Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

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My Favorite Soft Plastics
How to Turn Good Baits into GREAT Ones

By Russ Bassdozer

I've been thinking...and I think it is an important point.

Kings, countries and legions of armies went on mega-missions to find the Holy Grail, but they never found it. Centuries later, we're a country full of millions of bass fishermen on a crusade to discover the magic bait. It's a myth, it doesn't exist. Yes, I will always be looking for the Holy Grail of baits, but until I find that magic bait, I'll simply use the best "tools" in my toolbox.

That has often meant Yamamoto to me for the last 15 years, but NOT exclusively. I use many models of Yamamotos AND many other brands and models which are the "best" for me.

I strongly believe Yamamoto makes one of the highest quality soft plastic line-ups. Yes, I do crow about them. They're great. I will also tell you right now that when I open my bait bag, there are a dozen different high quality brands of soft baits in there, and they are all good.

If Yamamoto stopped making baits? I would NOT catch any less fish because Yamamoto was gone. I would catch just as many...on different baits fished with different techniques...but just as many fish will be caught sooner or later...of that I am sure. Yamamoto is not magic, only a good TOOL that can make my job of fishing a lot easier during many trips. It's what I use. It's what I have learned how to use best, and what I have years of positive reinforcement made by many memorable catches on Yamamoto baits, but they're not magic baits in my eyes. Sadly, there is no Holy Grail.

The best baits will win - not in articles like this - but one by one on the end of every reader's string and on every cast that ends in the mouth of every fish you do (or don't) catch on the bait you buy! That's where our brand loyalties - and our CONFIDENCE are built - on the end of a string in the mouth of a good fish in the company of good friends on good waters. That's what makes a good bait GREAT...for you!

Just like women, there are many, many soft plastic baits out there...and they're ALL the BEST to someone sometime! I've tried a few (baits and women), and below I'll list some of my all time favorites (baits, not women). Of course, I used these over the course of many years, and I donít use them all today. But like the women I've known, each was special in its own time.

Anyway, hereís some of the stuff I have had good success with from time to time. I am sure that I left out a few good ones. Sorry for that. But what the heck, you really canít go wrong with any of the following:

Allen Lures. Cutthroat worms, Fat Grubs. I used these when they were formerly made by Ditto Lures. They were good then and they're good now.

Barlow's Tackle Shop. Although Barlow's is not a manufacturer, it is a mail order source for Luck-E-Strike G4 tubebaits and generic 4" plastic shad bodies. Both super, super lures - the best - for stripers. And don't discount the 4" shad bodies for flipping into reeds, weeds, docks or sunken treetops on heavy fiberguard jigheads in summer and fall. It's an unknown tactic.

Berkley. What can we say about Power Worms? Millions of happy anglers and unhappy fish cannot all be wrong.

Charlie Brewer's Sliders. Get the black 4" Slider Worms with the chartreuse tail and youíll never be skunked again. Ditto on the 3" Slider Bass Grub in black/chartreuse, pearl white, and smoke/silver.

Culprit. They practically "invented" the ribbon tail worm. Itís good and basic, especially the red shad color on a Texas rig

Fish Traps. Swimbaits. Deadly stuff for all big basses, including saltwater. (619) 273 - 6970

Bobby Garlandís Better Fishing Ways. I have many fond memories of friends, places and fish caught on all sizes/styles of the Hyper Tail grubs, plus the Magnum Grub with Eyes. The 3" Finesse Craw is sweet. The new BG Custom Minnow is a small, thin profile jerkbait in the same genre as Flukes and Assassins, only sleeked down real nice! (501) 481-5363

Garry Garlandís Canyon Plastics. There are six models of the original Gitzit (2-1/2" thin, 2-1/2" fat, 3", 4", 5", 7"). It's like having six sizes of the same tool. The advantages of this consistency far outweighs learning to use and unlock the particular nuances of six different tube baits in six different color series from six different manufacturers. Catching bass is a challenging pursuit, and the more I can do to reduce the complexity - and increase the consistency - of the tools I use, the better I am able to hit my objective of catching bass rather than coping with the technicalities of mastering the tools. New from Garry Garland for 2000, the 3" size is a smallmouth killer, but virtually unknown to anglers.

Gene Larew. Full line of soft plastics. Check out the Long John Minnow swim baits for finesse. It's a "boot tail" similiar to the Slider Bass Grub (see above), but the Long John's got a thinner, more natural minnow profile and it comes in two tone back/belly minnow color patterns that make a difference at times.

Haddockís. Kreepy Krawlír spider grubs (med. & large). Rugged, compact bodies to use as replacements for skirts on flipping jigs, on spinnerbaits and buzzbaits. (800) 825 8795

Kalinís. No other grubs on the market even come close to having as thin a tail as Kalin's Salty Lunker Grub. This is true for both the 3" and the 5" models. These tails wiggle seductively with the slightest movement by the angler...or even from water or current movement as the grub lays idly on the bottom...which is often when bass scoff it up! Also, the 4-1/2" straight Western Weenie Worm & 4-1/2" ribbontail Salty Finesse Worms have bagged many bass in clear water for me.

Luck E Strike. G4 tube baits. A great bait for largemouth, smallmouth and stripers - try the pearl white, rainbow trout, smoke w/copper flakes, and fire tiger.

Lunker City. Slug-Go jerkbait in 3" and 6" sizes (I don't like the 4-1/2" Slug-Go). Fin-S-Fish in 2-1/2" and 4" sizes. Love that Golden Shiner color and Black/Red Flash. Lime Shad? Some say it's the best, myslef included. The 4" HydroTail Grub has a ribbed back that makes it perfect for tough texposing applications.

Mister Twister.  The 4" Curly Tail on a jig is unbeatable in flowing water where the thick tail produces a heavy rippling vibration that just cannot be duplicated by thinner-tailed grubs. It works well as a sturdy spinnerbait trailer when fished at a fast clip to cover lots of area. As a trailer on Johnson Silver Minnow spoons, the tail is thick enough to wiggle frantically through heavy slop and reeds all day without being torn off. Same with the 6" Curly Tail which I use to bomb the thickest weeds with heavy weights. And the 4" EXUDE Fry is one of the best straight-tailed zipper styles baits.

Venom Manufacturing. The Super Do fished on a jig head has a cult following among serious smallmouth addicts, and it makes a great trailer for skirted micro-jig and mini-spinnerbaits. The Skip Shad is a great jerkbait. Plus tons of great natural green and brown colors of Erie tubes.

Yamamoto Custom Baits. Hula grubs, single tail grubs, the new Senko and the Baby Craw, full line of soft plastics. You probably already know how I feel about these! I canít count how many bass Iíve caught on these.

Zoom Baits. Flukes, Super Flukes, Chunks, full line of soft plastics. Flukes make the bassiní world go round!

If you are just a beginner, or if you want to gain some serious experience in using soft plastics, I would suggest you find 2 or 3 manufacturers that you like and stick with them throughout a season. To try more than 2-3 manufacturers in a season would be unproductive. You won't be able to give any of them a fair chance. Critically analyze your results over the winter, and try 2-3 more manufacturers the following season, comparing them to the ones with which you already have experience. After a few years, you may find you have more, different baits than you need or could possibly ever use. At that point, your fishing skills should be sharp enough to give you enough CONFIDENCE to rely on your skills with just a handful of lures, thereby allowing you to scale back and lighten up the load in your tackle box. And that's what turns good baits into GREAT ones - your confidence based on past experiences with the tools you choose.

 
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