Ever since the first fisherman impaled a prankster’s worm on a hook, bass have been striking soft plastics. In contrast, today’s soft plastics baits are no joke. The variety of soft plastic lures, array of sinkers and other “bling” designed for rigging them is so incredible that anglers have difficulty deciding which soft plastics to use for the conditions at their favorite lake.
April is a top month for using soft plastic baits for bass, with bass heading into their spawning season. Bass at this time are aggressive and attack many different styles of soft plastics fished with different presentations.
When selecting a softie, the most important considerations are the buoyancy of the lure, the depth at which it will be fished and the type of cover. While almost any soft plastic can be rigged to make it work for different conditions, selecting the correct lure makes presenting it properly much easier.
There are three basic buoyancy levels for soft plastic baits. They are those that float, those that sink and those with neutral buoyancy that are able to sink slowly and suspend at a desired depth.
Floating styles include worms, flukes, frogs and their variations. These lures are effective for fishing areas with floating or emergent vegetation such as weed, pad and grass beds, or woody cover, such as live brush, standing timber, deadfalls and logjams. The fact that these soft plastics float allows them to slither through tight places and skip over potential snags that would stick other types of lures.
Of all the soft plastic baits, floating worms slide most easily through thick cover. To allow them to float, they are rigged with a light wire hook that has a spring-wire weed guard or are rigged with an offset hook with the point buried in the body of the worm in a rig known as “Texas” style.
The best rigging technique buries the hook eye and knot inside the nose of the worm, too. This prevents plant material from collecting on the nose of the worm and also stops twigs and stems from pulling the worm down the hook as the lure rides over and through them. Such snags can curl a soft lure along the hook shank and impair its action. A drop of Cyanoacrylate glue, such as Super Glue, on the hook of a floating worm, or any soft plastic, can prevent its tendency to slip down the hook.
Some soft frogs are pre-rigged with hooks, while others, especially the softies in bulk packs, are left to the angler’s imagination for rigging. Frogs require larger hooks with wider bends than are needed for worms. The advantage of frog-type lures is that they are designed to hop or skip, rather than slither.
The angler can impart more action to a soft frog than a worm by twitching the rod, making the lure more detectable in dense cover. The increased vibration and surface disturbance attracts bass from greater distances and the angler often sees surface vegetation moving before the bass torpedoes the lure.
Flukes can be rigged Texas style, but they may also be rigged on a special hook with a separate nose holder that resembles a tiny corkscrew. This hooking arrangement allows greater movement, making the fluke a good bet for fishing in open water conditions. It is one of the best lures for twitching across an area where bass are bedding in open pockets, or for casting to surface-feeding schools. Another trick with a fluke is tying it to the line with a loop knot to provide freer movement.
The best water conditions for fishing surface softies are clear and warm. Visibility plays a key role in bass being able to home in on a lure slipping and skipping over heavy cover or flipping across the surface. Bass are hesitant to strike surface softies in cold water, but most waters warm up enough for surface action at some point in April. If baitfish, insects and bass are showing signs of surface activity, it’s time to toss a topwater soft bait.