Part of what makes soft plastic baits so effective for bass fishing is that they can be rigged in many ways. How you rig them onto your hook or jighead makes them versatile – they can be fished everywhere and around all types of cover. While many rigging options exist, three are some of the most versatile and easy to use.
Longtime professional angler Todd Faircloth says that the drop-shot, wacky, and Texas rig can be used by everyone from someone just getting started to a champion bass angler like himself. He shared some advice on where to fish them and some of his favorite bait styles for each of them.
When beginning the conversation on different bass fishing rigs, Faircloth wanted to start with the drop-shot, as he believes it’s one of the most versatile rigs out there.
“It’s great for the beginner or experienced angler and a critical rig for all bass fishermen,” he began. “It’s so versatile that the only time it won’t work well is muddy and high water. Most people think you must have clear water and use spinning gear and light line, but I use it many other ways.”
His typical setup is spinning gear with light line, but he will also fish a beefed-up “power shot” with heavier equipment and a baitcast rod. No matter how he’s fishing it, one thing that he thinks is often overlooked is leader length.
“It’s the biggest question I get, and I think I’ve come up with a good system,” he said. “For smallmouth, I like a longer leader because they rely on visual feeding, and you can have a longer leader around 2-foot and let your line slack, and the bait will fall further, giving them longer to see it and come to it. Then, you can pick up the slack and do it again. I’ll use a much shorter leader for largemouth, and it’s generally 12 inches or less.”
He also typically varies his weight and hook size, primarily based on the conditions. “A good starting point is a ¼-ounce weight, but I’ll go to a 1/8-ounce when fishing shallower water,” he said. “If I’m fishing somewhere with a lot of current, I’ll go up to a ½-ounce weight. I prefer a size 1 round bend hook for hooks as much as possible and Texas-rig the bait on my drop-shot. I think you land more than when using a small drop-shot hook.”
When it comes to baits, there are many options. “I use many different baits depending on the species,” he said. “For smallmouth, I like the Strike King Z-Too in both sizes as well as the Half Shell and Dream Shot,” he said. “But, a good all-around worm you can fish for all species is a slender finesse worm like the Strike King Filler Worm. It’s got a lot of action, and you get a great hookup ratio when using a worm like that.”
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