Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Plastic Worms

How to use plastic worms for bass fishing

Last I talked about some lures for pre spawn fishing. One being Plastic worms. Worms catch more bass each year than any other lure. There’s lots of good reasons why they catch so many bass; but the number one reason is, bass love them!
A few other reasons they catch lots of bass are, they're one of the most versatile baits available, they’re simple to use, they come in many different sizes and shapes, and you can get them in every color of the rainbow.

The most common way to use this lure is rigged on a "Texas rig" this rig consists of a hook a "bullet weight" and the worm.

Texas rig fishing

Bullet weights come in all sizes. From 1/16oz up to 2oz. A good medium that will normally work well in any texas rig situation is 3/8oz. Plastic worm hooks also come in a variety of types sizes. I suggest you start with a 3/0 or 4/0.

To do a texas rig, you will need to first thread the line through the bullet sinker small end first. Then tie on your hook. That’s it.. all that’s left is to thread the plastic worm on to the hook and you’re ready to fish. To thread the worm on, first insert the hook point into the end of the worm about 1/4 inch. Then push the hook point out the side and pull the worm head up onto the eye of the hook. Now rotate the hook so that the point is facing the body of the plastic worm. Then push the hook point into the worm leaving the point just inside the worm enough to keep it from being exposed. This keeps you worm rig weedless and prevents snagging on cover.
See video
How to tie a texas rig for a visual example.

This is how your rig should look

How to fish with the texas rigged worm

The design of the texas rigged plastic worm is perfect for fishing heavy cover where bass hide. It can be fished directly in thick brush weeds or any other heavy cover easily without snagging.
There’s countless methods used to fish this rig. The standard method however, is to cast, flip, or pitch the bait into the cover, let it sink to the bottom and use the rod tip to slowly work the worm through the cover as you keep slack out of the line with the reel.

The strike will normally feel like a light tap on the bait. When you feel the tap lower the rod tip, reel up the slack in the line and set the hook by swiftly jerking the rod tip upward.

The Carolina Rig

The carolina rig is used with the same baits as the texas rig however is more suited for fishing structure as apposed to heavy cover.

How to carolina rig a plastic worm

To tie the carolina rig, you’ll need a bullet weight, a worm hook, a barrel swivel and a small glass or plastic bead. The bead which will be placed between the bullet weight and the barrel swivel serves 2 purposes. It keeps the weight which is normally much heavier than that used with the texas rig from beating against the knot on the barrel swivel. The other purpose it serves is as an attraction for the fish by creating a clicking sound when the weight which slides freely on the line hits the bead. This sound is similar to the clicking sounds made by crawfish and can ad a great attraction aspect to the presentation.

As I mentioned above, a much heavier weight is typically used with this rig than with the texas rig. Generally a ½ to 3/4oz. The purpose of the heavier weight is also an attraction. As the heavy weight is dragged along the bottom, it kicks up silt and simulates a crawfish or other crustation scurrying along the bottom. The whole rig when presented correctly simulates a small predator (your plastic worm) chasing a small crawfish or other small prey along the bottom.
First thread the bullet weight onto the line small end first. Then thread on the bead, and tie on the barrel swivel.
Next you will need to tie on a leader. Typically the leader is just a separate length of the same line as on your reel. A good practice however is to use a slightly smaller test line for your leader. This may help as if you get snagged many times you will just break off the leader and bait saving your weight and barrel swivel.

Leader length

The length of the leader can vary. As a general rule I never use shorter 18 to 24 inches of leader in clear water. However always be willing to experiment with your leader length until you find what works best.

Now tie one end of your leader to the opposite end of your barrel swivel, tie on your hook to the end of your leader, thread on the plastic worm the same as with the texas rig and you’re ready to catch bass.

Should look like this

How to fish the carolina rig

The design of this rig is not feasible for catching bass in heavy brush or thick matted cover as is the teaxs rig. The carolina rig works very well in sparse weeds or on structure such as humps or points with stumps or scattered rocks.

Cast the rig out, let it sink to the bottom, then slowly raise the rod tip from the 3:00 clock position to the 11:00 clock position then lower the rod back to the 3:00 clock position as you reel up the slack line. Repeat this action slowly dragging the bait along the bottom.

Because of the heavier weight, the strike is sometimes more difficult to detect. I like to keep a finger on the line just in front of the reel as I work the bait. This helps me better detect the tap tap of a strike. When a strike is detected reel up the slack and jerk with a side sweeping motion to set the hook.

Choosing the right rod for plastic worm fishing

It’s critical that you have the right rod for fishing plastic worms. The two most important factors in choosing a good rod for this application are a stiff action and sensitivity. The stiffness of the rod is needed to help insure a good hook set and maximizes the sensitivity which allows you to better detect strikes. A stiff action rod helps to compensate for line stretch and the fact that your hook point is inside the plastic worm and must penetrate the worm when you set the hook. I suggest a medium heavy to heavy action 6 to 7 ft graphite rod. It’s a common myth that you have to spend a lot of money for a decent rod. The fact is, you can buy a rod that will work just fine for around $30.00

A good way to test the sensitivity of a rod is to ask someone to help you, with one hand on the rods handle place the rod tip on their throat and ask them to speak. If you can feel the vibration of the person speaking through the rod, it has good sensitvity.

The right reel

The reel is not so important as the rod for fishing plastic worms. Any good medium to heavy reel will work just fine as long as it holds at least 50 yards of 10 to 20lb test line and has a good drag system. Spinning reel, bait caster or spin cast are all good choices.

One of the most attractive aspects of the plastic worm as a bass fishing lure is its versatility. It can be rigged and fished many different ways for most any fishing situation. Next time I’ll discuss some of the other methods of using plastic worms.

Until then Good Fishing


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pre Spawn Fishing Basics

How to Find and Catch Pre Spawn Bass

The first order in catching pre spawn bass is being able to find them - so I’ll get straight to that task first.

Finding bass during the pre spawn period can be a challenge for bass anglers anywhere in the country. However this stage of the spawn offers one of the best opportunities of the year to catch those really big bass.

On lakes and reservoirs, I always begin my search for pre spawners by first determining what part of the lake the fish are most likely to be in a pre spawn pattern. I’m looking for water temperatures in the low 50's to low 60's.

Water temps on most large lakes or reservoirs vary from one section of the lake to another as the season progresses and so does the spawn. On large bodies of water It’s very possible to have fish in all three stages of the spawn on different sections of the lake at the same time.

The shallow or upper end of the lake normally will warm first; so bass there will be the first to go into a pre spawn pattern. So in early Spring, I will begin there. If it’s later in spring I may start looking for those 50 to 60 degree temps on the lower end or mid part of the lake.

Once I determine what part of the lake has the water temps I’m looking for, I begin by looking for bass migration routes. Migration routes defined as it pertains to bass fishing, is a route bass travel from the deeper water winter holding places to the shallow water cover or structure.

Normally a migration route consists of a ditch, creek channel, point, weed line, road bed or some other structure that leads from deep water to shallow water spawning areas. For example a creek channel leads from the main lake and progressively shallows as you move back toward the back end. The back of the creek or shallow pockets on the sides of the creek may be good spawning areas and the creek channel would be the route bass travel from the shallows back to deeper water wintering areas.

Once I locate a likely migration corridor that leads to a shallow cove, flat, or other good spawning area, I decide whether to start looking for fish in the shallows or on the deeper part of the structure by taking in to consideration the weather conditions. If the weather has been warm and stable for several days, I will start looking for bass on the shallow part and work my way toward the deeper end of the structure keying on any cover such as weeds, stumps, rocks or brush within or on the migration route.

Keep this in mind when looking for pre spwan fish

The smaller male bass have the responsibility of preparing beds for the bigger female bass to lay her eggs. So they will normally be the first to move up into the shallower water. On warm days they will move up and begin cruising the shallows looking for places to build beds while the big females lay back in the deeper water. As the season progresses and water temps warm, the females will also move up into the shallows and cruise as they prepare to go on bed. But if the weather turns nasty i.e. a strong front rolls in; all the pre spawn fish will usually draw back into the deeper water. And wait for conditions to stabilize.

How to catch bass in pre spawn

While bass are generally active and ready to feed during this time, several factors may come into play in catching them.

Choosing the right lure


Lure presentation

Again weather plays a huge role in how bass may react to your lure and your presentation during the pre spawn.

If you are at all experienced in bass fishing you probably know that cold fronts and unstable weather can have a very detrimental effect on bass activity.

The pre spawn takes place in early spring in most parts of the country; and this time of year is notorious for unstable weather. The weather is always my first consideration when choosing a bait.

If the weather is stable and warm, I’m expecting bigger fish to be cruising on or near the spawning area’s in shallow water. I will normally start in the shallows with a bait that I can fish fast and cover lots of water.

Everyone has a favorite bait and you should have confidence in any bait you use. But this is a whole other can of worms that I’ll get into in another post.

In this particular situation, I start with a soft plastic jerkbait and try other baits if needed. I move right into the spawning area and fish any visible cover and work my way back toward the migration route.

Now, if I’m faced with adverse weather-a front. I expect the fish to be holding in deeper water on the migration route but near the spawning area. In this case, I would normally reverse my method. I start on the deeper part of the migration route with a bait that can be fished slowly on deep water structure. My personal favorite pre spawn bait for this situation, is a carolina rig with a plastic lizard. I position my boat parallel to the migration structure and cast across or to it and work my way toward the spawning area.

My goal of coarse is to is to pattern the larger fish. Once I figure out what they are doing I can fine tune my bait and presentation to what is working best.

The pre spawn is a very exciting time of year for most bass fishermen. It means that the end to winters slow deep fishing is near, and it’s an opportunity to catch the bass of a lifetime. And if you’re armed with knowledge of how bass act during pre spawn, it ups your chances of catching them tremendously.

Good luck with your pre spawn bass fishing.