Spend some time around serious bass anglers and you’ll quickly discover why they rely so much on soft plastic swimbaits to catch big bass. In addition to largemouth and smallmouth, soft body swimbaits are also go-to lures for experienced anglers who like to fish for other species, including pike, walleye, and even cold-water fish like trout and salmon.
For starters, a soft plastic swimbait- or “swimming bait”- looks more realistic in the water than other baits because of its lifelike swimming motion, color patterns, and paint job. Since the lure’s side-to-side movement is mostly due to its flexible tail, soft swimbaits are available in different tail designs – including paddle tail, or “boot tail”, versions and swimming baits without tails.
Best Soft Body Swimbait Rigs
Because they’re so popular, you can find soft plastics that imitate the natural forage of most game fish species, like amphibians, bugs, baitfish, and crawfish. Soft plastic swimbaits can also be rigged in various ways, including a jig head rig (great for running through an open creek channel or winding around points), wacky worm rig, nose-hooked, deep shot rig, umbrella rig (holds multiple swimbaits to target schooling fish) or a Texas rig.
For the average recreational bass angler, a Texas rig fished on a warm spring day truly is a “marriage made in heaven.” The remainder of this article will focus on Texas rigs, along with the keys to using them with a soft body swimbait so that you can put more trophy worthy fish in your boat.
Rigging Up a Soft Swimbait “Texas Style”
After the water temps start to heat up in the spring is the perfect time to get your Texas rig and swimming bait of choice ready. Because it’s a weedless rig, a Texas rig is ideal for fishing in murkier water or in lakes or ponds once vegetation cover starts to appear.
Later in the summer or early fall, you’ll have no trouble working your weedless Texas rig through shaded sections of heavier cover- like water lilies or spatterdock- where big bass like to congregate on hot days.
To get started, you’ll need a 6 1/2 to 7-foot, medium-action rod (like one from the Bulldawg Rods Trophy Series), along with 17# fluorocarbon line, a 1/4-oz. Bullet weight and razor-sharp, 3/0 Kitana offset wide gap hook. Once you’ve assembled your fishing tackle, here’s how to proceed:
- After threading your line through the Bullet weight, thread it through the hook eyelet and then back through again.
- Using the loop end and tag end of your line, tie an overhand knot.
- Then go around the hook with your line and pull the loop all the way around.
- Wet the knot (polymer knot) and cut the excess line.
- Starting at the nose of your soft bait, thread the hook into the body up to the bend of the hook and then pop your hook tip through the body.
- Slide your bait completely down the hook and then shove the hook tip back into the underside of the lure. Note: Your swimbait should be straight.
- Cast your weedless Texas rig out and retrieve. One of the keys to success is varying your retrieval in different ways until you find the perfect cadence.
If you’re still having trouble tying your Texas rig, here’s an informative video that shows you how in more detail:
Types of Soft Plastic Swimbaits
With the right tackle and lures, you can fish your Texas rig in either freshwater or saltwater. Choosing the right style, size and color of soft body swimbait to pair with your Texas rig depends on time of year, species, forage and water clarity. These are some of the most popular soft swimbait options for serious anglers who want to catch big bass, aggressive walleye or trophy worthy pike:
Paddle tail soft body swimbaits
Paddle tail swimbaits have a thicker “boot” shape on the business end of the lure that gives the bait more side-to-side swimming movement. A boot-tail swimbait will also create more noise and frothing action in the water, inducing reaction strikes even from lethargic bass or walleye during the retrieval.
Paddleless soft body swimbaits
Because they imitate dying shads or other small baitfish like no other bait, a straight-tailed, or “paddleless,” soft body swimbait gives you an advantage when fishing in certain conditions. Any paddleless soft plastic lure worth its salt will slice through the water as fast as you can retrieve it, or slow and fall in the water table for as long as you let it.
Matching Swimbait Size to Species
When your goal is catching big fish, these are some good rules of thumb to follow so that you can expertly match up the size of your soft body swimbait with the species you’re after:
- Small swimbaits- These lures work well for catching trout, walleye, sauger and finicky bass.
- Medium-sized swimbaits- These baits are great for fooling pike, bass and aggressive walleye.
- Large swimbaits- You’ll induce more reaction strikes from monster pike and musky when targeting them with larger swimbaits.