Soft Baits for the South

Down south, a rogue’s gallery of species inhabit the marshy channels, crystal clear flats, and rushing inlets from North Carolina to Louisiana to Florida. You name it – seatrout, snook, redfish, flounder, jacks, ladyfish, tarpon are all on tap. Hands down, soft rubber baits are tops to trick up inshore fish, but a few particular favorites are must-have staples of southern anglers. 

When in Florida, you’re basically undergunned if you don’t have any DOA lures in your arsenal. Of particular note, the top model is the DOA Shrimp in Stark Naked and Gold Glitter color patterns, which works astoundingly well for everything from snook to seatrout. DOA CAL paddletails in 3 to 4-inch lengths are also all around solid baits when pilchards and glass minnows are present. Utilize pepper/chartreuse tail and Purple haze colorings for the perfect imitation. Targeting snook around Florida docks during the mullet run, snook hunters rely on the 5-inch DOA BFL Original 430 for wicked topwater strikes. Oftentimes prime redfishing occurs in the murky muddied waters in North Carolina, Mississippi or Louisiana, and much success comes with an H&H Baby Bull Minnow in Avocado/Red Glitter, or with Zman StreakZ in Root Beer and the Zman Scented Jerk Shad in Redbone and Shiner colorings. Bouncing around the mudflats for southern flounder in Texas, Florida’s clear central bays and North Carolina channels, scented baits such as the Berkley Gulp! 3 to 4-inch Shrimp in New Penny and Swimmin’ Mullet in white or chartreuse are tops, while Bass Assassins 5-inch Shad Assassin in Rainbow Shad, Electric Chicken and Opening Night colors seem to find all southern species of backwater fish.  Quite honestly, you can mix and match any of the aforementioned rubber baits to test in any scenario, but the real key to soft plastic success is to know what weights and when to throw them for every situation. All rubber baits should be rigged with leadheads, light 1/8 to 3/8-ounce models for trout, redfish and ladyfish in the shallows or on the flats, while upping the weight to ½ to 1-ounce when battling stiffer currents in inlets, docks and passes for bigger reds, snook and tarpon. The naked straight lead color is fine, but you can up your game for a maximum visual effect on lures with colored leadheads in chartreuse, white or pink. Popular molds to match with soft baits include the standard round ball design, smilin’ Bill style, and Kalin’s Ultimate cone shaped Jighead. Test, mix and match the soft baits and leadhead combos to find which ones work best for you. There’s a zillion other soft rubber baits on the market, but more than often down south, these are the baits you hear about between fish stories at the docks and local watering holes.

Photo Courtesy of Lure Lock.

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