Hard Baits vs Soft Baits

This is a question I get all the time, “which is better, hard baits or soft baits”. Well they are both good, they just have different jobs.

Take a soft swim bait such as Gambler’s Big EZ or Reaction Innovation’s Skinny Dipper, these are tools that do a great job when the bass are feeding in and around the grass. You can rig them weedless and fish them anywhere.

The hard jerk bait such as a Bomber Long A or a Smithwick Rouge are lures that I use a lot when I have enough open water to work the lure efficiently. Any time I can use a hard bait I will pick it over a soft bait for a variety of reasons. The Long A is a lure I can cast and fish as a surface lure at the start of my retrieve and work the lure all the way back to the boat and it usually doesn’t take me long to find out what the bass want. Remember every bass you catch is trying to tell you something if you are paying attention. If you go out and fish a soft swim bait and nothing else you are missing the point. Sometimes when bass are not active they will pay little attention to a bait just swimming through the water. However you can still get them to respond to the very erratic action of a hard bait. Remember, bass are predators and will hit your lure just because it looks like an injured bait fish and it is the nature of predators to attack injured prey even though they are not feeding. It is hard for me to get that type of action out of a soft bait but you can get that action out of a soft bait like a Zoom Fluke. The Fluke is a good choice when the water you are fishing is too grassed-up to fish a hard bait. A hard bait with all those treble hooks will catch a lot of fish just because the fish will come close to the lure to investigate its erratic action and they’ll get hooked by one of the many points of the trebles, you can’t do that with the soft bait.

Anybody that knows me very well knows how I feel about the hard jerk bait. Every FLW event that I won here on Lake Okeechobee was won because of hard jerk baits even when the air temperature was in the 30s and our Florida bass were lock-jawed. I really believe that the hard bait will catch bass no matter what Mother Nature throws at us, it is the nature of the bass that makes this possible.

One last tip on fishing the hard jerk bait, when you get the bait close enough to the boat to see it, stop the bait and watch it closely. Many times a bass will be following your bait and if you see him chasing it, give the bait a twitch or two. This often triggers a last minute attack on the lure, but you need to see this action as far from the boat as possible.

Both soft baits and hard baits have a role in every serious angler’s tackle box. Remember if you have enough open water to fish a hard bait it is probably going to be a better choice. You don’t need a $20 jerk bait to catch a bass here on the Big O when a $7 Long A will get the job done. The hooks that come on the bait are just fine but if I want to make sure I land every bass that hits my hard bait I will change the hooks to No. 4 EWG hooks. If a bass just comes close enough to smell the bait they will get hooked. There are a lot of lures out there that will catch fish but sometimes the old reliable lures that have been around for a long time are still some of my favorites. How long has it been since you have seen a fisherman fish a Johnson Spoon, maybe it’s time to just go back in time and dig out some of those old reliable lures from yesteryear.