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Blaserdude1

Soft baits, plastics, etc.

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When do these baits work best? Is one (tube), better than another (grub)? How about shaky heads and football jigs? Please understand, I am not a skilled bass fisherman, just an ordinary Joe who wants to improve my chances on local lakes such as Cherokee, Douglass, and SoHo.

Regards,

bc

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No one size fits all answer, but generally, I’ll use a shaky head in about any kind of conditions, unless the wind is really whipping, making it too hard for me to stay in contact with the lighter bait. Football head jigs can be used for a lot of stuff, but they really do well when the bass are sitting on offshore structure, especially humps. I’m certainly no Texas or Carolina rig expert, but I generally throw a T rig in shallower water, and switch to a C rig probing deeper stuff. As for tubes, I’ve never really used em, but I know people love to use em in shallow, clear water, near cover. Personally, I like using wacky rig in similar situations, when the cover isn’t thick (like boat docks, single tree trunks), and I’ll switch to a shaky head or flipping jig in thicker stuff (grass, brush, trees with a lot of limbs). But honestly, just experiment. You’d be surprised by what can catch what. Just in general, use lighter setups shallower, heavier setups deeper, and lean towards protected hooks in thicker cover. 

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Thanks. When the fish aren't up in crankbait, spinner bait, or topwater range, I am lost. Compound that with the fact that our lakes are deep and pretty devoid of structure like the southern lakes, and it gets complicated.

bc

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1 hour ago, Blaserdude1 said:

Thanks. When the fish aren't up in crankbait, spinner bait, or topwater range, I am lost. Compound that with the fact that our lakes are deep and pretty devoid of structure like the southern lakes, and it gets complicated.

bc

Our lakes are far from being devoid of cover. On Douglas and Cherokee you have a TON of willow bushes and offshore rock piles, and bluff walls. Soho has the same, plus a bunch of laydowns, and more rock than you can shake a stick at. And if you idle around with your electronics you can find tons of brush piles (some planted, some natural). And Watauga has more laydown trees than all of the other three combined. 
 

The absolute best way to learn any (new) technique is to make yourself learn it. Do some research to see when the best times are to use a certain bait (tx rig, wacky rig, Carolina rig, shakey head, etc.) and make yourself go throw it by taking only that to the lake, river, or pond of your choice. I’m boatless at the moment, but I’d be more than happy to show you any of the above at certain times of the year. For example, a wacky rig excels around the spawn, a jig, or a shakey head can and will catch em all year long, a Carolina rig works well from April through fall, etc. Keep being hungry, Craig Powers said in a recent seminar that he did that he’s 57, used to be a professional angler (one of the best in the world) and what has made him a good fisherman is that he’s obsessive about learning. 

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Not meaning to downplay local lakes. I tend to fish in spring and fall when water is lower and some of the cover is high and dry. Mostly rock bluffs, points and pockets. My boat is a river boat so I don't have sonar, only thermometer on the trolling motor. I usually fish close to where I launch since its pretty slow.

Thanks,

bc

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True. The upper reservoirs are harder to find cover, especially when the water is down. But it’s there. Just takes a lot of electronic work. The lower reservoirs are definitely easier though. I’ll certainly give you that. I grew up fishing Loudoun mainly, so it was a totally different ballgame when I moved up to the Jeff city/Morristown area, and started exploring those lakes up north. Buuuuuuuut, the good news is when you do find that cover, it’s usually very productive, because there’s so much less of it, and it’s isolated. Especially if it’s man made, and placed on very productive structure. Use your electronics, and also do some research online. I like using Navionics on the iPad- people regularly update locations of fish attractors and other cover, which can save you a lot of time aimlessly wandering the lake. But also, learn to read the actual lake structure, as that’ll be the most important factor in finding them. Random cover won’t be very productive, if it’s in an area devoid of any decent lake structure. Just my .02

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My electronics consist of my imagination and memory of what I saw on scuba and when the lakes were drawn way down. You guessed it, I fly blind. I have a few spots on Boone while its down that are consistent but the bigger lakes are just a shot in the dark. Thanks, for the help.

bc

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Well, I’m not gonna state the obvious saying I’d get some graphs, but do you have iPad or iPhone? If so, download the Navionics app. And you get something like the Deeper sonar, if you wanted sonar capability. Otherwise, nothing wrong with old school paper, and just focus on structure- points, creeks, ditches, humps, etc. 

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Thanks for the help. I got the information about the baits I was looking for. Due to financial and health reasons, I am not a candidate for an "official" bass boat. I have fished out of them and they are great. Right now I am fishing solo so I go where its easy to launch and recover and usually on weekdays. My main hobby has been competition sporting clays shooting since 1994. Doing more fish now due to travel costs and other expenses. Hope to see you all out there.

bc

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Bass boats are awesome, and I’m glad to have one again. That said, I’ve caught fish out of kayaks, Jon boats, and off the bank. I’ve fished without sonar for years too. It all helps, but it isn’t absolutely required to enjoy a good day of fishing. 

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You'll find that there will be times when one style of plastic bait is better than others.  The challenge is finding the balance - of options, of time to learn how to use those options, of space in which to store it all.  Same-same for techniques (like shakyhead, football jig, etc).  There are no hard-n-fast rules on when, where, or how.  That's what makes this sport so addictive.  There's always another piece of the puzzle to solve.

Based on my [limited] experience here's how I pattern soft plastics:

- winter - small finesse worms (ned rig, drop shot, and shakyhead), small flukes and worms (drop shot), small beaver style baits for jig trailers

- spring - creature baits (c-rig), lizards (c-rig), larger finesse worms (shakyhead, wacky rig), stick baits (weightless, t-rig, and wacky rigged), swim baits (solid and hollow body)

- summer - big worms (t-rig), creature baits (c-rig), small and large finesse worms (shakyhead, wacky rig), stick worms (same as above), big beavers (punch baits)

- fall - swim baits, creature baits, flukes, trick worms

I keep my plastics sorted by type and store them in small tote bags.  That enables me to plug-n-play for an outing based on season, info from reports, and info from my journals.  All of this is kept in one of the small compartments on the back deck.  Not a lot volume-wise but a good variety.  I'll adjust (add, subtract, upsize, downsize) based on what I learn in practice.

Other things to consider:  1) Buoyancy.  Not all plastics are created equal.  Infused (salt, scent) baits are denser than water and sink.  Others (Softy's baits, Robo-worm) are not so they float up off of the deck.  Both catch fish.  There are times when the characteristics of the plastic formula make the difference.  2)  Hook size and weight.  Light wire hooks for small profile finesse baits.  Heavy wire hooks for big profile and punch baits.  You'll want an assortment of J, EWGs, drop shot, flipping, and other kinds of hooks.  Easy to pack a nice assortment into a small box or bag.  3)  Weights.  Think about weights and shapes.  Heavier weight if you're fishing deep.  A bullet shaped weigh if you're working it thru cover.  Then there are specialty weights for drop shotting, flipping, wacky, the list goes on.  The key here is to match the hook to your desired presentation and bait profile.  Others will chime in here on metals used for weights.  Some swear by tungsten.  Others use lead.  Others use brass.  As with the hook, match your weight type to your presentation.

This was a great question.  You're thinking about the right kind of stuff.  Keep it up!

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