Fishing is a cyclical process and those who are consistently successful understand that process. What it boils down to is figuring out the pattern, in a certain time of year, and dialing in presentation through lure selection. So after taking some time off the water to clean my wade boxes I began to reflect on why they were there in the first place.
Below is a quick summary of what I noticed…
MirrOlure Soft Dogs
Although they are fairly “new” to the market they weren’t as successful as I hoped they’d be. They cast like a rocket, which is an upside, but the action wasn’t what I expected. With no rattle and the bait being super dense it didn’t displace as much water as I hoped. Having thrown them throughout the year in a variety of situations, production was poor. One thing I noticed is that I got a lot of swipes but very few commits. In short, it won’t be in my wade box going forward. If I’m looking for a more subtle approach, I’ll stick to the MirrOlure Top Dog.
MirrOlure MirrOdine & C-Eye Pro MirrOdine
This bait consistently produced throughout the year. I’ve thrown it in all 4 seasons and its easily become a confidence bait. January and February were really good months for me, then it slacked off, only to pick back up in the End of May/June. The 3 colors that were most successful were the Greenback (18), Pink/Chartreuse Speckled trout pattern (C17MR-ECTR) and the regular speckled trout pattern (C17MR-Trout).
Paul Brown SoftDine
When searching for a slightly more subtle presentation with less flash than the MirrOdine, I’ve found the SoftDine is a fantastic alternative. Like the MirrOdine it has produced in all 4 seasons. My 3 top producing colors were the bayou green back (49), black/pearl side (10) and Texas chicken (98). In addition, when searching for larger bites with larger bait present, primarily mullet, I’ll throw the SoftDine XL. My 2 confidence colors stay inline with the above except I would add Pearl/Chartreuse (01) and my favorite color opening night (19).
Paul Brown Fatboy
Fatboy’s are my perennial favorite and yet another way to target bigger bites. Like the MirrOdine, this has become a confidence bait and my true trophy lure. The exaggerated wobble descent allows me to really pick apart an area I feel is holding larger than normal fish. My favorite colors while fishing at night, low light conditions or off colored water is the strawberry/white (02) and purple/chartreuse belly (06). Taking that one step further, pearl/chartreuse and pink are my true go-to’s in super low light, while red, purple and black/gold/orange (09) are better with a little more light present - my guess is the silhouette is better. Other than that all colors are productive except bone (93). Personally I couldn’t say why, it’s just what I’ve noticed through production.
MirrOlure Catch 2000 & Jr.
Again another hard plastic alternative to the Original Corky and Fatboy lures, that present a little more “loudness” in the water column. Unfortunately, they haven’t been productive this year as they have in years past. Last year, they were super productive during the late winter/early spring, but for some reason this year they didn’t yield the same success. Having said that, they’ll still find a spot in my wade box for the next year.
Despite the myriad of manufacturers and profiles, I can say with confidence that the Rapala Skitter V was very effective in the colder months, but once it warmed up the Rapala Skitter Walk and MirrOlure She Dog’s were more productive. Sticking to a more natural color has better suited my area with the mullet patterns being the best.
Last but not least the unending versatility of having soft plastics in the wade box. Slowly, but surely I’m turning into a jerk shad junkie. For smaller profiles, I’ve found small darter baits like the DOA 4” Jerkshad to be super productive, either nose rigged, fished on a jighead or a lead belly. Having said that don’t overlook other darter style baits that provide similar action.
On the larger side, of the soft plastic spectrum, I’ve found that KWiggler Willow Tails to also be super productive. Like that of a Fatboy the slower descent is what I’m looking to achieve. These baits have a lot more plastic, so threading them on a lighter jighead gives you the cast ability while still achieve that slow sink descent. It also mirrors the darter style of the smaller profile lures except it give better a larger silhouette. Although I've had success with KWiggler, other softplastics like Saltwater Assassin or Down South Lures work just as well. Lastly, a bait I’m gaining more confidence in is the Keitech Swing Impact FAT Swimbait.
I use these baits to displace a little more water and give a more natural swimming effect.
At 4.3”s these baits have a ribbed exterior, and different color combinations than the traditional saltwater soft plastics. My 2 favorite colors are Blackshad and Bluegill Flash. The only downside to these baits is they are super soft. It’s primarily used in freshwater so they don’t put a lot of plastic hardener during the mold process. As a result, you’ll be lucky to get 3 fish off 1 tail and at $6.99 for 6 tails that can really add up. Having said that, when you’re looking to target big fish primarily the cost is secondary to the potential of holding a personal best.
So as we gear up for another full wading season, I encourage you to really reflect on what has/has not been productive. Simply learning from what works and when can bolster your consistency and as I mentioned that lead to a lot more success in the future.
Tight Lines, God Bless and good luck!