Today we’re going to look at the 10 greatest soft plastic baits of all-time, in my opinion. We’re going to use some name brand baits for illustration, but the focus will be more on the type of bait than a specific brand. However, we will link to some these baits so that you can try them out for yourself if you’d like. Again, this is an opinion piece primarily meant to give anglers a few ideas if they’re looking for very productive baits to try. If you’re favorite soft plastic doesn’t make this list, that’s okay. Let’s dive in.
Creature Style Baits
Though these 10 bait categories are in no particular order, a creature style bait has to be near the top for me. Baits like the Strike King Rodent (pictured here) are great for punching, flipping and dragging on a Texas rig. They’re also great for sight fishing when bass are spawning. A compact bait that punches through cover well, the creature style bait is a bait you can put into some really tight places to pull out some really big bass.
Craw Style Baits
Craw style baits, like the Muscle Back Craw seen pictured here, are another or my personal favorites and are great for power fishing presentations. If you’re pitching a bait around vegetation and would like a little more action than you can get from a creature bait, try a craw instead. Craws also make fantastic jig trailers, helping to complete the crawfish profile that many jigs are intended to pull off. And putting a craw style trailer on the back of a swim jig is really effective as well when wanting to mimic a bluegill or bream.
Soft Plastic Jerkbaits
Soft plastic jerkbaits, like the Strike King Caffeine Shad, are often referred to as Flukes in reference to the Zoom Super Fluke which was one of the early trend setters in this genre. A fantastic bait for fishing around baitfish, the soft plastic jerkbait mimics a struggling baitfish and is something few bass are able to resist. It’s most commonly rigged on a weightless Texas rig and twitched on or just below the surface, but can also be really productive on a scrounger, under spin and Carolina rig.
Ribbon Tail Worms
Perhaps the lure category responsible for the most fish catches of all time, the ribbon tail or curly tail worm has been around since the the start of the artificial lures market. Ribbon tail worms like Bruiser Baits 10” Curly Tail Worm have been fished on a Texas rig in 2- inches of water all the way down to 20- plus feet. An extremely effective presentation to draw strikes from a lot of small fish as well as the big ones, a Texas rig worm is often an anglers ‘cleanup’ bait as a fish will seldom let it pass by without trying to take a bite.
Soft Plastic Stick Baits
Another extremely popular bait category, soft plastic stick baits like the YUM Dinger are responsible for millions of fish catches each year. One of the best baits for beginners, a whacky rigged stick bait is almost impossible for a bass to resist. The main draw back is that this bait is best fished slow, so covering water is going to take some time. But if you have a target rich environment, there are few baits that can compare, especially when trying to skip under and around docks and bushes.
Tubes represent another classic soft plastic category and are very popular in the northern states. Up north, small mouth bass feed on goby and a tube like V&M Bait’s Smallie Tube does a great job mimicking that forage. Often rigged with a jighead specifically designed for tubes, anglers are able to target giant smallies around boulders and rock veins with a bait they simply can’t resist. And as effective as a tube is for this style of fishing, it’s just as effective rigged on a Texas rig to pitch and flip around shallow cover down south.
Reeling a toad like the Strike King Super Toad is a great way to get some monster blowups throughout most of the year. During the winter months, most anglers north of Florida have to store their topwater baits away til spring. But the rest of the year, rigging a toad on a weightless Texas rig gives you an all-terrain vehicle capable of traversing the thickest cover you can find in search of a big blowup. Lily pads, topped out hydrilla and water willow all make great cover for toad fishing.
One of the most versatile soft plastic categories, swimbaits like the Big Bite Baits Finesse Swimmer can be rigged and fished several different ways. If you’re wanting to target suspended fish in 20- feet of water, slip this bait up on a jig head. If you’re fishing around spawners 6- inches deep, try it on a weightless Texas rig using an EWG hook. Want to spruce up your spinnerbait, vibrating jig or buzzbait, swimbaits make for great trailers as well. There’s a lot you can do with a soft plastic swimbait for sure.
One of the newest categories of soft plastic baits is also one of the most effective in recent years. The Ned rig took the bass fishing world by storm a few years ago and has since seen dozens of technique specific baits come to market for this particular setup. Baits like the Strike King Ned Ocho sure don’t look like much, but when you rig these little nothing looking baits on the back of a Ned head, you won’t likely underestimate them again. This is probably the easiest bait to get a bite one for a beginner and one of the top producers for even the most seasoned anglers out there. A bait that simply gets bit.