And yes, before you go saying what's all this (sea) bass thing about, it's deliberate - it fascinates me how prevalent the use of soft plastics rigged weedless and often weightless (or with a small belly weight) is becoming in UK and Irish bass fishing, and I wonder if the ways in which we are increasingly fishing for (sea) bass are perhaps a little unique? The word "sea" has been put in there with bass because of course the massive US freshwater bass scene revolves around a serious amount of fishing with soft plastics, and of course when compared to that we are neither unique or innovative I suppose. But how are we when compared to the rest of European bass fishing?
Are you aware of any other (sea) bass fishing country in Europe - and there are more places than you might realise where saltwater anglers chase bass - that seems to be on this upward trend with using soft plastics rigged to fish mostly very shallow? Yes, the use of soft plastics rigged mainly on heavier jig heads and used in deeper water is of course very prevalent in countries such as France, indeed I would argue that when it comes to specialist soft plastics fishing from the boat, the French are right at the forefront - but are we here in the UK kinda going off a bit on our own sort of tangent?
I would imagine that most anglers are shaped and moulded very much by the terrain they fish, and many of us tend to do a lot of shore based bass fishing around shallow to shallowish rough ground. By virtue of where we fish, we have to look for lures, techniques and methods that enable us to fish this kind of ground to catch our bass - this in turn shapes the gear we look for, the kinds of clothing we wear, and of course where we look for methods that might prove effective for "our" fishing. Call me strange if you like, but it really interests me how methods and techniques travel within fishing, or how these methods ripple out and find favour in different parts of the world. It is irrefutable to me that the growth of lure fishing is directly linked to the internet and the increasing ease with which we can communicate with other anglers around the world and of course access so much information.
I look at our bass fishing and how we are increasingly doing it, and I see influences from all over the place - from right here of course, from France, Japan, and increasingly the US, but not the US saltwater scene as you might think, apart from that is some of the more specialist striped bass stuff. It's interesting to me how many of these weedless/weightless soft plastics and the ways in which we might fish them are directly shaped by the US freshwater bass scene - and I would hazard a guess that it's so large over there that not one single person involved in it has a clue that here in good old Blighty and of course Ireland (don't most Americans reckon they are Irish anyway?), we are in fact adopting and then sometimes adapting many of "their" methods and techniques and using them in saltwater for our (sea) bass.
Think about some of the soft plastics that you might go and rig weedless and weightless, or perhaps with some kind of small belly weight on the shank of the hook, or even with some kind of darter-style jig head that allows you to fish the thing nice and shallow and through all kinds of ground. Look on most US fishing tackle websites and you will see that the senko style of soft plastic (a simple soft plastic "stick") is nearly always listed as a freshwater lure (or "bait" in the US). Same with many of those soft plastic jerkbait style lures, many of the paddletails (usually called "swimbaits" in the US) etc. Hell, look on the MegaBass Japan website and the DOT Crawler is listed as a freshwater bass lure - yet some of us use them for (sea) bass. Same with the OSP DoLive Stick and any number of freshwater bass lures. Think about most of the soft plastics that many of use for wrasse, and I bet you most are designed for freshwater bass fishing.
Soft plastics are not the be all and end all of our bass fishing. I continue to catch bass on all kinds of hard lures, and as long as there are bass swimming in these waters I expect to continue doing so - but I don't go bass fishing without at least a few soft plastics, and the more I learn about their use, the more I am convinced that there are more occasions than I could ever have imagined when they get me fish and hard lures might well have not. It goes without saying that some of the ground you or I might fish over can't actually be properly fished with a hard lure, and our hands are essentially forced into using a soft plastic that can be rigged weedless and fished incredibly shallow. The more I learn about bass fishing, the more I respect my quarry, and the more I realise that it's not always best to simply whack out a hard lure and crank it back - albeit this can slay on many occasions.
I wonder if in time how we are increasingly fishing for our bass over here might ripple out to other parts of Europe. Perhaps plenty of other European (sea) bass anglers are already fishing like this so perhaps our increased adoption of these ways are not actually remotely unique. Please note that I stand to be corrected here, indeed it's why I asked the question in the first place and did not state it as some kind of fact when it obviously isn't. I am merely interested in how lure fishing is growing and being shaped, and I wondered if perhaps this growth here in the UK and Ireland is in its own way helping to further shape this rather awesome branch of the most awesome sport in the world.