By William D. Anderson
   

Fishing Plastic Baits

By William D. Anderson

Largemouth Bass caught on a Plastic CrayfishPlastic Worms and Tube Baits are some of the most popular baits around. There are many different types of plastic baits that come in many shapes and sizes. So how do you choose the right one? Some have salt impregnated tails, bio-scents, rattles, flash; and some claim to out fish live bait. All of them will catch fish at one time or another. So how do you know which one to throw on any given day?

A trip to your local tackle store will quickly show you that plastic baits come in more colors than there are in the rainbow. Many people swear by certain colors while others don�t give it much thought at all. Fish see more contrast than color so you want to give them something that seems natural to their environment, and something they can see against the background of their environment. When in doubt, go with darker or natural colors. The same can also be said about scent. Let�s face it; if a plastic worm that smells exactly like a can of 10-w30 motor oil will catch a fish, they aren�t going to be very picky about other scents. Many of the colors, claims, and other gimmicks you see on the packages are designed to catch fishermen and not fish.
 
Green SunfishPlastic worms and tubes can be rigged many different ways. The most popular way to rig a plastic worm is the Texas Style. A bullet style weight is threaded onto the line, which is tied directly to the hook. The hook is threaded through the tip of the worm, pulled down and re-inserted into the body of the worm so that the hook is weed less. In some cases a small bead is threaded onto the line between the weight and the hook to protect the knot. It is also done to add noise to the rig to help fish find the bait in murkier water.
 
The second most popular way to rig a plastic worm is the Carolina method. This consists of a heavy barrel or cone sinker threaded onto the line first. The next section consists of a couple of bearings, then a ball bearing swivel followed by up to 3 feet of leader material. Many anglers make their own Carolina Rigs, while other prefer to purchase ready-made rigs. Whichever you choose, the leader material should be of less tensile strength than your line so that when you snag, all you lose is a hook rather than the entire rig.
 
Plastic Worm AccessoriesTexas rigs are better for fishing heavier cover. The weight will stay closer to the worm and is less likely to get wedged between a branch or a rock. Using heavier line with a Texas rig will allow you to pull a fish out of cover before he has a chance to wrap your line around a branch or stump. Casts should be long enough so that you don�t spook the fish, but not too long so that you lose the sensitivity due to line stretch. Start out by moving the worm very slowly. You may feel a slight tap or notice the line moving off to one side. That�s your signal to set the hook.
 
A Carolina Rig is a better choice for deeper water. You can make longer casts with it and drift across a large area while keeping in contact with the bottom. The feeling transmitted back through the line will tell you exactly what type of content the bottom is made of. Pay attention to the vibrations you feel just before a fish picks up your bait because that will tell you what type of content they are favoring.
 
Plastic Worm AccessoriesOther ways to rig plastic worms are the wacky rig and the shaky head rig. The wacky rig is one of the easiest setups. You simply tie a crooked hook or split shot hook directly to your line, bend the worm in half to find its middle point, and then hook it right through the bend. You can use lighter gear with this rig because there is no additional weight added. You simply cast the rig out and let it sink. The deeper the water, the more patience you�ll need. Heavier worms such as Senkos are usually rigged this way.
 
A Shaky head rig consists of a simple jig head threaded through the head of a worm. You cast the rig out and twitch it back just like you would any other jig. It gets its name because you can pause the retrieve and gently shake the tip of your rod. This will cause the head to vibrate and in turn cause the rest of the
worm to pulse. This rig is easy to pitch under docks and into other tight places where it would be difficult to put another type of bait.
 
Plastic Craw TubesPlastic tubes are just as versatile as plastic worms and come in as many shapes, colors, and sizes. Tube baits can be fished so they imitate baitfish or crayfish. You can ad rattles to tube baits so they are easier to find in murky water. Just like worms, they will give you a good idea of what the bottom content is made up of if you are using the right line.
 
Crawtube, Hooks, and RattlesWhen using a tube to imitate a crayfish, it�s best to choose a bait that looks as close to the real thing as possible. Crayfish tend to change colors throughout the year and knowing what color the natural bait is will help you choose the right color. Bass can also be feeding on minnows, perch, gobies, shad, or any other type of baitfish. If you are using a tube to imitate bait fish, knowing what bait they are feeding on will help you choose your presentation. Tube baits are great because they are almost 100% weedless and you can get them into heavy cover where baitfish tend to hide from predators.
 
Tubes are generally rigged with a hook that is made specifically for tubes. These hooks always point up and may or may not have a weight built into them. I will generally use what�s known as a vertical drop hook and rig them weedless. This allows them to drop vertically while keeping the weight concealed inside the tube. The tip of the hook is re-inserted into the top of the bait so that it doesn�t get hung up on anything else. I can also add a rattle just below the eye of the hook to give it more sound and weight.
 
Tube Bait AccessoriesAnother trick that many people use is to add some type of scented gel or spray on scent to a tube bait. While this can be very effective, the scents wear off quickly and have to be continuously re-applied. A way around that is to purchase a package of GULP baits and break pieces off and then thread them onto the hook inside the tube. The GULP products are 100% bio-degradable and continue to release scent until they are dissolved.
 
Many anglers use fluorocarbon or braided lines for fishing plastics baits because they have less stretch and offer more sensitivity. Their ability to transmit vibrations give the angler the ability to tell exactly what the bottom content is and what types of structure they are fishing. They also hold up better to the rough conditions found where one would normally fish plastic baits. Because your line will come in contact with rocks and branches, you should perform the �knot test� every few casts. Grab the bait in one hand and then grab the line just above the bait with two fingers and run your hand up, if you feel any abrasions, cut the line off above that point and re-tie. Another test you should perform is to grab the lure in one hand and grab the line a couple feet above the lure and give it a good tug. If it breaks, you know it was time to re-tie. Better to find out that way than by losing a good fish.
 
Great Place to fish PlasticsFluorocarbon lines also sink faster than monofilament line and allow you to use lighter weights. In general you should use the lightest weight possible. This will help avoid snags and allow your baits to swim more naturally. Bass will often inhale a plastic worm rather than strike it aggressively so the bite might be undetectable. Using a lighter weight and sensitive line will help an angler feel these �light� bites.
 
There are as many ways to fish plastics as there are types of plastics. Worms can be allowed to drop and free fall, they can be dragged along the bottom, or they can be hopped and twitched. You can swim a tube bait like a you would a crank bait or fish it like a plastic worm. If one presentation doesn�t work, keep trying different ones until you find the one that works.
 
Another great place to fish plastic baitsRegardless of how you fish a plastic bait, you will want to use a fairly heavy-duty rod. The rod should have enough backbone to give you a good solid hook-set. With tubes, you can usually pull back sharply to set the hook. With Texas rigged worms you will often have to reel down to a 3 o�clock position then pull up sharply to 12 o�clock. With a Carolina rig, the hook set is generally more of a sweeping motion to one side or the other. Bait-casting rigs are usually preferred for fishing plastic baits although many Pros will use spinning gear to pitch tubes far back under docks.
 
Various Plastic BaitsIf you�ve been using plastic baits for a while, or even if you�re new to them, experiment with your own  rigging methods and who knows, you just might come up with the next big thing.
 
One last word of caution about plastic baits: Never mix them up in your tackle box. The different types of plastic can react with each other leaving you with one big gooey mess and a ruined tackle box. Keep your plastic baits in their original containers and they will last a lot longer.Plastic Baits and Baitcast Rigs

 

 



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