In this day and age there are numerous of ways that an angler can rig a soft plastic bait. To name a few you have the, Carolina Rig, Texas Rig, Shakey Head, Drop Shot Rig, Mojo Rig, and more. These are all great options in the right situations throughout the year. But one way to fish soft plastics that gets less attention than the rest is fishing them weightless. In this case the only weight you have is the hook and the bait, and trust me this is a great way to catch big bass.
Some of my best tournament finishes I've ever had came from fishing with light tackle and weightless baits that have a slow, almost irresistible fall.
One of my go to baits that works great in the spring and also in the fall is a weightless Zman Jerk ShadZ. When rigging a Jerk ShadZ I use a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook and I do what is called the texpose method in order to make the bait completely weedless. What I do is rig my bait just like a normal texas rig worm, where I come all the way straight through the plastic and then slightly burry the point of the hook into the bait. This results in a hook that is ready to release and stick the fish, as well as making the bait perfectly straight. Figuring out how to rig your fluke bait as straight as possible is very important, if the bait is off center on the hook just the slightest bit then the bait will spin and not swim like it's supposed to.
To see how to rig the bait in detail you can check out our video on our Sweetwater Fishing TV Facebook Page!
One great thing about a weightless Jerk ShadZ is that it is a very versatile presentation. I like to very my retrieve when fishing it. Specifically, I will at times work the bait extremely fast making it twitch like a fleeing shad on the surface of the water and then when I come over a piece of cover or have a fish roll on the bait I can stop it and just let it slowly sink, which will trigger a lot of strikes. So weather they are extremely aggressive and chasing or if they want a slow falling presentation this bait is going to cover it all. It works near lay downs, docks, rocks, and seawalls, as well as in open water situations! It's definitely something that all anglers need to have in their arsenal.
Another excellent bait that was truly designed to fish weightless is the Zman ZinkerZ. This bait looks like nothing but catches fish like crazy! Rigging it weightless is by far my favorite method and I rig the bait exactly the same as I rig my Jerk ShadZ, using the texpose method. The key to the ZinkerZ is generally the less you do with the bait the more fish you catch. I like to let the bait do the work 90% of the time, just casting it out and letting it sink slowly. The way it falls and wobbles on the way down parallel to the bottom is just to easy of an opportunity for a bass to slowly swim up and inhale the bait.
When fishing the ZinkerZ or any weightless bait you always need to watch your line looking for a little twitch when the bass takes the bait or for your line to swim off if the bite was too light to be detected. Now occasionally I will twitch and pause the Stiko just like I fish a Jerk ShadZ, I do this specifically when I'm fishing around shallow scattered or matted grass, when doing this don't be surprised if a fish blows up on the bait just like they would on a topwater Spro Frog!
So whether you spend your time fishing big lakes and reservoirs, or small private ponds you will be blown away at the success you can have fishing weightless baits. I generally like to fish them using a 6'10" or a 7'3" TFO Tactical Series Spinning Rod, accompanied by a Quantum Smoke Speed Freak Reel, spooled up with 8lb to 12lb Vicious Pro Elite Fluorocarbon. The spinning tackle makes for easier casting with light weight baits as well as the opportunity to skip these baits like a stone way up under cover such as docks or overhanging trees. If you are fishing extremely heavy cover and are very talented then a bait caster can be used, but your simply not going to be able to get as far up under the cover as you can with a good quality spinning setup. So head over to Bass Pro Shops where you can get everything you need, because the weightless soft plastic bite is on now!
I'll see you on the water!!!