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How to Rig Soft Plastics for Bass Fishing

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One of the oldest and most frequently used bass fishing lures is the soft plastic. Soft plastic bass baits come in all shapes, sizes and colors, imitating everything from baitfish, worms and salamanders to crawfish, snakes and bugs.

One of the oldest and most frequently used bass fishing lures is the soft plastic. Soft plastic bass baits come in all shapes, sizes and colors, imitating everything from baitfish, worms and salamanders to crawfish, snakes and bugs.

The most commonly known soft plastic bass lure would be the plastic worm. My father is a classic example of the history behind the plastic worm, having fished with the same black worm for over 30 years....and still catches fish on it every time out. There are literally hundreds of variations of the plastic worm today, with sizes ranging from 4" up to 12", and different styles such as swimming, floating and sinking.

Soft plastic bass fishing lures have evolved in the last decade to include creature baits, swimbaits, frogs and lizards. Creature baits refers to crawfish imitating baits in general, swimbaits are moreless shad imitating baits and frogs and lizards are frogs and lizards. These baits are also available in a wide variety of sizes, styles and colors. 

The evolution of soft plastic bass fishing lures over the years has required that fishermen use new tactics or rigging methods for presenting these lures to fish. To get the most productivity out of the soft plastic baits, or to most effectively mimick the particular prey, the use of specific rigging techniques must be used. I have broken down the most popular rigging techniques for soft plastic baits, when to use them and how to set them up.

Texas Rig

Texas Rig

Probably the most common method of rigging a plastic bait and the most familiar to fishermen is the Texas-rig. It is a quick and simple technique to fish one of the most productive bass lures; the plastic worm. In the original Texas-rig, the worm is rigged on the hook with the point of the hook pinned back into the body of the worm to make it weedless and a bullet weight and glass bead are used on the line ahead of the hook.

When you're rigged-up and ready to fish the Texas-rig, look for a bank with fish-holding cover and cast beyond any likely looking spots. Let the rig settle to the bottom and slide, shake, or drag the worm, lizard, or other bait through the area back to the boat or shore. Make sure you keep contact with the bottom, but vary your retrieve including occasionally lifting the rod tip up, which will make the worm come off the bottom and glide several feet before dropping back down.

Carolina Rig

Carolina Rig

Most often used on open, relatively unobstructed bottom. Thread a 1/2 to 1 oz sinker onto your main line, followed by a bead that clicks when the sinker hammers against it. Then tie on a swivel, an 18"-24" inch leader line (but can be longer), and your hook. The carolina rig is the most effective technique for fishing creature style baits such as Brush Hogs, Lizards and Kreit Kreatures.

I suggest a heavier weight for fishing deep water points or windy situations, and a lighter, egg style sinker when fishing grassy areas. If you plan to work a carolina rig through timber, a 3' to 4' leader works best. Use lighter weights of Carolina rigs with light tackle, and heavier weights of Carolina rigs with heavier rods, reels and lines, a simple principle.

Shaky Head Rig

Shaky Head

The shaky head rig involves a straight tail finesse worm fashioned weedless on a small, ball head jig.

Once rigged, make a long cast and let the bait fall. Be ready — many strikes occur in the first three seconds after the bait contacts the bottom. If not, began shaking the rod tip in short, rapid bursts, maintaining some slack in the line while you hold the rod in a 10 o'clock position. This movement keeps the worm vertical and the tail quivering seductively. Don't hop the jig — inch it along and keep it dancing like a creature feeding along the lake bottom. 

If there's a best time to fish the Shaky rig, it would be during the post-spawn period when bass are roaming around in a funk, or during summer cold fronts that can shut down the aggressive bite. Some say shaky worms are best in clear water but it is very productive in stained water as well. Anglers also have found it's an excellent rig for duping bedding bass or catching winter bass holding on rocky bluffs.

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Jeff Jenkins
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Jeff Jenkins

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