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April 2, 2011 / flogginwater

Technique Corner – Soft Plastic Rigging for Bass

It’s time for another technique corner. This edition was spurred by a young man (Brandon) from the Oregon Fishing Forum – he’d made a post a few days back inquiring about ways to rig up soft plastics for bassin. This was just a day or two after I posted the carp and bass rigging post – but I wanted to put this up here, not only for Brandon’s benefit, but for anyone else who might wanter over here some day and need some know-how.

I’m showing you rigs that I use, that I know work – I know they work because I’ve caught fish with them.

The first rig, and probably the one I fish most often, is the weightless Texas rig. Weightless Texas rigs are super simple, as weedless a presentation as you’re going to get, and they work wonders when you’re going for a slower, natural presentation – especially in clear water or shallow water, where the fish can be spooky.

To build a weightless Texas rig, simply tie your preferred worm hook – I like the Gamakatsu extra wide gap worm hooks, the G-Lock worm hooks, or an extra long straight shank round bend hook that has had the top 1/4 bent back in line with the hook point.

Impale the top 1/4 inch or so of the worm and push it out the side opposite of the top of the worm (if fishing a senko type worm, it really doesn’t matter where on the side you exit, as long as the hook exits straight out the side). Slide the worm up to the hook eye, give it a twist, then impale the worm so that it rides in a nice straight line, with the hook point buried in the worm, just under the surface. I like the Gami hooks, because the hook point rides parallel with the middle of the worm, and when a bass chomps down on the worm, the worm just slides down the bend of the hook and the hook point gets the bass right in the lip. The Gami hooks of this design keep the worm straighter on the shaft, and this make for better presentations, in my opinion. Experiment to find which hook style you like best. This style of worm rig is the most weed resistant you’ll find – though it’s not immune to picking up weeds entirely. Weightless worms are best fished either above weed cover, with a slow steady retrieve, or with a twitch & pause retrieve. In shallow water, you can let the weightless worm sink to the bottom and hop it along, or drag it.

Traditional Texas rigging is probably THE most popular way to fish a plastic worm. It’s weedless, it’s easy to rig, and it’s easy to fish. It works well in weeds, timber, rocks, or open water. You can peg the sinker with a tooth pick for a fixed weight (a good idea when fishing in timber or other irregular bottom areas) or let it slide freely. Hop it, drag it, twitch it – it catches fish.

Another option for Texas rigging, is to crimp a split shot 6-8″ ahead of the lure. It’s fished much the same way as the traditional or weightless rigs – but it lets you cover varying parts of the water column, and allows a slower sink rate than heavier offerings. It also lets the worm ride a bit higher over the bottom, which is sometimes what the fish want. Shake it, twitch it, hop it, or drag it.

Weightless Wacky Rigs are the rigs that I use most often, when I’m not fishing a weightless Texas rig. The wacky rig is even more simple than the texas – tie your hook – either a drop shot style hook, a short shank bait hook, or an octopus style egg hook onto the end of the main line, then impale the worm (usually a senko or other straight, finesse style worm) through the middle of the worm, or slightly offset from the middle. Push the worm just far enough on to the hook that the point barely breaks the skin of the worm.

Fish the weightless wacky in clear water, shallow water, over weeds or rocks or timber, It’s best fished with a short series of twitches, followed by a pause to let the worm sink. This twitching motion causes the ends of the worm to “clap” together, enticing fish to strike.

Occasionally I will pinch a split shot of varying weight right above the hook, allowing me to fish it much like a Wacky Jig.

Cast the worm to the cover you want to fish, let it sink to the bottom, give it a few fast twitches of the rod tip to bring it up off the bottom, then pause to let the worm sink again, and keep retrieving it that way.

If I’m not fishing Wacky or Texas rigs, I’m probably fishing a drop shot or Carolina rig. We’ll talk about the Carolina rig first. It’s a bit more involved than previously mentioned offerings – to fish Carolina style, rig up your soft plastic offering on a leader from 12 to 48″ – depending on water depth, clarity, and how close to the bottom the fish are holding. You can rig the worm weedless, or with the hook point exposed and the shank through the center of the worm. Tie your leader to a barrel swivel. Thread either a bullet weight or barrel weight – anywhere from 1/8 oz to 1 or 1/5 oz – depending on water depth and current – onto your main line. Behind the weight, slide a brass or glass bead (you can use plastic, but you don’t get *all* the benefits of this rig that way). I say brass or glass, because part of the attraction to the rig is the ticking sound these beads make as the weight taps them during the retrieve. Plastic beads just don’t “click” under water like metal or glass beads do. Tie the barrel swivel onto the point of the main line.

Use a slow, steady retrieve, or short hops and twitches with this rig. Carolina rigging is great for probing deep water, but when used with lighter weights, is also excellent for fishing through weed beds or shallow rocky structure. If you’re fishing the longer leaders of 3-4 feet, you’ll want to use a longer rod – 7-8 feet or more.

Drop Shotting is an increasingly popular – and productive – way of fishing. The drop-shot rig is simple – tie a drop shot hook, short shanked bait hook, or octopus style hook onto your main line, using a palomar knot. Leave a long tag end – 12″ minimum – when you tie this knot. Run the tag end of the line back down through the hook eye – to make the hook stand 90 degrees offset to the line.

Now either crimp on a heavy split shot, tie on an egg weight, or better yet – use one of the new fangled Drop Shot weights, that simply capture your line with a small steel spring – no knots or crimpers required.

Nose hook or wacky rig your worm. You can either cast the rig out, and twitch and shake it slowly back to you, keeping in contact with the bottom via the weight – or if fishing from a boat over deep water, simply drop the line right over the side of the boat, and shake and twitch the lure. Super simple, but very effective.

The last way I’m going to mention, is a simple jig rig. Impale the tip of the worm with the jig hook, and slide the head upto and over the collar of the jig, or, if it’s collar-less, slide the tip of the worm right up to the jig head. Cast it to the holding water, and twitch or hop it back to you. This works especially well over sandy or rocky bottoms, with mild or no vegetation to snag on the exposed hook point. You can use darter heads, round heads, football heads, flat heads (which glide through the water giving the worm an enticing side to side wobbly action), or whatever your favorite head shape is. I generally stick with round or darter heads for fishing soft plastics.

There you have it folks – my favorite soft plastic worm rigs for bass. Play around with them, try new things out, and catch some fish!

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One Comment

  1. brandon4455 / Apr 2 2011 18:15

    very nice post man.. i appriciate it. easy to understand and the photos make it even easier.

    brandon

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