Rigging Soft Plastic Fishing Lures: Bass Fishing 101
One of the most effective ways for bass fishing is fishing with soft plastic baits. The list of effective methods for fishing soft plastics is shadowed by the endless variety of shapes and colors that they can be found in. Although there are traditional techniques for effectively fishing these baits, the true limit to fishing styles can only be limited by one’s imagination. In conjunction with my last BFN article Choosing Soft Plastic Fishing Lures: Bass Fishing 101, In this piece I will explain the more traditional ways of rigging your soft plastic fishing lures.
The Texas Rig is probably the most popular rig when it comes to soft plastic fishing. It can be used on most soft plastics – including the ones mentioned in my previous article. Setting it up is pretty simple and becomes second nature the more an angler uses it.
Start out by tying an Improved Clinch Knot, Palomar Knot, or Snell Knot onto your hook. Then run the hook point into the nose of the worm. Push it in about 1/4 of an inch and then push it out of the side of the lure at a 90 degree angle. Pull the hook out of the side until the “head” of the worm is almost to the eyelet. After reaching the eyelet, rotate the hook so the hook point is pointed back towards the body of the worm. Now lay the hook to the side of the worm keeping the worm as straight as possible. Make a mental note, or place your thumb where the bend of the hook intersects the bottom of the worm. That’s where the hook point will be threaded back into the body of the worm.
Another way to rig it is by running the hook back into the side of the bait (instead of leaving the hook point embedded in the plastic as mentioned before) and out the other side and then lay the hook point on the side of the body just pricking the point back into the plastic. This approach is known as Tex-posing and makes it a lot easier to stick fish on a hook set but it’s not as snag-less around dense cover.
That advantages of using the Texas Rig is the fact that it is virtually weedless and snag-free if the plastic is covering the hook point. It allows the lure to be worked horizontally under water by dragging or hopping it along the bottom if a bullet weight is added. It can also be fished vertically with a heavy bullet sinker in applications like flipping, pitching, and punching. In my opinion, it’s the best way to present a soft plastic bait in heavy cover. It works well in grass, rocks, brush, timber and man made structures. A few of my favorite soft plastics that I Texas rig are Biospawn Vile Craws, Gary Yamamoto Yamasenkos, and the Zoom Brush Hog.
The Carolina rig is made to keep the soft plastic separate from the weight so that it is has a more natural, horizontal movement. As the weight is pulled along the bottom the worm will dance and dart and suspend momentarily behind the weight.
Tying on this rig is fairly simple if all of the components are available. Start by sliding a bullet or egg sinker onto the line. After the weight is on the line, slide a bead or brass clacker on and hold them in place while tying a barrel swivel to the end of the line using an Improved Clinch Knot. Then, take a leader that should measure anywhere from 2-5 feet and tie that to the other end of the barrel swivel, also using an Improved Clinch Knot. At the end of the leader, a hook will be attached and then a worm should be threaded onto that hook either Texas rigged or Tex-posed.
This method is weedless and it allows you to fish a lure faster through a larger area such as a ledge, flat, or weed line, and shallow weed beds. It’s not particularly good around rocks like rip rap as it tends to hang a lot if used with larger sized weights. It’s a great way to feel the bottom with a heavier weight and locate structure and cover that can’t easily be seen. It can be fished quickly, but as a general rule, you want to keep the weight in constant contact with the bottom. I normally pull it a foot at a time with a side sweep of the rod and then take up the slack and repeat. Some of my favorite Carolina Rig baits include Zoom Flukes, Zoom Lizards, and Berkley Havoc Smash Tube.
Drop Shot Rig
The drop shot rig is a tremendously effective way to vertically fish soft plastic lures. In contrast to the Carolina rig, a drop shot’s weight sits on the bottom while the hook is above the weight anywhere from a few inches to several feet. With this rig, you can use the weight to hold your bait in one place and fish it up and down, shaking it and enticing fish to come in and take a bite.
A drop shot rig is started by tying a Palomar knot to the hook and leaving a long tag end from 6 inches to several feet in length depending on the depth needed to fish the bait. After tying the knot, it is best to run the tag end through the eyelet of the hook from the side the hook point is on. This will cause the hook to stand straight out with the hook point upward. Then, the worm, such as a Roboworm, Yamasenko, or Zoom Trick Worm, should be Texas rigged onto the hook or if a smaller hook is preferred, the bait should be nose hooked for optimal action. At the bottom of the tag end, a drop-shot weight or a bell sinker should be attached.
Drop shots can be fished vertically in cover or by making casts to deep structure and working it back slowly like a Texas rig until a contact with cover is made. After contact, I usually stop and work the bait up and down trying to just move the slack and not the sinker at all. As slack is made in the line, the worm will fall. When slack is taken up, the worm will rise in the water column.
The Wacky Rig
The wacky rig offers anglers a very natural looking profile to a bait that sits horizontally in the water but falls slowly in a vertical fashion and can be fished in one spot very well. It can be fished without a weight, with ring weights, or belly weights. Weights are added to get the lure down in deeper water faster.
Out of all of the previous mentioned rigs, this is probably the easiest to tie. A wacky rig is started by tying a hook to the line using an Improved Clinch Knot and then piercing the worm through the middle with the hook. Lots of anglers like to use O-rings to keep the bait on the hook. After a cast is made, I usually let it fall and give it a few slight twitches, then repeat. For example, a Senko/Stickbait is made to mimic an injured baitfish slowly falling to the bottom and when the bait is twitched, it looks like it is struggling for life, therefore, it appears to a bass as an easy meal.
This is a great technique in clear water. Wacky rigs can be fished around floating cover like docks or around bedding bass or bass relating to vertical structures. My favorite soft plastics for wacky rigging include Gary Yamamoto Yamasenkos, Zoom Trick Worms, and Yum Dingers.