New designs keep plastics on the up and up Floating Soft Baits... Soft plastic baits have been catching their good share of fish for many years: bass, walleye, pike, and muskie have all been deceived by their subtle actions.
However following the tube craze of the mid 90's brought on by many consecutive BP 100 tour wins using these lures, the market went stale for a few years. Enter the new realm of floating plastics...
I was first introduced to the effectiveness of floating plastics on a steelhead trip in late may last spring. I was going to a small stream in the Georgian Bay area where the water is cold and clear and the fish are easily spooked. My counterpart was another well renowned local steelheader from a rival tackle store. On the drive up we were discussing what patterns we had been fishing over the spring run. I was singing the praises for the old classics: red garden worms, green leech patterns and single eggs.
"Don't waste the room in your vest" - my friend said, all you need is a few packs of these as he showed me a small pink plastic worm. I was in total shock at the thought of this bait catching trout and put it off as more of a joke, after him schooling me on the first two pools catching five fish before I had one hookup, I realized that the fish catching potential of floating plastics was no joke.
Floating plastics have always been a known top producer for bass, whether Texas rigging while pitching into heavy cover or dragging Carolina rigged lizards over large open water weedlines. However there multi-species versatility has for a long time been overlooked by all but a few inventive anglers Pinky fishing as it is referred to by its supporters first appeared on west coast steelhead and salmon fisheries about 4 years ago where anglers would thread large 6 inch floating plastics on their lines before attaching a hook. These 6-inch plastics were originally designed for bass fishing but as west coast tribs run large and wide they transferred over easily to the application.
As this technique began to catch on one company refined the pattern and began producing baits that would have the same success on the smaller inland rivers and streams of the Great Lakes. Berkley a division of Pure Fishing first released their 3-inch Power Trout Worm in 2001 as a new line in their Micros series, and by 2003 it was one of the hottest selling trout baits. Power Micros are effectively fished both under a float using evenly spaced weight and 18-30 inch leader from the last split shot, or bottom bouncing with 1/8 - 3/8 slip sinker and 12- 24 inch leader.
Another often overlooked application for floating plastics is while pickerel fishing. Many anglers opt for bait presentations while targeting these fish that at times can be stubborn to bite. Leeches have been a long time favorite of many dedicated walleye fisherman. Used on a floating bait harness rig can be the most lethal presentation to catch those lock jawed eyes. Now hold the idea of that bait hovering a foot off bottom as you drift across the contours of your favorite fishing hole. As leeches are three to five inch in length many floating plastics now available are very fine imitations that at times produce better than the real stuff.
Another technique which has produced many quality spring walleyes out of Lake Simcoe, using a 3/8 ounce weed-ripper bucktail jig and instead of tipping it with a minnow running a 18-24 inch lead of its hook rigged with a light wire hook and a small floating plastic. Preferred baits for this rig are Fin-S fish, 3-inch power worms and Cyber Flexxx 3 inch grubs (Strike King). Using soft plastics as a searching pattern before opening that box of bait can save you lot of time and money as they are more durable and cover water better than bait ...keeping you in the water where the fish are longer.