It’s no secret that creature baits are extremely successful in catching big fish. In fact my top 3 biggest bass have all come on a creature bait (two 10 pounders and a 9). Living in Florida, I get asked often about creature baits from both visitors and locals all in search of landing a Florida lunker. In this article I will be sharing some of my top tricks and secrets about creature baits and how to effectively use them.
Like with any soft plastic, choosing the right color is crucial to your success of catching bass. My go-to color is always some variation of black and blue (worst kept secret in Florida). However I always keep a handful of different colors in my bag that will have me prepared for any situation or water clarity. The first color is a natural green pumpkin with either orange or red flake. If the water is relativity clear I go with a more natural approach and a green pumpkin seems to always do the trick. Another color that I always have on me is junebug red. I cannot tell you how many fish I have caught on this color, in a variety of different baits too. It is a great all around color that works well for both clear and murky situations. My go to color right now is “silver shadow” by Gambler Lures. It’s a black and blue blend that has worked great for the waters that I fish. I spend a lot of time fishing in the grass, and flipping a black and blue creature bait in the reeds has produced great results. However, the most important factor in selecting the right color is understanding what the forage is in your local waters.
Obviously creature baits work great for flipping but they also work great for a variety of other applications and techniques, the first being a jig trailer. When I am wanting to bypass the smaller fish column and target big bass I will oftentimes throw a jig with a big creature bait for a trailer. Another way to fish them that many overlook is a classic Texas Rig. Most of us grew up throwing everything on a Texas Rig and it’s a great way to catch fish regardless of what kind of waters you are fishing. If you fish predominantly grassy areas or areas filled with structure, I would recommend throwing a heavy cover swim jig with a Strike King Rage Craw trailer (my secret weapon). Swim jigs are nothing new, but I find that many use paddle tails as trailers, which work great. However I prefer to scale it down even more and use a creature bait as a trailer that has a kicking motion. I have put a lot of fish in the boat, and on Instagram, using this setup.
The market today is filled with soft plastics and a lot of it really comes down to preference and experience. You will always fish better with whatever bait you have the most confidence in. And you never gain confidence until you catch fish with it, or when one of your friends has success on a certain bait. However, there are a few baits that I would recommend and that I always have in my kayak. The first is a Berkley Havoc Pitboss. I caught my first 10 pounder flipping a Pitboss so naturally I flipped it A LOT after that experience. It is still one of my go-to baits because of its small profile and great action; it is also pretty cheap and they have a great color selection. When I want something with more action or I am fishing a jig I typically use the Strike King Rage Craw (not the Rage Chunk). It creates a lot of movement and has a great presentation. If I want something simple and I am going to be fishing relatively slow I prefer to use the Gambler Lures Why Not. It is a meat and potatoes kind of bait, but it works great when the bite is slow and moves through structure and grass well.
Creature baits are a great lure to add to your arsenal, especially in your pursuit of big bass. You can present a nutritious meal for a big bass that often requires minimal effort for them. If you do not have tons of experience with creature baits I encourage you to pick some up and start throwing them in the fishiest looking areas you can find… then hang on.
– Josh Duke