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Bass Fishing: Soft Plastic Lures
There is no lure that has a more variety or versatility than soft plastics. Go down the soft plastic aisle at your local sporting goods store and you will see an endless array of ugly looking creatures from your standard worm, to a thing that looks like four bugs put together. This can be very intimating for anglers and can cause many to shy away from these crazy looking lures. But most of these lures can be fished the same way you can use a standard worm and since soft plastics are fairly inexpensive people should try experimenting.
Rigging the lures can be done in several ways, from Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, drop shot, or with a jig. The type of rig you choose entirely depends on how you want to fish. If you want to fish on the bottom, use a jig. If you want your bait to fall slowly to the bottom, use a Texas or Carolina rig. If you want your lure suspended off the bottom use a drop shot. Many types of soft plastics can be used on more than one type of rig, and this versatility means that anglers often bring them to places they are unfamiliar with.
Most soft plastics fall into a few broad categories, so lets go over them.
Worms are the oldest and most popular of any soft plastics they can be just a straight piece of plastic that can vary in length. They can also have a long thin tale that is designed to twirl as the lure is sinking. These baits are great for flipping and pitching, and can be retrieved in a few different ways. My personal favorite is to just let the bait fall on a slack line. Bass will usually grab this bait as it falls, so the technique is to flip it to a spot you like then wait for it to hit the bottom. Once it hits give it a few seconds then raise the bait up by lifting your rod and then let it sink again. Repeat this a few times then retrieve and move your bait.
Grubs are designed to look like a larvae of insects and are usually much shorter than worms with the body only an inch or two long. They always have a curled tail, but the tail can be cut in several patterns. Some grubs have two tails so the lure looks like it has a heart at the end. They are fished very often in cover because that is where insects lay their eggs. Personally I enjoy using these on a drop shot rig because it makes it look like the grub is swimming around in the cover.
Creature soft plastics is a broad category that covers any soft plastic designed to look like a real creature, such as lizards, beetles, crayfish (crawfish or crawdads) and more. The lizard or any soft plastic that is very long can be fished similarly to a worm or grub. The soft plastics that look like beetles or crayfish are most often used a trailers on jigs, but I've seen people use trailers on spinner baits. The idea being to imitate a creature either swimming through the water (spinner bait) or trying to dig its self a hiding place on the bottom (jig)
Tube baits look very much like little squids, they have a two or three inch body and lots of little tentacles. The body is hallow which makes it great for applying scents. Tube baits do not sink on their own so you must use a weight. They are great for pitching and flipping similar to worms. The lift and fall technique described earlier is extremely effect for tube baits. One of the biggest bass I have seen was caught using tubes so there is no doubt in my mind these catch fish.
Scents are also very popular with coffee being the most popular. There are also scents you can apply yourself from major brands. The scents are suppose to attract fish from farther away than it would normally. Personally I do not give the scents much thought because they wear off very quickly in the water. My lures also don't stay in one place long enough for a fish to find it by scent. They also have lures that are salted, the idea being that when a fish eats your lure, they taste salt and think its blood and thus don't spit out your lure.
Soft plastics are very fun and effective for catching bass. They are simple enough that even a fishermen on his first day would understand what they are trying to imitate. And they catch fish so well that tournaments are won using them every year. Often people ask about colors on soft plastics and there sure are a lot to choose from. The standard answer for the best color is usually green pumpkin. That is a dark green plastic with orange glitter flakes in it. But a good rule to consider is when its very bright out use a lure with less flakes and with its overcast use one that has more flakes. Just make sure you have a few different choice in your tackle box.