LESS IS MORE

Mod­ern soft plas­tics are cre­at­ing a quiet rev­o­lu­tion in bass fish­ing

Sea Angler (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy by HENRY GILBEY

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.

SUB­TLE LURES

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.

STICKBAITS

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.

QUIET REV­O­LU­TION

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

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