Bass Fishing With Soft Plastics – Part I
By Davidson Manning and Paul Marsh
Fishing with a plastic or rubber worm for bass is a great option any time. It is as close to a fool-proof bass bait as there might be. There are so many different options for ways to rig a rubber worm that it can be utilized in a myriad of ways. Pair these options with the sizes, types, and scents available and you could likely never require another bait for largemouth or smallmouth fishing. Perhaps the best reason to use rubber worms is their relatively low cost. Very likely, you will spend less money using this bait option as any other bass artificial, and perhaps even save verses live bait options. In this article, I will cover rigging techniques for the Texas Rig. In subsequent articles I will discuss the Carolina Rig and others.
Perhaps the most commonly used of the rigging options is the Texas Rig. It is very simple to use and offers the advantage that it is a weedless rig and be cast almost anywhere without getting hung up. It is as simple as putting a bullet sinker (smaller is better in most cases) on your line, the wider end facing the tag line of your fishing line, and tagging an offset worm hook on the end. Cut off excess line. Mount the worm on the hook by sliding approximately the same length as the hook’s offset over the hook and then coming back out of the worm. Then slide the worm up the hook until the head of the worm is approximately even with, or even a little bit covering the eye of the hook. Finally, penetrate the hook into the belly of the worm just enough that the barbs are into the worm but so the sharp end does not come out the other side. If the barbs come out the other side you will get hung up. The placement of the hook in the belly should be done so the worm’s body is almost straight between the offset and the place where it is hooked into the worm’s belly.
If you will be dragging this rig through very heavy cover, consider pinning the bullet sinker in place with a small toothpick. This prevents the scenario where your bait comes over an obstruction and the sinker slides up the line prior to the worm. This will greatly lower your chances of attracting fish as the movement is unnatural.
Another option, especially attractive when fishing for finicky bass or when you wish to fish off the bottom is to go without a sinker. In some situations I have found bass to be put off even with the lightest of weights. Simply rig everything exactly as previously mentioned, just without the bullet sinker.
Generally speaking the Texas Rig is fished slowly along the bottom and across structure. My experience has been that 95% of the time, you cannot fish it too slowly. I typically fish from a small boat and cast into structure or as close to shore as possible. Some of my best retrieves occurs when I cast 6 inches or so onto shore and drag the bait slowly into the water. Hits can occur anywhere on the retrieve and come in all varieties. Some times there is no doubt- you get slammed and setting the hook is an obvious reaction. Perhaps more often, you might not even feel a hit. If you are fishing with your rod tip up, as you should, first you will see that your line is moving sideways through the water. At this stage I suggest reeling down to a 3 o’clock position and thin affecting a firm hookset.
Rubber worms are available in a variety of sizes, made by many manufacturers, and are available in most any color or scent. For color, some believe (including myself) that you should match the situation. When there is a light day, consider using a light color and darken things up as the day gets darker, progressing to black at night. Use natural colors in highly clear water. I very much like the pumpkin seed colors made by Zoom in a variety of sizes. At night, or in more turbid water, a 7 inch Black Berkley Power worm works well.
Texas rigged plastic worms generally work best when fished in relatively shallow water. Woody and rocky cover in water of two to ten feet tend to be the best to places to cast the worm. Sometimes, it pays to fish deeper water a few feet off the shore. Generally, the best way to do this is to position you boat parallel to the bank, and cast straight out of the bow. You’ll have to let it sink a little longer, and reel a little slower in order to keep the worm on the bottom.
Plastic worms are truly one of the most versatile baits for black bass. They work in almost every situation, and in almost every body of water. Once you learn how to use plastic worms, you won’t want to use other methods very often. So give them a try, and you just might find your new favorite way to fish.
Davidson Manning is an avid outdoorsman spending over 100 days per year pursuing his passion for fishing, many of them in the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas. He details many of his favorite spots on his website Family-Outdoors where he writes articles not only on fishing, but also camping and hunting. Visit his fishing section at Family-Outdoors Fishing where Manning has information on fishing in general plus links to information on fishing guides, fishing reports, places to go, gear reviews, and more fishing tips.
His other pursuits include many days spent in the field camping and hunting. Davidson loves to share his knowledge of the outdoors in the hope of helping others to find their own connection to the outdoors.