Most bassers think of fall as prime time for crankbaits, spinnerbaits and topwater lures, and indeed, these popular hard baits catch lots of fish. But for the most consistent autumn action -- especially on those tough days when bass just aren't in the mood to chase down a fast-moving lure -- bass pros and guides know that soft plastics rule. You'll get far more bites, and catch considerably more fish, by sticking with soft plastic baits throughout the fall season.
Here are 10 super soft baits to try this fall, together with rigging suggestions and tips on where and how to fish 'em. Whether you're competing in a tournament or simply out for a fun day of fall fishin', we're sure you'll score big with these squishy rigs. Most lures mentioned are available from Bass Pro Shops.
#1: The Big Tube
Fish Strike King's Flip-N-Tube in shallow wood cover and isolated weedbeds.
Lure: 5" Strike King Flip-N-Tube, electric blue
Recommended Rigging: Texas rig with unpegged worm weight; 3/0 to 5/0 extra wide gap (EWG) worm hook
Where to Fish It: Shallow wood cover, isolated weedbeds
Presentation tips: A great lure choice during fall cold fronts, when fish are hanging tight to cover. For some reason, bass can't resist the slow, spiraling fall of a fat tube bait, and the Strike King edition presents a plump target to big bass holding tight to cover. To capture this spiraling action, use a light (1/8 to 3/16 ounce) sinker and leave it unpegged. Fish this bait on a worm rod with 14 pound mono.
#2: The Money Bait
Lure: Zoom Baby Brush Hog, root beer pepper
Recommended rigging: Carolina rig with bullet sinker and 3 foot leader, 2/0 to 3/0 extra wide gap worm hook
Where to Fish It: Points, ledges
Presentation Tips: One of the hottest lures on the cast-for-cash circuit, the Baby Brush Hog really comes into its own in fall, when lakes are at their clearest and bass super-wary. You'll get twice as many bites now with this little bait than with a big lizard, and many of these fish will be keepers. Works great in the 8- to 12-foot zone; dip the tail in chartreuse Spike-It worm dye for added visibility on cloudy days.
#3: The School Fooler
The Baby Brush Hog really comes into its own in fall, when lakes are at their clearest and bass super-wary.
Lure: 4" Bass Pro Shops XPS grub, chartreuse pepper
Recommended Rigging: 1/4 ounce jig head
Where to Fish It: Schooling bass in open water
Presentation Tips: Fall means schooling bass, and a grub will catch more "schoolies" than most surface lures combined. Cast it past breaking fish, let it sink a foot or two, then retrieve in short, rapid jerks. Or simply let it fall on a tight line. Besides largemouths, this bad boy will nail hybrids and stripers, too, so keep your drag loose! Fish it on a 6-foot medium-action spinning rod with 8 pound line.
#4: The Bass Bluffer
Lure: Lunker City Slug-Go, rainbow trout
Recommended Rigging: Weightless with 4/0 or 5/0 Texposer hook
Where to Fish It: Rock bluffs in clear reservoirs
Presentation Tips: In fall, bass often suspend around steep rock bluffs in clear highland reservoirs. They can be hard to catch on fast-moving crankbaits, but they'll gobble up a slow-sinking soft jerk bait without hesitation. Make a long cast to the face of the bluff, let the Slug-Go sink almost out of sight, then twitch the rod tip gently so the lure glides erratically. Fish it on a medium-action 6 1/2-foot baitcasting rod with 10 pound line.
#5 The Full-Meal Deal
Lure: 10" Berkley PowerBait Original Power Worm, purple flake
Recommended Rigging: Texas rig with pegged bullet sinker, 4/0 offset worm hook
Where to Fish It: Murky lakes with wood or submerged grass cover
Presentation Tips: One of the best twist-tail worms going, the Power Worm is so juicy and squishy, bass won't turn it loose once they take it. In murky water, the oversized flappin' tail creates plenty of vibration to help bass home in. Try it on a 7 foot jig rod with 14 to 20 pound line, targeting the last living weeds before winter die-off.
#6 The Minnow Mimic
Lure: Zoom Super Fluke, Arkansas shiner
Recommended Rigging: Split-shot rig with 1/0 light wire extra wide gap hook
Where to Fish It: Points, flats in clear lakes
Presentation Tips: Shad proliferate in the fall, and this deadly lure is a convincing mimic of these baitfish. Best fished on a split shot rig with the weight about 3 feet from the lure; use a 6 1/2 foot medium-action spinning outfit and 6 pound mono and just c-r-a-w-l this baby along on those tough days when the bite is slow.
#7 The Baby Snake
This snake-imitating Gambler Floating Worm is especially deadly in fall.
Lure: Gambler floating worm, bumble bee
Recommended Rigging: 2/0 offset worm hook
Where to Fish It: Grassy shorelines in ponds and natural lakes
Presentation Tips: Surprise -- floating worms aren't just for spring bassin' anymore! And they come in colors besides bubble gum, too -- this snake-imitating floater is especially deadly in fall. Using a 6 1/2 foot medium-action spinning rod and 10-pound mono, cast the worm onto the bank, crawl or hop it into the water and give it a gentle twitch or two with the rod tip as it slowly sinks.
#8: The Lure of Last Resort
Lure: 4-inch Slider, purple sparkle
Recommended Rigging: 1/16 or 1/8 ounce Super Slider head
Where to Fish It: Points, rocky banks and standing timber in stained to clear water
Presentation Tips: Bass will bite a Slider when they turn their noses up at everything else, making this your best bet on cold bluebird days following fall cold fronts. Using a 6-foot medium-action spinning rod and 4 to 6 pound mono, cast, let the Slider sink to the desired depth, then reel slowly and steadily with no twitches of the rod tip. Will catch all sizes of bass.