The Perfect Bait for Summer – Soft Plastics

dustin wilks big bass

by Tom Cannon

Summer is the perfect time to employ your arsenal of plastic lures. Very few baits have such a natural appearance and are as deadly for Bass as soft plastic lures. Anglers have several different versions as well as dozens of sizes and color scheme to choose from. Anyone can get blown away with all the choices, so here are some excellent tips from Dustin Wilks, professional Bass angler and host of the TV show “Know Fishing”.

Immediately after spawn, in what Dustin calls early summer, his first choice of lures is a big plastic worm. Specifically he picks a Culprit, ten inch, Classic worm. He rigs it Texas style and casts it toward the ditches or creek channels leading away from the spawning grounds. Those deeper areas are the roadways that Bass take when they leave the shallows and head to their deeper summer haunts. The Classic Worm is a proven bass catching machine from the Carolina’s where Wilks is from to California. It’s equally at home in the brush laden shallows, or on deep ledges.culpritworms

The key to this big worm’s success is the subtle action it produces with the minimum of effort and the large profile. It offers Bass a large, tasty morsel, without much effort. Here in the central U.S., it’s deadly on suspended Bass that hug up to large trees along points or on creek channel edges. Thousands of Bass have also been caught swimming it along humps or ledges off shore in big lakes throughout the South. The Classic Worm is definitely a proven producer and something every angler should have rigged up.

Speaking of deep water… Dustin explained that one of the hottest new trends is to fish a swimbait out in deeper water for bigger summer Bass. He likes to rig up a Culprit Minnow on a ½ ounce to ¾ ounce jig head and make long casts to submerged deep structure. “To be really effective; you have to stay in contact with the bottom,” explained Wilks. Once the lure touches the lake bottom, a simple steady retrieve is all that is necessary. Should the angle lose touch with the bottom, simply stop winding until touch down and then resume. Often this will invoke strikes- so what your line.

Since Dustin is searching for active (easier to catch) Bass, he is concentrating on those fish close to the bottom. When he arrives in a likely area he keeps and eye on his electronics for the “archs” that signal fish holding near the bottom, which are generally the more willing to feed Bass. Those fish that are suspended are typically more difficult to catch.

He usually starts with the ½ ounce jig head that comes in the Culprit swimbait package but if deeper water mandate it or a faster retrieve is required, Dustin ties on a ¾ ounce version.dustin wilks Incredi-Craw bass know fishing

Another tactic where the swimbait excells, is around docks. I have found it to be deadly for summer Bass lounging around shady docks. Short accurate casts, right along the edges of nasty looking docks is a great location to toss the Minnow. Heavy line is a must, since nearly every dock worth pitching to has old rusty cables or posts anchoring it. Those are spots Bass love to run to once hooked; and anything but tough line will allow them to break you off.

This summer anglers in the central U.S. will see lots of flooded conditions. Most lakes are ten to twenty foot high, with literally miles of submerged trees, vegetation and objects under water. Wilks’ first choice when flipping this type of terrain is the Incredi-Slim, a smaller profile of its big brother the Incredi-Craw. incredi-claw

Dustin likes to flip the “slim” into these spots and cover lots of water. The smaller size is less likely to hang up and it’s more compact size offers the fish a different look than the hundreds of big baits they may have seen previously.

Here in my area, anglers see lots of flooded willow trees and thick grassy pasture fields with standing water in them. Plastic worms or creature baits can sometimes get snagged on the vegetation and not look natural. It’s situations like this that I pick up a jig. Nothing drops through a thick, flooded willow clump like a ½ ounce jig. Thread on a Culprit DW3 trailer and this combo looks like a crawfish or sunfish to tight holding Bass. Anglers need to fish a lot of spots to find the isolated areas or stretches of fish holding trees and bushes but when located these spots can really hold some big fish!

flooded willows

As you can see, there are several scenarios that will hold good numbers of summertime Bass. The one key component is soft plastic lures. Their versatility is un-matched for catching Bass from warm water. Never head out in the hotter months without a couple different style of baits and you will likely find some willing Bass.

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