Do any of you cast soft plastic lures to catch fish?

spoonminnow

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I'd be lost without soft plastic to catch fish regardless the species. Some think those lures are mostly target bass or panfish, but carp, pickerel and catfish are caught using them - many quite large.
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Soft plastic lure designs focus on finesse-action and slow retrieves. Most hard lure designs are retrieved faster with the hopes of a reaction strike as the lure passes by. Spoons, crankbaits, surface lures and spinners are examples.

Small jigheads account for 99% of my soft plastic weights and can be chosen to match the lure and presentation via hook size and weight.
 

dorsetsteve

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Quite regularly yes. Large soft plastics too, upto about 8/9”. I prefer cranks and jerks though, just a more exciting experience.
 

spoonminnow

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Quite regularly yes. Large soft plastics too, upto about 8/9”. I prefer cranks and jerks though, just a more exciting experience.
When I only fished for bass, the bigger lures caught them but for different reasons. Plastic worms of many different shapes and sizes (up to 9") got hit in lakes and rivers but then I discovered skirted jigs used with an Uncle Josh Pork Frog trailer*. Man did the combo get clobbered - so much so that I didn't cast plastic worms half as much. But after a while those lures got boring once proven they could catch fish and then I expanded to spinnerbaits, all kinds of crankbaits and surface lures.
*
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Now my obsession is finding new soft plastic designs: shapes and actions that get struck more often than most lures sold that. Using a candle flame, I can attach parts from different lures together to come up with something unique as seen in my forum posts along with the fish they caught. It's nice to know that specific designs I discover are winners no matter where I fish them. Only a few are straight from molds that are used whole or for parts.
Here are a few that have proven excellent:
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grayson

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I have used them extensively. Although I prefer drop shot in very cold weather , my main technique is using various soft plastic lures on jigs , varying from 2-5grammes , and on hooks from 6 to 2/0 . Like most lure guys, I have bought far too many , because they are so cheap and the jury is still out at how much of a difference colour and precise pattern makes. Confidence is all, and I am most confident with yellow or green lures in coloured water , and silver, muted greens and bronzes in clearer water -and this year I have had some cracking sport with crayfish patterns . And , just as in fly fishing , the exact replicas don't work even nearly as well as the more impressionistic lures. I make no claim that my approach or conclusions are in any way scientific or conclusive . Like most of my angling it is no more than intuition and informed guesswork.

Two things have surprised me most about this type of lure fishing

- the variety of fish I've caught. I expected pike and perch , and trout and zander (like walleye in USA ) where present. I half expected chub, but not ide, roach/bream hybrid nor carp. And the salmon I caught from a local canal was also a surprise

- how fish can locate lures in even very coloured water. I first picked up on this when flyfishing , when I still caught in visibility of 4 or 5 inches , but I've had zander from water that was almost opaque
 

spoonminnow

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First, let me express my profound appreciation for your post grayson! Observational evidence is an angler's foremost school of thought when it comes to what is true, false or somewhat in between. You might this article find of interest regarding the lateral line and vision:

"Confidence is all"
Number one. Fishing acumen in my opinion is built on blocks of lessons learned via observation and from that, confidence grows vs the desperation I've felt on many an outing over the last 5 decades. But now, after years of experimentation, I've ruled out the b.s. that has misled me to fish the wrong lures at the wrong time, the wrong way. As you said, "just as in fly fishing, the exact replicas don't work even nearly as well as the more impressionistic lures". Impressionistic synonyms - evocative and suggestive, may be vague adjectives to describe the effect lures have on tiny fish brains, but the poor buggers can only survive with what little nature has provided them.

When comes to color choice, fish don't get to choose - only anglers do and for reasons that are human-based and personal. A good observation: "fish can locate lures in even very colored water", but as important is the effect water transparency or lack of, has on color along with light intensity at that moment in time. Add to that, lure depth, time of day, clouds and sun angle determine what fish see which is far different than what we see above water.

So where does that leave color choice? First off, colors are bright, muted or dark - never colorless. Years ago I caught fish using clear plastic crankbaits and a clear hard plastic surface lure called the Zara Spook. Then last year a 💡 when off : why not clear soft plastic lures? Here are some examples that prove what we see is not what fish get:
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Even clear plastic exhibits color via the background same as that of a clear vase vs light that is reflected back to us. So what you have left is a muted color that outlines a lure's shape. A darker semi-transparent color will be darker still and more so depending on available light.

Bright colors - i.e. fluorescent colors - are the most visible and hold their hue the longest - especially bright white.
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As Grasyson said, "the jury is still out at how much of a difference color and precise pattern makes."
Does any of the above help when choosing colors? Maybe, but more based on the physics of color vs what color or color patterns suggest to fish, which leaves us with three choices in combination: lure shape, size and action.

" I make no claim that my approach or conclusions are in any way scientific or conclusive. Like most of my angling, it is no more than intuition and informed guesswork."
Anglers chose based on what experience has shown, intuition and 1-1000 guesses on any outing. As you can see from all of the photos: my guesses were successful regarding lures and where cast. What's more, I only ever need to use just one of the lures shown and be confident of catching fish regardless of species.

Sorry, but Grayson opened the door to my obsession when it comes to lures. I just can't help myself sharing what I've found fascinating and productive and disproving by example that which is Trump-like.

Cheers
 
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dorsetsteve

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When conditions are bleak I like to go for the tackiest colours known to man, flouro pink etc. It’s a well held belief that fish often hit a lure out of irritation. It’s almost as if the fish hits the lure in pure disgust of “what the hell is that? I’m going to bite it”.

Copper is my go to is clear water, especially with some warmth.
 

spoonminnow

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I base my lure action choice along with color is based on just that - "It’s a well-held belief that fish often hit a lure out of irritation."
They sense it (via the lateral line and ear) and see it thereby confirming what they sense. Lures in that sense (no pun) are provocative in that they simply provoke fish into striking. Too much lure stimulus and no strike - too much being too large, shape and action not right.
Curl tail grubs above a certain size get ignored; smaller ones do much better. Might be too much wag for fish to even consider striking.
At other times, Fish AQ (Aggression Quotient vs IQ) is high and fish are incensed by bigger and more action in a lure such as with this crankbait crappie:
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...and this minnow shape:
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... this 5" Kut Tail Worm:
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As you can see there are no set rules when it comes to any lure-related characteristics, though seasonal and weather conditions may play a big part regarding fish AQ.

Example of fish AQ affected by water temperature:
I have a pond on my property and stocked it with panfish and bass. As long as the water temperature is above 48 degrees, 2 doz. sunfish line up and go crazy going after bread that I make into balls. Sometimes three or more fish will smash the surface to get to that little ball of starch first.
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As water temperature drops fewer fish go after the bread and are no longer shallow where I can see them. Their AQ has dropped with water temperature.
Note the rain clouds coming in over the pond. Fish AQ is maximum almost 100% of the time and more so when the rain sprinkles the water's surface. When that happens the surface bite goes crazy on most lakes I fish!
 
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grayson

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A query for you. Much as I love light lure fishing, the inconvenient truth is that I lose too many fish, certainly more than with bait or when using what I used to call plugs (but which everyone now seems to call crank baits). I put this down to the easily torn soft membrane surrounding the perch's mouth, exacerbated by the mass of the weighted jig head . Oddly , some fish are incredibly well hooked , even small perch on large lures but infuriatingly, I have lost several very big perch on similar sized lures.

I use braid (of course) and sharp hooks and wonder if my problem may be that if a take results in solid resistance I don't strike hard enough . Or, sometimes , when something has hammered the lure and already is taking line , I probably don't strike at all as it seems unnecessary to do so in that situation . Pike usually stay on, but I still experience higher loss rates than with other methods .

Any thoughts, from your experience across the pond ?
 

dorsetsteve

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A query for you. Much as I love light lure fishing, the inconvenient truth is that I lose too many fish, certainly more than with bait or when using what I used to call plugs (but which everyone now seems to call crank baits). I put this down to the easily torn soft membrane surrounding the perch's mouth, exacerbated by the mass of the weighted jig head . Oddly , some fish are incredibly well hooked , even small perch on large lures but infuriatingly, I have lost several very big perch on similar sized lures.

I use braid (of course) and sharp hooks and wonder if my problem may be that if a take results in solid resistance I don't strike hard enough . Or, sometimes , when something has hammered the lure and already is taking line , I probably don't strike at all as it seems unnecessary to do so in that situation . Pike usually stay on, but I still experience higher loss rates than with other methods .

Any thoughts, from your experience across the pond ?
What are you using, set up wise? Perch are masters of throwing the hook.

I will use Crankbait (undoubtedly an Americanism) to differentiate from other hardbaits or plugs, such as Jerks. Plug is just a bit broad.
 
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