Bottom Fishing Soft Plastics: Equipment and Theory

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Fishing with soft plastics on the water’s floor has been a well documented and universal method of catching bass. There are many variations to bottom fishing, but we’ll cover just a few of the most common techniques here.
The rigs covered in this section will be:

The Texas Rig, Carolina Rig, and jigs (technically not soft plastic, but they are fished in a similar fashion to the Texas Rig). You’ll learn how to rig each style, what lures work best, and how to fish them.

The Texas Rig

This rig is very likely the most common fishing technique known to date. Simple, weedless, and deadly effective; this rig will test your abilities to differentiate bites from snags, but it’ll also hook you up with a nice big bass. The term Texas rig can be used interchangeably for both the entire rig itself or for the method of attaching your lure to the hook.

What You’ll Need

  • A medium-heavy casting or spinning rod
  • Fishing line 10-15# fluorocarbon, monofilament, or copolymer; or 20#+ braid if necessary to fish through the thick vegetation of your waters.
  • Offset worm hooks, EWG (extra wide gap) worm hooks, or straight-shank worm hooks.
  • Bullet weights varying from 3/8oz to 1/2oz depending on the size of your lure and the depth of your water. For larger baits and deeper waters, use a heavier weight. The extra weight will also help when casting long distances.

Best Lures for the Texas Rig

You can rig just about any soft plastic on a Texas rig, just be sure you are matching your local menu. I have had great success using Yamamoto Senkos, crawdads, paddle-tail swimbaits, curly-tail worms, lizards, and soft body frogs.

How to Rig it

The rig is very simple to tie, as it involves just a single knot of your choice to fasten the hook on to the line. Start by threading the bullet weight on the line with the tip pointing towards the rod tip. Tie on your hook with any knot you choose. I personally prefer the strength of the Palomar knot, however when in a hurry I will sometimes opt for a simple improved clinch knot. Both knots have not failed me yet. Trim off the excess tag end to keep your presentation tidy. You now should have a weight that hits the top of the hook as it slides up and down.

The next step is to attach your lure, and the key benefit of this rig is the weedless presentation. This allows you to cast your lure into thick bushes or grass without fear of getting snagged. With the top of the lure facing away from the hook, start by piercing the nose of the lure straight down about ⅜ of an inch. Turn the hook outward, piercing through the lure at the same depth it was inserted at. Work the lure up along the length of the shaft of the hook until it reaches the offset ledge. Twist the lure 180 degrees so that the top is facing away from the hook.

Pierce the hook tip through the tail end of the lure so that the lure isn’t too stretched or too crumpled. Now, you will “texpose” the hook, by just barely burying the hook point underneath the “skin” of the lure. This keeps the rig completely weedless and creates a very neat, streamlined presentation. You are now ready to cast out and begin retrieving the lure.

The Carolina Rig

This is a very common catfish and trout bait-and-wait technique, however, the same can be applied when actively fishing for bass on the bottom of the water. The main difference between the Carolina and Texas Rig is the position of the weight. By having the weight separated from the lure, the lure sits on the bottom much better than a Texas rigged lure would when retrieved.

What You’ll Need

  • A medium or medium-heavy casting or spinning rod
  • Fishing line 10-15# fluorocarbon, monofilament, or copolymer; or 20#+ braid if necessary to fish through the thick vegetation of your waters
  • Offset worm hooks, EWG (extra wide gap) worm hooks, or straight-shank worm hooks.
  • Crane swivels or ball-bearing swivels

Best Lures for the Carolina Rig

Use the same lures you would on a Texas rig. The main difference in how the lure is presented here is that when moving the rod, the weight will be lifted up off the ground while the lure with its long leader will stay on the ground. This rig works exceptionally well with curly tail worms, as it resembles a tiny snake or a large worm slithering on the bottom.

How to Rig the Carolina Rig

This rig is tied very similarly to a Texas Rig, however, it involves the use of a swivel and a long leader to separate the hook from the weight. Start by threading a cylinder weight onto your line, then a plastic bead to add sound and color. Tie on a swivel of your choice using any knot you know. The weight should slide freely up and down the line and be stopped by the bead, which should protect the knot holding the swivel. On the other end of the swivel, tie a leader about one to three feet in length, then tie a hook onto the end of the leader. Leader material can be the same line or can be substituted for a more transparent line. (Ex: If you are using 20# braid as your mainline tied to your swivel, you may use 15# fluorocarbon on the leader for added invisibility to the presentation). Attach your lure to the hook using the same Texas-rigging method described above, and you’re ready to go.

The Jig

Jigs come in all sizes, and all shapes to fit the scenario you are fishing in. Some may be built for rocks, some for weeds and grass, and some for punching through heavy cover such as lily pads. There are casting jigs, football jigs, grass jigs, swim jigs, and more; however, we will only be covering bottom fishing jigs like the football and grass jig, not the swim jigs. A jig fished on the bottom will typically represent a crawdad, and as a result, will catch you a very big fish. Large bass love to eat crawdads, while smaller bass like to eat small fish.

What You’ll Need

  • A medium-heavy or plain heavy casting or spinning rod
  • Fishing line 10-15# fluorocarbon, monofilament, or copolymer; or 20#+ braid if necessary to fish through the thick vegetation of your waters.

Trailers and Skirts

Because jigs are already considered a standalone lure, it is not necessary to add another lure to the jig unless you would like to. Adding a soft plastic trailer such as half of a plastic crawdad, a pork trailer, paddle tail, or curly tail grub can enhance the action of your jig, allowing it to attract more fish. Another great accessory to a jig is a skirt. Many commercially available jigs are sold with skirts, but there are always options for customization by changing the color and length of the skirt. A skirt will make your jig look more like a crawdad than a plain jig with a lure on it will. These jigs are typically sold with a plastic weed guard to reduce the chances of a hang-up.

How to Rig the Jig

There is no special method of rigging a jig. Some anglers will choose to use a snap for easy lure changes, however, I do not recommend this as it will add unnecessary bulk to the lure and affect its presentation negatively. Simply tie the jig directly onto the line with any knot of your choice. Because jigs are typically more expensive than a single hook and plastic lure, I would recommend tying on with a strong knot such as the Palomar knot.

How to Fish the Texas Rig, Carolina Rig, and Jigs

Fishing these rigs requires patience, and close attention to each bump and knock felt from the lure. Cast the lure out as far as you are able. Do not rely on the reel to retrieve the lure, instead, slowly sweep your rod in a broad sideways arc, while adding in a couple of twitches every now and then to attract fish passing through the area. Pay attention to the feel of the water floor and note any vegetation, rocks, hills, or valleys as you retrieve the lure. By getting a good sense of the terrain and structure of the area you are fishing, you will be able to create a mental picture of where you need to place your lure for the best chance of the fish seeing it.

If you get hung up on thick weeds, you may experience a sensation similar to that of a bass bite, however, wait a moment longer before deciding to set the hook. Continue sweeping the rod, and if the lure becomes heavy but does not shake or vibrate, you most likely have your lure stuck in the weeds. Because of the weedless rigging, the lures are very easy to remove from this scenario; simply jerk the rod once or twice quickly to rip the lure through the weeds. Not only should this clear your lure of the thick weeds, but it should also remove any smaller weeds that have accumulated on your weight, swivel, or jig head.

When you feel your lure get heavy and see or feel that it is swimming away, set the hook with a firm and strong sideways sweep. If your hook set is good, it is unlikely that the fish will get off unless you allow the line to become slack. Ensure there is a bend in your rod at all times when fighting a fish. Remember to take pictures, as bass caught on these rigs – especially jigs, are quite large and will come with a great story to tell.

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Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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