Tips for Using Rubber Worms for Bass Fishing

Tips for Using Rubber Worms for Bass Fishing

Plastic worm lures are the keystones of bass fishing. Photo Creditworm on hook image by mashe from Fotolia.com

Soft plastic worms have been a central feature of bass fishing for nearly 40 years now. They remain one of the most popular and most effective lures for tempting all species of bass. No tackle box should be without a selection of available plastic worms. Learning how to rig worms for effective fishing, and how to handle them, will mean the difference between success and a bad day on the water.

Colors

Fish indeed can see color, so the choice you make in the color of plastic worms will be key. Brighter colored plastic worms will be more visible in cloudy water. While the logic seems wrong, most professional bass anglers recommend black plastic worms for night fishing. Ask veteran anglers around the area you intend to fish what color is “hitting” currently and then buy your plastic worms accordingly.

Sizes

Plastic worms come in many sizes, from short “grub” lengths to worms in excess of 12 inches. It’s good to stock several different lengths in your tackle box so you can change baits that don’t seem to be attractive to the bass during a trip. One size never fits all when it comes to plastic worm lures.

Improvisation

While bass fishing pros–especially those touting the wares of a particular bait company–will tell you certain plastic worm strategies “never fail,” the truth is bass are wily and finicky sport fish. You’ll never be able to predict with any assurance what a particular bass will hit on, on a particular day, in particular water or weather conditions. Be prepared to try many different attacks and presentations with plastic worms until you find the worm the bass seem to have on today’s menu.

Combinations

Shorter plastic worms can team up with spinner baits effectively. Try using a short grub-sized plastic worm with a floppy tail on the business end of a spinner bait or jig. The action the plastic worm offers can be just the trick that pushes a lunker bass over the edge so that he strikes.

Enhancements

Plastic worms are available with scent and flavor enhancements embedded into the plastic and these can be very effective under the right circumstances. Protect these enhanced baits from losing their potency–and contaminating other plastic worms—by keeping them in a sealed plastic bag inside your tackle box. You can also purchase flavorings and scent products to treat regular plastic worms.

Rigging

The most effective rigging for a plastic worm, according to legacy, is the Carolina rig. Thread a bullet weight onto the line and then tie on a large bass hook. Thread the hook through the “nose” of the plastic worm, down to first egg sack feature. Poke the hook out of the worm’s body at this point. Back the hook up a little and then just barely park the tip of the hook inside the skin of the plastic worm. This will keep the hook clean of weeds while you pull it through the water, but at the ready when a bass strikes.

Casting and Retrieving

Cast a plastic worm into stick ups, cover, and at thermoclines. Let the bait settle a little by counting to three. Then begin reeling the lure back slowly. Punctuate the reeling with quick twitches of your line every five turns of your reel. Repeat, until the bass in the area decide, for example, they’re interested in a neon green plastic worm with silver sparkles today, and hit the lure.

Setting the Hook

Bass strike a plastic worm in two ways, normally. They either sneak up on the worm, snatch it and run, or, they open their large mouths and literally suck the entire worm in–and then turn to run. You will feel the “snatch” or the “suck” as a tug or a tap on your line. When you feel the tap, jerk your line straight up, over your head, to set the hook.

How to Use Aerial Maps for Fishing

After years of watching fishing shows where the host would catch tons of big fish with some local guide, I was forced to believe that having consistently good success was only possible for anglers that were out on the water all the time and could personally check out every inch of water in their areas for good fish.

Since I’ve always been into fishing (and all my friends and work associates know that it’s a favorite hobby of mine), I remember feeling embarrassed when I had to report that my weekend trip was a bust.

In fact, I still remember how terrible I felt one day at work when I was asked by a colleague in a Monday morning team meeting how my day on the water went… and shortly after informing him of the “slow bite” with others listening, another person was showing pictures to the team of some huge redfish they caught that very same day.

Given my very competitive and studious nature, I then started buying maps that showed fishing tips for the regions I like to fish (including guidance on specific areas to catch particular types of fish), and I’d intently study them prior to going out on the water to select the spots I’d visit.

The problem I found with this strategy was that the listed areas for catching fish were often very large, and it would take forever to effectively fish it with the live bait that I was accustomed to using.

I’d often spend an entire morning trying to assess a single area that was marked as productive, and often would end up with nothing to show for my time except a lousy catfish or a just some tiny trout.

Worst of all, I’d get back to the docks and see others cleaning really nice fish that I had previously told myself simply weren’t biting that day.

Next, I started analyzing aerial maps on the Internet (free on Google and Mapquest) to get a bird’s eye view of the fishing grounds that the other maps highlighted as being productive.

My theory was that it sure would be nice to see exactly what the bottom contours looked like without having to take my boat or kayak over every square inch of water. This way, I could more efficiently find the actual spots that held fish inside the big areas that the maps highlighted.

After just a few months of using the aerial images, my results steadily improved.

Best of all, I felt that I was finally in control of my results.

I even started making myself plan out a series of at least 3 spots that I’d fish based on the wind, tide, and target species for the next day as I was analyzing online satellite maps the night before trips.

This eventually allowed me to start finding trends on the exact types of spots that hold fish on given tides and weather conditions throughout the year. Best of all, these trends have proven to be consistent over time on both coasts of Florida (I have lived in Melbourne Beach and Tampa over the past 8 years, not to mention I have fished countless regions from up in the panhandle to Islamorada).

Currently, I use free online aerial maps exclusively for scouting out new areas (no need buy any of the others), and I’m catching more and bigger fish than ever before. (click here to read “What’s the best satellite map for inshore fishing?”)

Best of all, I am now fully confident that I’ll catch my target fish on any given day out on the water as long as I have 20 minutes of internet time the night before… even if it’s in an area I’ve never fished and I’m only taking my three favorite lures with me.

For example, I moved to Tampa a couple of years ago and had never fished the upper Bay (closest to downtown).

But after referencing free Google and Mapquest maps for ideas on where to go, my very first day on the water consisted of me catching 4 redfish (1 in the slot, 1 over-slot, and 2 rats) and 3 trout (a 23-incher and 2 small ones)… all on artificial baits… and I was back at the boat ramp before 1:00 in the afternoon.

Needless to say, these results in a new area with only artificial baits is something I would never have dreamed happening to me just few years earlier.

So let’s dig into the types of things I look for in the online maps… here are some detailed examples:

Unique Bottom Cover/Structure – Grassy Point

how to catch redfish, snook, and trout

This is an image from an island that caught my eye when scouting out new areas to fish prior to entering an inshore tournament series in Sebastian, FL.

The thick grass at the tip of the island with streaks made from current seemed like an ideal place for redfish and trout to feed… and we ended up bringing in the biggest fish (7.61lb trout) of our first 40+ boat tournament from this spot… and placed many others in the following tournaments, too.

Things to look for when fishing a flat like this:

  • Birds – always good to see wading birds along the edges of the flat and/or diving birds diving on the flat
  • Bait – back to “know thy target fish” rule… the next meal is what’s on their mind, and their main focus is on being near bait, so a flat without bait is likely one without your predator fish (I personally like to see schools of big mullet on a flat… redfish and big trout often hang out in those schools)
  • Mud Boils – when fishing shallow flats, I always look for fish to make sure that I’m in a productive area because typically, when a flat has one good fish, there are many others nearby. A key sign of good predator fish is a big plume of dirt on the bottom because predator fish most always are on the bottom in search of food and will leave that dust cloud when spooked… unlike big mullet, which cause a lot of commotion on the surface without disturbing the bottom. 

Protected Deep Water Trough for Winter Hideouts

how to catch redfish

During winter, the drastic cold snaps (yes, even in FL) from fronts can be hazardous for snook, trout, and redfish, so they often seek shelter from the cold in deeper pools that are protected from wind/waves (the calmer and deeper pools hold on to their warmer temperature much longer than shallow or wind-prone area).

Also, an important element for winter fishing after cold fronts is the fact that areas with darker bottoms (or darker water color) warm up faster than clear water and/or light color bottoms… and a mud flat will maintain heat longer than sand.

As you’ll see in the picture above, this particular spot is a textbook winter time fishery because it is a deep trough (5ft marked by the arrow) surrounded by islands and/or a shallow grass flat (0 ft to 1.5 ft depending on tide)… and the area to the right of the trough is a dark muddy bottom with patches of grass.

Another important winter tip… the coldest snaps in FL most often contain a strong/cold wind coming from the north, so the fact that the north (top) section in this location is protected by a mangrove line is a huge bonus.

Knowing that redfish, snook, and trout seek protected and deeper water with dark bottom after cold snaps makes an area like this an ideal place to catch fish on the ugliest of days… and this spot has proven it for me over the years.

In fact, my best day back there was right after a nasty cold front on a cold and dreary day with 15+ mph winds from the north.

Hidden Saltwater Lakes

how to catch more redfish, snook, and trout

My absolute favorite use of aerial maps is to find spots that require some creative exploration to get to (click here to read “3 Reasons Your Fishing Lure Should Take a Backseat To This”).

I’m referring to the types of spots that require a kayak or paddleboard to access… and having to carry across land or follow narrow mangrove tunnels is an added bonus to the thrill of finding fish that are completely wild and have likely never seen a lure.

The pool shown above is an image of a spot that I was particularly proud of finding. It was shortly after my move to Tampa and I wanted to take my paddleboard out for some exercise and to scout out some new fishing grounds.

So I went online to check out the areas surrounding a park that I planned to launch from and noticed a lake that was tucked away back in the mangroves. It appeared to be deep given the water color, but it didn’t have any large openings… just one very small channel to the left that is too overgrown even for a kayak to get through.

So I noted the part of that thin shot of land along the northern part of it and simply found a small opening in the mangroves and hiked back until I saw the lake. Best of all, it’s fairly easy to carry a paddleboard/kayak into and it’s full of snook along with some redfish… and I’ve never seen anyone else back there.

 

Luke – http://www.saltstrong.com/

Smallmouth Strategies – Recommended Gear

Pre Spawn

The prespawn time period is a great way to catch big smallmouth. I look for rocky banks and rely on crankbaits, jerkbaits and tubes for the majority of my fishing.

Crankbait – I like to fish shallow water with a crankbait and a Rapala DT-6 in any of the red crawfish patterns is my first choice. I’ll throw it on a 7’6” MH Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0 Winch  with a matching Abu Garcia Winch reel to get a long cast and will use 10lb Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon to get the best diving depth possible out of this shallow runner.

Jerkbait – I use several different jerkbaits in the pre-spawn period, but the Megabass Vision 110 FX Tour Premium in the perch color is by far my favorite. The color pattern and great Megabass action is the biggest reason I use it so much. I’ll fish it on 10lb Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon to get the best action and casting distance. For rods, a shorter 6’6” rod works great and I use both an Abu Garcia Veritas and Denali Michael Murphy Jerkbait rod. Since the rods are lighter and shorter, I like a smaller reel like a Shimano Chronarch in the 50 size.

Tubes – This one’s pretty easy. A natural color tube with a 1/4oz tube head inside and then rigged on a spinning rod with 15lb SeaguarSmackdown braid with a 8lb Tatsu leader. Any good spinning rod will work here.

Spawn

Dropshot rigs and tubes in bright colors work great for bedding smallmouth. They are so aggressive usually I don’t think it matters what you are throwing.  One of my best baits is a chartreuse Z-Man ToobZ,  its very bright and this helps for the fish and yourself to see it well. This thing drives them crazy. Remember to quickly release any bass you catch on beds.


Post Spawn

While the post-spawn is pretty tough, I actually like it. The fish are still relatively shallow and often group up and begin to school in search of food. I like a dropshot, topwater and a wacky-rig senko to catch these post-spawn bass.

Dropshotting is my favorite technique for smallies and I will use two baits almost all of the year. A 4.5” straight tail Roboworm inAaron’s Magic and the Berkley Twitchtail Minnow in Clear Bluegill color. My ideal dropshot rod is a 7’ ML action rod and lately I have been using a St.Croix Avid X paired with a Shimano Sustain reel. I’ll always use braid to fluoro for better casts, sensitivity and less line twist.  15 or 20lbSeaguar Smackdown braid in the yellow color, with a 8lb Tatsu leader is the best combo I have found. The yellow color helps detecting light bites and keeping track of where your line is at all times.

For the topwater, I prefer a walking bait like a Lucky CraftSammy or DUO Pencil 110. Both of these I will fish on 15lb Seaguar Senshi mono, a 7’ medium action rod and high speed reel like the Revo MGX.

Wacky-rigging is a fun way to catch them and I’ll use either a 4” or 5” Yamamoto Senko in any color, as long as it is watermelon. The Owner Weedless Wacky hook is perfect and adding an O-ring is a great way to save your baits from getting torn up too quickly. I like to skip this under docks with a 6’6” medium heavy rod, either casting or spinning. I’ll use 20lb Seaguar Smackdown braid and a 12lb leader since I am usually fishing heavier cover.

Summer

In the summer I’ll use the same topwater and dropshot baits and setup. For deep cranking, I like a 7’5” MH Powell Max 3D fiberglass composite rod. It launches the bait and the fiberglass/graphite combo is the best of both worlds with sensitivity and action. I like a Shimano Curado I here, with 12lb InvizX fluorocarbon. There are many baits that work well, but the Lucky CraftCB DR is one of my favorites in any natural color.

Early Fall

I’ll use the same dropshot setup here. For football jigs I will use a baitcast setup with a 7’5” Powell Max 3D rod and Curado I combo. I like 12 or 15lb Seaguar AbrazX here since I am normally fishing around rocks. A ½ skirted football head or Yamamoto Hula Grub in any watermelon or green pumpkin color works great.

For swimbaits, I am a big fan of the Keitech Swing Impact Fat 4.3”. I use this three ways, on a football head, swing jig like an Eco Pro TungstenFree Ball jighead, or a standard swimbait head for swimming. The football head and swingjig are great for dragging slowly on the bottom. I like 15lb line here and use the same rod as I do for a football head.

Late Fall

Dropshot is king here and I’ll use the same baits, rod, reel and line. I’ll also use the same setup and baits for football jigs and swimbaits I use in early fall. The only difference is I will often use heavier dropshot weights and bigger jigheads since I am normally fishing deeper.

Winter

In the winter, I like to use a blade bait and hair jigs likethe ones made by Punisher Lures. Both of these are fished on the same setup I use for dropshotting.


Big Baits

The Super Spook, Lucky Craft Pointer 128 and 6″ Triple Trout are other great baits for BIG smallmouth.

Hope that helps! Feel free to comment below with any additional questions.

Labels: eco pro tungsten, Finesse fishing, seaguar, smallmouth, summer fishing, Swimbaits, T Brinks,terminal tackle, z-man fishing

How to float fish from the rocks

By Sea Angler

WHEN YOU REALLY want to learn something, talk to people in the know. I don’t mean those who have giant egos, but anglers who don’t court publicity and don’t make a fuss. Cornishman Dave Dunstan is an angler from the no-fuss mould, who fishes the stunning peninsular riddled with masses of hidden rock, estuary and beach marks where the county’s top anglers ply their trade.

Dave runs Premier Floats with wife Sandra and chances are that the floats you have bought recently have been made in Redruth.

They only sell to the wholesale trade, but with 22 kinds of floats and thousands upon thousands made each year, there’s a good chance you have watched one of his floats bobbing about in the briny. Dave has been fishing for nearly 45 years, almost all his life, and the business of fishing has been in his blood for sometime as well. He ran the County Angler shop in Camborne for 16 years, so what does he think is the golden rule of running a fishing tackle shop?

“Decent bait,” he said, “that’s what I felt would draw people to the shop. We were known for the best bait around and I am sure this helped us succeed.”

To hear stories of the vast amount of time he spent sorting and preparing bait for his customers is amazing.

“We felt bait was so important to our business we had a cold room to keep it in perfect condition,” said Dave. “Good bait that lasts well keeps people coming back and they also spend on tackle.

Good word of mouth spreads very fast in fishing,” he added.

Eventually Dave and Sandra sold the shop and bought a float making business. I wanted to know more about hanging a bait under a float, so it made sense to team up with him.
A float for every job

 

A selection of Dave Dunstan’s own garfish floats, which sell under the Premier Floats brand

 

DAVE has used a float to catch mackerel, garfish, pollack and wrasse, so what better than a day out with him somewhere way down west, in fact almost off the map.

People who are naturals do things so smoothly and quickly that it can be hard for the apprentice to follow. I had to ask Dave to slow down at times and show me step by step what he was doing.

“The first thing I do is get a rough depth of the water, but I don’t get too hung up on it as it can never be as accurate as coarse fishing,” he said.

“I then cut a length of leader the depth I want to fish, the bead stopping against that knot preventing the float riding up. Many anglers use beads and purpose-tied stop knots to prevent the float riding up the main reel line but this works for me.”

When it gets down to technicalities, Dave is a stickler for getting it right. Showing me his rig, he explained: “If the baited hook can get above the float during the cast it will tangle around the leader and won’t fish properly.

“It’s vital to stop the float above the hooklength swivel. I do this by pushing a length of doubled leader line through a lower stop bead so the distance between the bottom of the float and swivel is longer than your hooklength.”

For garfish Dave will fish up to 10 feet deep with a size 1 or 1/0 hook, often with a light 1oz or 2oz float. When targeting mackerel he may set the bait deeper, around mid-water, with perhaps a 3oz float. Favourite bait is a small sandeel.

Dave does make a specialist gar float that is self-weighted, with a three-way swivel at the top for specifically offering baits near to the surface, but it is not cost effective to make it in any great quantity. Great looking bit of kit though.

Big 4oz floats come out for pollack and wrasse fishing because Dave prefers the heavier weight to get the bait down fast and keep it near the bottom.

Larger size 3/0 or 4/0 hooks are used for both species, with a bigger sandeel favoured for pollack and either a crab or ragworm getting the thumbs up for the often-obliging ballans.


Getting serious about float fishing

“The most important thing is to choose the right type of float for the job,” advised Dave. “For example, a heavier float can help in breezy conditions. “I like some movement to the sea, it helps the bait move around and makes it look lively. Always look for tide to work the gear properly.

“Really concentrate hard for big wrasse, they hit and run and can snag you up in no time. Night fishing with a float can be really good for big pollack; put a Starlight on top of the float and strike when you can’t see it,” he added.

 

 

Fishing is full of surprises

A steady succession of small mackerel and garfish came to a shallow-fished bait. Hot sunshine, no other people for miles around, a bit of chop on the sea, a few fish coming in; it was a perfect day.

Dave switched tactics to deeper-fished baits and found a few small pollack and wrasse. It seemed to me that float fishing wasn’t a sedentary sport; Dave was constantly on the move to new spots, changing depth and switching baits And then the small float rocketed under and disappeared in a flash. A small sandeel fished ten feet under the surface has been nailed hard and Dave set the hook with a sweep of the rod and a quick few turns on the reel handle.

The fish worked hard to get free, it even took line and repeatedly darted around and crash-dived for the bottom. Both of us waited eagerly to see what surely must be a 6lb-plus pollack.

We both peered over the edge of the rocks as the fish charged for the base of the cliffs. Then, suddenly, a big triggerfish hit the surface.

This fully illustrated the excitement of fishing, the fact that none of us quite know what we might catch next.

This was a big trigger and Dave managed to steer it into a rock pool ready for its moment of fame in front of my camera. Dave weighed the fish and it scaled nearly 4lb, then it was returned.

It was only afterwards that Dave told me that the triggerfish would have smashed the Cornish record. Respect to the man, far too many anglers kill specimen fish in an attempt at a bit of glory or a bit of silverware.

The most important thing to Dave is enjoying his sport and watching one of his own floats shoot down under the surface of an inviting Cornish sea.

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Summer Crappie Locations And Tactics

There’s a myth that crappies strictly school and suspend during the summer when they actually can be belly to the bottom this time of year.

Start by searching deep water. Sunken islands are good places to start, along with rock piles, and deep weed points. Check out deeper water near the spawning grounds you targeted a month ago.

Crappies also can roam a main basin (not just bays!) on their quest for food. Electronics are very valuable in this search. Motor around some of these structure locations and monitor the bottom, though crappies also will suspend.

Your crappie search should start with lakes that offer a good size profile of fish. Look for lakes with a solid walleye population. If you’re looking for big fish, then consider larger bodies of water. Rule of thumb: Lakes with good walleye and bass fishing often have good crappie fishin.

If you find suspended fish, you’re going to see a school and you may have to assume that you’re seeing crappies. (It’s obviously easier if you’re on a good crappie lake).

It may take 30- to 45 minutes to find fish, but that’s time well spent, because otherwise we’re working dead water and wasting time.

Crappies will relate to a deep weedlines on some mid-age lakes, say 10- to 17 feet. These typically are good walleye lakes with solid natural reproduction. Avoid dark and shallow lakes.

Crappies do bite in the heart of summer, and if they’re not, then you’re just not looking in right spots!

Try These Tactics
How about some top tactics for summer crappies? For warm-weather slabs, I outfit a 7- to 7-1/2-foot rod with 4-pound-test line, and I make sure it has a soft tip to detect subtle crappie bites.

Summer crappies do bite, but it may not be sharp. So concentrate on your rod tip. Watch for any kind of movement. I’ll run the line from my spinning reel over my thumb or forefinger to pick up those real sensitive bites.

As for technique, start with small jigs, 1⁄32- to 1⁄64-ouncers. Anything too heavy and crappies will blow it out. In rivers or rough water, you may be forced into the 1⁄16– or 1⁄8-ounce range, but when in doubt, stay small. Tube jigs, Power Grubs and hair jigs, are very productive, too.

With plastics, don’t put a large curly-tailed tail on a small light jig. It acts and looks unnatural and twists line.

With live bait rigging, use three-way swivel rigs with minnows and cruise slowly and quietly with yourelectric trolling motor. Other live bait rigs employ a No. 0 blade, and I also try jig-spins — trolled or cast.

I’ll use crappie minnows and fatheads, and I’ll hook them through the tail to telegraph more struggling action to the fish.

With real inactive fish, we’ll use a plain jig head, no dressing and live bait, just like when we’re walleye fishing. The simple rule is “slow and small” with real inactive fish, and “larger and fast” with more active fish.

Once you pinpoint crappie locations, consider a float system. I’m more productive if I don’t anchor.

Oh yeah, and crappies are still delicious eating in the summer! I hear a lot of people say that crappie fillets are too soft in summer, so here’s what you do about that: Fillet the fish, put it in a container with some ice cubes on top with a paper towel, then put in the fridge. That firms those fillets right up!

4 Quick Tips for Selecting the Right Crankbaits

Keep in mind that the bigger the “lip” or “bill” (clear plastic piece on the front of the lure), the deeper the lure will dive. If you know you’ll be fishing deeper water (15 to 20 feet), look for a larger, rounded bill.
If you plan to fish a shallower area with cover, try selecting a few medium or shallow running crankbaits with square-bills.

 

Lipless quarter ounce crank baits are good to try when fishing shallow water (2 to 5 feet) because of the sounds and vibrations they put off.

 

 

 

Crankbaits with rattles are good to try when the water is a bit discolored or muddy. If the fish seem pressured or if the water is clear, try using a crankbait without a rattle.

    

You’ll find that crankbaits are just great to fish with due to their versatility. Stumps, timber, brush piles, ledges, docks or rock piles are all good places to test them out. Ideally, you want your crankbait hitting some sort of structure or cover to create an erratic motion that causes a reaction strike from the bass.