Put a few anglers together and they’ll rarely agree about anything. One of the most emotive discussions is about bass plugs. The fact is that most plugs will catch bass at some time, but without doubt a few do stand head and shoulders above the rest.
The other factor is that anglers tend to ignore the cheaper plugs and go for the big names, yet some of the cheaper plugs are just as good if not better, but few anglers try them.
Time and tide stand for no one is a famous saying and the same can be said for bass plugs. The classics of yesteryear such as the Rapala J13 and Sliver will still catch fish, but some of the more modern plugs have the edge on them nowadays and keeping up with plug design technology is nigh on impossible.
I carry far too many plugs and I am a tackle tart when it comes to much of my kit, but as I’m getting a tad older I’m starting to cut back on what I carry. I recently got to thinking on what would be my “must” carry plugs for bassing and thought it might help those just getting in to plug fishing for bass a basis to start from.
No 1. DEVIL’S OWN JOINTED LIZARD LARGE
Action: Diver to 3-metres
What a find this turned out to be! A jointed short tail plug with a fixed dive vane, the colour is a dark back with holographic green sides and a white belly.
The Lizard casts fairly well in to a head wind but I class it as a medium range plug ideal for working tight in amongst sub surface rocks. The action is a seductive wriggle at medium retrieve speed, but up the pace and the plug darts slightly from side to side, still with the wriggle, but imitates an injured fish struggling to swim almost perfectly.
The fittings are strong and the plug has never let me down. It also proves resilient when banging in to rocks and snags.
It represents mackerel, but will take fish right through the season from April to November. Fishes best in clear seas just as light levels are falling.
No2. STORM CHUG BUG
Action: Floating Surface Popper
An all time classic and it’s been with us well over a decade. A single bodied lure with deep cupped head, body rattle and flasher tinsel on the trailing hook. Various colours but silver blue works well. Good strong fittings and this is a plug that will last a long time.
Casts extremely well in to a head wind and classed as a medium/long range plug. It is ideal for working right in amongst surface breaking boulders in both shallow and medium depth water. You need to work the plug hard making it splash on the surface for up to 6 seconds, pause for 3 seconds, work again for 5 seconds, pause for a couple of seconds and so on. This imitates a wounded fish struggling on the surface. Watch the lure all the time for bass swirls behind it and when this occurs increase the cranking speed to imitate a small fish trying to flee.
The plug actually represents no particular fish, but imitates most injured fish very well. Bass hit both the noise and silhouette of this lure as it passes by.
No 3. ABU FLOATING JOINTED TORMENTOR
Action: Floating Diver to ½-metre
Catches a lot of fish! A short tailed jointed lure with a wriggle type action at medium retrieve speed. Tends to dart erratically as speed is increased. Casts well in to a head wind but is classed as a medium range lure. Very well made with tough fittings and good quality hooks.
Good colours are BB Silver when baitfish and sandeels are in the water and the water clarity is clear with low light levels say at dawn and dusk. The Blue Mackerel also fishes similarly. When mackerel are working tight inshore during high summer the Perch colour can be a killer. If the water is carrying a little suspended sediment with limited clarity choose the Red Head type with the white body for maximum visual impact.
No 4: BULLET POPPER
Length: 9cms & 11cms, also 13cms
Weight: 24grms and 64grms
Action: Floating Surface Popper
Excellent for bass of all sizes! I’ve had quite a few pollack on this plug too when working deeper water and when fishing abroad the bigger 13cm size is a killer for all surface working predators including Jacks’s and ‘Cuda’s.
A single bodied lure with a medium deep head cup. Works well at medium to fast retrieve speeds and really kicks up a big spurt of water as it hits and punches the surface. Work for a few seconds; let it sit for a couple of seconds and work again is the best retrieve style. Well made with strong fittings and good sharp hooks.
Blue and silver is a great colour combination in flat calm seas when light clarity is good. Switch to the orange/gold colour combo in water carrying some suspended sediment. The silver/red is also a good fish taker in all conditions. Brilliant for working over the top of and around near surface breaking rocks in shallow to medium depth water. I’ve also caught bass just working this lure along the surf line at the mouths of estuaries.
No 5: YO-ZURI CRYSTAL MINNOW
Action: Floating Diver to 5-feet
Not easy to find in the black back/white reflective side version now, but this is a top plug for both surface to shallow diving over rough ground off the shore close to medium range.
I include this plug because I’ve found it to be the very best boat trolling plug I’ve ever used for bass at speeds around 2-knots. I once caught a 50lb black tip shark on one of these lures while fishing in Florida!
Superbly made with really strong fittings and top quality hooks. The action is a nose down wriggle, but up the speed of retrieve and it induces an occasional erratic sideways dart. What makes it a real killer is that the whole body rocks slightly side to side as it works and it really does look like a fish in trouble.
No 6. DEVIL’S OWN BLUE PILCHARD
Action: Floating Diver To 1.5-metres
A single bodied floating diver with a rattle inside. At medium retrieve speeds it wriggles and wobbles from side to side, increase the speed and the wriggle becomes more precise. It looks incredible in the water and bass hit it really hard as they attack.
At 31grms and being aerodynamic in shape it casts brilliantly in to a head wind. I use this plug for medium to long range fishing.
The fittings are strong and reliable and the hooks good quality and sharp and not oversize for the length of the lure.
One of the lures main advantages is the holographic blue finish that shimmers in the water and adds to an already lifelike look as the lure is retrieved. It best imitates small bass, sandeels and mackerel. It produces fish right through the full season from April to November. Works well in all conditions, but especially in clear seas and bright light conditions.
My top six bass plugs then! There’s a plug there to suit all conditions, light levels and imitate all bait fish types. Use these, or similar types, to form your own collection and add to that list as you discover new plugs that work for you on the ground you fish.