Soft plastic bait is a lot like fishing line. There are hundreds to choose from and each kind has a different purpose in the water. Personally, I swear by using soft plastic baits for more summer fish. They are one of the most versatile baits you could ever have in your tackle box. I have caught Large and Smallmouth bass, even Northern Pike, on soft plastics. Many people have them, but I also know many people who never use them. Here are some tips on using soft plastic baits for more summer fish.

Match Your Soft Plastic Baits

Largemouth Bass caught with soft plastic bait
Bass love soft plastic worms, crawfish, and swim baits.

First, match your soft plastic baits to what the fish are eating. Whether its crawfish, shad, or worms, there is a right bait. Big fish are smart enough to avoid eating something that looks like it doesn’t belong. If it is post-spawn use a bait like Zoom Super Fluke in baby bass. I personally have a lot of luck on Yum! Crawbug and Craw Papi, or Gary Yamamoto Senko worms.

Next, match the color to what is in the water. If the bass or pike are feeding on bream, match your paddle tail swim bait to the color of the fish. For crawfish lures, use cool colors like blue in cold water, and red or orange in warm water. The point is to make the lure look like it should be there. The other point is to make it look like a meal predators want to eat.

Let’s Talk Tactics

I see this a lot when I’m out fishing. Someone has a bag of soft plastics but doesn’t know how to go about using them. There are a few different ways of attacking the water with these awesome lures. My two favorites are by swimming and jigging, using a Texas rig or skirted jig.

Swimming

Personal best Northern Pike at 26 inches caught with soft plastic bait
Even Pike will bite on soft plastics.

If you have ever felt a fish stop a crankbait, this is the same feeling. When a fish smacks a Zoom Super Fluke, or a twitching Senko worm, its pretty exciting stuff. Generally, I have my plastics set up Texas rigged when swimming them. I’ll even add a 1/8 oz bullet sinker to swim them deeper. Twitch the rod on a quick cadence and then pause to let the bait fall. If you Texas rig weightless, the fall is even slower with more flutter and action. The fall is important because this is where you will get most of your bites. I’ve caught numerous species of fish this way, including my personal best Northern Pike.

Jigging

A very basic style of fishing, but still plenty of fun to be had. I again like to Texas rig with weight, or I like to use a 1/8-1/4oz Strike King Bitsy Bug mini-football or finesse jig. I have the most luck with Yum! Craw Papi and Crawbugs in this setup, and still have plenty of bites of Senko worms. What I do is cast towards docks, logs or boulders, then I let the bait sink to the bottom. Then I start to twitch my rod from the 9 to 11 o’clock position, letting the bait bounce off the bottom. This works well around cover, and in grass or weed beds, even in reeds or lily pads. Using a skirted jig gives your soft plastic a larger profile, but try to use the same colors for trailers and jigs to match.

Largemouth bass caught on a jig & crawfish trailer using soft plastic bait
Using a jig with soft plastics can produce more bites.

The bottom line?

Swimming soft plastics close to logs and boulders, or on the edge of submerged grass can produce an awesome ambush. When you feel the bite keep reeling, but don’t set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish on it. Sometimes, a fish will bite and release. If that is the case reel faster to encourage it to chase down your lure. Be patient when jigging. Sometimes the bite will be so subtle, you’ll just see the line move and that is when to set your hook. When you head to Bass Pro this week, grab yourself a bag of soft plastic baits and get some more summer fish.

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