Go Weedless With Soft Baits!
Ever watched a BASS tournament and wondered why the pros always have 100+ rods on the front deck of boat with 1,000 tackle trays slam full of different baits? (I might have estimated) Each rod combo is designed for specific task and is a exact tool in their arsenal. There are many different tools we use for inshore fishing here in the big bend, but one of the most important is the hook. Based on this concept I'm going to go over a weedless set up and a few techniques I've used over the years while fishing inshore with soft baits.
The hook I prefer is borrowed from our freshwater anglers. I use a good old fashion “worm hook.” There are several manufacturers but Mustad Hooks has been my go-to for a while. Their hooks are strong enough for big redfish and they have both weighted and unweighted. The advantage to worm hooks is that you're able to tuck the tip of the hook back in the bait, creating a nearly weedless presentation. After pushing the hook through the body, simply pinch the body in front of the tip of hook, push it forwards towards the eye and place the tip of hook slightly into body. When you let go of body, the elasticity will pull it back pushing the hook tip in, causing the bait to become weedless. (Will have a video showing set up in following blog post)
This opens up areas of flooded grass, super shallow fish and when there is suspended grass in the water. Perhaps where I’ve found this most useful is when sight fishing redfish. For many of my anglers, I try to have them cast well in front of and past the line of travel the fish is taking (Sight fishing techniques post coming soon). Having a weedless bait allows the angler to let the bait settle and sit on bottom, while they watch the fish to determine when to begin working the bait in order to have a proper presentation. Typically, with a jig head, if you allowed it to sit on bottom when you began working the bait you'd be presenting a salad.
One last advantage to the worm hook that I touched on in a previous fishing report, is the ability to throw big plastic baits as top water. Early morning, late evenings and on over cast days are typically the best times to throw top water plugs for heart pounding, explosive action. If there is a large amount of floating grass though, it can greatly hinder the action of your plug. At this point, break out a weightless worm hook and your favorite soft bait. Rig it weedless and keep the retrieval rate just fast enough that with keeping your rod tip pointed up, the bait is either just breaking surface or leaving a defined wake. My favorite plastics for this are paddle tails like the Slayer Inc. Lure Company's Sinister Swim Tail XL which has a large paddle tail that causes a good amount of noise when worked on the surface, and big jerk baits like the Berkley Gulp Saltwater Jerk Shad 6" and 7" in white or pink. Use the walk-the-dog retrieval on the jerk baits, being sure to keep the bait near the surface. Experiment with different retrievals, even letting the bait drop down a few inches from time to time, until you get consistent strikes. Once you figure out what they targeting that day, you're in the money!
Hope you found this information useful and as always if you have any questions feel free to contact me.