Transitioning from Live Bait to Soft Bait (Artificials)




My initial transition to soft bait (artificial bait) started with bulking up my live bait. For example: minnows with curly tailed plastics. My experiences with live bait made me reluctant to make the leap to soft bait.

Positive experiences with newer soft bait choices have given me more options in my endeavors to win.

My medical background has trained me to think statistically. If I could set up 1000 anglers with live bait and 1000 anglers with soft bait under identical conditions (equipment, lake, weather, etc), I could get a better idea of the success of each. This is an unrealistic possibility because of cost.

I have spent many hours accumulating data with soft bait and live bait. (Some view this as character flaw but data=knowledge=more fish) In this article I will share one of my positive experiences.

Adding soft bait to jigs enhances the presentation to the fish due to the bulk, action of the tail, and smell. The jig is necessary to provide the lifelike movement and control.

Berkley has done research on their soft baits and flavors that fish prefer. They test them in large tanks with a variety of species. I have toured their testing facilities and they are amazing. My most recent experience was at the 2004 RCL Championship last fall in Moline, Illinois where I found Gulp 3″ Minnow (smelt color) out fished a jig and minnow. A friend pre-fishing separately came to the same conclusion using a 3″ Power Minnow (glow color). It really helps the data collection when somebody reaches the same conclusion independently.

So why change? Below is a list of my immediate benefits from this positive experience.

1. More fish in the livewell

2. Gulp stays on the jig longer so you waste less time hunting minnows in the pail. (time is money)

3. No more babysitting minnows. I believe I have killed more minnows accidentally than most anglers have purchased!

4. Guide clients that don’t like to handle live bait will be happy (but their fingers will still smell!)

One final tip, my favorite jig is a Fireball for live bait but you need a longer shank hook for soft bait. You need to thread the hook thru the bait and come out by the tail. I have experimented with long shank jigs but I never found any with the quality I require. Northland has released a new jig with a longer shank out for 2005 (Shiner jig). I applaud the inventor! It is just what I wanted!