In the arena of bass fishing lures, there aren’t many options that compare to soft plastics. This large and varied class offers anglers a multitude of colors, shapes and profile options to choose from. Soft plastics are also some of the most realistic, yet inexpensive, lures available, making them a must-have for any bass fisherman’s tackle box.
In order to make these silicone baits look as natural as possible to the bass, and to keep them attached to your fishing line, soft plastics need to be rigged with more technique than simply tying on a hook. There are different approaches to soft plastic rigging, each with pros and cons for different fishing situations. DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate and tournament bass fisherman Brendan Conlon has four popular rigs for anglers looking to try out soft plastics. Follow these easy tips and guidelines to help give your bass fishing setup some bite.
Tackle Needed: Bullet weight, bass hook, soft plastic lure
The Texas rig is one of the most versatile rigs you can use present your soft plastics. According to Conlon, you will almost always be using some variation of this rig when bass fishing. Great for heavy cover situations, this rig setup can be a good starting point for amateur anglers. Bass fishermen can rig a Texas rig with any hook to their liking, so choosing the best hook for bass fishing is largely up to personal preference.
How to Rig a Texas Rig:
- Pierce your fishing hook through the nose of your soft plastic.
- Work the hook point in a bit, then pull the point and bend through the underside of your lure at 90 degrees.
- Run your bait the length of the hook shank until you reach the eye.
- Rotate your soft plastic so that the point of the hook is facing the underbody of the lure.
- Thread the hook point through the body of the lure once more, keeping a straight profile and presentation. (You can bury the hook point into the soft plastic to give your lure a weedless profile and finish off the setup.)
BONUS PRO TIP: If you plan to flip or pitch with a Texas rig, consider “pegging” the weight with a bobber stop or toothpick to keep it from sliding along your fishing line while casting.
Tackle Needed: Barrel or egg sinker, barrel swivel, bead, leader, bass hook, soft plastic lure
The Carolina rig differs from the Texas rig in that it separates the soft plastic from the weight, giving this rig a more natural presentation. Your bait will be connected by a leader, which is one of the most important components to this setup.
“The longer your leader length, the more natural the presentation you’re going to provide to the fish,” Conlon says.
The Carolina rig is a quality setup for anglers fishing deep and those that need to cover a lot of ground quickly.
How to Rig a Carolina Rig:
- Slide your barrel or egg sinker onto your fishing line.
- Slide on a glass bead (could be from your arts and crafts stash) to help protect your fishing line from abrasion and also add a bit of noise for enhanced presentation.
- Tie your barrel swivel to the end of your fishing line, followed by your leader roughly 3′ in length. (If your water conditions are shallow, tie a shorter leader.)
- Attach your hook of choice to your leader, and Texas rig your soft plastic following the steps in the section above.
Tackle Needed: Wacky rig hook, soft plastic lure, O-ring (optional)
Anglers looking for an easy and unique rig should opt for a wacky rig setup. Showcasing a stick bait hooked through the middle, this rig has an interesting and distinct action when falling through the water column. Conlon says that the shimmer this rig puts off is “pretty irresistible to bass,” making this a solid go-to when the fish aren’t biting particularly well or seem to be a bit finicky with other baits.
The wacky rig is simple to construct.
How to Rig a Wacky Rig:
- Take your preferred stick bait and fold it to identify the midsection.
- Pierce the bait with a small, thin-wired wacky rig hook.
And that’s all there is to it.
BONUS PRO TIP: To prevent a buildup of pierce points and to extend the lifespan of their stick baits, some anglers choose to use O-rings for a wacky rig setup. Simply slide the O-ring to the middle of your bait and attach the hook between the ring and plastic. You can use your fingers or a wacky rig tool to make this process even easier.
DROP SHOT RIG
Tackle Needed: Drop shot hook, drop shot weight, soft plastic lure.
The final soft plastic rig to try on your next bass fishing outing is the drop shot rig. This setup has a strong finesse presentation and has a unique profile when rigged correctly with the hook and bait being positioned above the weight.
“The weight being underneath the bait really provides a lot of advantages,” says Conlon. “It’s always in contact with the bottom, so you get a great feel for your bottom content.”
The drop shot rig also puts the soft plastic front and center for bass, giving it a very natural look.
How to Rig a Drop Shot Rig:
- Tie your drop shot hook with a standard knot, leaving anywhere from 18″ to 24″ of a tag line.
- Run the tag line back through the eye of the hook to help make sure that your hook point is facing upward.
- Use an overhand knot to tie your drop shot weight to the tag line.
- Attach your soft plastic by either nose-hooking the bait or Texas rigging your lure.
BONUS PRO TIP: Some drop shot hooks can feature a barrel swivel built into their design. Hooks of this profile eliminate the need for a long tag line, but do require a leader, so be sure your tackle is accommodating.
Soft plastic lures can be great options for landing bass, and anglers can up their chances of hooking a big one with a well-constructed rig. With these guidelines, you’re now ready for an unforgettable experience on the water.
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