Soft Plastic Lures for Harris Chain Bass
Soft plastic lures catch more Harris Chain bass than all other artificial bass baits put together. Our lakes are full of eels, crayfish, frogs, water lizards, snakes and all kinds of aquatic bass food that can be imitated by a soft plastic lure. Here are some fishing tips when using these lures that will help you catch more Harris Chain bass.
Fishing Line, Knots and Terminal Tackle
Occasionally, I am contacted by a frustrated angler who tells me he/she has a hard time catching our bass. I ask them about their tackle and nine times out of ten they have braided line on their reels. I do not recommend using braided line when fishing soft plastic baits for bass unless you are fishing very heavy cover and need to winch large bass out of wood or matted weeds. Braided line looks like cable to a bass no matter how thin it is. It is also more buoyant than mono or fluorocarbon line which negatively affects the natural falling action of a plastic bait. Tying a leader to braided line helps, but it adds another knot that can cause additional problems.
With todays laser sharpened hooks, line stretch is not the problem it used to be and sometimes it's helpful. Line color is a matter of personal preference as long as it's natural. I use green tinted line for bass, but many others prefer clear. Fluorocarbon is not necessary unless the water is extremely clear. The Harris Chain water color and shallow depth allows us to use heavier line than most other places. This is a good thing as a 10 pound bass in cover can make quick work out of thin line. I use 20 pound test for most main lake fishing and 25 pound test line for flipping. If I'm fishing clear canals or creeks, I'll drop down to 8 pound mono if the bite is particularly slow.
Never use a snap swivel or any mechanical device to attach the line to the lure when bass fishing as it frequently destroys the lure's natural action. Tie the line directly to the lure with a double improved clinch or a Palomar knot. Bass don't have sharp teeth and we don't have big pike in Florida, so you don't need a leader.
Ribbon Tail Worms
My favorite 6" ribbon tail worm is the Zoom U-Tail worm. I normally fish this worm on a spinning rod with 8 pound test and a 1/16 oz. bullet weight. You need to use a very light bullet weight on the Harris Chain to keep the worm from digging up bottom debris and ruining the action. This small worm catches bass everywhere, but is most effective in the canals and creeks. This worm is my "go to" worm under tough conditions or when I must catch a fish no matter what.
My favorite large ribbon tail worm is the 8" Zoom Mag II. I fish this worm Texas style with a 1/8 oz. bullet weight. It's a great flipping worm if you can get by it's tendency for the thin tail to hang on reeds. You can overcome this by coating the worm with worm oil like Bang or Real Craw. The Zoom Speed Worm is one bass catching marvel and also one of my current favorites. This worm will catch bass no matter how you fish it.
Paddle Tail Worms
Paddle tail worms are great Harris Chain flipping baits. The vibration and flash draws strikes when plain worms won't. Producto makes a great paddle tail worm called the Vibrator. This worm has been around for a long time and is kind of a secret bass catcher with locals. I also like the Zoom G-tail worm. It has a unique swimming action and can be effective in moving water.
Straight Tailed Worms
My two favorite straight tailed worms on the Harris Chain are the 8" Zoom Trick Worm or the 4" Zoom Finesse worm. Both these worms are deadly bass lures when fish wacky or Texas Rig style. Bedding bass are suckers for these worms when fished with a small snap swivel tied about 18" in front of the worm with no weight except for the swivel.
Plastic craws are great Harris Chain flipping baits. When flipping Harris Chain Kissimmee grass, I use these baits with a 5/16 oz. bullet weight pegged to the craw and a round bend 3/0 flipping hook. My biggest bass was caught this way in Lake Eustis on a Gambler 4" plastic craw. The fish weighed 11 1/2 pounds on a certified scale and was released. How big do you think that bass is now?
Flukes, Sluggos and Senkos
This family of plastic bass lures are usually fished without a weight on the Harris Chain. They work all year, but are very effective on late spring bedding bass around eel grass beds. Natural colors like watermelon seem to work the best. In stained water try a chartreuse tail.
Frogs, Rats and Flapp'n Shad
Until recently, buzz baits weren't very effective on the Harris Chain because the turbid water and algae blooms made these lures hard for bass to see. Rising water levels and increased aquatic plant growth have substantially cleared the water and made this method of fishing an option, especially in Lake Griffin. This is great news as it's one of my favorite ways of fishing and it catches a lot of big bass. I fish plastic frogs with 50 pound braided line, forged hooks and high speed reels. Pulling a 10 pound bass out of a field of pads is no place for light tackle.
If you have any questions about fishing lures for Harris Chain bass, please don't hesitate to contact me.
Captain Phil Kelley
Lakefront Marketing LLC
P.O. Box 325
Tavares, FL 32778