Soft Plastics are Fantastic!
I can look any man in the eye and honestly say,
that between largemouth and smallmouth bass in freshwater, and
stripers in saltwater, I have used most soft plastic baits in
most of the sizes, shapes and colors ever made. I am absolutely
serious about that. I started using them when Creme first came
out, then Mister Twister broke the industry open in the early
seventies. I started murderizing small to medium sized bass with
6" white Mister Twister curly tails on jig heads. Shortly
thereafter, soft plastic shads appeared on the market in bulk
"no name" bags. This had to be around 1980 when the
soft plastic shads were first invented in the 3" size, and I
immediately started creaming schoolies on light tackle jigs with
them. Within a year, the 4" shad was designed, and in my
opinion it is still the numero uno soft plastic bait for school
bass today! Another manufacturer, Culprit, soon surfaced and it's
two-tone laminated black/red 6" curly tail also had nights
of incredible numbers of school bass for me. I remember the first
night I used the black/red Culprit twisters. I nipped an inch or
two off the nose to make it shorter, laced it onto 1/2 ounce
bullet head jigs, and proceeded to catch over 80 small to medium
stripers in less than two hours! There were many tides with over
100 bass on twister tails. Those were the first few soft plastics
I used for stripers in the surf and bay.
Four Lures that Cream Schoolies
Since those early days, I have
caught saltwater stripers on every soft plastic imaginable -
grubs, worms, crayfish, lizards, shrimps, minnows, YOU NAME IT,
and in every color combo imaginable. I remember nights back when
plastics were new when we experimented with EVERYTHING about
them. We discovered nights when the only thing they would hit
were bright blue plastics, other nights dark purple, or orange or
hot pink or brown or chartreuse. But once all the novelty and
excitement faded, the real lesson we learned was that only a
small handful of soft plastic lures and colors are truly
necessary for stripers. Even more importantly, we learned that
fishing skill in presenting the leadhead lure is far more
important than the shape or color of the lure. That last sentence
conveys a powerful statement that took me several decades to
realize, and I really don't know how to convince you of the
importance of that as it applies to leadheads and soft plastics,
but it is true.
What am I trying to tell you? To
focus on your jig fishing skills and not to be sidetracked into
believing that the lure color is a very important variable. Sure,
color may matter from night to night. Especially if you are not
highly skilled at jig fishing, you can use color as a crutch. But
it is only your jig fishing skills that matter in the long run.
The better you get at jig fishing, the less colors you will need
to use. In fact, the very best jig fishermen I know use white
jigs exclusively, and they catch more fish on just white than on
all other colors combined. Remember that.
Today? I only use a few kinds of
soft plastics for bass as listed below. I buy in bulk from a mail
order catalog you can get from Barlow's Tackle Shop in Texas. By
the way, I always superglue soft plastics onto the lead heads.
And I always take them out of the plastic bags they come in and
store them by laying them out straight one atop another in a
plastic tupperware to avoid kinks. Fish don't hit
"handicapped" soft plastics that are kinked and twisted
out of shape.
1) 4" Shad: Flat white is best, second
best is white pearl. These are unbranded "no names"
that cost less than 20 cents each per hundred! If I was forced to
only use one lure for school bass, this is it. In addition to
white and white pearl, a number of two-tones with colored backs
also work: red/white, blue/white, black/white, yellow/white,
green/white...but white is tops! A minor annoyance is that unless
you rig it perfectly straight, it has a tendency to swim
"handicapped" in strong currents. You will catch far
less fish if your lure swims handicapped.
2) 4" Tubebaits: I prefer
Luck-E-Strike's Gitzit-style tube model named the "G4".
This is a cylindrical, 4" hollow-bodied lure with long
tentacle tails that have fluid action in the water. I like the G4
because it is a round, hollow bait, and it doesn't become
"handicapped" and swim sideways like the plastic shads
do if you don't put the shads on the hook properly. The G4 comes
in about 100 colors. I actually found that most any color will
work pretty good. Nevertheless, I am currently quite fond of and
recommend you consider trying the following colors:
- White pearl - Simply the best!
- Black with red flash - Bass will blast this anytime, day or
- Dark smoke back, light smoke belly/copper flake - The
manufacturer's name for this color is "Sand". Although
sand may look tan on the beach, it usually looks grey underwater.
This color mimics the grey color of sandy bottom-dwelling
baitfish, grass shrimp, sand fleas, crabs and crustaceans.
- Rainbow trout (green pepper back with pearl belly) - Imitates
tinker macks, sand eels, etc.
- Fire tiger (green back/red flake with orange belly) - Who
knows what it imitates, but they belt it anyway!
3) 6" Slug-Go: By Lunker City, this is
my third choice of bait. Sometimes bass like this bait,
especially "deadsticking" it as it sweeps up and holds
motionless in a current. A minor annoyance with this bait is that
the plastic head is very thin. Therefore, you must use pliers to
crush and remove the lead collar from the jig head first. And
fish tear through the thin head very easily - but still
productive to use at times. Don't be afraid to trim the Slug-go
length way down to imitate whatever slimmer bait bass may be
feeding upon. Click here for more Slug-go Tips. I like two colors the best:
- Golden Shiner (imitates an anchovy),
- Black with Red Flash (just gets red hot crazy sometimes).
4) 6" Shad: This is the big sister to
the 4" shad, and affectionately known as "The
Baby" in certain striper circles. It's the one to pick for
bass from the low teens to the mid-twenties. Two best colors are
blue back with silver flash, and black back with silver flash, in
addition to white, blue/pearl, black/pearl, red/pearl, etc.
Stamina Quality Components is a mail order tackle shop that sells
a 3/4 ounce ball head jig designed just for the 6" shad
body. It has no lead collar. It has a monster 8/0 Mustad SeaGuard
forged, round bend hook. Just glue the shad on and don't be
afraid to trim the shad belly way down to imitate whatever
slimmer bait bass may be feeding upon.
The above four baits are my favorites for small to
medium-sized stripers. For truly jumbo bass liked 30s and 40s, I
really don't use soft plastics. They maul them too much - and you
spend too much time rerigging just at those fleeting moments when
big cows are in your midst. Besides, I really like using gigantic
wooden plugs, big bucktails with pork rind, live and rigged eels!
Try them and I think you'll agree that soft plastics are