LESS IS MORE
Modern soft plastics are creating a quiet revolution in bass fishing
The quiet revolution in bass fishing.
When conditions seem perfect, you can’t help but run down to your fishing spot. Gorgeous green water is just starting to fizz up in that way it does before the forecast storm arrives to mess things up for a few days, and with the tide starting to flood, you are feeling about as confident as it’s possible to be.
If there aren’t a few bass on the feed then there’s something wrong, so after half-an-hour or so of fruitless fishing and working through your regular lures, you wonder what’s wrong.
Enough is enough! Away go the regular lures and out comes a soft plastic that doesn’t do nearly as much in the water. After a couple of casts you finally strike into a bass – they’re here, but they don’t want your normal lures.
How many times have you changed lures and suddenly caught a bass or two when it looked like there was nothing around? It is often the case that a much quieter and more subtle lure is the one that goes on to catch you some bass. For all the flashy colours, profiles and lure actions (I love hard lures that do a lot in and on the water), the more time I spend around bass fishing, the more I conclude that less is often a whole lot more. Less action, less noise, less disturbance, less flash.
Why do we buy certain lures? Perhaps it made a lovely rattling sound when you shook the packaging, making you imagine it doing all kinds of animated things underwater. I have done this and will continue to do so, because, of course, there are plenty of occasions when a lure that fishes with a strong presence will do well.
My problem, though, is that those timess when I change from a lure with an obvious action to something more subtle, and then catch fish, seem to be on the increase.
Again, we come to that unavoidable word in lure fishing – confidence. I am confident that my lure doesn’t actually need to be doing a lot to catch bass much of the time.
While there will be plenty of occasions when a flashy and noisy hard lure will sort me out a bunch of bass, I always make sure I am carrying a good mix of lures.
The reason I’ve got so confident with fishing lures that do a lot less was using a senko at night for bass. At night, you’d think a bass would need a lot of noise and action in order to home in on a lure.
Let me assure you that a bass can easily pick up on a lure at night that might be doing virtually nothing in the water. You might even catch more bass at night on more subtle lures. Not always, though, and I will usually put a few hard lures in my box for night fishing – the IMA Komomo SF-125 being a favourite. Whether I take soft or hard lures, as far as I can tell my choices do little when I retrieve them.
As often as I have fished with a variety of soft plastics, it is only in recent years that I found myself turning to them so much. Of course, please bear in mind this depends on conditions and location.
It was the MegaBass XLayer that first came to my attention as a soft plastic lure for bass, and then, in more recent years, it was the Fiiish Black Minnow that has done
so much for countless lure anglers. With a paddletail lure like this, you have a tail that is doing lots of wonderful “come and eat me” stuff in the water.
With a bib creating much of the action for conventional hard lures, you have the tail doing the work on a paddletail, so the next step for me was carrying a few lures that are very subtle and quiet in the water. This led me to a family of soft plastics that I tend to refer to as ‘soft plastic stickbaits’.
These are generally a simple-looking soft plastic that has a straight tail, won’t do much in the water apart from perhaps a gentle kind of slalom if you slowly retrieve it, but can also be twitched around and allowed to flutter down on the drop.
There is no paddletail to thump away, and no bib to dig in and create all kinds of wobble and roll like on many hard lures. This lack of obvious “please notice me” action can often catch you bass when other lures might spook them.
Top of the tree for me is the OSP DoLive Stick, a freshwater bass lure from Japan. Indeed, a number of the soft stickbaits that you might find come from the world of freshwater bass fishing in the USA and Japan. There are any number of these lures out there, but the OSP DoLive Stick in the 6in size, especially, gives me the perfect mix of castability and fishability.
Lures like this may look simple compared to a shiny hard lure, but I can’t help but take them into consideration when I am choosing rods, reels and mainlines. Overall, the world of modern soft plastics is creating a quiet revolution in UK and Irish bass fishing.
Don’t forget that the humble senko can be fished effectively like this as well – wind one straight in at night or perhaps work/ twitch it a bit during the day and you’ve got another simple lure that will often switch on the bass. It is not hard to find senkos for your bass fishing (wrasse fishing too). My favourites are the slightly fatter and heavier Wave Fishing 5in Bamboo Sticks. I use the white one a lot at night and also when there is a bit of colour in the water during daylight.
The fact that most of these soft plastic stickbaits can be rigged weedless and then fished weightless means that you should not be afraid to chuck them into and through anything.
Much as I have faith in hard lures, I am not about to put what might be £20 worth of lure into a snaggy, shallow patch of rock and weed, yet I don’t think twice about casting a soft plastic rigged weedless/ weightless into that kind of ground.
It is a leap of faith to start trusting lures that seem to do so little, but I am assured that less is often a whole lot more. ■
Chris Bull with a 5lb bass caught on a soft lure
DEPS Deathadder and DoLive Stick lures
OSP DoLive Stick on a weedless rig The Fiiish Black Minnow system