Soft plastics deserve TLC, too

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

Most of us know how important tackle organization is to the serious bass angler.

We’ve learned that proper organization of our lures not only makes them more accessible, but also helps protect them.

The latter is something I think a lot of weekend anglers overlook. Without proper care, hooks will rust and spinnerbait skirts will deteriorate or get misaligned.

However, there’s another aspect of tackle storage and organization that gets neglected – protecting your soft plastics from getting twisted or corrupted.

The soft plastic lure world is no longer made up of just worms. So many of our baits have unique appendages, are very specialized and made of extremely soft plastic material. Those appendages were designed to create a specific action in the water and the softness enhances that action.

However, if a bait loses its integrity – a bent leg, crinkled body or bent tail – that bait won’t perform properly. Thin finesse worms, for example, may spin and twist your line.

Putting baits in a utility box like Plano’s 3700 with divided compartments will help, but even they get jostled and misaligned when stuffed in a boat storage compartment or a tackle bag.

When Strike King first came out with the Dream Shot, a very soft, thin-bodied drop-shot worm, I put them in a 3700 and filled the box up with different colors. Even though I placed the baits in the compartments neat and straight, they still got twisted and the tails tangled.

That’s why I now keep my plastics in their original packaging. Companies like Strike King package many of its lure styles in clam packs within the bags to maintain each bait’s original form. Other companies often include a plastic sleeve to keep baits in a straight line.

Managing those bags of different sizes and colors can be a hassle, but that’s where the Plano Speed Bags come into play. They’re really pretty simple – top-sided zippered bags with an open cavity in which I place my packaged plastics. They make a variety of sizes in Speed Bags for different types of baits.

I carry several speed bags, each with a specific type of soft plastic lure and in a variety of colors, and use a waterproof marker to label the bags. I store them in my house and only put into the boat the styles I think I will be using on a given day. I have a bag for Rodents, one for Rage Craws, one for Swimming Caffeine Shad, etc.

I may also use one bag for a variety of different baits that I MIGHT need on a given day. The Speed Bags are designed to fit any manufacturer’s baits, so there’s something for everyone.

I’m currently packing for a trip that will take me to tournaments on the Delaware River, which is a shallow murky system, and to Lake Cayuga, N.Y., a deep clear body of water. Those will require different lures and tactics, so I have packed 10 different speed bags in my boat.

And what about the co-angler? Many now carry a soft-sided tackle bag for storing their hard baits (kept in utility boxes) and utilize Speed Bags for their soft plastics. They’ll attach snap rings to the Speed Bags and fasten them to the tackle bag’s handles to make them easier to carry.

Many of today’s soft baits can cost as much as $6 or more per bag, so you have to protect your investment. This new way of storing and protecting those baits will keep you organized and ensure your lure performs the way it was designed when you put it in the water.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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