Locally I usually do well catching most fish species using light jigs and soft plastics. This includes all pan fish species, bass, pickerel and sometimes cat fish. It's not uncommon to hook 50 to over 100 fish per day as long as I can find them and then provoke the bite. Much of the time one area of the lake will hold more than half the fish I'll catch that day.
The following work on any lake I fish (a dozen local lakes - lowland and highland). In the past I have used many of the lures shown in posts on this forum, but love soft plastic lures for the variety of designs that work and the versatility of presentations.
First off, line is one of the most important considerations as is the rod and reel. Each of us have favorite brands and I'm no expert when it comes to which are best. All I know is that any ball bearing reel that has a 6:1 ratio and medium size spool and take in slack line fast to allow for a solid hook set.
I find that a 5'6" or 6' light action rod adequate in length to cast light jigs 20' or more, allowing me to cover a lot of water in an area. The rod shouldn't be to wimpy all the way down it's length but very flexible 1/3 of the way closest to the end. This is also important for a long distance hook set and keeping the fish hooked.
My line choice is as important as the above rod and reel: 8-10 lb test braid (small diameters of 4-6# line) and a 4-6# test 1.5' fluorocarbon leaders. Braid has no stretch, is sensitive enough to feel the faintest strikes and rarely breaks line mono. I can use the same line for two years and not worry. F/c line is more abrasion resistant than mono though mono is fine for light lures if I run out of f/c of the right test. The light leader allows for the best lure action with the least line bow and f/c is nearly invisible in water causing less distraction from the lure.
When it comes to jigs, unpainted ball head jigs are the only jigs I use with soft plastics. 1/32 and 1/16 oz work 100 % of the time though 1/8 oz is an option for deeper larger fish. I attach a wire L beneath the line tie to keep the lure up on the jig and can catch a dozen or more on the same lure.Again, I want the least distraction from the lure and drab jig heads allow that.
In the last decade of making and testing lures - hard and soft - I've found that plastics are the easiest to use and offer the largest variety of designs that work in any season and in any water. What's more is using plastics I already own, for years not knowing they could be modified for pan fish. Here are a few of the many that can always be counted on to catch fish:
The only one of the above not hand poured is the finesse worm which was cut from the end of a 4" bait and rigged on a light jig. What all have in common are subtle actions unique to each which make fish take notice and hold their attention. The cone tail grub
may seem to be action-less, but the tail quivers and the lure darts depending on rod tip twitches. The thin tails flutter, while curl tail (not shown) flap like a flag - all of which provoke fish to attack.
Before I show you many of the lures I use, here I the L wire idea you can use to keep plastic up on the jig head. I use a coated
craft wire size #28. Though the picture shows a lead barb to hold lures, I order jigs without them
so less damage is done. Note: the wire L can be 1/2-3/4 of the hook length and always before the hook point.
When it comes to lures, you are only limited by your imagination to use much of what you may already own
. Pieces of lures do the trick though keep in mind that 1-2.5" is the usual length all size fish bite - anything over that, only larger or super-aggressive fish bite unless they are bass or large catfish. This fish was caught using the last 1.5" of the tail of a 4" Ring Worm
Note: Ring Worm as well as most finesse worm segments always
The next lure was cut from a small Slugo grub though a shortened Fin S Fish grub would have worked just as well.
I've even found a use for the head of a craw bait that never caught a fish (note the claws and body were removed resulting in the lure on the left:
You can also shorten a worm or other lure by cutting a piece out and fusing the remaining parts with a candle flame such as this Slider Grub shortened from 3.5" down to 2.5":
Of the many lures you use that differ in shape and length combined, all have unique actions that have the potential to aggravate
fish into attacking. It's just a matter of finding designs which do the job. Once found, you can bet they'll always
catch fish - even when used by a child. But as with all small light lures, the key to catching fish is a slow retrieve with pauses
, rod tip twitches and lure pulls and any other action you can apply to lures that already have unique actions built in. Important!
:Just be sure to observe each lure in the water to see how they act when worked a certain way.