Carrying a supply of soft plastics and tackle capable of fishing each effectively can be the key to catching bass regardless of what you encounter on any given day.
To fish plastics effectively you’ll need a selection of tackle capable of handling the various sizes and weights of the lures. Since most of the new genereation of soft lures are weighted internally the larger ones require heavier tackle to cast or troll. Most can be handled on light to medium spinning or plugging tackle and using braided line will help get them down in the water column when the bass are holding deep. Remember just because birds wheeling and baitfish are being pushed to the surface does not necessarily mean the bass are feeding on top. For example, if you encounter a school of menhaden casting one of these plastic imitators into the school and retrieving it across the surface will probably get little attention from the bass below. Let it sink and begin a slow to medium retrieve and it’s sure to get the attention you’re looking for.
Soft plastics can be fished in a variety of ways. Most of them work well simply casting and retrieving without trying to impart any action other than the built in tail motion. In deeper water when marking stripers close to the bottom on your depth finder you can drop and retrieve or jig them slowly. The largest versions, like the 9 inch menhaden imitation pictures, can be cast on heavier tackle, jigged or trolled behind the boat.
Regardless how you fish plastics for stripers remember that speed is a critical factor. Bass show a strong preference for slow to moderately paced targets. Anglers often have to make a conscious effort to retrieve these lures slowly and it is even more critical with today’s high speed reels. Cranking the lures too fast will result in lots of bluefish bites—and these toothy critters cause havoc on expensive soft plastic lures—but not a lot of interest from stripers.
Autumn is a time of bounty for farmers and striped bass fishermen alike. It has the potential to provide some of the best fishing of the year and one of the best ways to catch a bunch is with soft plastic lures. Don’t leave the dock without them.