soft stickbait catches by Webster and Buss

Soft Stickbaits for Early Summer Bass Fishing

Having options is a good thing, but it does cause an internal conflict: which do I choose? If just allowed one product from Megaware’s website, for example, which is the best? The keel guard? Skeg guard? Scuff buster? Each provides invaluable protection. Similarly, an angler can own 30 different rod and reel combos, yet can only cast one at a time.

Early summer bass fishing poses this problem, but it is a good problem. Bass are their most active during the first half of summer, which means they can be caught on a multitude of baits, depths, and structure. The explanation is that bass may target multiple forage species throughout a day. Topwater plugs, for example, often work great during dawn and dusk, but not midday. Often what is happening is that the bass were targeting baitfish during the lowlight hours, but began eating crawfish during the day. The next five blog articles will focus on a bait that every novice and professional angler should have ready to use during the early summer. But today, we’re focusing on soft stickbaits for early summer bass fishing.

Soft Stickbaits for Early Summer Bass Fishing

The beginning of Soft Stickbaits

Originally made by Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits called the Senko, the soft stickbait changed fishing. Through my years as a competitive angler, tournament director, and work with youth, I claim with a great deal of confidence there is not a bait on the market that catches more fish than the soft stickbait. The Senko still reigns supreme, but every soft plastic company now has their own, and many are outstanding. When browsing the knockoffs on the market, I want the ones with salt impregnated inside and softness. When it comes to soft stickbait for early summer bass fishing; the softer, the better.

soft stickbait catch at 1000 Islands by Andy Buss


What should I rig soft stickbaits on?

Soft stickbaits can be rigged on drop shot rigs and Carolina rigs, but the two most common rigs are the Wacky and Texas rig. The wacky rig exposes the hook and is prone to get snagged, compared to the Texas rig around structure and vegetation. However, it has a higher landing ratio and presents a more vertical presentation with the weight of the hook located in the center. With the hook located on the blunt end of the bait, the Texas rig will move the bait horizontally. A Wacky rig does not demand a hard hookset, so it is also a great choice for novice and young anglers.

How deep should I fish with a soft stickbait?

The action of a soft stickbait is a slow undulating wiggle. Since the sink rate is slow, it excels in water less than five feet deep. But if an angler is patient enough, it can be fished much deeper. It is best to cast the bait as far as possible. Once the bait has reached the bottom, simply lift the rod up and move the bait forward five feet. Repeat this process all the way back to the boat. Bites are often not felt; rather, it is more common to see the fishing line darting off in a direction before feeling the bite. Once the line begins moving off, reel in the slack and show the fish who the boss is.

caught with soft stickbait at Eagle Lake by Andy Buss


When is it most effective to use soft stickbaits?

A soft stickbait can be effective 12 months a year, but is best when water temperature is above 55 degrees. When fishing around sparse or scattered structure, I will rig it Wacky 90% of the time. When the structure is heavier, I will rig it Texas. If I am ever slinging it in water deeper than five feet, I will peg a ⅛ or 3/32 ounce tungsten bullet weight to it. There is no place on the water it will not work. In fact, even when competing at the highest level, when I need a bite, I throw the stickbait, no matter what structure surrounds me.

What are the best colors for soft stickbaits?

Color selection can be critical, but more often than not, I believe fancy color schemes catch more fishermen, than fish. Unless I can match up the forage the bass are munching on with my bait, green pumpkin gets the nod from me whenever there is a stain in the water. In cleaner water, watermelon candy gets the nod.

So for starters, I’ll order the KeelGuard along with the soft stickbait. Now I’m armed with the best fish catching bait on the market and I can proceed without worrying about the fiberglass underneath my feet.

Check out more from Andy Buss on his YouTube Channel.