Keep those baits at your fingertips
Fishing is a cyclical process, and those who are consistently successful understand that process.
What it often boils down to is figuring out the pattern in a certain time of year and dialing in presentation through lure selection. As I do most every year, I take off during the heat of the summer. What often ensues is a bit of preparation for the next winter wading season, but also a time of reflection. During this time, I look at the lures in my wade boxes and consider why they were successful. Here is a summary of what I noticed to hopefully help you prepare for the latter months of the year.
- MirrOlure MirrOdine (17 MR), MirrOdine XL (27 MR). These baits consistently produced throughout the year. I’ve thrown them in all four seasons and they have easily become a confidence bait. January and February were really good months for me, then it slacked off, only to pick back up in the end of May and into June. The colors that were most successful were: Greenback (18), pink/chartreuse speckled trout (C17MR-ECTR) and blue back/silver sides white belly (27MR-EB).
- MirrOlure SoftDine, Custom Corky SoftDine XL. When searching for a slightly more-subtle presentation with less flash than a MirrOdine, I’ve found the SoftDine a fantastic alternative. Like the MirrOdine, this bait provides the capability to produce in all seasons and does so for me regularly. My top producing colors were: bayou/green back (49), pink/silver (08) and chartreuse/silver white belly (91). In addition, when searching for larger bites with larger bait present, primarily mullet, I’ll throw the SoftDine XL. My confidence colors stay in line with the first three, except I love two custom colors in Custom Corkys: bay mistress and double bubble.
- Rapala Shadow Rap Shad, Shadow Rap. Similar in functionality and fishability, these two baits were incredibly effective on big fish from December to February. The long, exaggerated pause I would employ simply drove the big fish crazy during colder temperatures or days with a slight warming trend. As we moved into spring, these baits lost some of its effectiveness, but they have produced for me on a year-round basis. My favorite colors in both models are blueback herring, bone, haymaker and halloween.
Last but not least, the unending versatility of having soft plastics in the box. Slowly, but surely I’m throwing larger profiles, but I haven’t completely dismissed smaller soft plastics (under 4 inches) from my arsenal. For smaller profiles, I’ve found that a NED Rig (Owner Blockhead and ZMan Finesse TRD) can be super productive. For more traditional-style swimbaits, Matrix Shad, Down South Lures or the Slayer Inc SST on a round or aspirin-style jighead produce year-round and simply produce bites. These can be great search baits; once you find the fish, upsize or switch techniques to entice the larger fish.
On the larger side of the soft-plastic spectrum, I’ve found that the KWigglers BTS (Ball Tail Shad) to also be super productive. Paired with a lighter jighead, this bait and profile gives a distinct glide that allows you to fish shallower more efficiently. Another large, soft-plastics bait that perpetually produces is the 6-inch Flap’n Shad from Gambler. These can be effective on both a traditional jighead as well as leadbelly swimbait hook. The elongated profile and pliability allow you to present a bait with tremendous action. The only downside is they are softer, and as a result, they only last a few fish. My favorite colors of the KWigglers are lagunaflauge and mansfield margarita, and my favorite colors of Flap’n Shad are coolade and night train.
Wow, where do I begin? Paul Brown Fatboys are my perennial favorite and yet another way to target bigger bites. Know that these are, without a doubt, my confidence baits when it comes to targeting one big bite. Attributes like a healthy profile and an exaggerated wobble descent allows me to really pick apart an area I feel is holding larger-than-normal fish. My color selection varies widely, especially given water conditions. However, I find that Texas chicken (98), black back/silver sides/pink belly (11) and black back/gold sides/orange belly (09) are what I gravitate to the most.
So as we gear up for another full fall fishing season, I encourage you to really reflect on what has and has not been productive. Simply learning from what works and when can bolster your consistency; it may lead to a lot more success in the future.
Tight lines, God bless and remember to take what you need and release the rest.