All About Soft Plastic Lures
Plastic baits look simple enough. But like a lot of simple looking things there’s a ton of work behind every good one. Understanding a little about that work will help you pick the right bait for the conditions at hand and will result in more bass in your livewell.
In addition to fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series I own and operate Missile Baits, a soft plastics focused company. We use injection molding exclusively. That’s a process by which liquid plastic is injected under pressure into an aluminum, multi-cavity mold.
You can also hand-pour soft plastics. Some of them are really good, some not so much. I’m not going to say any more about them than that because they’re not how we make our baits. I will say, however, that some hand-poured baits can do things injected baits can’t do. Overall, injected baits can have many more options and are the way to go for mass producing baits.
One of the first things to consider when choosing a plastic bait is whether it’s harder or softer. Harder plastics have their place. They work well in saltwater and in high heat environments like the tropics. That said, I can’t think of a situation in bass fishing when I’d use one.
For our purposes, softer baits have much better action and they have better function. Too soft can be a problem but they need to be soft enough to function properly. Function is how they fish. How do they move in the water? Can you rig them so that they don’t hang on every cast and, at the same time, allow you the opportunity to get a good hookset?
Before we get any deeper into function let’s talk about action. Creature baits illustrate its importance about as well as anything.
There has to be at least a thousand of those critters on the market, but only a handful of them actually look like something that lives where the bass lives. What the good ones really look like is something that’s alive and that’s vulnerable. Bass are predators. They attack creatures that act like prey.
Look at our D Stroyer, a popular bait in this category. You can say that it looks like any number of things. Some guys say it’s a dead ringer for a big crayfish. It might be. But for my money it looks like a frog swimming in the water, a frog that’s going to be easy prey. In all honesty, none of us knows what a bass thinks when it sees one. All we know is that they want to eat it. That’s enough for me, and for the other anglers who fish it.
You’ll hear a lot of talk about color around the dock. Color can be added to injected plastics in a number of ways to create a number of looks. The most common are solids, two layer laminates, three layer laminates, swirls and contrasting tails. With only a few exceptions, color choices and combinations in plastic baits is unlimited.
My preference in most situations is a two layer laminate. Most creatures in nature, especially those that live in the water, have two basic colors to their body, one darker on top and another lighter on the bottom.
Despite what I just said keep something in mind. Action is 100 times more important than color — in any lure. Color might get them to look, but it’s action that’ll get them to bite. Remember that.
Function is really nothing more than a way of saying that a lure does what it’s supposed to do — catch fish. We can break function into three parts. The first is that any good plastic bait has to have the right action. Without it nothing else much matters. It’s a hard thing to define because it’s as much art as it is science. But we do know that some lures have it, and some don’t.
One bait that has the right action is a Zoom Trick Worm. It is a tried and true bait that is and has been a real fish catcher for many years on many traditional techniques like the shaky head, Carolina rig, drop shot, and wacky rig. Zoom nailed it with that one.
The Yamamoto Senko is different, but is in the same department. There’s something about the way it moves on the fall that makes it one of a kind. It is one of the most imitated baits on the market but the Senko is just the Senko.
Here at Missile Baits we don’t really make competing lures for either of those baits. The reason is that if we made a super great trick worm or plastic stickbait it’d be just like the Zoom Trick Worm and the Yamamoto Senko. We have the 48 Worm but it functions different that the Senko. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel unless you can make it better. As of this writing we haven’t been able to do that so I buy them like everyone else.
The next thing that’s necessary to make a plastic bait functional is that we must be able to rig it so that it’ll work its way through cover without getting hung but at the same time we must be able to get a secure hookset when a bass grabs it.
As the owner and the designer of baits here a Missile Baits I can tell you that’s not as easy as it sounds. If the bait’s too hard you can drive a hook in it so that it’s perfectly weedless but you won’t be able to drive the hook through it and into the fish’s mouth. It’s just the opposite if it’s too soft. The hook point will work through or fall out and it’ll hang on practically every cast.
And, in many cases we have to design the body so that there’s a place on it for the hook. You’ll see that with a lot of creature baits. Maybe there’s a narrow place along the body for the hook that’ll make the hookset more efficient or a slit that’ll do the same thing. Those design features are not there just to make a bait look realistic. They’re there to make it functional. On some baits, it just makes them hang up more.
The third part of function is that a bait must be versatile. An angler has to be able to rig it in different ways. Let’s go back to Trick Worms and Senkos. They can each be rigged at least 6 or 8 different way depending upon what look and presentation you want to create. That kind of function makes a lure that stays in your tackle box year round.
The same thing is true with my creature baits. Some of them can be rigged from the head. That’ll give them a traditional look. But a lot of anglers will rig them backwards. They can also be fished weightless, weedless like a worm, on a Carolina rig or they can be used as a jig trailer.
Think about these things before you purchase your next bag of plastics. Go beyond color and realism. Pick a bait that’s functional. You’ll catch more bass.