Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

What are the main “families” of soft plastics you use for your bass fishing?

I asked this question on Facebook the other day and I got some really interesting replies - rather than think just about what brands or models of soft plastics you use for your own bass fishing (if you actually fish with soft plastics), think about what these particular soft plastics are doing and how they fish. If you were to sit down and think about the soft plastics you might carry with you, how are they fishing for you and what do you look for most from soft plastics?

I am asking for no other reason than I am always interested in how this lure fishing for bass thing grows and develops and moves forward. If I looked at the two medium sized washable lure boxes that tend to come bass fishing with me these days and compared it to when I first started getting into this lure fishing thing, things are very different, and this difference is largely based around my fishing with soft plastics more and more. I have more hard and soft lures than big bass I am ever likely to catch, but I have thought about this lure thing and I reckon I have narrowed it down to three “families” different kinds of soft plastics and what they can do for me. I am trying not to make this blog post about specific lures as such, rather what the different “families” of soft plastics do for us. How about you?


Paddletails - first off has to be the paddletail or shad, indeed via my asking these questions on Facebook this type of soft plastic was without doubt the most popular. I compare my understanding on how many different ways a paddletail can actually be fished to how I used to fish one of those weighted Storm ones for pollack from the rocks and it amazes me how a soft plastic with a thumping sort of tail can be so versatile depending on how you rig it and how you choose to fish it. Top of the tree for me has been the Fiiish Black Minnow for a number of years now, and then I have gradually come around to the Savage Gear Sandeel as a straightforward and highly lethal “whack and crank” kind of jig head/paddletail combination - whereas the Black Minnow for me is a more versatile lure for a number of different reasons.


But it’s the shallow swimming style of paddletail that I find myself going back and forth on the most. I tend to go through phases of carrying a few usually narrower paddletails rigged mostly on belly-weighted weedless hooks - one year I find myself using this type of lure a lot, and then I kind of forget about it as something else takes over, but then say a mate catches a bunch of bass in front of you on this type of lure and you go rooting around at home to dig them out all over again! I haven’t really settled on my out and out favourite paddletail to fish like this, but I bet you I find myself erring towards the MegaBass Spindleworm and the OSP DoLive Shad this year - and then a mate smashes a heap of fish on something different and that vicious lure buying cycle starts all over again because you convince yourself that you can’t do without some for yourself. What, me? Never!


Soft plastic jerkbait/twitchbait - I am never sure quite what to call this “family” of soft plastics because depending on where you live and fish on this glorious earth they are usually called something different. “Twitchbait” makes the most sense to me, and I guess that after a paddletail, this is the type of soft plastic I will turn to the most. King of the hill in my lure box is the 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick because of how well it casts and smashes bass for me, but of course there are a whole heap of similar soft plastics out there and I would urge you to try different ones out for yourself. I have never yet come across a similar size twitchbait that casts as well as a 6’’ DoLive Stick, but that might not matter so much to you. I find these twitchbait lures really versatile for a lot more bass fishing than I could ever have envisaged, and especially when the ground is so rough and shallow that it makes little sense to go chucking your favourite £20 hard lure in there. Interestingly though these twitchbait style soft plastics were talked about the least on that Facebook post I got going, and this really surprised me - I wonder though if the lack of a thumping paddletail that you can feel on your rod is part of it? It wasn’t that many years ago that if I couldn’t feel some kind of action on the lure through my lure rod I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable, but the more I keep on learning about bass fishing, the more I feel confident that less is more a lot more than I thought……..


Straight sticks/senkos - I fished with a senko for bass way before I ever started on the DoLive, and it was and indeed still is the Wave Fishing 5’’ Bamboo Stick that I tend to turn to when I want a senko or straight stick style of soft plastic. Night lure fishing for bass has without doubt brought me back around to obsessing about a simple soft plastic lure that as far as I can tell is doing very little in the water which we can actually see, but because we aren’t fish and I feel confident we aren’t about to grow a set of gills and finally know it all, I’m just fine with this. Of course a senko can be fished in a number of different ways, but for the most part I am turning to them these days when I go night fishing. There are loads of different senkos out there and there are loads of anglers with far more experience of them than me, but I still haven’t found a version of the senko that I like more than the Wave Fishing 5’’ Bamboo Stick, and especially in white. Again it’s how they cast that I really like, but initially it was a mate who happened to came across them and started nailing bass on them - I then picked up on it and because I am always going to watch and listen and learn, I knew squat about these lures and it made most sense to me to at least start off using the same senko as he was - which happened to be the Wave Fishing 5’’ Bamboo Stick. Please go looking though, because there are so many other senkos out there.

So there you go - the three main “families” of soft plastics I find myself carrying for my bass fishing. There are affiliate links in here because I will always put them up these days when it is relevant (and a big thanks to those kind souls who buy some of your fishing tackle via them), but I would urge you to do our own research and experimenting to find out what might work the best for you. I have so much more to learn and I am always fascinated to better understand how different anglers fish with different lures. Facebook is merely a snapshot of course, and as I said earlier, initially it surprised me how much feedback I got about paddletails, and partly because if I sit down and really think about my own bass fishing, how far am I along the learning curve myself with this family of soft plastics alone?

And if you don’t hear from me on Monday morning it’s because I am crying into my coffee after a loss to Wales on Saturday - but in reality that just isn’t going to happen. No bloody way. We are heading to Wales for another convincing and hopefully crushing win in the Six Nations, and then the mighty England are going for a Grand Slam and a great big fat confidence boost before the World Cup later this year. See you Monday morning because I am feeling supremely confident that England have at last found the right squad with the right levels of skill and confidence to execute any number of different game plans whatever is thrown at them. You all have a good weekend and if you are Welsh and reading this, let’s catch up on Monday…………..

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