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Soft plastic lures are a big deal.
In fact, soft plastic lures have the most variety of all the 7 types of fishing lures.
There are literally hundreds of soft plastic lures to choose from!
You might find it overwhelming when you roam the aisles of your local tackle shop, trying to find the right soft plastic bait.
The question looms – can soft plastic lure selection be simplified? Does it really have to be so overwhelming?
Welcome back once again to Jig Is Up Lurecraft! Today I am going to make soft plastic lures simpler for you by unveiling the 10 shapes that most soft plastic lures fall under. Furthermore, I am going to outline some fantastic baits for each shape that you can use today to catch fish!
Top 10 Soft Plastic Lure Shapes
1. Stick Bait
The first soft plastic in our top 10 list is a world renowned favorite – the stick bait.
Stick baits are wildly popular amongst pro and amateur anglers due to their unerring ability to catch bass on any given day at any body of water across the country.
It’s a simple stick-shaped worm – why do these baits allure bass everywhere?
Much of the allure is due to the fall rate for these baits. Most stick baits are impregnated with loads of salt to give them both more action and a faster rate of fall.
This high-salt recipe was made popular by Gary Yamamato, the creator of the original stick bait – the Senko.
So popular has the original Senko become, that most stick baits sold by various manufacturers are simply referred to as a “Senko.”
Rig this bait on a worm hook and throw it in your favorite bass fishing hole. You’re sure to hook a fish!
Popular stick baits include
Next up on our list is one of the oldest soft plastic lures still in existence – the classic plastic worm.
Plastic worms were made popular in the 1950s by the Creme Worm. Allegedly, these worms proved so effective that they were almost banned from bass fishing, out of fear that they would be lethal to fish populations!
Thankfully, fish populations have not suffered from the popular use of plastic worms. Thus, plastic worms remain an effective bait for catching fish to this day.
What is the appeal of the plastic worm?
Whereas the Senko is a salty, stick-shaped bait, most worms are slender and lanky. Moreover, worms come in a variety of sizes.
For instance, three- and four-inch worms are used heavily by anglers in the northern regions to catch smallmouths. In contrast, big eight- and even 10-inch worms are used by largemouth anglers looking for big bites in hot summer months.
Like the Senko, it’s hard to go wrong fishing a worm. They work in so many situations!
Popular worms include
Next we come to soft plastic craws, one of my favorite soft plastic baits on this list.
As you may have guessed, plastic craws are designed to imitate crawfish. Since crawfish are a regular item on the menu of many freshwater gamefish, soft plastic craws are remarkably effective at catching scores of bass, catfish, and other freshwater species.
Some plastic craws are made with realistic pincers, and offer little to no action underwater.
Other plastic craws come equipped with big flappers for pincers. These flappers create thumping, paddling action underwater, which can be just the ticket for attracting the attention of a roaming fish.
Regardless of the craw you choose, give a plastic craw a try if you see crawfish in the water you’re fishing. You might be surprised how many fish you’ll catch!
Popular plastic craws include
4. Beaver Baits
Fourth on our list is a relative newcomer to the soft plastic lure industry – the beaver bait.
Beaver baits took the world by storm when Reaction Innovations released its legendary Sweet Beaver soft plastic bait.
This bait offered something new to the fishing world. Its thick, fat body offered a big profile underwater. At the same time, its small trailing appendages moved subtly underwater, giving off very little action.
These traits make the Sweet Beaver an effective bait for those days when bass are not honed in on aggressively moving forage.
Following upon the smashing success of the Sweet Beaver, many other companies designed and released their own beaver-style soft plastic baits.
Regardless of which beaver bait you choose, know this – if you rig it on an EWG worm hook and throw it into waters where bass abide, you will catch fish!
Popular beaver baits include
5. Creature Baits
Creature baits are a whole category of soft plastic shapes that mimic different unique forage in fish diets.
These shapes vary, ranging from lizards to hellgrammites and anything in between.
Some of these soft plastic baits don’t closely resemble any kind of bass forage, yet still catch oodles of bass!
One such example is the Zoom Brush Hog. Equipped with both long tendrils and short, thick paddles, this bait does not look like anything fish eat.
With that said, you would be hard pressed to find a more effective bait for fishing around heavy cover. The disturbance caused by all those appendages drives fish wild!
Popular creature baits include
6. Soft Jerkbaits
In stark contrast to the eccentric appearance of creature baits, soft jerkbaits very closely resemble a favorite bass forage – shad.
Built with a long slender body, these streamlined baits appear very realistic underwater. Due to this, soft jerkbaits are wildly effective in the fall when bass hone in on shad and other baitfish.
I personally love to fish a jerkbait with an erratic twitching retrieve. This makes the bait look just like a dying shad trying to flee from a hungry bass!
Popular soft jerkbaits include
7. Paddletail Swimbaits
Paddle tail swimbaits have the same long, slender body of a soft jerkbait. However, the boot-shaped paddle tail gives these baits much more thump in the water than jerkbaits have.
Paddle tail swimbaits are fantastic multi-species baits. Although renowned for their ability to catch trophy walleye, paddle tails catch bass, crappie, catfish, and other freshwater species with equal effectiveness.
To try a paddle tail out, rig it up on a ballhead jig. Then simply cast it out and swim it back!
Popular paddle tail swimbaits include
Next comes a bait that is particularly effective in clear water situations – the tube.
Tubes are made with a hollow body and several small tentacle-like appendages. This unique shape accomplishes two things.
First, the hollow body gives the bait a unique sense of realism. When a fish bites down on the tube, it is greeted with the sense that it has chomped down on a very chewy morsel.
Second, the small tentacles at the end of the tube mimic the small appendages on a crawfish like few other shapes do.
These characteristics combine to make tubes a lucrative bait, particularly when fish are sight feeding in clear water.
Popular tubes include
Anyone who has read this blog knows I have a special place in my heart for jigs.
Trailers, the fun colorful sidekick to the jig, similarly hold a special place in my heart.
Trailers come in many shapes and sizes, but are all meant to do one thing – accent a jig with additional profile, color, and action.
Looking to add bulk to your jig? Rig on a chunk-style trailer.
Want more swimming action on your jig? Rig on a trailer with a boot-shaped tail or flapper claws.
Want your jig to look as realistic as possible on the bottom? Rig on a craw-shaped trailer and hold on tight!
In my opinion, experimenting with different trailers is an absolute blast. I highly recommend trying different trailers for whatever jigs you fish, to see what works best for you.
Popular trailers include
Last but not least, soft body toads remain one of the most fun soft plastic lures you can fish.
Why? Because it’s a topwater bait!
Like other topwater baits, soft body toads remain on the water’s surface as you reel it in. It’s churning, gurgling action on the water’s surface makes it very easy to know where your bait is, as well as when you get a strike.
Indeed, the adrenal thrills of a hungry bass explosively attacking a topwater bait are exhilarating!
To start having fun with a soft body toad, simply rig it on an EWG worm hook. Then throw it in the weeds and grass of your local waters and prepare yourself for a strike!
Popular soft body toads include
Conclusion: Top 10 Soft Plastic Lure Shapes You Can Use
Sometimes it feels like picking the right soft plastic lure is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are oodles of soft plastic lures to choose from!
With that said, the 10 shapes unveiled in this article provide a basic outline for the baits most manufacturers produce.
Do they all catch fish? Yes! But some are better than others in certain conditions.
What are some of your favorite soft plastic baits? Leave a comment below!
Want to learn more about soft plastic lures? Stay tuned for upcoming articles that discuss rigging methods and many other helpful tips for fishing with soft plastic lures!