Types Of Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits come in various colors, shapes, sizes, and designs to mimic live baits, such as worms, minnows, and crawfish. To make it easy to learn about all the different types of soft plastic baits, we've grouped them into the following categories for you to quickly browse:
- Creature Baits
- Beaver Baits
- Soft Jerkbaits
- Soft Plastic Swim Baits
One of the easiest artificial baits for beginners to learn to fish for bass with is the plastic worm. The soft plastic worm bait has probably caught more bass than any other artificial lure due to its simplicity and versatility.
You can pretty much group all plastic worms into the following categories:
- Stick Bait Worms such as the popular Gary Yamamoto Senko or Yum Dinger. There isn't much to these actionless worms as they don't feature a tail or extra appendages. However, these lunker producing log-shaped baits are one of the most popular plastics in bass fishing.
- Straight Tail and Paddle Tail Worms such as the Roboworm Straight Tail Worm and Yamamoto Kut Tail Worm. At first glance, they are similar to a stick bait. However, they feature a slim tail that provides extra action you won't find in a stick worm. The tail often has a diamond or paddle-shaped tip to change the action.
- Curly or Ribbon Tail Worms such as the Curl Tail Roboworm and Zoom U-Tail Worm. As the names suggest, these worms feature a thin wavy tail that provides a unique action bass just can't resist. They're also a popular nighttime lure.
- Finesse Worms such as the Super Finesse Worm by Strike King and Z-MAN Finesse Wormz are designed to be used with a finesse bass fishing setups. Some finesse baits are designed for specific bass fishing rigs, such as drop-shot baits featuring a streamlined profile to prevent line twists as the rig is retrieved. While you'll often hear, “Big bait, big fish!” that's not always the case. These finesse baits are known to produce when bass are suspended in deep, clear lakes.
- Ned Worms such as the Strike King Rage Ned or the more popular Z-Man TRD are short, fat little finesse worms, usually 2 to 3 inches long and, while these are considered finesse baits, they have become so popular they deserve their own category. They are essentially a Senko-style stick bait cut in half and threaded on a mushroom head jig like the Ned Rig Jig.
Creature baits like the Yamamoto Kreature or more finesse Brush Hog By Zoom are similar to soft plastic worms but feature multiple appendages, like legs, arms, or multiple tails, which provide extra action in the water. They are often fished on Carolina Rigs and Texas Rigs but can also be effective on shaky head jigs.
They are great baits for flipping in and around sparse or isolated cover, but due to their added appendages, creature baits aren't as great as more streamlined flipping baits for pitching around heavy cover. However, the action of creature baits makes them look alive when swimming in the water, which provides a bit of drawing power to grab a bass's attention in deeper waters.
Beaver style baits like the Strike King Rage Bug or Missile Baits D Bomb are awesome for pitching into thick cover like brush piles and thick grass. Their thick oval-shaped body makes them perfect for punching matted vegetation when used on a heavy Texas Rig. While they look similar to a creature-style bait or craw, they have a more narrow and streamlined profile. The action on beaver baits comes from the split tail that flaps around as it glides through the water.
Beaver baits are commonly used with Punching Rigs, Texas Rigs, and as Jig trailers.
Toads (Soft Plastic Frogs)
Soft plastic toads like the Zoom Horny Toad and Strike King Super Toad are a great alternative to Hollow Body Frogs when fishing over the top of matted vegetation. Toads feature a wide flat body with two paddling feet that spit, sputter, and gurgle as it swims along the surface of the water. Imagine the action of toads like a more subtle buzzbait.
The thick plastic on toads allows you to pause your retrieve, allowing the lure to sink in front of a hesitant bass's face to give it time to react.
These simple and effective soft body toads can be reeled straight in on the water's surface using heavy fishing lines like a 40lb test braid or 17-20 lb fluorocarbon. Toads can be rigged Texas Style on a single offset hook or using double pronged toad hooks.
Tube baits like the YUM Vibra King and Strike King Flip-N-Tube are hollowed-out soft plastics that feature a tentacle-like skirt instead of legs, giving them a unique action in the water. These extremely versatile soft plastics give anglers a streamlined profile to mimic baitfish and craws that can be used on a Texas Style Rig slid around a jighead.
Tubes are excellent baits for lethargic bass as their unique design allows them to be jigged nearly in place to keep the lure in the strike zone longer. Tubes are a great alternative when you find yourself reaching for beaver baits to punch mats with.
Crawfish are a favorite meal for bass. Most soft plastic craws, like the Strike King Rage Tail Craw, feature a narrow body and two claws similar to beaver baits. However, some manufacturers add extra appendages for more action, like the Berkley Powerbait Crazy Legs Chigger Craw.
Texas Rig a soft plastic crawfish on an extra wide gap worm hook to flip and pitch around cover. Or, one of my favorite ways is to use a chigger craw as a trailer on a skirted jig. The claws flap around as it's swam or hopped along the bottom, providing a compelling presentation that bass can't resist.
Soft Jerkbaits and Swimbaits
The soft plastic jerkbait, like a Zoom Super Fluke or Z-MAN Razor Shad, is designed to mimic an easy meal for bass. Rig these up weightless on an extra wide gap (EWG) worm hook and retrieve them with jerks and pauses of the rod tip to make them dart and dance around like a dying or struggling minnow. They're also great trailers when you want to provide some bulk to a spinnerbait.
While very similar to a soft plastic jerkbait, swimbaits like a Z-MAN DieZel MinnowZ or Strike King Rage Swimmer feature a paddle tail and sometimes jointed bodies. They are designed to be swam through the water with the paddle tail displacing water to attract bass.
Anglers have come up with numerous ways to rig up soft plastic swimbaits over the years. They are most commonly used on belly weighted hooks or jig heads designed specifically for swim baits. Some swimbait jigheads even include underspin blades for added action. You can even add your own with a screw-locking spinner blade.
Frequently Asked Questions About Soft Plastic Baits
How Often Should You Change Soft Plastic Baits Out?
Soft plastic baits can be reused several times as long as they remain intact. Bass won't care if your soft plastic is beaten up, and you can even repair slightly damaged soft baits with a bit of super glue to make them last longer.
I use my soft plastic baits until they just won't stay on the hook, and then I still won't throw them away. I'll take the longer end of a plastic worm that's been split in half from a hook and use it on a Ned Rig to save a couple of bucks.
What Are Soft Plastic Baits Made Of?
Soft plastic fishing lures and baits are most commonly made from a plastisol, essentially polyvinyl chloride (PVC), mixed with salt and various dye's to provide color and then hand-poured or injected into a 3d mold.
Why Do Soft Plastics Contain Salt?
Soft plastics contain salt to adjust the weight and buoyancy of the bait, making them easier to cast farther and affecting its sink rate. The more salt a soft plastic contains, the faster it will sink, while less salt will allow the bait to suspend a bit in the water column.
Is There A Way To Make Soft Plastic Baits Float?
Sometimes we want our baits to suspend or float back up a bit from our sinker when fishing a drop shot or c-rig. Some creative ways anglers have come up with to accomplish this include using baits with less salt, pieces of foam from an ear plug, styrofoam packing peanut or pool noodles, and injecting air into the bait with a syringe. They also make Corky Floats and Carolina Floaters for store-bought options.