Carolina Rig Fishing, Tackle, Tips, and Techniques!

Carolina Rig Fishing, Tackle, Tips, and Techniques!

The topic of this article will be Carolina rig fishing. The Carolina rig is a versatile fishing rig that anglers can use to catch a variety of species. It is most often used with an artificial lure, however live bait can be presented using the Carolina rig as well.

bass fishing in Florida

The Carolina rig consists of several components. A sinker with a hole in the center allows the running line to slide through it. A swivel stops the sinker. A leader then connects the other end of the swivel with the hook.

The main advantage of the Carolina rig over other rigs such as the Texas rig is that it allows the sinker to crawl over bottom structure while presenting the lure or bait slightly off the bottom. This is very effective on finicky and suspended fish. The combination of the sinker sliding across the bottom and over obstructions while the lure floats seductively a foot or so above the bottom is extremely effective.

9 essential smallmouth bass fishing lures

Carolina rig fishing components

The basic components of a Carolina rig are a sinker with a hole in the center, a swivel, a length of fluorocarbon leader, and a hook. Some anglers add a bead between the sinker and the swivel. This can help protect the not as well as adding a little fish attracting noise. Anglers can even add a float near the hook to suspended off the bottom even further.

carolina rig

The Carolina rig is simple and effective. There are many instances when game fish feed right on or near the bottom. Anglers using the Carolina rig present their lure or bait right in the strike zone in this situation. For the most part, a slow and subtle presentation is best. Again, often times the fish being pursued are in a less than active mood. They will often find a slowly moving bait dragged right in front of their face impossible to resist.

As with all fishing, there are nuances and details that will make this rig more effective. Sinker choice is important. In most cases, anglers should use the least amount of weight required to fish the determined depth. Most anglers opt for conical shaped worm sinkers while others prefer sliding egg sinkers. A quality #10 black swivel is a good all-around size.

The leader between the swivel and the hook is a very important component in the Carolina rig. The length of the leader will to some degree determine the action and the distance off the bottom that the bait will be presented. 24 inches to 30 inches is a good all-around leader. The leader strength will depend on the current fishing conditions. Clear water will dictate a lighter leader while dirty water will allow anglers to go heavier. 20 pound test fluorocarbon leader is a good place to start.

Best artificial lures for use on a Carolina rig

The Carolina rig was designed to be used with a soft plastic fishing lure. The selection of this lure is only limited by the angler’s imagination. Anglers fishing in shallow water for bedding bass have found that a salamander or creature bait is extremely effective. Largemouth bass in particular seem to get very angry when a salamander gets near the nest and will attack the bait with vengeance.

Carolina rig fishing

Plastic worms are often the bait of choice for anglers fishing a Carolina rig, particularly in deeper water. Crawling the Carolina rig over sloping points, channel edges, and other submerge structure is a very productive technique. Standard 6 inch to 7 inch worms are usually preferred, however there are times when the smaller finesse worms are a better choice. As with all fishing, successful anglers experiment with different baits and colors until a productive pattern emerges.

Read more about Finesse Fishing in this article by Capt Jim

Just about any soft plastic bait can be used in conjunction with the Carolina rig. Smaller grubs and curly tail lures are very effective on smallmouth bass and walleye when fished over gravel bottom. Larger worms and creature baits can be used to target the largest bass. Most anglers choose a strong but thin wire finesse style hook which matches the size of the lure that they are using.

zoom trick worm

Capt. Jim’s two favorite soft plastic fishing lures to use with a Carolina rig are the Zoom Trick worm and Yamamoto Senko worm. The Trick worm is long and slender and undulates very naturally with the slightest movement. It is also a floating worm, which rises up above the bottom on the Carolina rig. The 4” Senko is an excellent choice when conditions are tough and fish are finicky. Green pumpkin is his favorite all-around color.

Best rod and reel for fishing the Carolina rig

bass fishing

While anglers can use spinning tackle with the Carolina rig, conventional or bait casting outfits are usually a better choice. Bait casting rod and reel combinations offer anglers more power when setting the hook and pulling a fish out from heavy cover. These rigs are also heavy enough that they are easy to cast with a bait casting rod and reel. Most anglers use braided line for the strength and sensitivity.

walleye fishing in Michigan

Spinning tackle can certainly be used with the Carolina rig as well. This is true for anglers using smaller rigs for panfish and other species as well as anglers who use a Carolina rig to present live or cut bait.

Carolina rig fishing techniques

The Carolina rig is a versatile rig which can be used in both shallow and deep water. As mentioned earlier, it is an excellent way to crawl a salamander or creature bait through a nesting bed. It also works well in bottom vegetation where the sinker will be in the grass while the worm works just above it.

Florida bass fishing

The Carolina rig really shines when fishing deep water structure. This includes sloping points, channel edges, submerged rock piles, deep vegetation, and any other cover that will hold fish. The best approach is to anchor a cast away from the structure, cast to it, then slowly work the rig back in. In most cases, this works better than a vertical presentation.

Whether fishing shallow water or deep water, the presentation with a Carolina rig should be quite slow. The most productive technique is to drag though weight through and over the cover as opposed to hopping it as one would with other presentations. The dragging of the sinker not only makes noise which attracts fish, but he can kick up dirt and sand, mimicking a fleeing crayfish or other forage.

smallmouth bass fishing


The take is often quite subtle when presenting a lure on the Carolina rig. Often times the fish will simply inhale the lure and anglers will only feel an increase in weight or resistance. The old adage, “when in doubt, set the hook” applies here. Better to set the hook on nothing then to miss an opportunity. It is very important to real up all slack and come tight before setting the hook, particularly in deeper water.

Fishing live bait with the Carolina rig

While most anglers using the Carolina rig for bass are using artificial lures, the Carolina rig is an excellent method to present live or cut bait as well. Any fish that feeds on bait on or near the bottom can fall prey to a bait with a Carolina rig. Anglers fishing for catfish and freshwater and surf fishing and saltwater as well as many in between use variations of the Carolina rig quite successfully.

blue catfish

The Carolina rig has several advantages when used with natural bait. It allows for the sinker, which is often times large, to be separated from the hook and bait. As with artificial lure fishing, the bait can be suspended up off the bottom with the use of a small float near the hook. Finally, this rig allows the fish to pick up the bait and move off with it without feeling the weight of the sinker as the line will slide through the center hole.

gag grouper fishing

Just about any fish species in freshwater or saltwater can and has been caught by anglers fishing live or cut bait on a Carolina rig. Anglers chasing catfish have been using this simple rig for many years. Surf casters use a slight variation called the fish finder rig. Saltwater anglers bottom fishing for a wide variety of species use this simple but effective rig to catch everything from snapper and grouper in the south to cod and tautog up north.

In conclusion, this article on Carolina rig fishing will hopefully encourage anglers to use this very versatile and effective fishing presentation!



Swimbait Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide!

Swimbait Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide!

The subject of this article will be swimbait fishing lures. Swimbaits are very effective lures that will produce a wide variety of species.

swimbait largemouth

A swimbait is a fishing lure that resembles a swimming bait fish. They can be soft or hard plastic. Swimbaits have a body with a tail that produces a swimming action when retrieved.

Swimbaits are fairly easy to use, that is one of their advantages. In most cases, the lure is cast out, allowed to sink, and reeled back in slowly. The action is produced by the tail in soft plastic lures or by the segmented body with hard plastic lures. Some anglers consider them “big fish” baits. This is mostly due to the fact that swimbaits are available in large sizes to target trophy fish.

Swimbait varieties


Swimbaits come in two basic varieties; soft plastic and hard plastic versions. As in all things, each has advantages and disadvantages. Hard baits are more durable while soft plastic swimbaits are more versatile and economical.

Hard plastic swimbaits

Hard plastic swimbaits come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. Many manufacturers offer quality baits. Some of these that are meant for trophy bass or musky are huge! The segmented body gives these lures their swimming action. Some of them are incredibly lifelike.

finesse fishing

Special thanks to Sarah for the great pics and tips! Follow Sarah on Instagram

Hard plastic swimbaits have a treble hook or hooks hanging below them. This limits to some degree where they can be fished. They are mostly limited to open water situations. Hard plastic swimbaits are also fairly heavy. They cast a long distance. However, the baits also make a pronounced splash, limiting their use in shallow water. These are excellent search baits that can be used to cover a lot of water.

Soft plastic swimbaits

swimbait fishing lures

Soft plastic swimbaits are used more often than their hard plastic cousins. These lures are available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They have a solid body and a shad type tail which gives it the swimming action in the water. There are two types of soft plastic swimbaits, lures designed for swimbait hooks and lures that are used on a jig head.

Soft plastic swimbaits are more versatile than hard plastic baits. Anglers can quickly and easily change the size and color by changing the body. Also, these lures swim with a single hook that faces up, often times rigged weedless. This makes them much better choices for fishing in vegetation and other heavy cover.

swimbait fishing lures

The basic jig and grub combo is basically the first swimbait. Anglers rig the grub on a jig head and then cast it out and retrieve it back in. It has been used for decades in both freshwater and saltwater, being productive on a variety of species. However, all jig heads are not the same. The best jig heads for use with swimbaits have the eye further forward as opposed to on the top as stand jig heads. This results in a better swimming action in the water.


Dedicated soft plastic swimbaits are designed to be used on a special swimbait hook. These hooks have a holder of some type on the front which holds the bait. The hook has a wide gap to account for the bulk of the lure. The bait itself has a “pocket” or slit where the hook can go. A weight is molded on the bend of the hook. These combine to result in a horizontal presentation when anglers swim the bait through the water.

Best rod and reel for fishing with swimbaits

Baitcasting rod and reel combinations are best in most cases for casting swimbaits, for a couple of reasons. The reels have faster retrieve ratios, making it easier to crank the baits back in. Baitcasting reels also have more power for setting the hook and handling a big fish.


Anglers can certainly use spinning outfits as well, particularly when using smaller swimbaits. A 3” bait on a ¼ ounce jig head will be much easier to fish on a 10 lb spinning outfit than a baitcasting rig.

Click to shop Amazon for Lew’s baitcasting and spinning combos

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Best fishing lines

Anglers have three choices when it comes to fishing lines; monofilament, braid, and flourocarbon. Monofilament is the least expensive, but has a lot of stretch. Braided line is costly, but lasts a long time, casts well, and has no stretch. Flourocarbon line is also fairly expensive, but has little stretch and is nearly invisible. Flourocarbon is best in clear water while braid is a good choice in heavy cover.

Swimbait fishing techniques


One great aspect of fishing with swimbaits is that they are really pretty easy to use. The lure is simply cast out, allowed to sink, then reeled back in using a steady retrieve. They are true search baits which allow anglers to cover a lot of water efficiently. Swimbaits can be used in any water depth, from a foot deep to over twenty feet deep.

The angler controls the depth that the lure runs by the weight of the bait, the time it is allowed to sink, and the speed of the retrieve. The size of the bait is often dictated by the size of the fish being pursued. Big bait equals big fish! Dedicated anglers seeking trophy fish will cast a huge swimbait all day just for a bite or two.


Swimbaits will produce in all of the same spots that other lures and baits do. As in all fishing, locating the fish is the first order of business. Open water deeper spots such as points, bluffs, and deep submerged weed beds are good spots to cast hard plastic swimbaits.

Soft plastic swimbaits are versatile and can basically be fished anywhere except the heaviest matted vegetation. They are extremely effective in shallow water weeds and other vegetation. Fallen timber only adds to the chance of a fish holding there.

Best swimbait fishing lures

search bait fishing lures

There are many fine, high quality swimbait fishing lures on the market. It would be impossible to list them all here. However, a few of the top swimbaits will be highlighted for anglers unfamiliar with them.

Bass Assassin swimbaits

bass assassin


Capt Jim’s favorite line of swimbaits is the Bass assassin line. They offer several models from the Sea Shad grub to the Die Dapper swimbait line. They are available in many different colors.

Strike King Rage Swimmer

rage swimmer swimbait

The Strike King Rage Swimmer is available in several sizes from 2 3/4” to 5 3/4”. They are also made in a dozen colors. The Strike King Rage Swimmer is a durable and economical swimbait fishing lure that catches a ton of fish.

Berkley Swimbaits

berkley swimbait

Berkley offers anglers several swimbaits in various styles, shapes, sizes,and colors. They also include the added benefit is being scented. These include the Power Swimmer, Paddle shad, Hollow Body Swimbait, Ripple Shad, Swimbait Shad, and the Champ.

Hard body swimbaits

There are plenty of lure manufacturers that offer hard plastic swimbait fishing lures. These can get a bit expensive, but are durable and catch a lot of trophy fish for anglers dedicated to using them. A few of the best will be listed below.

Lixada swimbaits


Lixada offers anglers a huge selection of hard plastic swimbaits. There are many different models, shapes, sizes, and colors. The largest baits are used by anglers chasing musky. Smaller lures catch bass and other species.

Catch Company

catch co swimbait

The Catch Co Bull Shad is another large bait used to target trophy fish. The Baby Bull Shad is a smaller version that is better suited to a variety of species with more action. They available in a half dozen different colors. The Baby Bull Gill is a very realistic bluegill imitation.

bass fishing with swimbaits

In conclusion, this article on swimbait fishing lures will help anglers understand the options available to them as well as the best tackle and techniques to be successful.





Chumming – a Very Effective Fishing Technique!

Chumming – a Very Effective Fishing Technique!

This article will thoroughly cover chumming. Chumming is a very effective fishing technique. It is mostly used in saltwater fishing, but freshwater anglers can benefit from chumming as well.

chumming fishing techniques

Chumming is the act of using some type of food to attract fish to the anglers. Normally, the anglers moves around in search of fish. With chumming, the fish comes to the angler.

While in its basic form, chumming is fairly straightforward, there are certainly tips and nuances that will increase the effectiveness of chum. Also, there are quite a few different types of chum that anglers can use to attract fish.

fishing for striped bass

Anglers usually chum with the same bait that they are fishing with. The premise of chumming is to get a little taste in the water to attract fish and get them excited. However, too much chum will fill them up, which defeats the purpose. Using the correct amount of chum is critical, and really only comes from experience. Using a little less chum is better than using too much.

Chum varieties

There are several different types of chum that can be used. The simplest is to just cut up whatever bait is being used into tiny pieces and toss them into the water. This can be shrimp, cut fish, prepared baits, and more.

chumming with live bait

Frozen blocks of chum are convenient, easy to use, and very effective. It is a staple of saltwater anglers fishing offshore all over the world. In many cases, the frozen chum is sold in a mesh bag. The anglers simply ties the block to the boat and as it thaws the chum is dispersed behind the boat.

Not all frozen blocks of chum are equal. The best chum will use quality bait fish such as menhaden, which is ground up. Cheaper chum will be leftover scraps from cleaning tables and such. Serious anglers grind up their leftover bait and freeze it.

Chumming with Live Bait video

Live bait can also be used when chumming. It is one of the most effective fishing techniques out there. However, it is also the most complicated. Anglers must catch their own bait, otherwise it is too costly. Cast nets and the ability to throw them are essential. Large live wells and good pumps are also required. However, these efforts pay off with some incredible fishing!

fishing with live bait in florida

Read this detailed article by Capt Jim on how to catch bait with a cast net

Chumming techniques

As mentioned earlier, chumming is not very complicated, but there are some tips and techniques that will increase the effectiveness of chum. First and foremost, boat position is critical! Other that deep water offshore fishing, the boat is almost always anchored or the anglers is fishing from shore or a bridge.

mangrove snapper fishing

Anglers need to choose the spot to be fished, whether it is a piece of structure, bridge, grass flat, drop off, wreck, reef, or other spot. The boat is then anchored up-tide (and ideally up-wind) of the spot. The premise is to draw the fish out of the structure and up behind the boat.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

The strength of the current will also affect the amount of chum that is required. The stronger the flow of water, the more chum will generally be needed to excite the fish and keep them up behind the boat.

grouper fishing

It is best to be conservative when chumming and then “build” the spot. Patience will pay off! At times, the fish will respond with very little chum; no need to over-feed them. However, it usually takes a steady stream to really get them going. Once it shuts off, it is usually better to try another spot than it is to try and fire those same fish up again.

Rigging when fishing and chumming

One of the advantages of chumming is that it brings the desired fish species up out of the structure. Often times, they will come all the way to the surface. This results in the best presentation often having the hooked bait free lined out with no weight. The hooked bait will drift back at the same rate and depth as the chum, looking very natural.

flounder fishing

The best rig is simply a length of flourocarbon leader and a hook. Many anglers have switched to circle hooks. They are even required in the Gulf of Mexico and many other states. Anglers should check local regulations. Short shank live bait hooks in the “J” style can certainly be used as well, where legal. The hook should match the size of the bait being used and fish being pursued.

The length of the leader will be determined bu the conditions. Snapper are notoriously line shy. When fishing for them in clear water a long, light leader will be required. Conversely, in stained water anglers can go higher. A 3′ section of 30 LB flourocarbon leader is a good all round leader.

king mackerel fishing

There will be times that some weight will be needed. Strong tides or current will be one example. Also, there are times that the fish will not come up. A weight may be required to get down deep enough. As in all situations, anglers should use the least amount of weight required to get the bait to the desired depth.

Chumming with frozen blocks

The most commonly used chum, certainly in saltwater fishing, is frozen blocks of chum. These are readily available and simple to use. The chum is tied off on a cleat, usually at the stern, and placed in the water. As it thaws, the chum will slowly disperse. Blocks are often sold in mesh bags, but many anglers use specially designed chum bags.

yellowtail snapper fishing

The pieces of chum coming off of frozen blocks are usually very small. Normally, bait fish will be the first to show up in the chum slick. Hopefully, game fish will be right behind. Anglers can shake the bag to add more chum if needed. Most anglers fish a few lines in the slick and a couple heavy rods with larger baits on the bottom. This is a good strategy when fishing offshore.

gag grouper fishing

Frozen blocks of chum can be used for inshore fishing as well. Mangrove snapper, flounder, fluke, mackerel, bluefish, striped bass, and other species will respond to it. Striped bass anglers use menhaden oil as chum in the northeast. The same rigging and fishing strategies apply in shallow water as well. One approach is to try chumming as the tide slows to turn.

Spanish mackerel and false albacore fishing tips

Both cut bait and live bait can be used in conjunction with frozen chum blocks. A lively shrimp, crab, or bait fish will stand out in the tiny pieces of chum. Same goes for a nice chunk of fresh cut bait. Anglers should try several baits to see what the fish want on that particular day.

Chumming with live bait

Chumming with live bait fish is an incredibly effective fishing technique! However, it is also quite complicated and requires some special gear. For the most part, anglers catch their own bait. It would be very costly to purchase bait and toss it overboard. Skilled anglers using cast nets can quickly load the well when conditions are right.

Fishing in Sarasota Bay for Trout and Snapper video

Once the well is full, the application is similar to chumming with cut bait or frozen blocks. The chum is tossed out behind the boat, starting slow and adding chum as needed. It is easy to over chum and fill the fish up using live bait fish as chum. Some anglers squeeze the chum, crippling them before tossing them out. This results in the wounded bait swimming erratically, attracting game fish.

live bait fishing in Florida

This technique is used extensively by charter boat captains in Florida in the summer. Bait is plentiful and easy to catch. Offshore anglers have been employing this technique for tuna and other species as well. There are very few fishing situations where chumming with live bait will not produce fish.

Chumming with cut bait

The easiest chumming method is to simply take some of the bait being used and cutting some up into tiny pieces, then tossing it out behind the boat. Fish will be attracted to the small pieces, then will ideally see and take the larger hooked bait. Shrimp are perfect for this as they put out a lot of scent and every saltwater species will happily devour them.

Florida saltwater fishing in spring

Any type of cut bait such as squid, mullet, pogies (menhaden), herring, shad, spot, croaker and more can all be used. Again, the key is to cut the bait into tiny pieces to attract the game fish to the larger, hooked piece of bait.

Chumming is overlooked by freshwater anglers

While chumming is a staple technique used by anglers fishing in saltwater, it may be under utilized by freshwater anglers. Catfish anglers occasionally do it, and it is effective. Chumming will work on most freshwater game fish from bluegill to northern pike.

blue catfish fishing tips

Some anglers are catching shad and herring in larger lakes and using them for both bait and chum for striped and hybrid bass. It is just as effective in this application as it is in saltwater. After all, striped bass are really a saltwater species.

In conclusion, this article, Chumming – a Very Effective Fishing Technique will help anglers better understand how tp be successful using chum!




Best 8 Search Bait Fishing Lures

Best 8 Search Bait Fishing Lures

This article with list the best 8 search bait fishing lures. Search baits are used to cover a lot of water fairly quickly in search of fish. These lures will often trigger bites from game fish that are not in a feeding mood.

best soft plastic lure

Search baits will be defines as lures that have the following attributes. They cast a long way easily. Search baits will cover the entire water column. For the most part, search bait fishing lures have a built in action where a steady retrieve is effective.

top 6 fishing lures

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland fishing the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. He has fished all over North America and the Caribbean for a wide variety of species. This is his personal list of best 8 search bait fishing lures.

The best 8 search bait fishing lures are;

  • Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap
  • Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad swimbait
  • Z-Man Chatterbait
  • Worden’s Original Rooster tail spinner
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Rapala Shad Rap crankbait
  • Acme Kastmaster spoon
  • Johnson Silver Minnow spoon

These 8 search baits will cover just about every situation an angler will encounter. They produce for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.

Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap

crankbait fishing

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is a terrific search bait fishing lure. It is in the family of baits called “lipless crankbaits”. This lure puts out tremendous flash and vibration while rattling. It casts a long way and works best with a moderate, steady retrieve. It is very productive on bass and other species in freshwater as well as snook and striped bass in saltwater.

search bait fishing

Read this article by Capt Jim on fishing lipless crankbaits

The anglers controls the depth of the Rat-L-Trap by simply letting it sink to a determined depth on the cast. This lure will elicit reaction strikes for fish that are not necessarily feeding. It very realistically mimics shad, herring, and other bait fish. The ½ ounce model in chrome with a blue back is Capt Jim’s favorite.

Click link to shop Amazon for Rat-L-Trap lures

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Bass Assassin 4″ Sea Shad swimbait

search bait fishing lures

The Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad is Capt Jim’s favorite soft plastic fishing lure! It is an excellent search bait that will catch just about every species of fish in both fresh and saltwater. It comes in a wide variety of colors. The tail puts out a steady vibration. The lure is most often fished on a jig head, but can be used on a swimbait hook as well.

This is a very easy lure to fish. It works well on a steady retrieve and can also be used on the classic “jig and fall” retrieve. The Sea Shad has good built in action, though the anglers can add to that. Light colors work well in clear water while darker colors produce better in dark or stained water.

bluefish fishing

The Bass Assassin Sea Shad can be used in any depth. Anglers can control this by the weight of the jig head. It works well in deep water, but really is best in water ten feet deep or less.

Click link to shop Amazon for Bass Assassin lures

Z-Man Chatterbait

search baits

Z-Man pretty much invented the chatterbait, also known as a bladed jig. It is a bit of a combination of a swimbait and a spinnerbait. In fact, for many bass anglers it is replacing the traditional spinnerbait. These lures are a bit for streamlined, yet have plenty of bulk and action. The blade puts out flash and vibration.

The Z-Man DieZel chatterbait is the model designed for saltwater fishing. It has sturdy components and a swimbait instead of a rubber skirt. It catches snook, reds, trout, jacks, stripers, and other species. The Z-Man Chatterbait Elite is a premium bait that works very well on bass and other freshwater species.

Click to shop Amazon for Z-Man DieZel and Elite chatterbait lures

Worden’s Rooster tail spinner

fishing with lures

Some anglers might question whether an inline spinner is a search bait, but it meets the criteria. However, it is number four on Capt Jim’s list of search bait fishing lures. Unlike some of the other lures, it is primarily used by freshwater anglers. The Worden’s Rooster tail spinner is a terrific lure in streams and rivers, fooling trout, bass, and panfish.

best 13 brown trout fishing lures

The Rooster tail spinner works very well in ponds and lakes as well. In most cases, a very slow, steady retrieve works best. It is a very productive lure for panfish, but will fool bass, walleye, pike, and other species. It can be cast or trolled for trout in lakes as well. Capt Jim’s favorite Rooster tail is the 1/8 ounce model with a bright body and a gold blade.

Click to shop Amazon for Rooster Tail lures


spinnerbait fishing tips and techniques

Spinnerbaits are classic search bait fishing lures. They cast well, put out a ton of flash and vibration, have great built in action, and can be fished in any depth. Spinnerbaits are easy for novice anglers to use and they catch a variety of game fish. Tiny versions are very effective on panfish while pike and musky will hit the largest models. Some anglers in saltwater use them on redfish, but spinnerbaits are primarily freshwater lures.

Sarasota trolling techniques

There is no one spinnerbait that covers all species and situations. Capt Jim has had great success with the Johnson Beetlespin on panfish and smaller game fish. The 1/8 ounce bait with a black body and silver blade is very effective.

spinnerbait fishing for pike

The Strike King line of spinnerbaits will cover every fishing application for bass, walleye, and other species. The Premier is a great bait, with white/chartreuse skirts working well. The Booyah Pikee spinnerbait is a great choice for anglers chasing pike and musky.

Click to shop Amazon for Beetle Spin, Strike King, and Pikee lures

Rapala Shad Rap crankbait

walleye fishing in Michigan

Crankbaits are fantastic search bait fishing lures! They cast a mile and have tremendous built-in action. Crankbaits are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Capt Jim likes the Rapala Shad Rap line of crankbaits.

This is one lure where the design does limit the depth that the lure can be worked. Fortunately, the baits are available in models that will work at a determined depth. The lip and size of the bait dictates the depth that the lure will run. Anglers should choose lures that mimic the local forage.

Click to shop Amazon for Shad Rap lures

Acme Kastmaster spoon

lues for surf fishing

Spoons are excellent search baits that produce equally for both saltwater and freshwater anglers. They are heavy and dense and cast well. Spoons can also be trolled. The shape of the spoon with dictate the action. Slender spoons have a tight wiggle while wider spoons put out more wobble and vibration.

Florida Spanish mackerel fishing

Capt Jim likes the Kastmaster spoon. It is slender which mimics a lot of bait fish. These are aerodynamic baits which cast well, even into the wind. This makes it a favorite of anglers surf fishing. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, striped bass, and other species will hit them. An aggressive retrieve with hard twitches usually produces best. Silver with the prism finish is a popular finish.

trout lures

The smaller Kastmaster spoons are excellent freshwater lures as well. Trout, panfish, bass, walleye, and pike will be caught on them. Gold seems to be an excellent all round finish. They are also excellent when trolled for trout. A moderate steady retrieve works well in freshwater.

Click to shop Amazon for Kastmaster lures

Johnson Silver Minnow spoon

redfish and trout fishing

The Johnson Silver Minnow spoon is originally a freshwater bass lure that still produces today. However, it has been adopted by saltwater angler and is the most popular search bait used by shallow water anglers chasing redfish. Gold is by far the preferred finish and the ½ ounce size is the most popular size.

Click to shop Amazon for Silver Minnow lures

In conclusion, this list of the best 8 search bait fishing lures will help anglers use these efficient baits to locate fish more quickly.

Flats Fishing – Pro Tips!

Flats Fishing – Pro tips!

This article will thoroughly cover flats fishing. Flats are often very good fishing spots. The main reason for this is that flats provide the perfect environment for the forage that game fish feed on. Flats almost always have vegetation of some type along with other cover. This attracts the prey that larger fish feed on.

flats fishing

A flat will be defined as a large area of similar depth surrounded by deeper water. Flats can be found in water of any depth. However, flats that are 15 feet deep or shallower are generally the most productive.

Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He spends the majority of his time Flats fishing. He also grew up in Maryland fishing Chesapeake Bay. Capt. Jim has also fished the flats in the Bahamas and other parts of the country. He is sharing his 40 years of Flats fishing experience in this article.

flats fishing

While most anglers associate flats fishing with saltwater angling, those fishing in freshwater will find that many of these techniques apply to them as well. The primary difference will be that and saltwater fishing tidal flow affects the water height daily while in freshwater lakes water levels change at a much more gradual rate. While this article will focus mostly on the eastern part of the United States, the techniques and strategies will work anywhere in the world.

Shallow and deep flats are different

There are really two different types of flats; shallow water flats and deep water flats. Shallow water flats are ruled by the tides. Water height and current flow are critical when fishing the flats in shallow water. Depending on the area of the country the angler is fishing, the tide range can be from as little as 1 foot along the Gulf Coast to over 10 feet in the Northeast. That is a lot of water that is moving in a six-hour period!

spotted sea trout fishing

Deep water flats are affected by the tide, but to a lesser degree. The biggest distinction is that at low tide there will still be plenty of water for fish to move about and feed freely. Some of the best fishing and angler will experience can occur on these deeper flats. Fish will be more comfortable in this deeper water and large schools of fish are often encountered.

Fishing for Speckled Trout (Spotted Sea Trout) video

Flats fishing in shallow water

As mentioned above, understanding how tides affect the flats and fish movements are critical to success. So, the entire tide cycle will be described below.

Top 25 Florida game fish

On the low tides, fish will stage in deeper water. This is a necessity as often times there simply is not enough water on the shallow flats for them to move about freely. These deeper spots can be holes or troughs within the flat itself. Also, fish will stage in the deeper water on the edges of flats, waiting for the tide to come in so that they can move up on the flats to feed.

This can be an outstanding time to fish! Both single fish and schools of fish will be concentrated in these deeper areas. Anglers who find these holes can experience fast action if they can get to them. These are often called “potholes” and will hold a surprising number of fish. This especially happens in the winter on the extreme low tides.

Tampa Bay redfish

As the tide comes in, fish will move up out of these deeper areas and begin to feed. Fish that are staged in deeper water on the outside of the flat will often cruise the edge of the flat waiting for the water to come up enough so that they can swim up on the flat. Once again, this concentrates fish and makes them easier to locate. Also, these fish are relatively easy to catch as they are in the mood to eat.

Flats fishing is very good on the low, incoming tide

These fish on the low, incoming tide are often the best to target. They have been waiting for the tide to come in in order to feed. Also, even if these fish since the angler’s presence and spook, they will usually return and become aggressive again after a little time to settle down.

summer fishing in Florida

As the tide rises and pushes to high tide, fish will scatter out on the flat. While they are still in a feeding mood, they are much more difficult to locate as there is simply a lot more water where they may be. However, anglers can still do well using search baits that cover a lot of water quickly. By high tide fish may be way back in the flat up under trees or in thick vegetation. They can be difficult to catch at this time.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

As the tide turns and begins to ebb out, fish will move out of these extreme areas and back towards deeper water of some sort. They innately understand that if bass they too long on the flat, they will run out of water. These fish are usually a bit harder to catch for a couple of reasons. Most have been feeding fairly heavily on the incoming tide. Also, once spooked on the shallow water flats, fish will often times vacate the flat and not come back.

flats fishing

Feeder creeks and channels that drain flats are prime times to fish on the outgoing tide. Much like fish in freshwater rivers, game fish will take up ambush points at spots where the tide flow will bring food to them. Any type of cover such as oyster bars, vegetation, or boat docks will increase the chances of success. As the tide approaches low, fish will move back into the deeper areas once again in the cycle will repeat itself.

Flats fishing techniques

Most anglers Flats fishing in shallow water do so using artificial lures. There are a couple of reasons for this. Lures allow anglers to cover water much more quickly than they can using live bait. Artificial lures are also more effective often times in shallow water, especially if grass or vegetation is present. Finally, anglers Flats fishing with lures do not need to deal with the hassle of procuring or keeping alive live bait.

fishing inlets

The three most effective flats fishing lures are jigs and soft plastics, spoons, and plugs. Jigs and other soft plastic fishing lures are the most popular choice as a are versatile, effective, and fairly economical. Light jig heads are used in shallow water. Many have a specially designed head that is curved and allows them to move over and through the grass better without hanging up. 1/8 ounce is a good all-around size.

Jack Crevalle Fishing with Lures video

Anglers can then adorn the jig with their soft plastic bait of choice. The selection is endless, with most of them catching fish if presented properly. A 4 inch shad tail bait or 5 inch jerk bait are both good choices. Capt. Jim likes the Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad swim bait and the 5” Gulp Jerk Shad jerk bait.

Spoons are extremely effective flats fishing lures. Anglers have copied the venerable Johnson Silver Minnow spoon which has a single upturned hook and a weed guard. These weedless spoons cast a long way, work very well in shallow vegetation, and put out a a lot of flash and vibration. Anglers can thoroughly cover a flat efficiently with the spoons.

top game fish in Florida

Plugs can also be used by anglers flats fishing in shallow water. On the lower tide stages, top water plugs are a must, otherwise anglers will be constantly hanging up on the bottom. Fishing top water plugs in skinny water is very exciting! A noisy plug will draw fish and from a long way off. As the tide stage rises, anglers can go to shallow running plugs. These are extremely effective, especially when baitfish are around. Capt. Jim’s favorite is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait in the (08) size. White and olive are great colors.

Using live bait when flats fishing

While lures are most often used on the shallow flats, anglers can certainly fish with live or cut bait as well. This is usually done once fish are located or to fish a prime ambush spot on the following tide. A live shrimp tossed into a pothole in the winter will catch black drum, speckled trout and redfish.

fishing for black drum

Just about any live or cut bait that is productive in a particular area will work in this situation. The main consideration is keeping the bait up out of the grass. Anglers can fish deeper holes where grass is not as much a problem or suspend the bait under a popping cork.

Sight fishing in shallow water can be very challenging, yet rewarding. The level of difficulty changes with the area of the angler is fishing it. Generally speaking, the more fishing pressure the area gets, the more difficult the fish are too full. This is especially true when Flats fishing in very shallow water.

fishing for jack crevalle

Sight fishing is challenging and exciting

Serious anglers use specially designed shallow water skiffs for this type of fishing. Often times, an angler or the fishing guide uses a long pole to push the boat around and keep it in the proper position. The anglers then move across the flat in search of fish. It really is as much hunting as it is fishing. And slightly deeper and stained water, anglers can use a trolling motor. However, this will often spook fish and clear, shallow water. Kayaks give anglers access to shallow water flats. Wading is an excellent option, especially when fish are spooky.

Top Florida saltwater game fish

Casting to a fish that an angler can see and watching it take the lure or bait is very exciting! In most cases, the best approach is to lead the fish as landing the lure or bait to close will spook it. The speed of the fish, the strength of the tide, the clarity of the water, and other factors will dictate where to cast. In this case, experience is the best teacher.

Flats fishing in deep water

Anglers fishing the deep grass flats will not have to factor in the tides nearly as much. These deep grass flats will have at least a few feet of water on them at all times. That means that fish migrations will be less pronounced. Instead, single fish and schools of fish will roam these open flats in search of an easy meal. While the fish will bite as long as the tide is moving, many anglers prefer to fish two hours before and after the high tide.

Sarasota Spanish mackerel fishing

This is a fantastic fishing technique for several reasons. First, just about any sized boat can be used, other than very large vessels. However, a 30 foot boat in 5 feet of water may spook the fish a bit. Secondly, this is a productive technique that results in both action and variety. This makes it an excellent choice for novice anglers and families with kids. Finally, it is just great fun as anglers never know what will hit the line next.

Artificial lures are effective on the deep flats

Once again, artificial lures are often the best choice in this situation as they allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. The number one bait by far is a soft plastic grub on a jig head. This jig and grub combo will catch every species of game fish that swims! Depending on water depth and current flow, one quarter ounce 21 ounce jigs will be used. Anglers can check local bait shops or fishing reports to see what baits and colors are preferred in their particular area.

bluefish fishing

Spoons and plugs will produce in this situation as well. Open water casting spoons are preferred. These are more of the traditional shaped spoons and most have a treble hook, though some anglers prefer a single hook for ease of releasing the fish. This is particularly helpful with toothy species such as bluefish and mackerel. Spoons cast a long way and are worked back quickly to the boat using an erratic retrieve. The same top water and shallow diving plugs that work in the shallow flats produce on the deeper flats as well. Anglers can go up a size to the (10) Rapala in the deeper water.

For the most part, the best approach when fishing these deeper flats is to drift with the current and the wind. Ideally, anglers will choose a flat where the wind and the tide moving the boat in the same direction. This results in an efficient drift. Once a school of fish is located, anglers can re-drift the area or even anchor up and thoroughly cover that spot. Trolling these same lures is a good approach on large flats were fish are difficult to locate and on days when the breezes not blowing.

flats fishing

Live bait is effective on the deep flats

Live and cut bait are used much more often when Flats fishing in deeper areas. In the south, live shrimp are fished under a noisy popping cork for speckled trout and other species. Live bait fish can be substituted as well. On deeper flats, free lining the bait with little or no weight works well.

flounder fishing in Florida

Anglers fishing the Northeast will often fish a live minnow or strip of cut bait right on the bottom. This is often done in conjunction with a buck tail jig or a plane jig head. Basic bottom rigs work as well. Drifting with live or cut bait on the bottom is especially effective on the deeper flats have a lot of tidal flow.

Flats fishing on the Gulf Coast

Anglers Flats fishing the coastal waters from Texas to Florida have it relatively easy when it comes to dealing with tides. Most days, the tide ranges around a foot and a half, though it can be as much as 3 feet on a full moon or on a strong tide. This relatively low fluctuation certainly makes it easier when navigating the shallow flats.

fishing with popping corks

The primary species targeted by anglers in this area on the shallow flats are speckled trout, redfish, black drum, flounder, jacks, and in the southern ranges tarpon and snook. This area of the Gulf of Mexico in the inshore bays are very fertile! Countless acres of shallow grass flats mixed in with oyster bars and mangrove shorelines make it ideal habitat for game fish.

Anglers fishing the deeper grass flats in both the inshore Gulf of Mexico and the bays catch a lot of speckled trout. Redfish, Spanish mackerel, flounder, bluefish, ladyfish, jack crevalle, pompano, and other species are found as well. Anglers fishing this entire area are never far from quality grass flats, both in deep and shallow water.

Best 6 fishing lures for redfish

Flats fishing in the Florida Keys

It would be easy to argue that shallow water sight fishing was basically invented in the Florida Keys. The miles and miles of gin clear shallow flats offer anglers opportunities to catch bonefish, tarpon, permit, mutton snapper, barracuda, sharks, and more. Flats on both the ocean and the Gulf sides can be very productive. Also, this gives anglers the chance to hide from the wind, depending on which way it is blowing.

This type of shallow water Flats fishing is technical in nature. These fish get a fair amount of pressure and by no means are easy to catch. Bonefish, tarpon, and permit will spook at the slightest hint of danger. However, persistent and patient anglers are rewarded in this challenging sport. Hiring a guide is an excellent investment for anglers who are new to this type of fishing.

Flats fishing in the Southeast

The southeast coast from Miami up to Chesapeake Bay offers anglers some excellent Flats fishing. Redfish, flounder, drum, sheepshead, and speckled trout are found throughout this entire range. Snook and tarpon are found in the southern half while striped bass become very popular and more numerous from the Carolinas north.

fishing in Carolina

There really are no flats in the Atlantic Ocean along this coast, other than the occasional bar at an inlet. However, this entire area has shallow inshore bays along with many tidal rivers and creeks which anglers can explore. Tides fluctuate much more in this area, between 4 feet and 8 feet depending on the location. I can be as much as 10 feet on a full moon tide. This requires anglers to be more careful when fishing the backcountry.

Most of this area, especially north of St. Augustine, offers anglers Flats fishing opportunities in both shallow water and deep water. Oyster bars are the primary cover along with submerged grasses. Speckled trout, redfish, drum, and flounder will be found in these areas. Anglers drifting the deeper flats will catch trout, bluefish, striped bass, Spanish mackerel, and other species.

Flats fishing in the Northeast

Once anglers get north of Delaware or so, striped bass take over and rule as the king of the inshore fishing. While there are some shallow water flats, particularly on bars and flats near inlets, the majority of anglers Flats fishing will do so in deeper water up to 15 feet deep or so. Bluefish and striped bass will be found on top and in the middle of the water column while fluke and other bottom fish will be caught fishing right on the bottom.

Tailwater fishing tips

Tides range 4 to 6 feet in the southern part of this area, while tides up in Maine can be over 15 feet! This certainly poses challenges to anglers for a couple of reasons. Navigating can certainly be tricky, especially when factoring in the common foggy conditions. Also, it is very difficult fishing and tides that are that swift. Therefore, any anglers time their fishing to be done on or near the turn of the tide, especially the high tide. Experienced anglers learn to move with the tide, to extend the fishing time.

In conclusion, this article on flats fishing will help anglers understand the factors that need to be taken into account for in order to be successful in these productive fishing spots!

Fishing with Jigs in Freshwater – a Complete Guide

Fishing with Jigs in Freshwater – a Complete Guide

This article will thoroughly cover fishing with jigs in freshwater. Jigs were the first artificial lure used by man to fool a fish. They continue to be productive to this day.


A jig is a hook with a weighted head and some type of body or tail. The weight adds casting weight while action giving the lure action in the water. The tail or dressing can be hair, rubber, or plastic.

Jigs are simple but extremely versatile and effective fishing lures. They will catch every freshwater game fish species. Jigs can be used in every fishing situation; casting, trolling, vertical fishing, and ice fishing. They can mimic every type of forage that game fish feed on.

bass fishing

Freshwater jig types

There are two basic types of freshwater fishing jigs; skirted or dressed jigs and the jig and grub. Skirted jigs have the skirt or hair permanently attached to the jig head. Skirts are usually rubber and have terrific action in the water. Both natural and synthetic hair are used as dressing as well. Bucktail and marabou are both widely used natural dressings. Synthetic hair is also used and has the benefit of being durable.

Tailwater fishing tips and techniques

The jig and grub combination is the second type of freshwater fishing jig. With this system the jig head is used in conjunction with some type of soft plastic body. This is a very versatile arrangement as it allows anglers to quickly and easily change the tail to switch up color, size, and action. These lures are also quite economical.Tube jigs fall into this category as well.

Grub bodies are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Twister tail grubs are very effective and put out a lot of action with little movement. Shad tail grubs realistically imitate a swimming bait fish. Paddle tail grubs fall erratically after being twitched sharply. Some grubs resemble creatures and even things that do not exist. However, they will all catch fish when presented properly.

Michigan fishing

Anglers jig fishing in freshwater can even combine the two jig types! Some jigs offer the option of using a soft plastic trailer with a hair or skirted jig. Bass anglers employ this technique often. The trailer adds bulk and action. This works very well when trolling jigs for striped bass and other species.

Fishing for panfish and crappie with jigs

Sarasota fishing report

Jigs are fantastic fishing lures for panfish! They will catch every panfish species, especially large bluegill. There is no doubt that the jig is the best crappie lure as well. Both of these species are aggressive and feed on minnows. Jigs realistically mimic bait fish along with crustaceans and other forage.

Fishing for Florida Crappie video

Obviously, panfish are small and therefore a small jig should be used when targeting them. Fortunately, anglers jig fishing in freshwater have a myriad of options to choose from. 1/16 ounce is a good all-round size, but anglers often go much smaller. The jig and grub system is tough to beat for chasing panfish. Anglers can purchase kits for a very reasonable price that has a good assortment of jig heads and bodies.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Hair jigs also produce for anglers jig fishing in freshwater for crappie and panfish. Marabou jigs have been catching these diminutive game fish for decades. Panfish often react better to a less aggressive presentation. Marabou “breathes” in the water and puts out a great action with very little movement. This is perfect for panfish.

Jig fishing techniques for panfish and crappie

Anglers can cast, vertically jig, troll, and even ice fish with jigs for panfish. These tiny jigs are very light. Therefore, ultralight tackle with 4 lb line is the best rod and reel to use. Anglers can swim a jig over submerged vegetation and along weed lines. Submerged timber is always a good spot to try, especially for bluegill. In most cases, a very slow, steady retrieve works best.

fishing for crappie

Bridges are also good spots to try for crappie and panfish. The best approach is to fish vertically close to the bridge pilings. These fish will often be suspended, so anglers should start at the bottom and work up towards the surface. This same technique works well when fishing deeper structure and submerged trees. Fish will often school in the tops of the trees.

Click on the link to read Capt Jim’s E-book Fishing for Crappie, Bluegill, and Panfish

Trolling is a very effective technique that anglers jig fishing in freshwater can use to locate schools of panfish. Tiny jigs can be trolled slowly weed weed edges, over submerged vegetation, and along structure breaks. Serious crappie anglers have refined this technique and do very well trolling jigs. They often add a live minnow to make them even more attractive.

Flipping docks is another productive technique that anglers fishing for crappie and panfish use successfully. The idea it to get the jig back in the shade as far as possible. Some anglers use a “bow and arrow” cast to accomplish this. The jig usually gets hit as it falls through the water column.

ice fishing with jigs

Anglers ice fishing for bluegill and panfish use jigs almost exclusively. Obviously, ice fishing requires a vertical presentation. Jigs are perfect for that and are almost exclusively used by anglers chasing panfish through the ice.

Bass fishing jigs

Booyah jig

There is another family of jigs for anglers targeting largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. These come in a wide variety of shapes and colors as well. These are stout jigs with strong hooks. Most have rubber legs and many employ a weed guard. The head is designed to swim through weeds and over structure.

Wisconsin game fish

Bass fishing jigs come in a couple different varieties, but they are all similar. Flipping jigs, swim jigs, etc are all fairly bulky. Bass, especially largemouth, prefer a substantial meal. Anglers usually add a soft plastic trailer to add even more bulk and action.

Anglers can use bass fishing jigs in both shallow and deep water. They crawl over than through most cover and vegetation. Heavy models are used to “punch” through thick matted cover. They produce when pitched under docks as well. Swim jigs are an excellt choice to fish over submerged vegetation like hydrilla.

smallmouth bass fishing lures

The jig and grub does has a place in bass fishing, especially for smallmouth bass. Tube baits in particular are very effective on them. Smallies are often found in more open water around gravel points and submerged rocks. A jig and grub or tube bounced along the bottom resembles a fleeing crayfish, prime smallmouth forage. Shad tail grubs are productive on suspended bass of all species. A black 1/8 ounce jig head with a 2” to 3” green or orange curly tail grub is an outstanding river smallmouth lure as well.

Striped bass love jigs!

Lake Murray striped bass

Striped bass are a saltwater species that have been introduced into large freshwater lakes. They are thriving in this environment! Stripers in saltwater love white bucktail jigs, and freshwater striped bass do as well. They mimic the larger shad and herring that they feed on.

Anglers troll jigs for striped bass with great success. Special rigs called umbrella rigs are used to troll multiple baits at once. Trolling is an excellent method to locate and catch open water fish that move around a lot.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

Jigs can be vertically fished as well. This works great once fish are located. Bait schools will often relate to structure edges and cover. This will in turn attract the game fish. I white bucktail jig jerked sharply and allowed to flutter down realistically imitates a wounded herring or shad. A stip of cut bait can be used to sweeten the offering.

Fishing with jigs in freshwater; walleye

walleye fishing tackle and lures

Anglers freshwater fishing with jigs often target walleye. These very popular freshwater game fish usually feed on or near the bottom. A curly tail, shad tail, or hair jig bounced along the bottom from a drifting boat is a deadly technique. Some jigs will be lost to bottom structure, but it is usually worth it to fish right where the walleye live.

Casting jigs will certainly produce walleye as well. This is especially true in shallow water and rivers. Points and weed beds in 10′ to 20′ of water are top spots. River walleye will school up in the deeper holes. Often times, walleye anglers add live bait to the jig. A minnow or crawler can really make a big difference on a tough day.

Trout fishing with jigs

lake trout fishing tips

Trout anglers often overlook jigs, and this is a mistake. Spoons, plugs, and spinners are certainly productive, but jigs will catch plenty of trout as well. Jigs are used regularly by anglers ice fishing for trout. Smaller curly tail jigs will produce in streams. Larger jigs will catch big brown and rainbow trout as well as lake trout.

trout fishing

Trout species in lakes are often found higher in the water column than most other species. Swimming or trolling a jig 5′ to 10′ under the surface will produce trout. Anglers can also use a bare jig head to present a live bait to bottom feeding trout.

Most species with be caught fishing with jigs

While several species have been listed in this article, the reality is that every predator game fish will take a jig. Musky, northern pike, white bass, and even channel catfish will take a well presented bait. This is especially true if natural bait is added to the hook.

In conclusion, this article on fishing with jigs in freshwater will encourage anglers use these productive lures!





Finesse Fishing – Pro tips!

Finesse Fishing – Pro tips!

This article will thoroughly cover finesse fishing. Finesse fishing is a very effective technique for bass and many other game fish species.

finesse fishing

Finesse fishing is a technique where anglers use smaller soft plastic lures and lighter lines and rods. The presentation is slow and subtle. Finesse fishing is especially effective when fish are finicky, such as after a front, in clear water, and in cold water.

While it seems fairly simple, just scale down the lures and tackle, there are nuances and techniques that will maximize finesse fishing. These include tackle, rigging and presentation along with locations.

Thanks to Sarah for the great pictures and fishing tips! She lives in the Pacific Northwest and employs finesse fishing quite often in those deep, clear, cool waters. Follow Sarah on Instagram

Best rod and reel for finesse fishing

In most cases, spinning tackle is the best choice for anglers finesse fishing. One look at a current bass fishing tournament on television will show how much more popular spinning tackle is now. Spinning outfits allow anglers to better cast and control these lighter lures and lines while still having the backbone to handle a good fish.

finesse fishing

The best spinning rod and reel combination would be a 7′ to 7 ½ rod with a fairly “fast” action. This refers to how the rod is built. A “fast” action rod is stiff at the butt and through most of the rod, but then gets limber neat the tip. This combination results in a rod that has backbone and sensitivity, yet a soft tip for longer casts and fighting a fish.

The rod should be matched with a 25/2500 or 30/3000 series reel. Anglers can spool up the reel with braid, monofilament, or newer flourocarbon line. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Most anglers opt for 10 lb braid with a 24′ to 30′ piece of 8-10 lb flourocarbon leader. Braided line has excellent sensitivity, no stretch, and will last a long time. It is a tad more expensive initially.

finesse fishing

A light baitcasting rod and reel certainly has a place in finesse fishing. Modern reels are much easier to cast without the famous “backlash” that used to be common. They are an excellent choice for Texas rigged works and other baits, especially when fishing heavy cover. Baitcasting rigs also work great for fishing with swimbaits, especially the fast retrieve ratios.

Best finesse fishing lures

The list of soft plastic fishing lures that can be used by anglers finesse fishing is literally endless. It would be impossible to list them here. Instead, several of Capt Jim and Sarah’s favorite baits and types will be listed. By no means does this suggest that the many other quality baits on the market are not effective.

finesse bait

Read more about Soft Plastic Fishing Lures in this article by Capt Jim


Plastic worms were introduced to the fishing world in the late 60s and it changed things forever. Early models were stiff and not very life-like; that has certainly changed! Many companies offer a finesse worm. Some anglers refer to them as “do nothing” lures as the less action imparted by the angler the better they generally produce.


Most finesse worms are 4” to 5” long and straight. They are versatile lures that can be rigged a variety of ways. The smaller profile and subtle presentation will appeal to bass and other game fish when they are not feeding aggressively. Both Sarah’s and Capt Jim’s favorite finesse worm is the Yamamoto Senko worm. Capt likes a 4″ bait in green pumpkin hooked wacky style. Sarah prefers the larger Senko and usually fishes it Texas style. Her second choice is the Z-Man TRD worm.


Grubs are small soft plastic lures that can mimic bait fish, crustaceans, and other forage. They are available in several different shapes including curly tail and flat tail. They are most often fished on a jig head, but can be fished on a drop shot rig as well.

mister twister

Mister Twister curly tail grubs hit the market in the late 70’s. The action that this simple design put out in the water was amazing! These are truly finesse baits as they work best fished very slowly. The tail will spin with the slightest movement, including on the fall. These are Capt Jim’s favorite grubs, with chartreuse being his top color.

Creature baits

Creature baits are basically any soft plastic lure that does not fit into other categories. These include crayfish, lizards, shrimp, crabs, and even critters that look like nothing in the water. These baits are generally just a bit bulkier and are often used as trailers on jigs and spinnerbaits. They can be rigged in a variety of manners.

finesse bait

Capt Jim and Sarah both like the Berkley Powerbait line of creature baits. The selection is endless in sizes, shape, and color. Also, these lures has scent which will not only attract fish but more importantly, cause fish to hang on longer. They can re rigged in a variety of ways. Sarah especially likes the Chigger Craw. Her second favorite is the Yamamoto Cowboy.

Tube baits

Tube baits are very effective finesse fishing lures. Many anglers associate them with smallmouth bass, and for good reason. However they are effective on virtually every species, from panfish to northern pike. It is a bit of a secret bait for anglers ice fishing as well.

finesse fishing

The tube bait skirt consists of a bunch of thin ‘tails” that move seductively in the water with the slightest motion. They can imitate bait fish as well as crayfish and other crustaceans. Once again, Berkley gets the nod from Capt Jim with the Berkley Powerbait Power Tube.

Sarah loves fishing with tubes baits! She likes the Bite Me Tackle Big Dude Goby jig heads with Strike King Coffee tubes and Big Bite Baits Craw tubes threaded on. Sarah mostly uses the 4″ size on the larger bass that she fishes for.


swimbait largemouth

Swimbaits are soft plastic lures that resemble a bait fish. They have a bit of a bulky body along with a tail that puts out a steady action and vibration when retrieved. Anglers can purchase lures that are one unit ready and rigged or just the soft plastic body which they can then rig themselves.

These lures are most often fished on a swimbait hook, but can be used on a jig head as well. While these lures can get a bit larger, the fact that they are retrieved slowly and steadily still puts them in the “finesse fishing” category. Capt Jim likes the Bass Assassin line of lures while Sarah does well on the Megabass Dark Sleeper series.


Finesse fishing, rigging and techniques.

There are several rigging and fishing techniques that anglers use when finesse fishing. These include Texas rig, drop shot rig, swimbait hooks, jig heads, Carolina rig, and wacky worm rig. Some bait can be rigged using all of these methods, while others are more specific.

Texas rig

texas rigged worm

Texas rigging a soft plastic lure involves the use of a specially designed hook. This hook allows for the bait to hang straight while having the point buried in the lure, rendering it virtually weedless. A sliding sinker can be added to get the lure down. It is most often used with a worm or creature bait.

finesse fishing

The Texas rig is a terrific choice when fishing in or near heavy cover or vegetation. Anglers can slowly pull a worm or lizard over every log or rock as well as through weeds. Anglers “punch” a Texas rigged creature bait through mats of heavy cover as well. This is one situation where baitcasting tackle works fine.

Drop shot rig

drop shot

The drop shot rig is an extremely effective finesse technique, particularly when used in a vertical presentation. It uses a weight at the bottom with a hook tied 12” to 18” above the weight, tight to the line. A soft plastic lure (any type can really be used) is then hooked through the nose.

The effectiveness of this presentation is that it suspends the lure just off the bottom, right in front of the fish. The rod tip is jiggled gently, causing the lure to dance and flutter. Game fish find this irresistible and this will trigger bites from inactive fish like to other presentation.

Swimbait hook

swim bait hook

Swimbait hooks are similar to worm hooks, with a couple differences. They use some type of keeper to attach the bait to the eye of the hook. A weight is located on the bend, resulting the bait presenting horizontally in the water. The bait can then be hooked weedless. Most swimbaits have a “pocket” for the hook to ride in.

Swimbaits work best with a slow, steady retrieve, often just above the bottom or the tops of submerged vegetation. In most cases, this is a “big fish” bait. Anglers will usually get fewer bites, but they will be larger fish.

Jig head

A jig head is an excellent vehicle to present a soft plastic finesse bait. A light jig head and a small grub will catch just about every fish species that swims. Many an anglers casting a 1/16 ounce jig for panfish has been surprised by a larger bass or pike that took it. Anglers can fish a grub, swimbait, or worm on a jig head effectively.

There are also a few “specialty” jig heads out there, specifically designed for finesse fishing. These include a Ned rig, which uses an oddly shaped head and a small, straight worm. Also, “Shaky Head” jig heads have a fine wire hook and if needed a weed guard. They are excellent for fishing worms and other finesse baits.

Wacky worm

wacky worm fishing

Wacky worm fishing is a very productive method. It almost always uses a finesse worm. What sets it apart is the hooking method; the hook is inserted in the center of the worm. It is cast out and allowed to slowly sink through the water column. The best aspect of this is that it is very easy for novice anglers to use.

Read more about wacky worm fishing in this article

Carolina rig

carolina rig

The Carolina rig is used less than it used to be, due to the popularity of the drop shot rig. It is mostly used in deeper water over structure such as channel edges and other cover. It uses a leader between the hook and the weight allows the worm to float up above the bottom while the sinker crawls over the structure.

Finesse fishing produces a variety of species.


While many anglers associate finesse fishing with bass, the reality is that this technique of downsizing lures and slowing the presentation can produce on most fish species. There will always be days that smaller baits and more subdued retrieves will produce, even on bluegill and panfish.

Larger game fish such as walleye, northern pike, striped bass, and even trout will respond to finesse fishing techniques. Ice fishing is a perfect example of this. Anglers downsize everything in the cold, clear water. The same applies in open water fishing after a cold front moves through, bringing bright skies and cooler water.

In conclusion, this article on finesse fishing will help anglers better understand this extremely effective technique!





Wacky Worm Fishing, Tips and Techniques

Wacky Worm Fishing, Tips and Techniques

This article will thoroughly cover wacky worm fishing. Wacky worm fishing is an easy and productive technique used to present a plastic worm to fish. Largemouth bass are most often the target of anglers using this technique. However, other species can certainly be caught as well.

best largemouth bass fishing lure

Wacky worm fishing consists of placing a hook through the center of a plastic worm. The worm is usually short, between 4 inches and 6 inches long. As the worm sinks, it undulates very naturally in the water, an action that fish find irresistible. No added weight is used.

wacky worm fishing

The hook placement is what separates wacky worm fishing from other types of worms and soft plastic baits. With other rigging methods such as Texas style, Carolina rigging, drop shot, and swim bait hooks, the worm is hooked in the front. This works very well when moving the lure through weeds and over other structure.

best bass lure

Thanks to Jess for the great pics and tips. She never leaves the dock without one outfit rigged up with a wacky worm. Follow Jess on Instagram

Wacky worm fishing techniques

The wacky worm rig is designed to elicit a strike as the worm falls through the water column. The majority of strikes will occur on the cast as the worm slowly sinks, undulating seductively in the water. Anglers can give it a twitch or two after the initial cast as well. It is a form of finesse fishing. However, the worm is not retrieved all the way back in. Instead, it is reeled in quickly and cast to another likely spot.

bass fishing with a worm

This approach to wacky worm fishing makes it very efficient. The lure spends its entire time in the strike zone without a lot of wasted time. It allows anglers to concentrate on prime ambush spots while fishing fairly slowly and still covering a fair amount of water at the same time. It sounds a bit contradictory, but in reality this is what makes it such an excellent fishing technique.

Another advantage of wacky worm fishing is at the strike is usually fairly easy to detect. This makes it an excellent choice for novice and beginning anglers. As mentioned above, most strikes occur as the worm falls through the water column. Sometimes the fish just inhales it, but on many occasions the fish just swims off with the worm. This makes it very easy to detect the strike as the line can be seen running out sideways.

fishing a wacky worm

Best rods, reels, lines, and hooks

Spinning tackle is preferred by most anglers when wacky worm fishing. There are couple of reasons for this. First off, the worm and hook combination is fairly light. Spinning tackle works best when casting light lures. Also, after the initial cast the bail can be left open allowing the fish to grab the worm and swim off with it without feeling any resistance. After a few moments the bail can be slammed shut and the hook set.

wacky worm

The best rod and reel combination for fishing a wacky worm would be a 7 foot to 7 1/2 foot rod with a fast action paired with a 3000 series reel. A fast action rod means that the rod has a stout butt section but a very limber tip. This allows anglers to cast light lures such as the wacky worm while still having decent power to muscle of fish away from heavy cover.

Anglers can use braided line, monofilament line, or fluorocarbon line. It really is just a matter of angler preference. Many anglers prefer braided line is it has zero stretch and excellent sensitivity. A 2 foot long fluorocarbon leader between 10 pound test and 15 pound test should be added, especially in clear water conditions.

wacky worm fishing

A hook completes the wacky worm rig. Most anglers use a wide gap 3/0 to 4/0 finesse style hook. This is a lighter wire hook that is thin, yet strong. A heavy hook does not work well with this finesse type of presentation. Anglers fishing in weedy areas well at times use a hook with a weed guard. Shaky head jig heads are popular as well, as they combine a tiny bit of weight if needed along with a hook and a weed guard. They work very well when fishing slightly deeper water or when current is present.

Fishing the wacky worm

For the most part, wacky worm fishing is a shallow water technique. It is well-suited to fishing depths between 1 foot deep and 6 feet deep. It is an efficient technique that allows anglers to cover a fair amount of water quickly while still fishing slowly. Anglers cast the worm to the high percentage targets such as weed edges, boat docks, submerged timber, and other fish holding spots.

best largemouth bass lure

The wacky worm can be fished in deep water, however that is not really it’s strong suit. The rig simply takes too long to sink and it would take anglers a long time to cover an area thoroughly. It is also not the best choice when fishing heavy cover as the design of the rig will result in it hanging on weeds. Texas rigging and Carolina rigging are better options in these situations.

Lure options


Just about any plastic worm or other soft plastic bait can be fished wacky style. However, for the most part anglers use a 4 inch to six-inch finesse type worm. This is sometimes referred to as a do-nothing bait. The reason for this is that the angler does not impart any action but instead allow the subtle actions of the bait to attract fish.

The most popular worm used by anglers wacky worm fishing is by far the Yamamoto Senko worm. This is a fantastic lure that can be rigged wacky style as well as all of the other methods. It comes in 4 inch long and 5 inch long versions and in a wide variety of colors. Green pumpkin is probably the most popular and universal color.


Click to shop Amazon for Senko baits

There are certainly other baits that work well for this technique.They include but are not limited to the Zoom Finesse worm, the General Worm by Berkley, and Yum Dinger worms. Also, any full sized worm can be used when wacky worm fishing. Curly tail worms put out extra action which can at times be more attractive. Larger worms can become more clunky and can tangle. For the most part, the 4″ and 5″ straight worms work best in this application.

9 essential smallmouth bass fishing lures

Click to shop Amazon for Zoom, General, and Yum Dinger worms

The same philosophies regarding color apply to anglers fishing a wacky worm as well. Natural colors such as green and darker colors such as blue and black work almost anywhere. White and light colors work well in clear water. Hot pink and chartreuse are good choices in water with very low visibility.

Read this article by Capt Jim on soft plastic fishing lures

Wacky worm hooking tips

The best finesse worms for wacky worm fishing are usually very soft and supple. This gives them an excellent lifelike action and the water. However, it also makes them less durable. Therefore, anglers have devised a few different techniques for hooking the wacky worm that will allow anglers to catch more than one fish on each bait.

wacky worm fishing

Wacky worm fishing started by anglers simply putting a hook through the middle of the worm. While this is still effective, it does result in less fish per bait being caught. Some anglers threat the worm through a very short piece of plastic straw, then insert the hook through the straw. O rings can also be used. With this technique, the hook is simply placed under the O-ring and not even piercing the worm. Anglers can purchase kits which have all these components in one location.

In conclusion, this article on wacky worm fishing will help anglers catch more fish using the easy and effective technique!

Best 13 Ice Fishing Spoons – Tips and Techniques

Best 13 Ice Fishing Spoons

This article will list the best 13 ice fishing spoons. Spoons are very effective ice fishing lures as they can be presented vertically. They are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors to imitate any forage that game fish feed on. Spoons will catch every species that feeds under the ice!

ice fishing spoons

There are quite a few options for anglers when it comes to choosing the best ice fishing spoon. Obviously, the spoon will be fished in a vertical presentation through the ice. Ice fishing spoons are available in sizes from tiny spoons for panfish to spoons 4” or longer for trophy northern pike, bass, lake trout, and burbot.

northern pike fishing

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In most cases, ice fishing spoons will mimic wounded bait fish. The flash and vibration will call fish to the lure. Bright colors are very effective, as are gold and silver finishes. Successful anglers match the color or finish to the conditions. Dark and bright colors work best in low light conditions. Conversely, white, silver, and subdued finishes are better in clear water and sunny days.

crappie fishing

The best 13 ice fishing spoons are;

  • Acme Kastmaster spoon
  • Bay de Noc Sweedish Pimple spoon
  • Clam Leech Flutter spoon
  • Williams Whitefish spoon
  • Acme Little Cleo spoon
  • VMC Rattle Spoon
  • Lindy Quiver spoon
  • Bay de Noc Do Jigger spoon
  • PK Lures Flutter Fish Jigging spoon
  • Acme Phoebe spoon
  • Venom Outdoors 360 Glow spoon
  • Moonshine jigging spoon
  • Mepps Syclops spoon

This list of the best 13 ice fishing spoons will cover every situation that an angler will encounter when chasing all species of game fish through the ice.

Ice fishing with spoons; top techniques

walleye fishing

Anglers ice fishing with spoons use them similarly to a jig. The lure is lowered down to the desired depth, then the rod tip is raised up, causing the spoon to “jump”. The rod tip is lowered and the spoon flutters down. This action is usually what draws the strike as it realistically imitates a wounded or dying bait fish.

Anglers who would like to read more about ice fishing can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “A Complete Guide to Ice Fishing” for $6 by clicking on the title link.

Anglers need to vary the retrieve and depth to determine what will be the most productive on that particular day. A good approach is to start at the bottom and work the spoon up in the water column. A subtle presentation usually works best, though a very aggressive retrieve will be called for on days when fish are very active.

ice fishing spoons

Read more about Ice Fishing with Lures in this article by Capt Jim

The spoon can be used in conjunction with live bait to sweeten up the offering. A little taste and smell on the hook will often make the difference, especially on a tough day. Grubs, minnows, and nightcrawlers are all effective. Anglers targeting lake trout, pike, and burbot will often use a big chunk or strip of cut bait on a big spoon.

Best 13 ice fishing spoons

A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. The shape and bend in the lure will determine the action that it has. While all ice fishing spoons are similar, there are differences between them. Therefore, each spoon will be briefly described below.

Acme Kastmaster spoon


Click link to shop Amazon for Kastmaster spoons

The Acme Kastmaster spoon is an excellent ice fishing spoon. It has a unique, dense design that sinks quickly, which is an advantage in strong current. Kastmaster spoons are available in many sizes from 1/32 ounce to several ounces. The plain, tiger glow, and flash tape models are available in the best sizes for ice fishing. The Tiger Glow line has the bright color finished that many anglers prefer. The Kastmaster spoon is now available in a new Tungsten model.

Bay de Noc Sweedish Pimple spoon

brown trout lures

The Bay de Noc Sweedish Pimple is a long and slender spoon. It is a good choice in clear water when anglers want a more aggressive presentation. It is available in 8 sizes and over a dozen colors and metallic finishes. The small versions are deadly on panfish while the larger models imitate ciscoes and other larger forage.

sweedish pimple chart

Click link to shop Amazon for Sweedish Pimple spoons

Clam Leech Flutter spoon

flutter spoon

The Clam Leech Flutter spoon is another popular and effective ice fishing spoon. There are several models in the line, from the 1/32 ounce panfish model up to ½ ounce. Most anglers opt for one of their many bright color finishes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Leech Flutter spoons

Williams Whitefish spoon

whitefish spoon

The Williams Whitefish spoon is a bit of a specialty lure. It is a larger, heavier spoon designed to mimic a wounded ciscoe and is used to target larger game fish including whitefish, burbot, lake trout, pike, and walleye. Anglers often add a strip or chunk of fresh cut fish. It works very well in deep water. It is available in three sizes and fifteen finishes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Williams Whitefish spoons

Acme little Cleo

little cleo spoon

The Acme Little Cleo spoon has a wide profile that makes it flutter seductively as it falls. It is an excellent choice in shallow water. These lures are available from 1/16 ounce to over an ounce. Anglers have a lot of choices as far as colors. The Glow series is very popular among anglers ice fishing.

Click link to shop Amazon for Little Cleo spoons

VMC Rattle spoon

vmc rattle spoon

The VMC Rattle Spoon has a brass chamber with rattles that emits a fish-calling action. It comes in four sizes and over a dozen fishes, mostly brightly colored. The combination of bright colors along with the rattles make this spoon an excellent choice in dirty water conditions. Ultra glow models will put out a glow for 15 minutes or so.

vmc rattle spoon chart

Click link to shop Amazon for VMC Rattle spoons

Lindy Quiver spoon

quiver spoon

The Lindy Quiver Spoon has a wide body and a unique design. It puts out a very productive action with very little effort by the angler. It is available in 1/16, 1/8, ¼, ounce sizes and a dozen colors and finishes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Lindy Quiver spoons

Bay de Noc Jigger spoon

jigger spoon

The Bay de Noc Jigger spoon was specifically designed for a vertical presentation. It has an elongated diamond shape. The spoon comes in several sizes, starting with the #1 1/16 ounce size, which is the most popular among anglers ice fishing. The bright colors are most effective.

Click link to shop Amazon for Jigger spoons

PK Lures Flutter Fish spoon

flutterfish spoon

The PK Flutter Fish Jigging Spoon is another excellent lure for a vertical presentation. It has a unique shape and an enticing action as it falls through the water column. It comes in 6 sizes, from 1/8 ounce to one once in 17 flashy color patterns and metallic finishes. Glowing eyes help attract game fish as well.

Click link to shop Amazon for Flutter Fish spoons

Acme Phoebe spoon

phoebe spoon

The Acme Phoebe spoon is an old school fishing lure that has been producing through the ice for decades. Anglers can choose from 1/12, 1/8, 1/6, ¼, and ½ ounce sizes and ten finishes. Gold is by far the most popular color. The Phoebe spoon has an excellt, subtle action in the water.

Click link to shop Amazon for Acme Phoebe spoons

Venom Outdoors 360 Glow spoon

venom spoon


The Venom Outdoors 360 Glow spoon is Ana’s personal favorite ice fishing spoon. It is long and slender, a shape many anglers fishing the “hard water” prefer. It has a Tungsten frame, rattles, and glows much longer underwater than other glow spoons do. It is available in four sizes and a bunch of terrific colors. Anglers can tip it with a grub for even more success.

Click link to shop Amazon for Venom Glow spoons

Moonshine Jigging spoon

moonshine jigging spoon

Moonshing Jigging spoons are known for their uniquely bright, flashy colors and erratic action in the water. Many actually glow. It is an “attractor” lure which will draw in curious game fish. It is available in ¼, 3/8, ½, and ¾ ounce sizes.

Click link to shop Amazon for Moonshine spoons

Mepps Syclops spoon

mepps psyclops spoon

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of the best 13 ice fishing spoons is the Mepps Syclops spoon. It is available in 5 sizes from 1/8 ounce to 1 ounce in weight. These spoons are available in some very bright and flashy color combinations. The 00 size is perfect for panfish and other species caught through the ice.

Click link to shop Amazon for Syclops spoons

In conclusion, this article on the best 13 ice fishing spoons will help anglers choose the correct spoon for every ice fishing situation.


Soft Plastic Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide!

Soft Plastic Fishing Lures

This article will thoroughly cover soft plastic fishing lures. Anglers have many choices when it comes to artificial lures. However, it would be easy to argue that out of all of these choices, soft plastic fishing lures are the most versatile and effective baits.

soft plastic fishing lures

Soft plastic fishing lures have advantages over other types of lures. They are quite economical and most instances, costing less than plugs and spinner baits. Soft plastic fishing lures are also very versatile and can be used throughout the entire water column and in every fishing situation. Finally, and most importantly, no other family of lures looks more natural or enticing to game fish in the water than do soft plastic fishing lures.

Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Potomac River in Chesapeake Bay waters as well as mountain streams for trout and smallmouth bass. He is a well-rounded angler who has fished all over North America and the Caribbean. He has caught as many fish on soft plastic fishing lures as all other baits combined. In this article he will share his tips and personal favorite soft plastic fishing lures.

best striped bass fishing lure

Soft plastic fishing lures fall into several categories;

  • plastic worms
  • grubs
  • swimbaits
  • jerk baits
  • creature baits
  • tube baits

Each of these soft plastic fishing lure types are similar, however there are some differences between them. Therefore, each category will be covered separately along with fishing tips and the best way to rig them.

Rigging soft plastic fishing lures

Anglers fishing with soft plastic fishing lures have a variety of options when it comes to rigging and presenting these baits. They include a Texas rig, Carolina rig, drop shot rig, on a swim bait hook, on a jig head, and wacky style. Some soft plastic fishing lures are best used with a particular rigging style while others are versatile and can be used with all of the above.

Texas Rig

texas rigged worm

The Texas rig is a very effective way to fish a soft plastic bait. It is mostly used with plastic worms and creature baits, though certainly can be used with jerk baits as well. It involves a specially designed hook which allows the bait to hang straight while burying the hook in the body, making it weedless. A sliding conical shape sinker is used to get the bait down in the water column. The weight rides right on the eye of the hook. It can also be pegged to keep it from sliding. The Texas rig is used mostly by freshwater bass anglers.

Carolina Rig

carolina rig

The Carolina rig is similar to the Texas rigged but with a little variation. The same style Texas rig hook is used. However, it uses a sliding egg sinker along with a swivel and a leader. The swivel stops the sinker from sliding. A 2 foot to 3 foot leader connects the other end of the swivel with the warm hook. This results in the worm, usually a floating worm, working just above the bottom as the sinker is crawled over structure. This is an extremely effective presentation over deeper water structure. the Carolina rig is a versatile rig that is mostly used by freshwater anglers for a variety of species.

Drop shot rig

drop shot

The drop shot rig is a relative, to do soft plastic fishing lure seen. Is considered a type of finesse fishing and is used with lighter lines in clear water when fish can be finicky. It uses a sinker at the bottom of the line with a hook tied tight to the running line 12 to 18 inches above the sinker. A bait is usually hooked through the front. When lower to the bottom and jiggle softly, the results in a very effective presentation with the lure suspending a bit off the bottom. the drop shot rig is mostly used by freshwater anglers but it is starting to take a hold and saltwater as well.

Swim bait Hooks

swim bait hook

Swimbait hooks are growing in popularity among anglers as they are very versatile and effective. They are similar to a Texas rig, with the exception that weight is molded in the bend of the hook. This results in a horizontal presentation. Some type of keeper allows for the lure to be inserted near the eye, then the hook is embedded in the bait, resulting in a weedless presentation. Any bait rigged this way can be retrieve steadily or crawled over bottom structure. Swimbait hook are popular ineffective for both freshwater and saltwater species.

Jig Head

ice fishing basics

Jig heads have been used to present soft plastic fishing lures to fish for decades. It remains a very effective technique and is used extensively by saltwater anglers. They are very effective in freshwater as well. The jig head provides both weight and action along with a hook all in one unit. Swim baits, grubs, and jerk baits are commonly used on a jig head.

Wacky Rig


The wacky worm rig works a little odd at first, but is an effective angling technique. It basically involves a hook with no weight being inserted right in the middle of a plastic worm, usually a finesse type bait. The lure is cast out and as it sinks it undulate seductively, looking very natural and a seemingly easy meal to game fish. It is most often used by bass anglers in fairly shallow water.

Rods and reels for fishing soft plastic baits


There is no one type of tackle that is best for using soft plastic fishing lures. Lighter lures and finesse baits are best used with spinning tackle. Anglers casting larger baits in heavy cover will do better with fairly stout baitcasting tackle.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Lews spinning and baitcasting outfits

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Soft Plastic fishing lure options

Best Speckled trout fishing lures

As mentioned above, there are several different categories which soft plastic fishing lures can fall into. While similar, there are differences in the way they are fished in rigged. Therefore, each will be covered separately along with a couple of Capt. Jim’s personal favorites.

Color choices for soft plastic fishing lures

A lot can be and has been written regarding colors when it comes to soft plastic fishing lures and really fishing lures in general. There is no one correct choice. Green pumpkin is an outstanding all-around color for anglers freshwater fishing. White is a universal and effective color for anglers fishing anywhere.

Sarasota freshwater fishing

Generally speaking, Capt. Jim likes to match the color of his soft plastic fishing lure to the clarity of the water being fished. Light colors such as white and silver work well in clear water. Darker colors such as green, blue and black are effective in darker or stained water. Hot pink and chartreuse will produce when the water is especially dingy or off-color. Chartreuse is an excellent color choice as well and just about every water conditions, despite the fact that nothing the nature really has that color pattern.

Plastic worms

women bass fishing in Florida

Plastic worms are the lures that started the whole soft plastic fishing lure phenomenon. The original lures first hit the market in the late 1960s. They were very stiff and inflexible. That has certainly changed today! Modern plastic worms are very seductive and lifelike in the water. Many are scented, resulting in the fish holding onto the bait a little longer. Plastic worms are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

Plastic worms can be rigged a variety of ways, making them a very versatile bait. Anglers can rig them Texas style and work them through the heaviest cover. The Carolina rig is a great option when working deeper structure such as channel edges and points. Smaller finesse worms work very well on a drop shot rig or hooked wacky style. Finally, plastic worms can be fish in a swimming retrieve on both a swim bait hook or a jig head in open water.

bass fishing

Click the links to shop Amazon for Zoom Trick and Senko worms

Capt. Jim’s to favorite plastic worms are the Zoom Trick Worm and the Yamamoto Senko. He is not alone in his choices as these are two of the most popular soft plastic fishing lures used by anglers all over the world. He fishes the Trick Worm Texas rigged, Carolina rigs, or on a swim bait hook. The Senko is deadly fish the wacky style or on a drop shot rig. It can also be fish Texas style using a slightly smaller hook.


Grubs are very effective soft plastic fishing lures. They are used extensively by anglers in both freshwater and saltwater applications. These are very versatile baits that can be chosen to mimic a wide variety of prey including bait fish, shrimp, crayfish, leeches, and other crustaceans. They are most often fished on a jig head using a “hop and fall” retrieve.

Sarasota fishing report

Grubs have been around for quite a while. However, there was a resurgence of them in the late 1970s when the Mister Twister line of curly tail baits hit the market. The action that these lures produced with a very simple retrieve is phenomenal. They are great choice for novice anglers as they have so much built in action. This bait is Capt. Jim’s favorite freshwater soft plastic grub lure.

Sarasota fishing report

While curly tail grubs work in saltwater fishing, there is a durability issue. Often times, saltwater anglers will encounter small fish which will quickly nip off the twister tale. Therefore, a more durable rub is required. Many saltwater anglers refer a flat tail grub or a shrimp, which realistically mimics shrimp and other crustaceans. Capt. Jim’s favorite saltwater grub is the 3″ Gulp Shrimp. The scent is incredible, resulting in the fish finding the lure and holding on to it longer. It really is almost like fishing with live bait!

Click the links to shop Amazon for Mister Twister and Gulp Shrimp lures


redfish lures

Swimbaits are very effective soft plastic fishing lures for a variety of species in both freshwater and saltwater situations. They consist of a body with some type of tail that gives the lure its natural swimming action. Many of these baits work best with just a simple slow steady retrieve, letting the lure do all the work. They can be hopped sharply and allowed to fall as well. Where possible, angler should match the size and color of the bait to the locally available forage.

Florida bluefish

Swimbaits are most often fished either on a jig head or a swim bait hook. This applies to anglers fishing in both freshwater and saltwater. Jig heads are a great choice when fishing in open water where snags are not a problem. Anglers fishing in heavier vegetation or around structure will do better using a swimbait hook where the lure can be presented weedless.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Bass Assassin Sea Shad and Die Dapper swimbaits

flats fishing

Capt. Jim’s favorite line of swimbaits is the Bass Assassin line of baits. He uses the 4 inch Sea Shad baits on the majority of his fishing charters in Sarasota. It is an extremely effective saltwater fishing lure. Anglers can also choose from the Bass Shiner and Die Dapper series of baits for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. They are available in several different sizes and a staggering color selection.

Jerk Baits

spotted sea trout fishing

Jerk baits are a bit of a mix between a swim bait and a plastic worm. They are long and slender and most have some type of a split or fluke type of tail. They can be rigged in any of the same ways that other soft plastic fishing lures can, depending on the application. Anglers saltwater fishing in open water often rig them on a jig head. Freshwater anglers often use them on a swim bait hook or a Texas style hook with no weight. Smaller jerk baits are extremely effective when fished on a drop shot rig as well.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Bass Assassin and Gulp jerk baits

Capt. Jim’s to favorite jerk baits are the Bass Assassin Split Tail Shad and the Gulp Jerk Shad. Both of these fishing lures have excellent action and catch a lot of fish. The added benefit of scent can give the Gulp baits an advantage with the bite is tough.

Tube baits

Michigan fishing

Tube baits are primarily used by anglers fishing in freshwater. They are extremely effective soft plastic fishing lures for a variety of species, though many anglers associate them with smallmouth bass. However, tiny models are deadly on panfish while larger versions will catch walleye, pike, and other fish species. They are also effective for anglers ice fishing as well.

ice fishing for lake trout

The many split tales of a two bait give it outstanding action and the water. Anglers can match the color and size of the bait along with how it is best to mimic both bait fish and crustaceans. A dark green to bait bounce along the bottom looks very much like a crayfish. Capt. Jim’s favorite line of to baits is the Berkeley Powerbait tube bait.

Click the links to shop Amazon for Berkley Powerbait tube baits

Creature baits

Basically, any soft plastic fishing lure that does not fit into the above categories can be deemed a creature bait. These lures can mimic crayfish, leeches, helgramites, shrimp, crabs, and even baits that resemble nothing that lives in the water. Generally speaking, creature baits are a bit bulkier and have some type of appendages or tentacles that waive seductively in the water.

fishing for largemouth bass

Creature baits are often used by anglers bass fishing while flipping in heavy cover. They can be fished Texas style or on a bass jig as a trail. Salamander type baits are often used on a Carolina rig for spawning bass is incredible success. Capt. Jim’s favored creature bait is the Strike King line of baits

Click the links to shop Amazon for Strike King creature baits

In conclusion, this article on soft plastic fishing lures will help anglers choose to write bait and rigging for their particular fishing application, resulting in more success!