Nick Marsh

Building Confidence in Shads for Successful Perch Fishing

Once again, I find myself out after perch this winter, and one effective way to increase your chances of success is by using shads. Shads are soft plastic lures that mimic the appearance and movement of baitfish, making them a favourite among anglers targeting predatory species like perch.

Surprisingly, shads have not been a big part of my armory when it comes to targeting perch. I can often be seen using cranks or small creature baits as search bait and switching to large creature baits and then Neds once I've found the fish and want to try then to pick them off one by one.

My lack of confidence in shads stems from the fact that I've never really connected with one - until now!

Have I finally found what I’ve been looking for - Slick Shads in Green Pumpkin

The Slick Shad

I have used the Zander Pro Shads and Spikey Shads for years, mainly in the larger sizes for pike, but the smaller, more slender Slick Shad caught my eye. The Slick Shad has an excellent, subtle action, and I mainly used them in 7cm and 9cm. I had a range of colours but had been specifically tipped off about them in Green Pumpkin!

Just 1oz short of the magic 4lb mark on a Spikey Shad

Understanding Shads

Shads come in various shapes and sizes, but they all share the common trait of imitating the swimming action of small fish, which is irresistible to predatory species like perch. The soft, flexible bodies of shads allow for a natural and lifelike movement in the water, making them an excellent choice for enticing strikes. Several years back, I used shads reasonably regularly; however, my technique needed work on reflection. I was almost certainly using a too heavy jig head and moving them through the water too quickly, but did still enjoy some success including a very near 4lber on a Spikey Shad in Lemon Tiger.

More recently and lots of bites on the little Slick Shad - the confidence is rising!

Getting ‘the fall’ right!

Selecting the correct jig head weight always makes a big difference when fishing for bites. This is less important when dragging big lures along the bottom, but a light jig head makes a difference when searching with small shads. These days, I rarely go above a 3g jig head on a relatively average stretch of river or canal. However, this depends on the water depth, flow strength and wind. As a rule, I will go as light as possible to try and get 'the fall' - where the lure will be raised in the water to fall slowly to the bottom. I am confident that we get more bites when we try to slow down the pace of 'the fall' by using lighter weights. The success of this approach is often confirmed by perch hitting lures on the pause as the shad falls through the water.

A nice plump perch taken on the 7cm Slick Shad

Slick Shad Versatility

Of course, using light jig heads isn’t always possible. This winter has been crazy with huge floods, strong winds and tough fishing conditions. I've been fishing with these lures on strong-flowing rivers and extremely deep reservoirs with jig heads up to 15g! I have found that these lures have been extremely versatile in a range of fishing situations, from gentle sessions on the canal to vertical fishing deep water from a boat. Each time I used the Slick Shad, I was catching perch and some absolute crackers too! The 7cm in Green Pumpkin was super reliable, with the 9cm version accounting for numerous bigger fish too.

Slick Shads - a whole range of colours to choose from

Adapting to Conditions

Perch behavior can change based on weather conditions, water temperature, and other environmental factors. Building confidence in shads means being adaptable. If you're not getting bites, try changing the speed of your retrieve and the depth at which you're fishing, or even switch to a different colour or size of shad. Perch can be finicky, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions will significantly enhance your confidence in using shads effectively.

A big perch this time from a big stillwater on the 9cm Slick Shad


Building confidence in shads has been a process of more deeply understanding the characteristics of these lures, selecting the suitable types for the conditions, and refining my presentation, which has brought success on a range of waters. My confidence in these shads as a go-to lure will continue to grow, which I hope leads to more enjoyable and fruitful fishing trips in the coming months.

- Nick Marsh 


Need more info on fishing shads? Check out this video: