Powerbait: Why Shape and Rigging Choice Matters

PowerBait’s unique geometric shapes entice fish visually while the taste keeps them holding on.

Soft plastics were introduced to the fishing public in 1949 and are arguably the most versatile of bass baits. These pliable baits are offered in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, and colors. Soft plastics provide fishermen with a tool with which to explore water at any depth, but with such a wide variety of baits from which to choose, picking the right one for a specific application can be a daunting task. Luckily, with a bit of knowledge and insight, selecting the right bait is a relatively straightforward process.

CRACKING THE CODE

The best bass anglers in the world know how to read a body of water. These fishermen can make educated decisions on what will work (and what won’t work) on any given day. While seemingly apparent, what makes this a foreboding task is that no two bodies of water are alike. They differ in depth, clarity, available forage, structure, cover, and more. Add considerations for prevailing weather and the bass catching equation becomes quite complex. Finding the bass is the biggest challenge. Hooking them, on the other hand, is all about lure selection and presentation.

Fortunately, there are a few general rules of thumb to guide you in the right direction when it comes to selecting the right bait style, shape, and size for just about any fishing scenario.

FORM MEETS FUNCTION

Soft plastics are generally categorized according to their basic shapes, and there’s a shape for every fishing style and situation.

Worms

PowerBait Power Work

This is easily the most recognizable shape in the soft plastics world. Worms, in fact, were the first soft plastic bait introduced back in 1949. The original worms were hand poured from a variation of vinyl and were crude. at best. Still, they caught fish.

Today’s worms are molded from specially blended polymers which produce supple, pliable, life-like baits. They come in a variety of styles: paddle-tail, straight-tail, curly-tail, ribbon-tail, and any number of other configurations. Worms are tremendously versatile, come in lengths ranging from two to 20 or more inches, and can be fished anywhere in the water column and in any angling situation.

Best Bet: PowerBait Power Worms®

  • Situation: Almost any water type and condition.
  • Rigging: Pegged Texas-rig if in heavier vegetation. Non-pegged Texas-rig around more sparse vegetation.
  • Technique: Cast, allow bait to sink to bottom, lift rod tip at medium pace and allow to fall again. Watch for line “ticks,” movement when the bait falls, or pressure while lifting the bait.

Creatures

PowerBait Pit Boss

At first blush, creature baits look like something that stepped off a sci-fi movie set. Typically, they have multiple appendages designed to attract bass through their undulations. Creatures are great for flipping, pitching, and punching, as they are compact and typically their appendages are rearward facing, allowing them to slip, unimpeded, into tight spaces.

Creatures also excel as they can be rigged in any number of ways and are most often fished on heavy lines in power applications.

Best Bet: PowerBait Pit Boss

  • Situation: Almost any water type and condition. Excels in shallows and around cover (e.g., docks, wood, and shallow vegetation).
  • Rigging: Pegged Texas-rig if in heavier vegetation. Non-pegged Texas-rig around more sparse vegetation; jig trailer; Carolina-rigged.
  • Technique: Depends on rigging.

Stickworms

PowerBait The General

The stickbait has been the darling of the soft plastics world for over two decades now. Introduced in 1997, this visually uninspiring bait’s beauty lies in its action, not its geometric profile. The nondescript cylindrical bait is best fished by doing almost nothing at all. Most strikes come as the weightless bait falls toward the bottom on a slack line. Rigged behind a sinker, the stickworm loses some of its shimmying action, but works the depths effectively.

Creatures also excel as they can be rigged in any number of ways and are most often fished on heavy lines in power applications.

Best Bet: PowerBait The General

  • Situation: Clear to slightly stained water in 1’ to 10’ depth.
  • Rigging: When no vegetation, rig with open hook whacky style. Alternatively, rig Texas-rig unweighted with EWG hooks. In vegetation rig Texas-rig weight with slip sinker.
  • Technique: Allow bait to free fall on a slack line. Once on the bottom, lift and repeat the free fall.

Tubes

PowerBait Power Tube

Tubes are hollow-bodied cylinders of soft plastic, open at one end. Most have been sliced vertically at the open end to create tentacles that move seductively as the bait falls. Depending upon color and retrieve, a tube can imitate anything from a crawfish to a baitfish.

The hollow body allows for a plethora of rigging methods while also providing space for the insertion of a rattle chamber. Adding a rattle adds an audible attractiveness to the soft plastic bait. The hollow body also allows for the insertion of a jig head, offering a sleek aerodynamic profile for extra-long casts. Texas rigged, the tube is a popular flipping, pitching, and punching bait.

Best Bet: PowerBait Power® Tube

  • Situation: Almost any water type and condition.
  • Rigging: Weighted jig head with size dependent on the water depth to be fished. Texas-rig when fishing worm-like. Peg the sinker when flipping or punching.
  • Technique: Can be fished from top to bottom of water column on just about any cadence or retrieve.

Craws

PowerBait Chigger Craw

Craws imitate one of a bass’s favorite forages—crawfish. The soft plastic craw may be rigged in just about any manner; they’re that versatile. Texas- or Carolina-rigged alone or used as a trailer on a jig, spinnerbait, buzzbait or bladed jig, craws are serious bass catchers!

Best Bet: PowerBait Chigger Craw

  • Situation: Almost any water type and condition. Excels when fished shallow and around cover (e.g., docks, wood, or shallow vegetation).
  • Rigging: Pegged Texas-rig if in heavier vegetation. Non-pegged Texas-rig around more sparse vegetation; jig trailer; Carolina-rigged.
  • Technique: Flip into tight spots, punch through thick weed mats, or fish on a jig head on rip rap. May be added as a jig trailer.

Drop-shots

PowerBait Water Bug

Drop-shotting became popular on the West Coast in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The vertical finesse technique started in Japan, where fishing pressure is often intense. Drop-shotting is a great method for catching finickity fish in deep, clear water.

One key to success with drop-shotting is determining the best leader length — the length between the bait and the weight which rests on the bottom. Generally, your leader should be long enough that the lure suspends above any cover or debris; where the bass can see it!

Best Bet: PowerBait Water Bug®

  • Situation: Clear to slightly-stained water when experiencing a “finesse” bite.
  • Rigging: Drop shot rig but may be fished on a Ned-rig (lead head) too.
  • Technique: Fish on a long line in deep, clear water. Gently “shake” the bait using the rod tip.

Swimbaits

PowerBait Hollow Belly

Another West Coast contribution to bass fishing, the swimbait was first plied in the deep, clear reservoirs of California to mimic rainbow trout and entice giant bass into biting. Swimbaits come in a variety of sizes, measuring a couple inches up to some in excess of 12 inches.

Swimbaits can be fished at any depth as they may be cast and counted down (i.e., letting the bait sink on a slack line until it reaches the desired depth). These baits can be fished fast (like a fleeing baitfish) or slow (like a lost, meandering minnow). Swimbaits may be rigged using a plain jig head or on a hook designed specifically for this bait type.

Best Bet: PowerBait Hollow Belly

  • Situation: Almost any water type and condition with the exception of cold or muddy water.
  • Rigging: Jig heads and swimbaits hooks (weighted and unweighted depending on desired depth).
  • Technique: Identify the depth fish are holding and work bait at that depth. Straight, steady retrieve works in most situations.

Frogs

Bass have been eating frogs since the dawn of time. The first imitation frog lure was a hand carved wooden model from the nineteenth century.

Soft plastic frogs shine when fishing around, in, or through vegetation—the nastier the better. They come in a variety of sizes and may be rigged Texas-style or using the specialty hooks designed for them. Frog hooks come weighted and unweighted. The weighted models are great when long casts are desirable, plus they provide a keel or rudder to keep the bait tracking true at virtually any speed.

Best Bet: PowerBait Buzz'n Speed Toad

  • Situation: Shallow cover and especially around emergent vegetation (e.g., pads, arrowheads, cattails, etc.).
  • Rigging: Heavy EWG frog hook or screw-style hook. Weighted or unweighted depending on conditions.
  • Technique: Medium to fast retrieve on top. Wait until you feel the fish to set the hook.

Jerkbaits

PowerBait Power Jerk Shad

Soft plastic jerkbaits imitate injured baitfish, and they’re versatile enough to cover the water column. Weightless, they’re great on schooling bass or for triggering a surface bite. Behind a jig head or on a Carolina rig, they can be fished from the mid-depths to the bottom. An erratic retrieve is often the key to bass action.

Best Bet: PowerBait Power® Jerk Shad

  • Situation: Shallow and usually around some sort of structure. Can be fished on open shallow flats for cruising fish as well.
  • Rigging: EWG usually Superline EWG. Non-weighted Texas-rig is most commonly used.
  • Technique: When rigged correctly, angler should be able to "walk the dog" underwater on a tightly-snapped cadence creating a dying baitfish appearance.

Trailers/Chunks

PowerBait Power Chunk

“Trailer” is a universal term for any soft plastic which may be added to another bait to enhance or modify its action/attractiveness. Soft plastic trailers come in an array of shapes and sizes. They may be minnow shaped or “chunk” style.

Minnow style trailers work well when added to bladed baits, such as spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and bladed jigs. Their narrow, slender profile allows them to slither through thick vegetation where big bass lurk. Chunk style trailers are best suited for use with skirted or hair jigs as they help increase the bait’s profile.

Best Bet: PowerBait Power® Chunk

  • Situation: Colder to moderate water temperatures and usually stained to muddy water.
  • Rigging: Threaded onto a skirted jig.
  • Technique: Pitching and flipping to visual structure, such as dock pilings, rock outcroppings, stumps, etc.