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Plug It

No, this is not an essay on how to fix a flat tire, but it may help put a bend in your favorite bass fishing rod. These days when it comes to selecting lures to stuff in your tackle box, there is so much to choose from that it makes your head spin. I remember when I started fishing in my early teenage years, I wanted to start buying fishing plugs and start my own tackle box. In those days, wooden plugs were the big thing; later, plastic took over the market. Soft plastics were in their infancy and didn’t get my attention until years later.

When it comes to plugs these days, there are a number of categories to choose from, including stickbaits, prop baits, crawlers, chuggers, crankbaits, minnow plugs, vibrating plugs, trolling plugs, and jerkbaits. We’ll take a closer look at these different types of plugs down the road, but for now, I want to zero in on the minnow plugs. My guess is this is one of the most commonly used of the plugs, and in fact, it’s one of the first plugs I ever purchased- I’m talking about the Rapala. Nowadays, there are a number of different companies making these plugs, and you would be hard pressed to find a serious fisherman today who doesn’t have at least a half-dozen or more stashed in his tackle box. Why? Because they work.

I remember after buying my first black and gold Rapala, I was off to a nearby lake where I waded out waist deep and began pitching the minnow imitation close to the many old stumps that stuck up. Not long into my outing, I began a slow retrieve along a nearby stump; I could feel the wobble the lure was making, and then I felt a sudden jolt, and the bass was airborne. That bass was over 20 inches, and I became an immediate convert of the minnow plug. These days I also utilize many other options, but the minnow plug is still used from time to time.

Minnow plugs have a shape and swimming action very similar to that of several baitfish, and that’s no doubt why it’s so effective. These plugs usually have small lips that cause a tight rocking action. Many are made to float but will dive to four or five feet when retrieved. Some are weighted and have larger lips that allow them to dive and wobble at depths of up to 12 feet. They come in a variety of patterns and colors, mimicking a variety of baitfish. Because these plugs look and act so much like baitfish, it’s probably best to fish them in clearer water where bass and other predators can see them. In off-color, it may be better to go to a crankbait or vibrating plug because of their greater wobble and vibration.

Another great plus to the floating minnow plug is that it can also be a very effective lure when fishing on the surface. Sometimes it pays to switch tactics as the evening hours move in and the water’s surface becomes flat. Now a little patience helps; cast the lure and let it settle a bit and then a little wriggle to create a wounded minnow struggling at the surface. Follow that up with a short retrieve and then let it settle again, followed by a slight jiggle. I’ve had some great surface action, but it does try your patience a bit.

However you choose to fish the minnow plug, it’s still a great lure to include in your arsenal, and another plus is they work for a variety of fish, including bass, pike, muskies, pickerel, trout, walleyes, and in smaller sizes, even panfish.