Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Nice Catch

Art imitates Nature

Soft plastic baits mimic worms, crayfish, shad and insects.

When fishing with soft plastic baits, anglers imitate nature but sometimes not directly. Picking the right plastic can be confusing. 

Ask yourself these two questions to help make the best selection:

1. Are the fish feeding on the bottom, the surface or somewhere in-between?

2. On what are the fish feeding: crayfish, shad, sunfish or all of the above? 

There’s a plastic imitation to cover all options. Some are stand-alone lures; others are used as additions (trailers) on other baits.

Much of the confusion is in the name of the bait. We’re here to help. The best way to learn these plastics is to study the photos. (See the related rigging article in our June 2021 issue.) 


Plastic Worms

For more than 70 years, the plastic worm has been used to catch fish. Hundreds of manufacturers and garage hobbyists have created thousands of styles and colors. In the beginning, the only option was a straight-tailed worm because a night crawler was the inspiration for the design.

Now there are curly-, ribbon-, flip- and flat-tailed worms. Other shapes are limited only by one’s imagination. Some are buoyant while others sink. The addition of salt, scent (garlic or anise, for example) or other embedded flavors (jelly worms, Powerbait, etc.) in the plastic makes the baits more effective. 

From top: Reaper, curly tail, ribbon tail, straight, Speed Worm, zipper


Soft Stick Baits

Although they look like a worm, soft stick baits are in a category of their own. They are a nondescript length of plastic, but don’t let that fool you. They work — and often when nothing else will.  

From top: Senko, Snake'o, Rattlesnake, General


Miscellaneous baits   

Many plastics are terrestrial animal imitations such as lizards or salamanders (or related water dogs). Others are Gitzits (tube baits) that can mimic minnows, craws or insects.
Fluke-style baits (also called soft jerk baits) are not relegated to one category either. However, they are used to mimic dying minnows or erratic, feeding baitfish. 

From top: Fluke, Bass Assassin, lizard, tube


Crayfish imitators 

What do the following have in common? Creature baits, craws, Beavers, Chunks, Spider Jigs, Brush Hogs, double-tail grubs, etc. All are types of crayfish-imitating plastic baits. Some can be fished alone; others are used as trailers on a hard bait such as a jig.

L – R: Spider Jig, Double Tail Hula grub, Beaver, Chunk, Brush Hog, craw


Swimming Baits

When the curly-tail grub became popular in the early 1980s, anglers started casting and slowly reeling a soft bait rather than using a hard bait. Then the Sassy Shad followed. Both were products of Mr. Twister.

Many other companies followed suit, and the world of soft plastic swimming baits was born. Soft swimbaits gained momentum for decades. Today, there are new designs and unique actions and sizes (ranging from small to giant) to catch a variety of fish, including bass. 

From top: Large swimbait, small swimbait, Sassy Shad, Single Tail Grub, Swimming Senko 

All  Courtesy Manufacturers

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