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Setting the hooks with TRigged plastics


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O.K.. I admit it, I have NEVER caught anything on a weedless rigged plastic. Like most impatient anglers, I either didn't have the patience to learn the technique, didn't have a rod with the right feel, or just wasn't fishing where the fish were the day I experimented.

So what are the subtleties of feeling the bite, and setting the hook when using, say for instance, t-rigged worm?

I usually am fishing in or near weeds(duh!) when trying this.

One problem I know I have to remedy: I've never have a stout enough rod spooled with heavy enough line to pound that hook home.

Do you count down a couple of seconds to make sure the fish hase the worm/tube/creature/et al.?

I'm dedicating myself to learning how to fish plastics effectively this summer; on all species of fish.

Thanks all.


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You ask a lot of questions that are very hard to answer in type.. But I will do my best.

Most times a bite will feel like a tap tap. many time its hard to tell the difference between a sunfish bite and a bass bite. Set the hook hard, a good snap of the wrist and steady pressure is a must. Remember most lines stretch quite a bit, and the give in the rod takes away a lot of power as well. If you thinking your setting the hook to hard... set it harder. Unless you are using braid line.. then cut her back a bit.

Yes fish near weeds... fish like weeds!

I dont usually count a couple of seconds. I usually reel down till the line is taught and then rear back. A wise man once told me... When a bass hits you will feel 2 bites.. 1 is when the bass eats it.. the other is when the bass spits it back out.

Practice is the key, if you catch a bass try and duplicate what you were doing to try and catch another.

Best of luck!

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I was in the same boat about 4 years ago...never used plastics and didn't know how. The first year I tried plastics I used a medium-light spinning rod with 8-10 lb mono. The rod I was using was one of my walleye rods, this way I could feel the bite. I just started practicing and if I ever felt anything like a fish, I would reel down to tighten the line and then set the hook..Even with the light rod, I still had many good hooksets..where you are losing fish is probably in the cover after the fish has been hooked. I used this philosophy, when in doubt set the hook...and many times I didn't have a fish, or my plastic craw came up missing a pincher (darn sunnies) Anyway, I am now using plastics on my heavier bait casters using 15-20+ lb line depending on cover. Now I keep one hand on the rod, the other on the line...feeling for taps. Practice and soon you will be able to fish heaver equip and still know a bite when you feel one.


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i would just add; also be sure to watch your line ! you will get times when the fish just pick it up and start swimming with it. no tap. it still catches me off guard when this happens. it is neat though! del

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I use a 6.5 ft medium heavy rod with 14 lb fireline most of the time for T-rig.

If I feel something out of the ordinary; no counting seconds, I let em have it right away.
With the fireline alone, you don't have to reef to hard. A short snap of the rod takes care of business because there is zero line stretch.

I used to hate finesse fishing. But once I caught a few, it just went from there, and now I T-rig A LOT!

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I usually set the hook right away when I feel that "tap" It's takes some practice to get the feel for it.Try keeping some tension on your line so you can detect hits.You will have sunfish grabbing the tail of the worm.Countless time I've had to duck my head from that worm shooting back at me from sunfish.Most of the time that bass will inhale that worm and you want to rip it before it has a chance to spit it out.Once you get the hang of it,it becomes one the funnest ways to catch bass.Especially when you set that hook and you feel "solid weight" on the end of your line.

Good Luck!!

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All great info here. And here's my .02

I like to use a spinning outfit with 7' Medium to Medium light rod. (long rod picks up that extra slack with this slow presentation)

Which rod I use depends on what I'm tossing. Pretty much I use the med light with a small worm 7" or less with a tiny split shot. Or use my medium rod and go with a larger creature bait or 10" worm and heavier bullet weight.

I think this was metioned before, but keep a finger on the line. You will feel everything rather than relying on your rod to send vibrations. Yes sunnies bite like bass, and sometimes even big ones.

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I texas rig a lot and have taught many of my friends to do the same because it works so well. I always tell them to set to hook any time they feel weight on the other end until they get the hang of it. I still set the hook on weeds now and then but it's better than missing a fish! A no stretch line like Fireline also helps in detecting bites and getting solid hooksets. I prefer to use a 7 foot medium action spinning rod with 10-14 pound test fireline. I am also a strong believer in powerbait for getting fish to hold on but have also had a lot of luck with culprit baits too. I have had fish jump out of the water coming from 15 feet down with my worm in their mouth before I set the hook. they really hold on! Some days if I have had a lot of success I let fish go with the bait just to see how long they will hold on. With powerbait I have been able to count up to 40 seconds before they let go. You don't need to let them chew on the bait because a bass will usually inhale the whole worm at once but if you are worried about your reaction time you should get a bait that they will hold on to longer-there are a lot of them out there now. If you are missing a lot of fish it helps to poke the hook out of the worm so you can feel the point if you run your finger along the worm. It shouldn't affect the weedless part of the rig and you should stick a few more fish. I hope this helps, only a few more weeks until we can rip some lips!

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Great advice as always.

Yeah, I'm a spinning rig guy, but I am planning on getting a baitcasting rig this year(have to add to the arsenal).

I will have the baitcaster most likely spooled with some power-pro.

I've got the plastics(can you have too many?), got the hooks, just need the opener.

Do you like to put the split right at the worm? Up a number of inches? Or vary it?

Anyone else?

No weight. Split shot. Pegged or not pegged bullet weight.

I'm sure it depends on the x-factors, just thought I'd keep the knowledge flowin'.


[This message has been edited by buzbunni (edited 05-04-2004).]

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I peg the weight when I'm in thick cover. It allows you to work the bait in wood and thick weeds better when it is pegged. If I'm fishing rock shoreline or weed edges, I won't peg it.

For thick plastics such as senkos, make sure you use an extra wide gap hook. Use a good sharp hook that is sized for your bait and set the hook hard. The top of the mouth where these texas rigged hooks hit on a bass is very tough - especially on big bass. You will miss a lot of fish if you don't get a good hook set. When in doubt, set the hook!

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I also like to use a spinning outfit for worms. 6 ft. with 8lb. mono. It's probably a lot lighter than most people fish, but I don't fish tournaments and I enjoy the lighter tackle and have lost very few fish to line breakage.

I usually use a a lighter bullet weight because I like the slow sink. Has anyone tried the Florida rig bullet weights? I'd like to try those this summer.

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I use a T-rigged berkley powerslug or Zap custom lure 4'tube.Remember HOOKSETS ARE FREE!!!!!!! Use them anytime things don't feel right .If the line feels spongy or if you feel a peck or 2 or sometimes it feels like you're stuck on a weed SET THAT HOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I can get 50 salt tubes for $16 that's pretty reasonable I think
Tight lines all

[This message has been edited by baswacker (edited 05-04-2004).]

[This message has been edited by baswacker (edited 05-04-2004).]

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I wrote an article on fishing a texas rig a while back for my web page(when I had one)... I usually wrote article to remind myself, but maybe you can pick something from it...

Texas Rig

To begin, I think that once you learn how to effectively fish a soft plastic
bait on a Texas rig, you can fish just about anything. A Texas rigged soft
plastic bait can catch fish year round in just about any situation by simply
varying your soft plastic bait and your retrieve. The Texas rigged plastic
worm accounts for more wins in the B.A.S.S tour than any other lure ever.
For some reason it has lost popularity as of late, but despite it's apparent
decline it is still catches fish. The basic set up for the Texas rig is very simple: a hook (depending on size of bait), a sinker (the lightest you can get away with, wind and water depth will determine this), and a gob of plastic (which I will get to later). You can add other things to a Texas rig like a glass bead and clacker (brass
piece) if you want. Depending on cover and water clarity, you want to use
either a baitcaster or spinning gear in a medium/heavy action rod, 6 1/2 to
7 foot in length with 6-20 lb test. I will usually start with 10-12 lb test
and go from there. The lighter the line, the more natural or realistic the
plastic will work. The length of the rod is important for taking the slack
out of the line during the hookset. The action of the rod is important in
that you want the tip to be sensitive, yet not give yourself away if you are
feeling if a fish is there. You want the butt section of the rod to have
plenty of backbone to drive the hook home. The way to rig a Texas rig is to insert the hook into the plastic and run it into the worm about 1/4 inch, then pull the hook to the eye and turn it around and run the hook tip through the worm and skin hook it on the opposite side so that the rig is weedless. Be sure that the worm hangs
straight or it will twist your line. I don't often peg my sinker (pegging is to make it so that the slip sinker doesn't slip, this is either done by jamming a toothpick tip in or running a piece of skirt material through the sinker, or a new product called "peg its".)

*TIP: if using a toothpick, be sure to peg the sinker then push the sinker up the
line and cut off the line where you stabbed the toothpick in. Usually you
damage the line slightly when you do this, and it would not be good to loose
a big fish from this.

The only time I peg the sinker is when fishing heavy weeds or when I am trying to skip the bait under cover (dock or tree limbs.) Fishing a plastic bait on a Texas rig is fairly easy. The biggest problem I see most people make is that they make too long of casts and they don't hold their rod in a position in which they are helping them selves feel bites. As a result, they often miss strikes. To avoid these pitfalls, Make short manageable casts to structure or cover. The only time you need to make long casts is in ultra clear water when there is little or no wind. Make sure you
are casting to something. The Texas rig is not much of a search bait-- you are casting it to a specific area or cover. Once the lure hits the water, allow the rig to have controlled slack. What I mean by this is that you want the bait to fall as vertically as possible, yet still have contact with the lure. It's also a good idea to pick a spot out on the line and to watch it for any jumps or ticks. The bass will hit a Texas rig on the fall 90% of the time. As the lure falls, keep your rod in 2:00-3:00 position. It is a good idea to keep a finger in contact with the line(many times you can feel the strike through the line that you have missed feeling with the rod.) When you
feel the rig hit the bottom, let it set for a second. Then, slowly lift the rod to a 1:00 position and wait for the rig to settle back on the bottom. Once this has happened, reel in the slack line as you drop the rod to the 3:00 position again. Many make the mistake of reeling in the slack while the lure is falling and thus miss strikes. Continue this retrieve until you are past the cover/structure you are fishing. A hit or bite can vary a lot from the mood of the fish. It can be a smack that just about rips the rod out of your hand or it can be something that you don't feel at all but notice when your line is moving sideways. Remember: hooksets are free. If you think it's a hit, do something about it. To set the hook on a Texas rig: As soon as you feel the bite or think you have a fish, reel down to the 9:00 position and set the hook with a lot of force. A hard hookset is needed. When a fish eats a plastic worm, the bass
will ball it up in its mouth, and you may have to penetrate the worm a few times before you hit lip. If you think you didn't get a good enough set on your first one, go ahead and set the hook again, but don't give the fish any slack in the line. The lure(hunk of plastic) is very important on a Texas rig. I hope to give you a few hints on what lure to have on at what times, but remember, there really are no rules, just suggestions that I can make. There are many different kinds of plastic lures on the market today in a variety of colors that leave a person a million different combinations. It's knowing when to use which color and what kind of plastic that will help put fish in your boat. I'll begin with color. The color of the lure can play a large part in how the fish will hit the bait. Sometimes if you are setting the hook and
not hooking the fish, just by changing the color you will begin to hook the fish. The fish are trying to tell you something if you are getting bite and not hooking fish. I'm sure many have heard that light daylight color, dark day- dark color, clear water-natural color, dark water-bright colors. Most of that holds true in deciding what worm you should be throwing. I pretty much try to keep my plastic colors as simple as possible. In my opinion, you really only need a few colors. Watermelon seed is a great color for clear water, dark day or bright day. The other clear water color I use is Pumpkinseed. For stained water, I like Red Shad and Black. And for water in
between, I like Tequila Sunrise. I can pretty much fish all water under all
conditions if I have those colors in a variety of shapes and sizes. The shape of the lure can play a very large part in whether or not you get a bite also. There are plenty of plastic chunks out there in just about every shape available-some that don't even remotely resemble anything in nature. Yet, because the bass is the way he is, they still eat them. The more little frills that come off the bait, the more underwater noise that it gives off for the fish to feel in vibrations. Lures like the Exude B.A. Hawg feel very different to a bass than a 4" finesse worm. When the fish are feeding
heavily, if you put a larger profile bait, you can sometimes attract larger fish. But if the bite is difficult, downsizing is sometimes needed to get a bite at all. What I use to help me decide what to throw is this: If I am fishing clear water, I want to throw a smaller bait with few curly tails hanging off it in a natural color. I want that bait to sneak up on the fish. You don't want the fish to be able to look at it for a long time from a distance to see if he wants to eat it or not. In murky water you can get away with a lot more, I will use larger baits that make more noise(in vibrations) to help the fish find the bait. However, like I said there are no set rules, in high traffic areas where the fish may see a lot of pressure, downsizing is the the key. No matter what the color of the sky and color of the water. So that is the typical Texas rig fished the typical way. However, you can take the rig to extremes. Dead Sticking is a technique where you make a cast into an area you believe holds fish. Let it sink to the bottom and just let it sit, as long as your little heart can stand it. Just let it sit. This works best in areas where there is a little bit of current created by a
river system or by wind. You may think the lure is not moving down there,
but it is, ever so slightly. The other technique is called rip worming. This
technique was stolen from a Walleye angler in Minnesota and works great on
some days turning non-aggressive fish into aggressive fish. The rig is set
up the same way, it's the retrieve that is changed. With the premise that
fish hit a Texas rig as it falls, you try to create a retrieve that optimizes the falling time and uses fast motions to create reaction strikes. To do this, cast out and let it sink to the bottom. Then, let it sit a few seconds. Instead of just lightly pulling your rod to the 1:00 position, snap your wrists so that the lure jumps off the bottom. Then let a controlled slack in the line. You want the lure to jump about 3-4 feet off the bottom, then sink back down. Practice this in shallow water and watch what the lure
does. Also be sure to make short casts with this technique, because you
don't want the lure to move very far horizontally, you just want it to jump
up vertically. I like to add a glass bead and brass clacker to my rig when
doing this. It creates a clicking noise that sometimes attracts fish. I hope that through this article you have a better understanding of how to
fish a Texas rig and are able to boat more fish as a result.

[This message has been edited by Exudedude (edited 05-04-2004).]

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Lots of good advice. The bite can feel different from day to day, and the guys who miss a lot of fish always seem to want to feel that bite ONE MORE TIME! Keep contact with your bait (either by keeping the line tight, or watch the line). If something unexpected happens (feel weight, feel a thunk, see the line jump or go slack before the bottom, etc.) set the hook. I think it was Tom Mann who said that he told beginners to Texas Rigging "...the first thump you feel is the fish taking the bait, the second thump is the fish dropping the bait, and the third thump is me smacking you in the head for missing the fish..." - you get the idea. Also, always keep your rod in position to set the hook. A lot of guys will lift the bait off the bottom with the rod and get way past horizontal, so they have no leverage to set the hook when they get bit. I speak from experience here. I don't know how many times I have felt a tap at the top of a lift, with my rod nearly vertical, tried to reel down quickly and set the hook on air. I did it once and thought the back rest to the seat was behind me and did a back flip right out of the boat! I was sure the guy I was fishing with was going to yak up a lung he was laughing so hard.

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OK it looks like this has been covered.

Buz, I put the shot right next to the hook. Sure you can vary it. I also like Florida rigs to. I'm going to use more Carolina rigs this summer though just because I don't do that, like ever.

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