Tips & Tricks – Tackle Grab

How To Fish In The Winter

In this months “How to” Tackle Grab pro Travis Moran teaches us how to take advantage of a natural winter occurrence. When temps drop, local bait fish such as shad have a natural die off equaling a feeding opportunity for the resident gamefish.


A Guide To Bass Fishing Soft Plastics

By: Jason Sealock


The best way to develop your feel for bites is by bass fishing with soft plastics. It requires patience to fish with these lures generally speaking because you have to feel the fish pick up or bite the lure, often when it’s not moving. There won’t be a big splash like a topwater or a hard tug like a crankbait. And knowing which plastic to use for different situations for bass fishing will eliminate a lot of wasted time on the water.

This category could take ages to explain so we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. Soft plastics are essentially combinations of salt, plastic, sand, glitter, and coloring shaped and formed into anything that can be perceived to be alive by a bass. There is an amazing array of colors, shapes and sizes when it comes to soft plastics and there are hundreds of different types plastics available.

We generally sort plastics into one of these categories:

  • worms
  • creatures
  • beavers
  • toads
  • tubes
  • soft stickbaits
  • soft jerkbaits
  • craws
  • trailers
  • shad tails
  • drop shot baits


Most soft plastics are either going to be rigged on a hook either Texas rigged, wacky rigged, Carolina rigged, nose hooked, Tex-posed or otherwise hooked, or they will be rigged on some sort of jighead and fished open hook.

Fishing a plastic worm on a Texas rig is one skill every bass angler must master and become proficient with. Learning to detect bites on a plastic worm sitting still and knowing the difference between a bite and say bumping a rock or pulling through some grass are acquired perceptions that will make you a much better angler. We discuss that more in our Learning to Detect Bites feature.

For now, let’s stick with the different types of plastics and their intended uses.


Top to Bottom: Zoom Magnum Ol’ Monster, Go2Bait Paddle Tail worm, Zoom 7 1/2-inch worm, Z-Man Finesse Worm, Berkley Bottom Hopper, Zoom Trick Worm


Probably the easiest of the soft plastics to start learning to fish with would be a simple plastic worm. Creme introduced anglers to a new way to catch bass many decades ago, but a plastic worm has stood the test of time as a productive way to catch bass all over the country.

Plastic worms come in a variety of lengths with a variety of tails. You have paddle tails, curl tails, straight tails, vibe tails and more. Each tail is designed to give the worm some sort of lively action as you lift it off the bottom of the lake and let it settle back. Some worms have a vibe tail on the end that has a cut in it so that as you steadily reel it in, it vibrates subtly under the water.

There are lots of ways to fish a worm and they work in a variety of conditions. It’s narrow profile helps it come through cover, but a long curl tail will have a tendency to grab on to things underwater. It’s great for fishing on long casts and working an area thoroughly to see if bass are there. Worms work great in clear and muddy water alike. They work well on Texas rigs with bullet sinkers. Most bites will feel like a slight tick, pressure or you will feel or see the bass swimming off with your line.


Zoom Brush Hog, Berkley Powerbait 4-inch Lizard


This category of bass fishing plastics involves usually slender profile worms with multiple appendages. They may mimick lizards or nothing that swims in the water but the many appendages give them action and help them look alive. They are equally effective on a Carolina Rig and on a Texas Rig alike. They can be great baits for flipping sparse cover, sight fishing, working big areas out deep, and pitching around isolated objects. Their many appendages can make them hard to penetrate heavy cover that is better fished with more streamlined flipping baits. But they work great in muddy and clear water alike. You can downsize the baits to small sizes and even fish them on shaky heads to give the bass something alive looking to bite.


soft plastic beavers for bass fishing Left: Zoom Z-Hog, Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver, Yum Wooly Bullee Right: Berkley Havoc Pit Boss, Gene Larew Biffle Bug, Missile Baits D-Bomb


This unique streamlined bait was designed to penetrate the heart of thick cover and get where big bass live and ambush prey. A slightly ribbed oval body with flaps at tail of the bait allow it to glide and dart in and out of cover, coaxing bass to bite. Andre Moore of Reaction Innovations gets the credit for creating the first beaver bait, the Sweet Beaver. His design spawned a whole new category of soft plastics that anglers have flipped and pitched on just about every fishery in America with great success. Their narrow profile and solid body makes them a great choice for punching matted vegetation, flipping bushes, or even just pitching to docks, stumps, lay downs or any other cover you find.


Zoom Super Salty Tube


A tube is really a remarkable lure. The Gitzit created by Bobby Garland gave anglers a profile that not only mimicked baitfish but also crawfish. In fact, a study by Berkley concluded that the 3-4 inch profile of a tube, was the most preferred profile for a bass, probably because it mimics the size of most prey so well. A tube is a hollowed out plastic with multiple tentacles for a tail. You can slide a jighead up into the tube, a popular way to fish for smallmouth up north, or a texas rig it with a sinker and EWG offset worm hook and flip it. They are extremely versatile, fall with an erratic spiraling action on a jig head, and are a go-to bait for sight fishing.


soft plastic toads for bass fishing Left: Strike King Rage Toad, Right: Zoom Horny Toad


These soft plastic frog imitators were designed to be fished over the top of matted vegetation. With a flat wide body and usually two kicking legs on the back, you straight reel the lure in on heavy braid or fluorocarbon and it acts as almost a subtle buzzbait, gurgling on the retrieve to draw vicious strikes. It’s a great option for fishing over summer and fall grass. All you need is an offset worm hook, although better double pronged toad hooks are now available for this fishing.


soft stick baits for bass top to bottom: Big Bite Baits Coontail, The Hag’s Tornado, Yamamoto Senko

Soft stickbaits

The soft stickbait hit the scene and it was as close as a plastic could get to fishing live bait. You simply cast it out on an unweighted hook, let it flutter to the bottom. If a fish didn’t pick it up on the initial cast, you might lift it up and let it fall again, before reeling it in and making another cast. It was that simple, and in clear water, it’s a deadly bass catcher. Gary Yamamoto basically came up with the design for the first soft stick bait when he made a mold of a Cross pen. With just the right amount of salt, sand, plastic, the lure dances on the fall and draws onlooking bass.

Newer versions of soft sticks baits have hit the market that feature ringed bodies. These soft stick bait varieties fish well as drop baits, shaky head worms, and even on Carolina rigs. When bass are around the spawn, a Senko or other soft plastic stick bait can be hard to beat. They are great follow up baits for bass that strike and miss other lures as they really excel when bass are looking for a bait they know is in the area. You’ve got to be a line watcher with these baits. Any slight tick, or line jump or just a slow side swimming of your line and you know you’re about to have some fun.


craws for bass fishing Left to right: Yum Money Craw, Strike King Rage Craw, Zoom Speed Craw, Megabass Bottle Shrimp, Strike King Rage DB Craw, Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw


As simply as the name implies, soft plastic craws for bass fishing were designed to mimic one of a bass’s favorite foods—the crawfish. Essentially most craws are a small narrow 3-4 inch body that has two claws or appendages to mimic claws at one end. You hook the lure at the rounded end either texas rigged or on jighead. It can be flipped on its own or used as a trailer for a jig. The smaller varieties on shaky heads are deadly on smallmouth bass while the bigger versions make great swim jig trailers and flipping baits as well.


trailers for bass fishing Left to right: Missile Baits Twin Turbo, Zoom Big Salty Chunk, Zoom Super Chunk


Speaking of trailers, there are several plastic shapes designed specifically to be fished with casting jigs, swim jigs, spinnerbaits and more. These trailers offer tails that just undulate and more active tails that vibrate and flap as the lure is moved along. Typically I’ve found that the less active trailers do better for me in cold water and the more active twin tail type trailers work better in warmer water. You can usually find colors to match your spinnerbaits and jigs, but often times a completely contrasting color works wonders.

drop-shot baits for bass fishing Berkley Twitchtail Minnow, Zoom Z-Drop, Missile Baits Drop Craw, Strike King Dream Shot, Robo Worm Straight Tail worm

Drop-shot baits

Some of the finesse worm and slender profile plastics were designed specifically to be used on drop shot rigs. With the drop shot rig, you don’t want a plastic that will catch a lot of water and cause the rig to spin on the retrieve, thus twisting your line and causing you problems later. You want a streamlined profile that you can make dance and swim with subtle vibrations and twitches on your drop shot rig. Most of these baits look like do nothing baits but catch lots of bass and big bass in deep, clear water, especially on lakes where bass like to suspend.


soft jerkbaits and swim baits for bass fishing Zoom Swimming Super Fluke, AA Worms Shad Tail, Strike King Caffeine Shad

Soft jerkbaits and shad tails

The soft jerkbait is not only a fun soft plastic to fish, but it’s very productive as a follow up bait for misses on other hard lures. Rigged weightless on an extra wide gap (EWG) worm hook, you can make it dart and dance like a dying or injured bait fish and the bass will viciously attack it. We typically stick with shader other minnow imitating colors but have seen where natural colors like watermelon and green pumpkin have produced well.

New versions have paddle tails on them. They can still be jerked around but they work even better just slowly reeled on a slightly weighted hook or jighead for a more finesse type action and profile in areas where you know the bass are roaming. The shad tails can be added to a jig head to be fished like a swim bait or jerked and hopped around like a jerkbait.

There are probably more soft plastics we’re missing but this should give you a well-rounded base of knowledge for the soft plastics available to you and where to throw them. For a better idea of when to use which lure, check out our Bass Fishing Lure Selector Chart. For more information, see our How to Bass Fish Guide, When to Bass Fish Guide and Where to Bass Fish Guide.


How To Fish A Jig

Eco Pro Kira casting jig utilizes tungsten, an extremely hard metal witch helps you have better contact with the bottom and it’s surroundings. Having a better feel of the bottom allows you to fish the jig were it needs to be.

In this months “How to” Tackle Grab Pro Travis Moran shows how to properly rig and fish this jig so you have more success out on the water……


5 Lures You Should Dig Out Of Grandpa’s Tackle Box

By: Terry Brown

Throwback lures can still be very viable bass fishing options.


Being around fishing for as long time can be an advantage. Seeing the old and now the new gives perspective on the creative and the copied. Living through the early days when the technology was in its infancy, baits were sometimes archaic and clunky but they were original. They were best we had and they caught fish. Today, space age materials and manufacturing processes have for the most part replaced handmade. Plastic and tungsten has replaced wood and lead but the heart of the design is still relevant and many of the builders have the same passion.

Today’s fishing community has kept up with new products and new technology. Matter of fact they live for it and seek information on anything new. Manufacturers create lighter and stronger tools now, however, they may not necessarily be better.

Jason Christie has won a bunch of money this year on the old original Rebel crankbait that is no longer in production and it was the key to his latest Bassmaster Open win on Ft. Gibson.

There are several products that have been around for a while that I still like to use. They may be a bit battle scarred, but all they need is to be dusted off, customized a bit and brought back into action. They still catch fish. Remember, the old set the course; the new just streamlined it.

Five old bait favorites, in no particular order, that still catch fish today are:

1. Fred Arbogast Jitterbug

The Jitterbug is a topwater bait that has a very unique metal lip and a pivoting line tie that allows the bait to walk slowly side to side. To-date, nothing has been built that has the same wobbling action. It is exceptionally good at night and low light conditions and works well around lily pads and fished parallel to the bank.

The Jitterbug is best worked slowly in calm water. A steady retrieve and a slower gear ratio reel is a must for this bait.

If an older model is used today, change out the metal hardware and replace with eye hooks, split rings and sharper hooks. The Jitterbug is still sold today. There are nine models of the Jitterbug including a weedless and jointed models.


2. Cotton Cordell Big O

One of the first molded plastic crankbaits this shallow diver has some unique properties that make it special including a very unique rattle, with several small BB’s, a wide wobble and a molded bill that makes it super durable. Cotton Cordell made this bait from a Fred Young carving in 1973. The Cordell Big O is still sold today but we really like the older models best for tough days on docks and over grass.


3. Heddon Zara Spook

The Original Spook is a two hook model that also came with screw in hardware. The unique side to side walking action coined “walking the dog” generates big explosive blow-ups. The cigar-shaped bait had no lip or rattle and some even came with glitter glued to the bait. The “old dogs” are the ones I like best but remove the hardware and use better hooks. The old hardware can bind, pull loose and cause lost fish.


4. Rapala Floating Minnow

This lifelike, balsa stickbait has been around for decades, one of the first baits from Rapala. Its shape and lifelike action imitates a minnow, and because it is made from balsa, it floats very high on top of the water. It works great both jerked in shallow water and fished like a topwater. I especially like this bait in clear water and during the spawn. A couple of quick jerks followed by a long pause allows the bait to float to the surface and mimic and injured minnow.

Just about every gamefish on the planet has fallen victim to the Rapala Floating Minnow, and rest assured it is still a big seller today for Rapala.

The lip design allows the bait to dive nose down and have erratic action when twitched. My two favorite colors and sizes are Silver (11S) and Gold (11G) and comes in several lengths including my favorites of 11 and 13. Its casts on a 6 foot baitcasting set-up well but seems to have more followers using spinning gear. The hooks on this bait are super sticky out of the box and are short shank models that do not tangle.


5. Bagley Diving B II

This Jim Bagley creation was one of the first wide-wobbling, deeper-water balsa crankbaits I purchased. The Killer B and Dredge were later models I gravitated to, but I still have an affinity for the action of the Diving B II. This bait is silent, has the unique rounded Bagley lip design and was carefully painted to make it visible to bass in a variety of water clarities. It dives 6-8 feet depending on line size and utilized a wire through bait technology to hold the hooks and lip line tie as a single unit making it very durable and easily tuned.

This bait works well on points but was especially effective on docks with a stop and go retrieve. You can actually tune the bait to run under the dock on the retrieve. Stopping the bait and letting it rise quickly generates the most vicious strikes.

Other great baits I still have in my arsenal that didn’t make my top five but still have a place in my memory banks are the original Storm Wiggle Wart and Short Wart, the Luhr Jensen Woodchopper, the Smithwick Devils Horse, the South Bend Nip-I-Diddee, the Heddon Hellbender, Brother’s Bait Company Limberneck Spinnerbait, the Lunker Lure Original Buzzbait and the Heddon Tiny Torpedo.

Don’t be afraid to pull some of these old baits out and give them a try. I bet you catch fish on them.

Penetration Flippin Hook

Penetration Hooks has a unique design which allows for the hook to sit back further in the bait resulting in a better hook up ration.

In this months “How to” Tackle Grab Pro Travis Moran shows how to rig these hooks on a variety of baits and why having the point of the hook further back will help you land more fish in the boat…..

Watch to #discover more about these unique hooks ….


How To Fall Fish With The Space Monkey

The Strike King Space Monkey is a great bait that mimics crayfish and sunfish.

In this months “How to” Tackle Grab Pro Travis Moran shows how to rig the Space Monkey two ways. When you locate a school of fish and are fishing structure close and tight Travis leans towards the texas rig. When fishing sparse to no cover he prefers using a football head and hugging the bait right along the bottom.

Watch to #discover more about this extremely versatile bait ….

#Tightlines & Happy Fishing

Finding and Fishing Runoffs for Winter Bass

By: Walker Smith

It can be difficult to get motivated for bass fishing this time of the year. The bass are slowly but surely becoming exceedingly conscious of the upcoming winter weather and their metabolic rates are screeching to a halt. Compound this ever-increasing inactivity with bone-chilling conditions and it’s pretty darn tempting to stay home and catch up on our honey do lists.

’Tis the season. Welcome to wintertime fishing.

According to Elite Series pro Timmy Horton, however, there’s a ray of hope—an elixir, of sorts—for our winter bass fishing blues. If your timing is just right, you can experience some of the most incredible action of the year by targeting warm runoffs.

To unleash this special pattern’s true potential, he believes it’s important to understand several key elements that will drastically shorten your learning curve.

  • Know what makes it special
  • Two very different types of runoffs
  • Small windows
  • Lure selection

Why runoffs and why now?


“They’re just not biting.”

It’s one of the biggest clichés in our sport and it’s also one of the most prominent excuses for a poor outing on the water. But as both the air and water temperatures drop, this old saying might actually hold some validity.
“I believe there’s always a bass somewhere in the lake that’s ready to eat,” Horton said. “But throughout the colder months, their feeding activity takes place in very short spurts because their metabolism becomes incredibly sluggish. This is one of the reasons they become so difficult to catch— you have to be in the right place at exactly the right time.”

Runoffs, however, seem to level the proverbial playing field by introducing two variables into the equation. They can provide both warm water and enormous concentrations of baitfish on which the bass can feed.

“If the water is below 60 degrees and a warm rain comes through the area, runoffs can be incredibly productive,” Horton said. “The precipitation is often 2 to 3 degrees warmer than the rest of the water which sends the bass into a major feeding mode. Not to mention, the shad flock to these runoffs to gorge on the microorganisms and phytoplankton that are washing into the water.”

In addition to providing warmer temperatures and a smorgasbord of easily available forage, these runoffs often leave behind a distinct stain to the water. Because stained water is much denser than clear water, it will conduct heat faster and remain warmer for days after any rainfall.

The bass are actively seeking warmer water and when they sense it coming from these runoffs, they’ll get absolutely stacked. The shad do the same thing as well, which creates a perfect storm.

Understand the two different types of runoffs

Contrary to popular belief, not every runoff is the same. Horton places them into two distinct categories and approaches each one very differently.

“Some may confuse these areas with the precipitation runoff that’s commonly found in the backs of major feeder creeks,” Horton said. “But that type of runoff can actually hurt the fishing this time of year because it can introduce entirely too much mud into the creek, causing both the bass and bait to disappear almost overnight. The runoff pattern I’m describing is much more of a short pocket and cove-oriented deal.”

Industrial runoff— Runoff from industrial areas, such as manufacturing facilities, often remains consistent throughout the entire year. As a result, the bass become accustomed to it and tend to position much tighter to the influx of water. They’ve learned where the action is, so there’s no point in meandering elsehwere. So when Horton targets these areas, he’ll concentrate his efforts within 10 to 15 yards of the water flow.

Natural runoff— Whenever new water is introduced into a fishery by way of topographical features, such as mountains and valleys, Horton has noticed a difference in the bass’ behavior. Instead of positioning tightly to the point of entry, they’ll actually scatter throughout the surrounding area. He’ll still begin his dissection close to the water flow but will work away from it until he stops getting bites. As a general rule, Horton believes the first 20 to 30 yards to be the most productive.

Small windows of opportunity

For some of you, all this talk of big bass might have you chomping at the bit to go try this coldwater technique. But don’t get carried away yet. In order for this to work, both your personal schedule and the weather has to line up almost perfectly.

“This pattern gives you a very small window of opportunity,” Horton said. “But if you watch the weather and get out there at the right time, you won’t believe how crazy the fishing will be. You can literally catch zero bass the day before and hammer a 20-pound limit the very next day.”

So what’s the deal with the weather? When can we expect to jack on ‘em?

Warm fronts— I always feel obligated to point out that the word “warm” is a relative term. But regardless of your location, this runoff pattern can take place anytime after a warm rain event. As long as the precipitation is a few degrees warmer than the current water temperature, there’s a solid chance of getting on a great bite. For example, if the water in your favorite lake is currently 45 degrees, make plans to fish runoffs the next time a 50-degree rain hits your area.

It lasts for a few days— It doesn’t have to be nasty and wet outside to experience this special fishing pattern. If you’d rather stay dry, just make sure to target these runoffs within 4 or 5 days of the most recent rainfall. The fresh water will lasts for several days, so there’s no need to fish in inclement weather.

It doesn’t take much— If you get a rare 75-degree rain or something similar, fishing runoffs will be absolutely unreal. But an extreme warm front isn’t necessary. Horton has caught countless big bass by targeting runoffs just a degree or two warmer than the rest of the lake, so don’t overthink it. A small increase in water temperature is all it takes.

Find ‘em quickly: Use satellite imaging such as Google Earth to find nearby mountain valleys, farm ponds or even wildlife refuges. These are all prime areas to find warm runoff in the colder months.

Productive lures to consider


A boat full of fishing equipment isn’t required for this pattern. To be quite honest, there will be days where you can catch ‘em on just about anything that remotely resembles a baitfish. But day-in and day-out, Horton enjoys the most consistent success on three primary types of lures— a jerkbait, spinnerbait and lipless crankbait.

Jerkbait— “My number one choice is almost always going to be a hard jerkbait, such as an Azuma Bray Z,” Horton said. “A jerkbait will temporarily spook big balls of shad, which gives the bass an excellent look at your offering. It’s important to use a suspending model because even though we’re searching for warmer water, it’s still relatively cold compared to other times of the year.”

Spinnerbait— When he finds a runoff in fairly stained water, Horton relies heavily on a 1/2-ounce white and chartreuse-colored spinnerbait, such as a Swampers Target Willow. He makes long casts and slow-rolls it through the area. The added flash and vibration of the blades helps the bass locate the lure and drastically reduces short-strikes.

Lipless crankbait— “You’ll find a lot of pipes that introduce warmer water near big flats,” Horton said. “The Azuma Shaker Z allows me to cover a lot of water which is extremely important. These pipes will often create a 10 to 15-acre area of warmer water, so you have to use a lure you can fish efficiently.”

If the cold weather sweeping across the nation is making you a bit stir-crazy, grab a couple of rods and search for some nearby runoffs. If you pay close attention to the weather, you’re likely to have a few days of fishing you’ll never forget.

How To Fish A Spinnerbait

Fall = baitfish schooling up and bass on the prowl for them. Spinnerbaits were designed to mimic a school of baitfish and they prove to be an effective tool year round but can really excel during this specific time of year.

In this months “How – to” Tackle Grab Pro Travis Moran shows how to fish the River2Sea Bling spinnerbait in and around shallow structure with a varying retrieve to increase his hook-ups.

#Tightlines & happy fishing