Top five soft plastics
Our expert makes his bass fishing selection
Nothing has changed the world of bass fishing in the British Isles so much over the last few years as soft plastics. Indeed, looking at my own bass fishing today and how I go about it, and then compare it to say five years ago, soft plastics are now an integral part of how I go about my fishing.
I now have access to so many different soft plastics, and I know far more about how to fish them and how the bass often respond so well to them.
I’m actually penning this article while trying to keep my eyes open because I was out until about 3am catching a few nice bass in the pitch black on soft plastics.
If you’d said I would have been doing that five years ago I’d have laughed at you.
When I used to do a lot of wreck fishing, and soft lures started to enter our UK fishing scene, we’d be using simple jellyworms on the end of flying-collar rigs. When I look where we are now with soft plastic lures, it’s amazing how things have changed and continue to progress.
I have used a lot of different soft plastics for my bass fishing, but have a few tried and trusted ones that I turn to again and again. Here is my choice…
FIIISH BLACK MINNOW
A friend of mine said he couldn’t imagine anybody releasing a more lethal soft plastic for bass fishing than the Fiiish Black Minnow paddletail.
On the one hand this French lure is a classic paddletail or shad type of soft plastic, but the Black Minnow concept is also a lot more. I just love how it’s a complete, modular system. You’ve got a soft paddletail body that, at slower speeds especially, moves beautifully in the water, and to go with the body we have a range of different jig heads that secure to VMC weedless hooks - and the lure is articulated for extra movement.
Consulting the clever packaging, we can easily buy the correct jig heads and hooks for each body size. No more complications for anglers who want to fish with paddletails for bass.
Swim the Black Minnow at a slowish speed or with a slow sink-and-draw kind of action, bump it down a run of current with a controlled sink-and-draw, and so on.
Because they are weedless and avoid snags very well, you can also work them over rough ground.
For me, it’s the one lure (hard or soft) that has been responsible for more big bass than anything else. Vive la France!
OSP DOLIVE STICK
This simple-looking soft plastic has changed the way I approach a lot of my bass fishing. I use the 6in and 4½in-long versions very often, always rigged weedless and weightless, and if there is a better ‘jerkbait-style’ soft plastic that works as well as these things for our bass fishing, then please let me know.
They come from the Japanese freshwater bass fishing world, but in our saltwater environment they work perfectly – heavy and dense enough to cast really well and fish properly in some surprisingly lively conditions. I urge you to either twitch one back or swim it nice and slowly and you will not believe how good these lures look in the water.
This stick is the one I turn to before anything else for my weedless and weightless ‘jerkbait-style’ soft plastic fishing for bass.
Fishing is so much about confidence, and every time I clip on an OSP DoLive Stick I feel supremely confident. Rigged on weedless hooks, these soft plastics help us to cover the kind of ground you simply can’t tackle with hard lures.
SAVAGE GEAR SANDEEL
For many lure anglers the Savage Gear Sandeel needs no introduction but, to be honest, I am a little late to the table with this lethal bass fishing lure. It’s because I am fishing more and more on the north coast of Cornwall that my need for paddletails has increased (often in livelier seas).
As with the Black Minnow, I really like how Savage Gear has made this soft plastic sandeel lure so simple. Certain body sizes go on certain jig heads, and that’s about as complicated as it needs to get.
I really like how it casts, and how the Savage Gear Sandeel gives me a different option to the Black Minnow when fishing on or close to the bottom from the shore. Yes, the Fiiish Black Minnow works better at slower speeds, but when the sea is fizzing around structure and a hard lure won’t really get me where I need to be, I turn to the Savage Gear Sandeel.
Whack it out and straight-retrieve it, using the speed of your retrieve to vary the depth at which it swims. Lethal!
FIIISH CRAZY SANDEEL
When nothing in my lure box is producing a bass, I clip on the Fiiish Crazy Sandeel.
The trick to this lure is getting it working properly. It’s meant to be fished fast – you don’t bump it down the current like you might a Black Minnow, for example.
I think there has been a fair degree of confusion about the Crazy Sandeel, primarily because anglers haven’t known how it is designed to be fished.
Cast it out and rip it back – you will feel the body of the lure come alive as it starts to vibrate. When you have ripped the lure back towards you and go for another pick-up, this is when the bass or pollack will smash the lure. Often you will get hit when the Crazy Sandeel is on the drop, and fish smash this lure hard.
If you’re into boat fishing for species such as bass, pollack and cod, you should try the Crazy Sandeel. It is the perfect lure for searching the water column, and different to how we tend to fish with the Black Minnow.
It’s the most perfect sandeel imitation I have come across.
Yes, this is one boring-looking lure, and at first glance many wonder what all the fuss is about. Originally from the US freshwater bass fishing world, it is a straight plastic ‘stick’, but can be deadly for our bass fishing.
While I will tend to twitch the DoLive Stick around in daylight, you can fish a senko essentially the same way, but it’s night lure fishing for bass when the senko really comes into its own.
My favourites are the fairly heavy Wave Fishing 5in Bamboo Stick, which you can usually find for sale in the UK. Rigged weedless and weightless, it casts really well, and, if need be in a bit more sea, you can use a belly-weighted weedless hook for a bit more ‘grip’ in the water.
The biggest shore-caught bass I have landed came on a white senko at night, and I have photographed 10lb-plus bass caught the same way by friends.
I know it’s hard to feel confident when a lure looks and feels like it’s doing almost nothing in the water, but try a senko at night – cast it out and wind it back – that is it.
I don’t know why white works so well at night, and I have no idea how a soft plastic ‘stick’ seems to do it for the bass. But if there is one thing that fishing with senkos and, indeed, soft plastics has taught me, it’s that less is so often more. ■
Caught on an OSP 6in DoLive Stick soft plastic lure