irresistible body rolls you will ever see. This combined with a beautiful beat from the large paddle tail, which generated some excellent vibration through the water.
As predicted it was the giant trevally that were the Hollow Belly’s first victims and these fish know nothing but aggression. Other species keen to punish the baits were flathead and estuary cod. The next test was to rig them up as weedless presentations and target some local jacks and barramundi. While tricky to find with regularity on the Sunshine Coast, barramundi have become slightly more common and the hope is we now have breeding populations throughout our rivers. Using the 4-inch mullet pattern, the plastics were an absolute piece of cake to rig weedless and they swam with absolute ease. On their second mission, while actively targeting barramundi, I hit pay dirt and a slow roll out from some timber received that distinct ‘tap tap’ bite and a smaller barra was now launching into the air. Yes, I was over the moon to be hooking barramundi in my local waters, but I was not surprised the fish had taken a liking to the mullet-coloured Hollow Belly. You simply could not have matched their bait source of poddy mullet any better. Berkley’s PowerBait Hollow Belly has cemented its position in my boat’s tackle trays and the new range are a welcome addition. The soft baits (swim baits) come in a range of sizes from 4-6in and have a stunning array of colour patterns (10 in total). They are incredibly versatile and will have you extremely well covered for all saltwater and freshwater species.