Soft Plastic Baits

3 Soft Plastic Baits Anyone Can Use to Catch Bass

Bass Fishing For Beginners
A spotted bass that ate a Yamamoto Senko rigged on a Neko Rig.
A spotted bass that ate a Yamamoto Senko rigged on a Neko Rig.

The soft plastic or rubber worm, as it’s often called, has been around for eons, and this entire category of baits continues to catch fish every year. Soft plastic baits come in all shapes and sizes, not just worms. They are also available in any color you can imagine, and they are very popular and effective at catching bass. 

Looking at the various shapes and sizes can be complicated, but some designs work just about anywhere. These three soft plastic baits can be used by anyone, regardless of skill level, to catch bass.

The Soft Stick Bait

This style of bait has many names, but most just call it a Senko since that is the original from Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, which started the trend. Now, almost all brands have the same design. There are differences between the plastic some brands use, as some sink faster than others, but they all work.

The beauty of these baits is how easy they are to fish and because you can rig them in many different ways. The two most popular rigging methods are on a Texas Rig with no added weight or hooked in the center as a wacky rig. Both rigs allow the bait to have a great shake and shimmy as it falls; this is what makes this bait so good. It does not have unnatural action and looks too good to resist.

These baits come in many sizes, but a standard 5-inch bait is perfect for most situations. Some of the most popular and effective colors are simple, with shades of green pumpkin and watermelon being the best for most situations. The original Gary Yamamoto version is prevalent, but other good options exist. The General from Berkley is great and has the added appeal of being scented, while the YUM Dinger is a cheaper option that doesn't have the same great shimmying action as the Senko but still catches plenty of fish.

Rigging these baits is easy, with a 4/O or 5/O extra wide gap style hook being great for a Texas Rig and a smaller size 1 wacky-rig style hook for inserting into the middle of the bait. Many accessories will help save your baits from tearing, as many anglers use an O-ring or silicon tubing to hook when fishing on a Wacky Rig. You can insert a nail weight into one end of the bait and create a Neko Rig, which has a similar action but can be fished in deeper water.

Fishing them is relatively simple; you can cast them around any visible cover in the water. Docks, bushes, rocks, and trees are all fair game and work well around vegetation. There isn't a wrong place to fish a soft stick bait, which is why they are so popular.

Small Swimbaits

A small swimbait is simple to fish and works wonders for catching bass feeding on small baitfish.
A small swimbait is simple to fish and works wonders for catching bass feeding on small baitfish.

Most anglers hear the word swimbait and think of monster baits that look like trout and other big forage that a bass eats, but small paddle tail swimbaits are one of the best soft plastics you can use. They are also simple to fish because you cast and retrieve them, and they look just like small shad or other small baitfish.

The Keitech Swing Impact FAT popularized these baits, and many different brands now make a similar swimbait with a boot tail that kicks during the retrieve. Some other good ones are the Strike King Rage Swimmer and Crush City The Mayor. They all come in tons of baitfish imitating colors, and you can pick one that fits what the bass in your home waters are eating, whether it is shad, bluegill, perch, or something else. They come in many different sizes, with 3.3 inches being a good starting point, and you can go larger if needed.

The best way to fish these is with a simple round ball jighead; many sizes work. A good place to start would be around ¼-ounce. You can go lighter if you are fishing shallow water or higher in the water column and also go heavier if fishing very deep or in windy conditions.

Fishing a soft swimbait like this is relatively easy. The best advice is to fish around baitfish, either those that you see on your electronics or visually with your eyes. They can be fished at any depth, and sometimes, it pays to experiment with different depths by counting down after each cast until you start getting bites at a certain depth. Then, you can repeat as needed.

Soft Jerkbaits

Soft plastic jerkbaits come in all shapes and sizes and work well for imitating a baitfish.
Soft plastic jerkbaits come in all shapes and sizes and work well for imitating a baitfish.

Like the small swimbait, soft jerkbaits are great when fishing around baitfish and are easy to fish. This bait category is often called a "fluke" after the original, the Zoom Super Fluke, but many options are available, including the Deps Sakamata Shad. They are available in many colors, with shades of white great for imitating baitfish like shad and green pumpkin hues excellent for looking like bluegill.

These baits are great for imitating dying baitfish, and you can fish them in many different ways. You can fish them without weight on a 4/O extra wide gap hook or with a weighted hook that allows the bait to dive deeper. You can also rig them on a jighead and fish them in deeper water.

They work around various cover, including vegetation, bushes, and rocks, and are best when fished erratically, like an injured or dying fish. Cast out and use slight rod twitches to get the bait to dance and dart side-to-side during your retrieve to draw fish to you.

There are many soft plastics to choose from, and they will all work in the right conditions. However, these three will work just about anywhere. What makes them so good is their versatility and how easy they are to fish.