Soft Plastics 101

By: Steven Narup

There are thousands of different soft plastic baits out on the market today. They come millions of different colors as well. Even different riggings vary you can go Texas rig, Carolina Rig, Split Shot Rig, or just plain Texas Weightless. In this article I will go over the different bait styles, what colors are the hottest and even different ways to rigs the different soft plastic baits.

Plastic Worms

Plastic Worms!

One of the hottest and most productive lures at times can be the plastic worm. These baits come in straight tail, curly tail, and sickle tail versions, all these style baits have there specific time and place. Some of the worms on the market that I really like are the Bear Paw Custom Baits Slick Stick, these are great they are salt impregnated and come with special blend of scents as well, so that when the fish has hold of the bait that it will give you more time to set the hook. I like many of my soft plastic baits to be in basic colors, so that when I go to pick the right lure for the situation at hand, I do not have as many choices. I like to fish watermelon, salt and pepper, pumpkin, and purple worms most of the time.

Riggings depend on the type of cover you may be fishing. If your going to flip the bait into thick cover, you should Texas Rig the bait, if the cover is not extremely thick you may want to Tex pose the hook so that I get better hook sets and penetration. To tex-pose you act start off like your going to rig the bait weedless but instead of burying the hook point in the bait you bring it all the way, through and just prick the point into the skin of the bait. If the cover is very thick, you should peg the weight right above the lure with a toothpick or tie a rubber band around the line right above the bullet weight, then trim off the tag end. The rubber band trick works better then a toothpick in my opinion, because a toothpick can fray or weaken your line. Most people will use a half ounce to an ounce lead or tungsten bullet weight when flipping into thick cover.

You can even Carolina rig plastic worms. This can be deadly when you are fishing points or a rocky bottom. Leader will vary by how thick the cover is on bottom and by how strong the current is. I mostly will use a one ½ to 3 foot leader length. There are several types of weights out on the market, including brass, tungsten, or lead for the weight I really like to stick to bigger weights like ¾ or even 1-ounce egg sinkers. The bigger weight will give you more feel. Tungsten weights are catching up to the lead by who fishes them. I preferably like the tungsten weights by Excalibur. Tungsten is much smaller then lead and a lot more sensitive.

I like to fish plastic worms during spring and summer the best. When I fish a plastic worm, I cast the bait out and try to let the bait fall vertically, then I slowly pick up the rod tip then let the bait fall back to the bottom. When you think you are fishing the bait too slow you should slow down even more. When have you ever seen a real worm racing across the bottom? Most anglers will work the worm way too fast and by doing this you will loose out on some nice size fish.

Tube Baits

Tube baits come in all sort of size, shapes, and styles. They come in the traditional cylindrical shape with tentacles they even come with arms and legs on them to add some vibration. They also come with a boatload of different scents, including salt, shad, crawfish and anise. Allot of people are adding this stuff from Berkley called Bubble up inside there tubes, this is like Alka-Seltzer with scent and allot of bubbles. Tubes come from tiny half-inch sizes for pan fish up to seven and 9-inch sizes for catching monster size bass. The bigger tubes work very well in some of the California lakes and reservoirs.

For colors again with my studies, I have found that colors that are more natural work very well for tube baits. Including colors that look like Shad Crawfish or even Blue Gills. For a Shad, color white works best. What you can do when your chasing Shad is rig it weightless or even add little suspend strips to the bend of the hook. Cast the bait directly into the school of baitfish and start jerking the bait back like its a jerk bait, 9 out of 10 times you will get a fish, weather its a pound fish to a monster 10 pound fish. For crawfish try out some green colored tubes, pumpkin or red tubes. When you fish these, crawl them very slow on bottom periodically hoping the bait off the bottom. The key is to try to imitate a crawfish as close as you can. For Blue Gill colors try to get brownish colors, you can even add gills to the tube with a magic marker.

Tube baits can be very deadly for smallmouth in clear water lakes and reservoirs and even rivers with current, but only if you know where and when to work them. I like to fish tube baits on a lead head jig. What you do is you cast the bait out and you can just drag the tube or hop it on the bottom periodically pausing the bait. I like to work tubes on a 7-foot medium action-spinning rod with 12-pound Trilene XL. When I fish these tubes for Small Mouth Bass, I like to look for deep rock structure. This can be a deadly place to fish tubes in the fall. Target boulders sticking out of the water. Smallies will draw to these types of places, because it forms eddies blocking the current so they can stay in one place.

If I want to target Large Mouth Bass I, will Texas rig the bait and flip it into cover. If I am fishing cover and not producing, I will move back away from the cover, cast the bait toward shore, and hop and crawl the bait back to the boat periodically pausing, this can as well produce for Small Mouth Bass as well as Large Mouth Bass.

Soft Jerkbaits

Soft jerk baits like the Bearpaws Custom Baits Lazy Stick and the Slug-go can be hot baits if fished during the right time. Soft jerkbaits come in a few different styles with split tails, single tails and even swimming tails. They come in all sorts of different sizes from half inch to 6 inches.

I like to pick realistic colors as well, because these baits best represent baitfish. I like white, silver, and even salt and pepper colors for Shad and Brown and root beer colors for Blue Gills. To fish a shad colored or any baitfish colored jerkbait, I will cast the bait out and let the lure sink to the bottom. Periodically I will lift the rod tip high off the water to bring the bait up then let it flutter back down, like a dying baitfish. Some people will even fish soft jerk baits like crawfish so for this pick out colors with red, orange, and green in them, and just drag the bait on the bottom with the lightest weight possible.

To rig these I will rig them Texas Weightless with a tex-posed hook. I love fishing these baits when the Shad and other baitfish are being forced to the top from feeding bass. What I do is I look for baitfish activity then I cast past where there coming up and start jerking the bait back to the boat. You can some days catch a bass every time you cast to where the baitfish are coming up.

“Thing” Baits

Thing baits come in a hundred different colors just like all the other soft plastics out on the market today. For Thing baits, it is really up to you and what the forage is in the water system your fishing. Try to match the hatch, because thing baits can represent anything from a baitfish to an insect to a crawfish. Preferably, where I fish, I fish allot of Reservoirs with shad schools, blue gills and crawfish. Therefore, I will stick to white, green, brown, orange, and silver.

Thing baits can be deadly being flipped in to cover, or even being worked on a rock, sand, or gravel bottom. There are many good thing baits out on the market I like the baits from exude and the Power Hawg from Berkley Power Baits or even the Snap Back Skeet Reese Creature Bait from Terminator Lures. I personally like to Texas Rig these baits.

Flipping with thing baits can be very deadly at times. Doing this will give the fish something different to look at then just plain tube baits. When flipping with these baits I like to use a 7 to 7 ½ foot Heavy action rod with 20 to 25 pound Trilene XT. This heavy set-up will help you incase if you are trying to get a hog out of some thick cover.

There are many different styles of baits including colors out on the market and there are different times to fish them. If you use some of the steps that I gave you, I am sure that you will have a great day out on the water!

If you have any questions regarding the wonderful sport of Bass fishing, you can email me at

Until next time, Tight Lines and Good Fishing!

Steven Narup

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