Tech Tuesday – Soft Plastics

Since I started my business in 2010, I have been using Z-Man soft plastics. I fell in love with them the first time I used them.  They are truly a guide’s dream come true.  The have lots of action, are very durable, and most importantly, catch fish.  Combined with ProCure, they are tough to beat.  Also, the guys are Z-Man are all really awesome guys and avid fishermen who really care about their product and want you to have success using them. Call me stubborn or just plain unwilling to try all the latest and greatest design (which I’m sure many of them are wonderful and may outfish what I normally use), but I try hard to keep it simple and primarily use 3 body styles, the MinnowZ, StreakZ, and Swimming Trout TrickZ.

For most of my striped bass fishing on the lower and upper Roanoke, I use the good old standby 3″ MinnowZ and the 5″ StreakZ.  Day in and day out, I prefer the StreakZ; however, for more inexperienced anglers who are not used to jigging soft plastics, I always start them out with the MinnowZ because the shad tail has so much action just cranking it through the water column.  The only action to a soft plastic jerk bait like the StreakZ is what the angler gives them.  That being said, I think stripers in current in the river respond a bit better to the vertical motion of the StreakZ.   Other species such as trout or drum in shallow water sometimes respond better to a jerk bait than a paddle tail, but for covering water and prospecting, those paddle tails are hard to beat.  

For speckled trout fishing, I used to be a huge fan on the MinnowZ, and don’t get me wrong, they work; however, when the Swimming Trout TrickZ came out, I was an instant fan.  I think the slimmer body has a little different action (maybe more like the jerk bait) but also has that tail paddling hard in the back.  It’s the best of both worlds.  When I fish for specs, it’s really the only bait I use when I’m fishing soft plastics.

One of my pet peeves about fishing soft plastics is rigging them improperly on the jig head.  Take the time to rig them right.  There are two very important considerations:  The first is that the hook needs to be PERFECTLY centered on the bait.  Don’t push the hook out the side of the bait or slightly off center and expect the bait to perform or catch like it should.  The hook needs to be centered, and that will balance the bait.   Secondly, the bight of the hook needs to be exposed so that the hook is not “hook-bound”.  A hook-bound bait is when you have pushed the hook too far down the bait, putting it into a bind and making it swim improperly.  If you don’t push the hook out in the exact right spot, it’s always better to have more of the hook exposed (or have the hook too far toward the head of the bait) than the opposite scenario of having the hook too far down the bait and putting the bait in a bind and making it spin or twist.  I learned this concept from rigging thousands and thousands of ballyhoo during my offshore fishing days.  If you pushed the hook through the wrong part of the bait or too far back in the bait, then the bait would spin and not swim.  The same is true for soft plastics on jig heads.  

So take extra few seconds to rig your soft plastic bait properly, paying close attention to centering your hook and not putting the bait in a bind, and you’ll have greater success fishing soft plastics in our area.   

I hope you enjoyed the first “Tech Tuesday”!

Left: A properly rigged bait Right: An improperly rigged bait that is hook bound


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