By Jack Gillespie
Targeting trout on soft plastics is a very exciting technique due to the versatility in the way the bait can be presented. They can be slow rolled, jerked, and bounced off the bottom depending on the situation you’re in, or the environment and habitat that you’re fishing. They can be fished in almost every situation due to the ability of being able to change patterns, jighead weights and hook style in a matter of moments.
Slow rolling involves retrieving the plastic in a slow and steady motion, and allowing the design and shape of the soft plastic do all the work for you. Popular styles of soft plastic for this method include minnow (also called paddle tail or t-tail) designs that make the tail of the plastic to wobble from side to side as it passes through the water.
Jerking soft plastics generally involves a slightly faster action, with swift, short jerks of your rod tip, making the plastic dart through the water, imitating injured baitfish. This method is generally more successful with jerk shad style plastics.
In lakes, slow flowing rivers, or when the water temperature is cooler, the soft plastic can also be bounced off the bottom. By allowing it to sink to the bottom and lifting your rod tip slightly, the jighead will slowly raise off the bottom and land again, an action that is successful when the fish are sulking low on the bottom.
The saying “matching the hatch” has lasted the test of time for a reason, always stick to the most natural colours like black and gold, brown, and dark greens. A white bait color can also be powerful when fished in rivers when they begin to start their annual run.
Rigging soft plastics can be tricky and done in a matter of different ways, but taking the time to get the plastic perfectly straight is one of the most important points. A straight rigged soft plastic will improve catch rates as it looks and behaves a lot more natural to the fish you are targeting.
* Standard style ball head jighead
This style of jighead gives you the ability to fish a range of techniques, and it is my opinion that it’s the easiest to use with when learning the art of fishing soft plastics.
* Hidden weight, or HWS
This style of hook hides the weight inside the body of the soft plastics and makes for the most natural looking bait. Using this style of hook when fishing streams and rivers with flowing water is great as the hook point will stay upright resulting in less snags and less lost tackle.
Another option that is perfect when fishing around tight structure and a lot of trees is the weedless style jighead. I haven’t found the hook up rate to be as successful as other styles of jighead, however in extreme circumstances I do still use them to avoid losing too much gear.
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