Ask the Experts: Jigs or soft plastics for flippin' and pitching?

Decisions, decisions ... this one matters

Clarity

Bass are sight feeders — when they can be. If there are more than a few inches of visibility, you can count on their using the sense of sight to do most of their feeding. When they can't, their lateral lines or other senses come more into play.

"Water clarity is a big factor in my decision whether to fish plastics or jigs," Lee says. "As a rule, the dirtier the water the more likely I am to choose a jig. The reason is that a jig offers more bulk and more water displacement than a soft plastic bait. That becomes very important in dirty water where the bass are more likely to feel the bait than see it."

In extremely dirty water, Lee will even add a second skirt to the jig to slow its fall and add bulk. A big, soft plastic trailer helps, too.

"When the water's clear," Lee says, "I tend to choose smaller, more natural-looking baits. When the fish get a good look at the lure, you usually need to make it as realistic as possible."

Forage

The idea of matching the hatch is as old as fishing itself. You'll probably catch more fish if you can closely mimic their natural forage. Lee takes this into account anytime he's pitching and flippin'.

"If the bass are feeding on crawfish, I'll lean toward a jig," Lee says. "Then I'll try to dial into the local forage by matching skirt and trailer colors to whatever they're eating.

"If they're eating something other than crawfish, I'll try to emulate that. Sometimes that can best be done with a jig. Sometimes I'll go with a plastic craw, swimbait or something else."

In the end, it's up to the bass.

"Only the bass know the right decision," Lee admits. "If they bite, you were right. If not, try something else."

The Lunker Factor

Irrespective of all his other considerations is what Lee calls "the lunker factor," and it stems from his belief that big bass prefer a bigger, bulkier bait than smaller bass.

"When I've got a solid limit or anytime I'm targeting a big bass, I'm more likely to be flippin' and pitching a jig and trailer than a soft plastic bait. I think a big jig just appeals to a big fish more than a smaller meal. Of course, fishing a big jig and trailer might get you fewer bites, but you'll get more quality fish."

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