Tips and Tricks to Fishing Soft Plastics – Proven Techniques

  • Author: John Miller
  • Date: April 5, 2023

Tips and Tricks to Fishing Soft Plastics. Redfin perch caught on soft plastics.

Fishing soft plastics is a versatile and effective way for catching fish. They can be used in a variety of fishing conditions and can attract a wide range of fish species, like bass, perch or trout.

However, using soft plastics can be challenging, especially for beginners. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to fishing soft plastics that will help you become a more successful angler.

(Down near the bottom of the page, is one of the best fishing tips to learn.)

One of the advantages of soft plastics is that they come in a wide range of types, shapes, sizes, and colors. Such as grubs, baitfish imitations, worms, creature baits, etc.

For storing your soft plastics and transporting them, click here – How To Store Your Soft Plastics & Carry Them

This makes it easy to match the hatch and choose a lure that will roughly mimic the natural prey of the fish you are targeting. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

Our tips will help you narrow down your choices and select the best soft plastic lure for the conditions you are fishing in.

Fishing soft plastics

In addition to choosing the right lure, it’s important to know how to rig and fish it correctly.

Soft plastics can be rigged in a variety of ways, including Texas rig, Carolina rig, drop shot, and wacky rig for worm baits, such as a Roboworm, or Yamamoto Senko. For creature baits and curly tail grubs, you can also put a Ned rig on, or add a jig spinner, use it for a trailer for a skirted jig, weedless rig, etc. The amount of techniques with the different baits and rigs are endless.

As an example, here are some ways to rig a curly grub – 9 Ways To Rig Z-Man Soft Plastics 2.5” Grub

For information on how to rig a curly tail grub, visit – How To Rig A Z-Man Soft Plastic 2.5” Grub

Each rigging method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and knowing which one to use in different situations can make all the difference in your fishing success.


Choosing the Right Soft Plastic Lure

Zman soft plastic baby goat on a Ned rig.

Choosing the right soft plastic lure can be overwhelming due to the vast options available in the market. Here are a few tips to help you select the right soft plastic lure:

  1. Consider the fish species you want to target:

Different fish species have different feeding habits and preferences, especially different times of the year. For example, bass might tend to feed on crawfish, while trout prefer smaller baitfish at a certain time of the year.

Research the feeding habits of the fish species you want to target and select a soft plastic lure that mimics their natural prey.


  1. What depth are the fish at:

Are the fish might be feeding high in the water column, or on the bottom feeding. This can dictate the weight and technique of the lure. Such as do you put on a weedless soft plastic frog for top water fishing if the fish are feeding close to the surface in weedy matt areas?

Or are the fish deep down and you need to get the lure quickly down? In this case a light wacky rig worm would take too long to float down to the bottom. So a heavier rig like a Carolina rig or heavy Ned rig might be an option.


  1. Match the color to the water conditions:

The color of the soft plastic lure can affect its visibility and attractiveness to fish. In murky water, bright colors like chartreuse or a dark silhouette will stand out and can help the fish locate the lure.

For strategies to fish in dirty water to increase your catch rate, visit the article – 7 Ways On How To Fish Murky Water More Effectively

In clear water, natural colors like green and brown can be more effective.


  1. Consider the shape and size of the lure:

The shape and size of the soft plastic lure can also play a significant role in its effectiveness. For example, a worm-shaped lure can be effective in catching bass, while a small grub-shaped lure can be more effective in catching panfish.

A chatterbait or jig spinner can change the action of the lure as well.

Z-Man Soft Plastics 2.5 Inch GrubZ

The size of the lure should also match the size of the fish you want to catch. A general rule is big fish, big lure, works… but not all the time!


  1. Experiment with different types of soft plastic lures:

There are many different types of soft plastic lures, including worms, grubs, and swimbaits. Experiment with different types of lures to determine which one works best for you in different water conditions and for different fish species.

By considering all these factors above, you can increase your chances of selecting the right soft plastic lure for your fishing needs.


Rigging Your Soft Plastic Lure

When it comes to fishing with soft plastic lures, how you rig them up can make all the difference in your success on the water. Here are a couple of ways for rigging your soft plastic lure:

  1. Texas Rig:

This is a popular way to rig a soft plastic lure.

Use an offset shank hook and insert it in the head of the bait, then back out about a ¼ of an inch below the head. Slide the hook through the bait and rotate it back around so the head sits in the offset shank. Then push the hook point back into the body of the bait, making the bait weedless.

  1. Shaky Head:

This rig is great for finesse fishing. Start by threading the hook through the nose of the bait and out the top. Then, slide the bait up the hook and rotate it 180 degrees so the hook point is facing down. Finally, insert the hook point back into the bait so it’s just barely sticking out.

  1. Wacky Rig:

This rig is great for fishing in clear water and you want the bait to flutter down slowly.

Start by taking an O-ring and sliding it onto the center of the bait. Then, insert the hook through the O-ring and the bait. Make sure the hook is in the center of the bait and the O-ring is positioned in the middle.

Or you can just put the hook through the worm, without the O-ring.

  1. Drop Shot:

This rig is great for fishing in deep water. Start by tying a drop shot rig with a small hook and weight at the bottom. Then, tie on your soft plastic bait above the weight. Make sure to leave a little slack in the line so the bait moves naturally in the water.

Experiment with different rigs to find what works best for you and the type of fish you’re targeting. Remember to always check your bait and rigging before casting, and make adjustments as needed to ensure its swimming naturally in the water.


Techniques for Fishing Soft Plastics

Fishing soft plastics with a Ned rig


Slow and Steady Retrieval

One of the most effective ways to fish soft plastics is by using a slow and steady retrieval technique.

This technique works well for imitating a baitfish or a crawfish moving along the bottom. Start by casting your soft plastic lure out and letting it sink to the bottom. Once it hits the bottom, reel in the slack and start a slow and steady retrieve. Make sure to keep your rod tip low and pointed towards the water to maintain a tight line and feel for any bites.


Jigging and Hopping

Jigging and hopping is another popular technique for fishing with soft plastics. This technique is great for imitating a baitfish or shrimp that is darting and jumping around in the water.

Start by casting your soft plastic lure out and letting it sink to the bottom. Once it hits the bottom, give your rod tip a quick jerk to hop the lure off the bottom. Let the lure sink back down and repeat the process. Make sure to vary the speed and intensity of your hops to keep the fish interested.

Hopping is also god for deep water as you are not only retrieving the lure back horizontally towards the angler, but also you are working the lure vertically, up and down covering different depths as well.


Dead Sticking

Dead sticking is a technique where you cast your soft plastic lure out and let it sit completely still on the bottom. This technique works well for imitating a baitfish or crawfish that is hiding or resting on the bottom. Once your lure hits the bottom, reel in the slack and wait for a few seconds to several seconds.

If you don’t get a bite, give your lure a slight twitch or hop to make it look more natural. Then let it sit still again and repeat the process.


Swimming and Twitching

Swimming and twitching is a technique where you retrieve your soft plastic lure in short, quick bursts. This technique works well for imitating a wounded baitfish. Or a shrimp that is swimming through the water.

Start by casting your lure out and reeling in the slack. Then, give your rod tip a quick twitch to make the lure dart and swim through the water. Reel in the slack and repeat the process, varying the speed and intensity of your twitches.


Fishing Tips for Success

Fishing soft plastic tips.


Match the Hatch

Matching the hatch means using soft plastic lures that mimic the natural prey of the fish you are targeting.

Observe the water and identify the type of baitfish or other organisms that the fish are feeding on. Choose a soft plastic lure that closely resembles the size and shape of the natural prey.

In clear water you might match the color as well.

Matching the hatch is an effective technique used by fly fisherman, but sometimes seems neglected by lure and bass fisherman.


Pay Attention to Water Temperature

Water temperature affects the activity level and feeding behavior of fish. In general, fish are more active and feed more aggressively in their preferred water temperature range.

As an example, depending on state and season, largemouth bass like an optimal water temperature around 60 to 77°F for feeding.

Either side of this range and the fish may be uncomfortable and feed less often. This isn’t saying you won’t catch fish, but if you find a comfortable water temperature for the season and location you are in, you increase your chances.

Rainbow trout prefer colder water. They like around 50°F to 65°F. With optimal feeding temperatures in the middle, depending on what place of the world you live in.

Use soft plastic techniques that are appropriate for the water temperature. In colder water, use slower-retrieval techniques as the fish’s metabolism is slower and they aren’t as active. In warmer water, you might try faster-retrieval techniques.

Water temperature will also affect the oxygen levels in the water. So investigate different depths of water, and areas like ingoing and outflowing river outlets, bays, deep channels, etc.


Cast Around Structure

Features and structures such as weed beds, drop-offs, submerged timber, rock walls, piers, channels, outlets and inlets, reefs, etc., can provide shelter for fish.

As well cover, you also get baitfish and other food sources like crawfish, (crawdads, yabbies) aquatic insects around the structures. This means food sources for trout, bass and other target fish species.

Fishing around structure / cover can be some of the best fishing spots. Especially when you combine it with the correct water temperature, depth and oxygen levels for the fish.

Below is one of the best fishing tips to think about and hopefully will help you select the best fishing spot for your location.

“Shelter, food and comfort, is what fish like. It is similar to human needs as well. Find all three together and you greatly improve your fishing catch rate.”
Craig “Howie”


Use the Right Gear

Fishing rod for soft plastics


Of course there it is no good having the best fishing in the world and you use the wrong gear. Using the correct tackle is another essential point for successful soft plastic fishing.

For some great Texas fishing locations, view – Where Is The Best Fishing In Texas? Top Spots To Cast Your Line

Use a rod and reel that are appropriate for the size and weight of the lure you are using. Choose a line that has the appropriate strength and sensitivity for the type of fishing you are doing.

As an example you wouldn’t use a stiff shark rod with a thick 60 pound fishing line for panfish. Likewise, a 2 pound line for fishing in weeds, where big bass live isn’t wise either.

Use the right hooks and weights to properly rig your soft plastic lures. The jig head should suit your soft plastic lure size. Some brands like Daiwa Bait Junkie soft plastics will have the recommended jig head / hook size on the pack.


Be Patient and Persistent

Infographic. Tips fishing with soft plastics.

Soft plastic fishing just like bait fishing, hard body lure and fly fishing requires patience and persistence.

Fish may not always be actively feeding or may be difficult to locate. Experiment with different lure colors, sizes, and retrieval techniques until you find what works. Keep trying and don’t give up.

The more time you spend on the water, the more you will learn.

By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success when fishing with soft plastics. Remember to match the hatch, pay attention to water temperature, fish around structure and use the right gear, and be patient and persistent.


Other articles you might be interested in:

Z-Man Micro Finesse LarvaZ Review

Kayak Fishing Tips