Fishing the Amazing Sluggo
By: Mark B. Scocco
Sluggo fishing, or more in general, fishing soft plastic jerkbaits, in a short time has become a very popular way of catching bass from lakes all over the country. Since it's introduction about 7 years ago, the sluggo has quickly earned a place in the tackleboxes of many anglers. Still, many anglers simply do not fish soft plastic jerkbaits. I admit, it does takes some practice to rig the bait properly and also learning just how to fish the bait.
Rigging methods depend upon the size bait that you are throwing. Soft jerkbaits generally range in size from 3" to 7" long. Some pike and muskie baits each the 9" length. Hook size, as well as line size must match the bait that you plan to fish. Smaller, lighter baits such as a 3" sluggo or bass assassin require a smaller hook such as a 1/0. The "bite" of the hook is just right and the it is not too heavy for these small finesse baits. Line size should not exceed 6 or 8 lb test. Baby sluggos, Mann's shadows, or Fin-S-Fish in the 4" size requires a slightly larger hook. A 2/0 or 3/0 offset hook is perfect for these baits. Line size can be as light as 8 lb test but I use 10 or 12lb about 95% of the time. Larger baits require a 4/0 or 5/0 offset hook and line size can rane from 10lb up to 20lb test. Regardless of hook size, the bait must hang straight on the hook or else some nasty line twist will result.
Rod choices for fishing soft jerkbaits is mostly a personal preference. Some anglers prefer baitcasting tackle and heavy line while others prefer spinning tackle and lighter line. I fish my 4" sluggos on spinning tackle, with 10-12lb test line on a 5'9" medium heavy spinning rod. It allows me to accurately present the bait up under docks and still provides a strong backbone for hooksetting. Due to the line twist often associated with fishing these baits, many anglers choose baitcasting outfits. Either way, using heavier line seems to reduce the twist effect and causes less problems with your spools.
A soft plastic jerkbait can really be fished mostly all year long with the exception of winter. It's an extremely versatile bait that can be used to fish a variety of cover. It can be skipped under docks, fished in blowdowns or around stumps, or along rocky banks. But my favorite place to fish them is in the weeds. Whether it be along an inside, outside weedline or right over the weeds, the bait can be deadly. My favorite technique is to twitch the bait rather erratically until it is positioned over a weed pocket then simply "kill" the bait letting it fall into the hole.
The sluggo is a good reaction bait and triggers a lot of strikes. Often, by watching and concentrating on your bait, you can actually see the strike. Many times a fish will not strike the bait hard but will simply swim up behind the bait slowly and suck it the lure. Here is the difficult part. An angler must wait until that fish has the bait before setting the hook or else he will pull it away from the bass. A tip I use is to wait until the fish "turns". Once he does that, set the hook and hold on! Concentrating on you bait is the one thing that is overlooked by so many soft jerkbait fishermen.
By selecting a good strong fishing rod and matching the proper hook and line size to the bait that you are using is only the first part. Rigging the bait straight on the hook, fishing it with slow, soft twitches, concentrating on the lure in the water, and being patient when a fish strikes before setting the hook definitely improve you odds when fishing a sluggo this year.
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