By Nick Simonson
When spring eventually arrives, and it will, the time for big bass will be upon us. Whether it’s largemouth staking out the dark-bottomed shallows of a backwater bay for their ideal spawning site, or smallmouth holing up on a cleared gravelly patch against a stack of timber placed by recent floodwaters, both fish find their vernal comfort zones amidst structure. Sometimes, that can make getting an offering to them a challenge as reeds, lily pads, sticks, and other debris provide them the cover they need for a safe and successful spawn. One way to assure that a tube, creature bait or soft plastic stick can get into – and most importantly, out of – those close-quartered strike zones is to learn the Texas rig.
The Texas rig is a long-established method of setting up a soft plastic bait in a nearly snag proof and weedless way for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. While it requires some practice, after a few attempts it will likely become second nature, especially when it opens up areas of pads, slop and structure to better fishing. Now, ahead of the season, is the time to learn this option for improved bass fishing in the coming weeks. What follows is a quick tutorial on how to get the process down pat ahead of spring’s spawning rush.
1. Select bait and hook to match. There are a number of hook models available that work in a Texas rig with narrower worm hooks for slender baits, and wider-gapped ones for thicker plastics like tubes. Generally, eyeballing the bait will help in selecting the appropriate hook. Before tying on the hook, add a sliding bullet sinker, or utilize a pinch-on one after the rig is set up.
2. Start hook in bait. Once the hook is tied to the line, run the point of the hook through the nose of the plastic and thread the worm over the hook a little bit farther than the neck of the hook, located just behind the hook eye.
3. Run the hook through the bait. Carefully slide the hook through the hole made in the plastic and then turn the hook 180 degrees so it is upright once again. The eye of the hook can be inside the plastic a little or it can be out. This variation can be determined by experimentation and experience and preference of the fish and how each bait performs in the water and on the hookset.
4. Run hook into bait again. Run the hook point back up through the worm. For the best horizontal presentation, it may be necessary to bend the plastic down into the hook gap a bit to get a horizontal lay of the bait. A true Texas rig will leave the point just below the top surface of the plastic. An “exposed” Texas rig will have the point laying flat along the plastic as in Figure 5. A “Texposed” version reinserts the hook point back into a little flap of plastic to keep it mostly weedless, but easier to get a hookset.
5. Hook point tight to bait. If exposed, the hook point should sit flat against the top side of the plastic. This minimizes snags and weeds on the lure and makes it more hydrodynamic and natural looking.
6. Texposed option. As discussed above, re-insert the hook point in the plastic to prevent most weeds from getting on the lure.
As with any hook which is inserted and re-inserted into a bait, a Texas rigged offering will require a powerful hookset to drive the point into the mouth of the fish. For this tradeoff in needed power (and that cool baseball-swing hookset you see on televised bass tournaments) an ideal bait for exploring those places where bass lurk is created. It slips through weeds, slides over timber, and glides gently around dock posts with a gentle pull, getting to those spots that will increase spring angling success. Give the Texas rig a shot this season and find fast fishing worth a few extra turns.
Simonson is the lead writer and editor of Dakota Edge Outdoors.
Featured Photo: Spring Fling. A Texas rigged Senko is a great spring plastic for largemouth bass. Learning the process will help expand angling opportunities and get offerings into those snaggy and vegetation-filled spaces that bass love. Simonson Photo.