The best thing about professional bass anglers from both the Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S. is that they routinely share vital info about the baits in their tackle box. High among their preferences lie soft plastics, which are often an integral part of the arsenal they use each week on the pro tour. As fans and bass fishing fanatics, we're always paying attention to what it is that puts largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass in the boat for these pros. There are times these baits are designed by the bass angler themselves, especially when they've developed a relationship with certain brands. Expert insight can help a company like Berkley create a better bait, and in turn see more business success because they're able to attach a well-known name to their products. Since they made it, used it, and had success with it, they're more than happy to promote it to bass fishing enthusiasts out there, and for good reason. Good fishing tackle comes and goes, but certain baits hang around for a reason: they never seem to let us down. This is the greatest reason why soft plastic baits have been here to stay for so many years. To help provide some intel to the hordes of weekend anglers, these are 10 soft plastic baits and the pros who are using them.
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Magnum Fin-Eke Worm - Ott Defoe
We checked with the MLF website last month to see what these great bass pros have been using recently, and Ott Defoe was putting time in with the Magnum Fin-Eke Worm and seeing good success. They're a Bass Pro signature plastic bait, and are infused with salt and the brand's special 8Up scent. You'll notice the lightly-cupped tail, a slight deviation from the traditional stickbait, which helps give the Fin-Eke some nice, wobbly action.
Berkley Chigger Bug - Justin Lucas
Justin Lucas recently stuck with one lure for nearly every fish he landed on Lake Palestine, and it was a jig tipped with the Chigger Bug. Berkley's Powerbait scent system really does a good job of attracting fish and making them commit. The oversized claw shapes cause a lot of movement, and it can be used to pitch, flip, or as a trailer. This is the bait that promises to make average anglers good, and pro anglers the best they can be.
Geecrack Bellows Gill Soft Bait - Alton Jones
Bedding bass seem to go crazy for this Geecrack Bellows Gill bait, and sight fishing with a green pumpkin with purple flake pattern does it for Jones. The deep ribs actually move surrounding water and create waves, just the sort of things predatory fish home in on. There are nearly 20 different color patterns of the Bellows to choose from, so you should be able to find something that will work in your neck of the woods.
Googan Baits Krackin' Craw - Dustin Connell
While we're on the subject of crawfish-shaped baits, we should bring up the Googan Baits offering as a rising-to-the-top option. Justin Connell recently focused this bait for spawning bass in areas with both grass and bushes. There's a V-ridge for added action, and a "slaunch sauce" scent that, well, just has to smell great to fish, right?!
Z-Man RaZor ShadZ - Stephen Browning
This segmented swimbait from Z-Man has a forked tail and seriously lifelike action, and of course comes in a range of color patterns. Interestingly enough, it floats at rest and dives on the retrieve, which is aided by its sloped head design. It even has a belly slot and dorsal hook pocket so you can rig it up weedless and see some extra hook-setting power. Stephen Browning felt that the Razor ShadZ was better for keeping it down and digging along the bottom to keep spawning bass interested.
Zoom Magnum Swamp Crawler - Bryan New
The Bassmasters Elite Series pros are prone to use soft plastics as well, and spent some time discussing what they prefer to throw when sight fishing. Bryan New rigs the Zoom Magnum Swamp Crawler with a #1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Wacky Hook and then lets it do its thing. It's salt-impregnated and comes in plenty of colors.
Gary Yamamoto Flappin' Hog - Jacob Powroznik
A funky name like "Flappin' Hog" is sometimes all it takes to get an angler's attention, but to get the fish's attention, it needs more that that. Yamamoto Baits are known bite-producers, and Virginian Powroznik prefers this bait Texas rigged and likes to dip the tail of the plastic to color it chartreuse. The body of this bait is hefty but compact, so you know it's going to attract the big ones.
Strike King Denny Brauer Pro Flip-N-Tube - Clark Wendlandt
Like any great tube bait, the Strike King Flip-N-Tube is hollow to hold air and works great for flipping in heavy cover. It's the shape of the head that makes the Denny Brauer-designed Flip-N-Tube so unique. Wendlandt likes to go big with a 5/0 Owner Wide Gap Plus Hook for ease of movement combined with the size to dig into a big bass mouth.
Berkley Powerbait Gilly Swimbait - Mike Iaconelli
This plastic swimbait was designed with help from Mike Iaconelli, and the Japanese-influenced style makes it one of the most realistic, versatile baits of recent memory. It won the ICAST Best in Show Award in 2021 and has been a mainstay in Ike's tackle box since it debuted. It comes in several HD Tru Color choices so you can match the bait where you're fishing. You can rig it vertical with weightless rigging techniques, sideways as a Texas rig, on a jig head, with a weighted swimbait hook, with a line-through stinger hook rig, or even on a drop shot.
Strike King Game Hawg - Greg Hackney
During clear water conditions, Hackney likes to stick with both sizes of the Strike King Game Hawg. It has a has a lithe, supple, totally natural build that lets it slip right through the thick stuff. Six synchronized appendages work together to create some serious action, and it could even serve as a drop shot rig if needed.
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