Soft Plastic Fishing With Joe Fontaine

Below is a guest-post by Joe Fontaine, Tournament Angler
Joe is a Pro-Staffer for Land-Um Tackle, whose Trapper Hooks are made by ADDYA Outdoors


One of the most effective bass lures ever created, its versatility is unmatched and the action in the water makes it irresistible to many game fish species. Well you may have guessed it by now it’s the rubber worm.

Joe Fontaine, Pro-Staff for Addya Outdoors
Joe Fontaine, Angler, Pro-Staff for Addya Outdoors

The rubber worm has arguably won more money for tournament anglers than any other style lure on the market. It can be fished as a surface lure to fifty feet deep just by rigging it in different configurations. I’ve crawled it over lily pads and swam it in fifty feet of water on a Zeka jig and all water depths between. The rubber worm is so successful at catching bass that I don’t know of one angler that doesn’t have an assortment of everything from four inch worms to eight and ten inch in every color under the sun. Believe me they all have a place where they are deadly. If someone asked me, if you could only have one type of lure to use the rest of your life what would it be? My answer rubber goods. I just want to touch on a few ways that I use them. Believe me when I say that there have been many books written on this subject and I don’t Know or have I tried every single method out there. But someday I will that’s how much I believe in the power of the worm to catch fish in diverse conditions.    

My first and favorite is a Texas rigged eight inch Hawgly worm I like to throw it in stained water to visible structure such as docks, lily pads and wood anywhere that the bass will be holding tight to cover. This rig can be fished tight and in the cover with fewer snags. As the water gets cleaner I like to add a bullet sinker on the line and most of the time with a rubber peg holding the sinker in place. The reason for this is I want to fish it faster so the fish can’t get a good look at it before they hit it; I’m trying to trigger a reaction bite. I will also fish it this way if I’m fishing in seven to ten feet of water. Anything over that I opt for a jig and use the worm as a trailer. As far as color choices the dirtier the water the less opaque the worm I use and the darker the color, the clearer the water the more I lean towards clearer worms with flakes in them I like my worms to have some flake in them I just think I catch more fish with the flake than without.    

Onto the next type of rubber goods that I like to throw. Believe it or not it’s just the plain old curly tail jig. I think this is one bait that has fallen out of favor with most anglers and that’s too bad for them but good for me. Because this bait is still hot I like to put a white three inch grub on a one quarter ounce jig head and fish it like a dyeing minnow on steep banks or swim it in the grass if it gets snagged I just rip it through, the bites usually come just as the lure comes free. Remember I always say bass fishing is a contact sport if you aren’t snagging or bumping into something you’re not catching all the fish you could be. When it comes to fishing lily pads I like Texas rigging a five inch twin tail green pumpkin grub and fish it on fifty pound test braid swimming over the top of the pads and letting fall into any pockets it runs into.    

Another way I fish a twin tail grub is to punch with it. Especially on sunny days the bass will hold up under the thick stuff and the thicker the better. One advantage to doing this is that not everyone is willing to do it as it takes practice to learn to do it properly the thing to remember is let the lure fall on a slack line and count it down so you will know if a fish picked it up on the drop, again you will need heavy braid line and a medium heavy fishing rod I like a six foot six inch with a fast tip for the feel. When the fish hits most of the time it will just feel heavy remember set the hook hard and try to work the fish up on top as fast as you can to get clear of the slop.    

Now if you love to bed fish in the spring then you will love the next technique it’s like bed fishing only you are using your depth finder to find the fish instead of just your eyes. Of course I’m talking about drop shoting, for this you will need a high resolution depth sounder to see the fish and the patience of a saint because this can make for a long day just shaking the worm in front of fish you see on the sounder. Now don’t get me wrong this is a very productive way to fish, it just takes a special kind of fishermen to love doing it. My worm of choice for this is a four to five inch worm or lizard depending on the time of year. The line choice is very light six to eight pound test fluorocarbon, and I like to use a 2/0 strait shank hook tied about twelve inches from the end of my line, for a weight I will use anywhere from a 1/8 to 1/4 oz. drop shot sinker depending on the water depth I’m fishing, this is not a skinny water tactic usually, but I just read an article where they are using it around docks with heavy weights to anchor it in while they just shake it in place for a little while, interesting I may have to try this when we get some warm weather and the fish retreat to overhead cover. By the way cover and structure is not the same thing I have heard a lot of talk lately where these two terms have been used interchangeably. Structure is bottom contour points, drop offs etc… Cover is what is on the bottom such as brush, boulders, trees and docks things like that. So the next time someone says they were fishing deep cover you will know to look for something on the bottom not the bottom itself.    

With that said it’s onto the next bait style and fishing deep structure one of my favorite is something I found about four years ago. It’s called a Zeka jig, and most anglers will say what is that? A Zeka jig consist of a bell sinker, split ring and a deep throat hook the hook and sinker are threaded onto the split ring and the line is tied to the split ring, just a side note I like to use a 1/0 Trapper Hook on this rig. I will use it on bait casting gear with braided line. I think the braid increases the bottom feel; you can feel every little bump on the bottom. On this rig I will throw a lizard and I don’t care the time of year the lizard will catch fish deep I will only fish dark colors when fishing this deep black or black grape. Now when I say deep I mean in ten feet or more of water the reason for this is that with lower light penetration the deeper you fish. The lighter colors in the spectrum drop out gradually Black being the last to fall out of the spectrum around ninety plus feet or so. Of course this depends on the water clarity where you are fishing as to how fast the colors will drop out that being said I just stick with darker colors that are not opaque.    

I hope this little primer helped you open up to the wide possibilities of rubber goods and the versatilities that lie in such a benign looking bait.

Joseph Fontaine
Pro-Staffer at LandUm Tackle and ADDYA Outdoors, Tournament Angler

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