Angler Education

Long Live Soft Plastics

I've been around this game long enough to figure out what works and what doesn't. Soft plastics have evolved throughout the years to include scents, glitter and a variety of other injections. There is no doubt that under the hot August sun nothing works better than soft plastics. Whether it is finesse or large soft plastics, August is the time to throw these bass-catching baits.

When I started my career as a tour professional, soft plastics were drenched with minerals and oils, making them a greasy mess that shed instantly once dipped in water. Soft plastics have come a long way, and with today's advancements in technology, they just keep getting better. What really matters with most soft plastics, besides the action, is the scent, which is often overlooked by today's anglers.

For anglers and fish, scent is a powerful tool that shouldn't be taken likely. In many cases, scent is the catalyst causing a fish to strike a bait. PowerBait ® works. I've been helping with bait development and product testing at Berkley ® for the past 28 years, and when PowerBait is injected into a soft plastic, fish bite and won't let go. This is critical when anglers, especially beginners, go to set the hook. If a fish grabs the bait and immediately spits it out, you're left with nothing. But if a fish gobbles up the bait and stays on longer it will lead to more fish in the boat. It is a simple choice for me go with a scent that works.

In my line of work you must be great at many things if you want to succeed and this is true about any angler. Sure, you may be able to hone your skills using one soft plastic, but what happens when that bait has run its course? You wouldn't head to the dock and call it quits. No, you'd pick up another rod and get to work. But if becoming great at five different applications is too time - consuming, pick a few tried - and - true techniques that work each time.

There are few soft plastics that can't miss during the heat of the August sun, but my ultimate rigs are a Texas-rigged Berkley PowerBait 10-inch Power ® Worm and a PowerBait 6-inch Hand Pour finesse worm fished on a drop shot rig. Both are highly effective when the water is blazing hot and the bites turn off. Plus each bait has been fine - tuned and injected with PowerBait.

When fishing during the heat of the day I fish the 10-inch Power Worm on a 5/0 wide gap hook with a 1/4 - to 1/2-ounce bullet weight. For this application I like to spool my reel with 15-pound Trilene ® 100% Fluorocarbon. It is nearly invisible underwater and easily managed.

I locate offshore structure, usually a laydown or log, that rests anywhere between 10 and 15 feet of water. Bass hold close to these areas to ambush baitfish and escape the heat. I make longer casts to
avoid spooking fish that may be skittish from the increased boat traffic. Using a Fenwick ® Elite Tech Froggin' Stik paired with an Abu Garcia ® Revo ® STX, I drag the 10-inch Power Worm over and through the submerged structure. This combo gives me enough backbone and power to wrestle fish out of their summer haunt.

My drop shot rig is pretty basic, which I will use when the water is super clear. I start out with my PowerBait Hand Pour 6-inch Finesse Worm on a 1/0 drop shot hook. The best color I've found for this bait is Watermelon Magic Red Glitter. It works whether I am up north or down south. Spooled with 8-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon, the Abu Garcia Soron 40 and Fenwick Elite Tech Shaky Stik are perfect when I target ridges and cuts in 15 to 20 feet of water. This set up gives me enough feel to detect the subtlest bites from some pretty big fish.

There is a laundry list of soft plastics on the market that all have their place on the water. Trust me; I've used the majority of them. The key to fine - tuning your skills using soft plastics is to perfect the technique used with each bait and realizing that scent plays a crucial role if you want to catch more fish.