How much are soft plastics changing bass fishing ?
I was thinking the other day about the bass I have seen landed or indeed caught myself so far this year, and although it was one hell of a tough start for most of us here, it really struck home to me how so many of these fish have been caught on soft plastics. Not only did we catch our fish last week out in Ireland within the confines of the admittedly huge Dungarvan Bay for example, but most of those bass were caught on soft plastics - and it seems to be a way of catching bass that is growing more popular and arguably more successful almost day by day...............
OK, so some of you here have no doubt been catching decent bass on soft plastics since before I was born and are now wondering what on earth I am on about - but the simple fact is that many of us lure anglers are people who not that long ago knew very little about soft plastics other than jelly worms on the end of 30' long traces for pollack and of course things like those pre-rigged Storm. Hell, I can still remember the exact place where I first saw a bass caught on an XLayer that was twitched along the bottom, and three fish in I think three casts later and I was looking at the angler like he was some kind of messiah.
I don't know about you, but I have always found hard lures pretty easy to get my head around - is that because they do obvious things which instantly appeal to us ? Some of them cast for miles and then tend to rock, roll, wobble, walk, slide, pop, flutter, you name it we can find hard lures that do almost anything - and yes, recently I have taken to wondering what I might have been missing out on by not getting into lipless minnows - which fishing with soft plastics made me think about, but that's another story.
Hard lures look exciting. They come in nice packaging, they are often reassuringly expensive, some of the colours are just insane, and a lot of the time we can hook them on, blast them out, and catch bass in all kinds of conditions over all varieties of terrain. I dig hard lures. They are appealing and many of us like them to the point where some of us might actually have various "issues" with collecting a few too many. Hard lures are easy to understand and I guess this appeals to us.
Soft plastics though are often doing what looks to be very little, and I think that is one of the reasons why some lure anglers are almost reluctant to get their heads around fishing with them (plus being able to cast them, rig them, how to fish them etc.) - which by the way I understand completely. If you had told me a while back that I would be obsessing about pretty boring looking senkos, paddletails, jerkbaits and little things that slalom underwater, that I'd be casting out and winding in very slowly, bumping them along the bottom, or perhaps letting them wander around in the current/turbulence, then yes, I would have laughed at you. But if I take the last few years of bass fishing and think about it then I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that there have to be plenty of times when you want your lures doing very little (to our eyes anyway, but how about how the fish picks them up ?), and conversely that some hard lures can sometimes be spooking the living daylights out of fish in some situations.
The crunch is of course that a lure with very little action to our eyes must sometimes be everything that the bass want. I know that lure fishing is making me a better angler because it's forcing me to keep a very open mind. I could easily dismiss plenty of stuff because it just doesn't fit my headspace at a particular time, but when you take that punt and then go and catch because of it, wow it doesn't half get the old grey cells churning around - and this to me is a big part of why fishing continues to fascinate me like it does. Sitting still and doing the same thing all the time doesn't float my boat at all.
Honestly, I never could have imagined how such a myriad of soft plastics would one day be almost "normal" for my bass fishing, and even then I know that I am at day one with using them on the learning curve. And in turn the more I fish with different kinds of soft plastics, the more this influences the kinds of rods, reels and lines I tend to use, plus where I look to go fishing at times - which in turn means that for an angler like me that soft plastics are changing my lure fishing. And I am seeing it more and more, and I am seeing more and more bass caught on all manner of soft plastics from all kinds of terrain. Where's this all going to go ? Who knows, but how much fun is it finding out ?