There are a lot of choices to be made when learning to fish largemouth or smallmouth bass with plastics. How do you choose the right gear and how do you learn to use it? This article explains what I use, and why, in order to help you shorten your learning curve and begin enjoying the fishing.
Rod and Reel Combo
I started by using a spinning reel. This is much easier than using a bait caster, (you may want to add a bait caster to your tackle at a later date). I recommend a spool large enough to handle 8 to 12 pound test line. That information should be found on the right on the side of the reel. Also, you get what you pay for with reels. Get what you can afford but be sure it has ball bearings or you will not be happy with it for long.
The rod should be at least 6 feet long, I like 7 footers. Rod length does depend on where you are fishing and how much room you have to cast. I like longer so I can get a better feel for what my lure is doing and I have more leverage for hook sets. I like a stiff bodied rod with a sensitive top few feet. Many manufacturers make great rods with this feature. My rods are labeled “medium or medium/heavy” for the action I want. Again, check the writing on the rod. It will tell you the line to use, sensitivity, spinning or bait casting and some even label their best fishing style. Another option is to ask someone at the sports store for that information.
Popular Rig Set ups
The Texas Style Rig and Carolina Rig are both very popular set ups. The Texas Style Rig is simply a plastics hook with a bullet style slip sinker above it. I used this very successfully when I started fishing plastics. It is simple and catches fish.
The Carolina Rig is an easy set up as well. First put a slip sinker (I used a half ounce to start) on the line. Follow that with a bead (this is used to protect the knot that will be below the bead). Then tie in to a two way swivel. Take a piece of monofilament, or fluorocarbon, between 12” and 48” long and tie it to the other end of the swivel, this is the leader. I like to use 8 to 10 lb test fluorocarbon for this. Then on the open end of the leader tie a “plastics” hook. The idea with this is to keep the weight on or near the bottom, then the lure is behind the weight at whatever distance you chose for the leader. I use this set up for deeper fishing when it’s harder to stay on or near the bottom.
Hooks and Sinkers
The hooks used for fishing plastics have evolved a bit over the past few years, so there are many options to choose from. If you are using a plastic worm, tube, crawfish, etc., you can find a hook to best fit your set up. I simply read the label, many companies use the label to tell you what and how to use their product. Simple!
For sinkers, get the bullet style for Texas Rig. The heavier the weight the faster the bait drops, this might be the best choice when learning. Try anything over ¼ ounce to get the hang of it. For Carolina rigging I would do the same. I like egg slip sinkers for this but you can use the same bullet weights.
To start I used a simple 6 or 7” plastic worm or a 3”+ crawfish. Both are simple to set up and are weedless when done so correctly. The range of plastics is extensive now. You will learn what works best in the areas you fish. But keep it simple, what forage is in the lake you fish? What colors are they? Match that and you are on your way.
Learning to Fish
I started in shallow water with the Texas Rig style set up. Anything 10 feet and under will allow you to get a feel for plastic fishing. Cast it out and then watch the line. I leave the bail open and wait until the bait stops taking line. You should see it a bit slack on the top of the water. Then slowly reel in line until the slack is gone. You should now have a bait sitting on the bottom with no slack. Now every move you make will cause the same effect on your lure. Lift up the rod tip a foot, the lure will go up a foot and towards you a bit. Reel in a few times, the plastic comes towards you and towards your rod tip. After you reel let the line catch up again until, meaning let it hit the bottom and go slack a bit on the top of the water. Play with it, get a feel for bouncing the bottom. You can just reel in if the fish are really aggressive, but I think this method gives you a feel for how to control your lure.
After I mastered Texas Rig, Carolina Rig was easy. Same type of approach but the weight on the bottom allows you to just reel slowly to keep the lure right on the bottom, or just off it. I use this set up in deeper water when it is tougher to keep a lure near the bottom.
Where to Fish
You can use these set ups in most types of cover and in a wide range of depths. I started using the Texas RIg as it is about as weedless a lure as you can use. If you keep the hook buried in the plastic you can toss them in heavy weeds, rocks and timber. I like weed edges, but go right in the weeds when it’s sunny. For deep use I am usually on drop offs or deeper flats with the Carolina Rig.
Set up some rods and get out and try these set ups. They can be deadly for bass, especially big bass buried in cover or out in deep water.
Have Fun !