From outdoor writer, Rich Zaleski...

Try a "Nekkid PiggyBack" for spring bass

Among the numerous advantages that soft plastic trailers hold over old-fashioned pork rind chunks, is the fact that the angler has the option of 'hanging' the chunk on the hook in a normal 'jig & pig' fashion, or 'threading' it on, the way one would rig a plastic grub on a jig head. This produces a package with a smaller profile, but with the same bulk, water resistance and buoyancy, and is particularly productive in clear water and for smallmouth and spotted bass.

I've found that carrying that idea to the next logical step, and fishing the PiggyBack threaded onto a plain lead head with no skirt at all, can be a very effective technique in the spring. Depending on the depth and the wind, I choose a LunkerGrip Heavy Duty Weedless Pro Model Football head, in 1/8, 1/4 or 3/8 ounce, and rig the plastic chunk on it (flat side up) just like you would rig a grub or craw. The LunkerGrip cones hold it securely and don't tear into it the way the "grub holder" spurs on other jig heads would. I've had good success with this technique using Green Pumpkin (#24), Natural Blue (#83) and Chocolate Pumpkinseed Craw (#103) PiggyBacks. But specifically when I'm bed fishing largemouths in gin clear water, the Chartreuse Silk #27 has been super! It's almost like they see that high-vis monster coming toward their bed and they get set to smash it as soon as it enters. I've even seen fish that had been spooked out of the bed with other techniques come racing back in to get that bright chartreuse PiggyBack out of there.

With the football style head, it will 'stumble and bumble' along the bottom as you drag and hop it into position. If I'm sight fishing for bedding fish, I'll work it into a bed, and if I don't get an immediate hit, I'll just jiggle the rod tip to rock the tail back and forth using the football head as a pivot. The idea is to make it wiggle and shimmy as much as you can without actually moving it out of the bed. I wouldn't even begin to guess why, but on those days when the fish are really finicky — when they just pick up a regular jig & pig by a strand of living rubber and drag it out of the bed — they seem to hammer my 'nekkid' PiggyBack.

The technique's not limited to bed fishing by any means. In prespawn, or when I'm fishing blind, I take advantage of the tremendous feel and feedback the football head provides to find the "interesting" spots on the bottom, then impart the same rocking motion, just kind of shaking and jiggling it a little without really moving the lure out of position. When it gets hit, it usually gets hit hard, so be ready to set the instant you feel anything. Otherwise, the fish (with your lure in its mouth) will be right back under or behind whatever it was that made the spot 'feel interesting' in the first place.

From outdoor writer, Rich Zaleski...

The long, slinky tail and streamlined body section of the SS suggest some alternate rigging options, other than the standard soft jerkbait approach.

Slug-GoSS as a "wacky rig" worm

One of the best of the SS alternatives is a take-off on the "wacky rig". With the SS variation, I use 10 pound test on a medium action casting rod, and tie a 1/0 Texposer™ hook directly to the line. Then I just rig the hook through the bait, in one side and out the other, directly opposite the entry point, close to the 'flat' side of the SS, about a half inch ahead of the belly grooves. Then I ither slip a Wacky WeightTM in the lure's nose.

 This rig works on a lot of different levels, for different applications. I usually fish it in a series of short, sharp twitches, letting it sink just out of sight every three or four twitches. The tail really ripples on the twitches, then the lure dives naturally on the sink between twitches. Even though the way I'm working the rod is very similar to the way I work it with a "normal" soft jerkbait, the action of the lure is actually 180° opposed to the dying baitfish image a regular soft stick bait rigging style would produce. Instead of seeming out of control and struggling, the weight in the wacky rigged SS's nose, along with it's rippling tail, makes it seem more energetic and purposeful.

That same wacky rigged SS though, can shift from "high energy mode" to a really finesseful approach, and be really great for fish that are so turned off they refuse to chase anything. I twitch and swim it into position where a fish would live, then let it dive in naturally. Once it gets to the bottom, I shake the rod tip just enough to make the tail wriggle as it stands there on its nose. Practice it a time or two in clear, shallow water, and once you see it work, you'll have no trouble developing the confidence to let it sit next to a stump, dock piling or other likely spot as long as it takes to seduce the bass you know has got to live there.


Swimming rig and Swimming Carolina rig

Swimming RigThe swimming worm rig is simply a plastic worm rigged to spin on the retrieve. It works best with straight tailed baits, and the whippier and slinkier the worm is, the better it works. The Slug-GoSS is far and away the best swimming rig lure I've ever tried. Start with a swivel and an 18" leader, then tie on a 2/0 sproat worm hook with a couple barbs on the shank. Run the lure all the way up the hook shank, so it follows right around the first part of the bend, then finally exits on the belly (rounded side) of the lure.

Just cast and slowly retrieve the lure in areas you might normally fish a spinnerbait, shallow diver or similar tactic. With just the weight of the swivel, it runs a foot or so under the surface. You can crimp a split shot to the line ahead of the swivel if you want it to swim a bit deeper. Be sure though, not to use a "removable" shot with ears. Plain round shot won't twist your line nearly as much.

When a fish hits the swimming rig, just keep on reeling until it actually starts to swim off with it, then rear back!

The same swimming rig setup, with a 3/8 to 1 ounce sliding sinker ahead of the swivel, and usually with a somewhat longer leader, makes a great Carolina Rig option. Normally, I move a Carolina rigged worm with the rod, and reel in slack as it settles back to bottom between sweeps. But when I rig a Slug-GoSS swimming style on a Carolina Rig, I retrieve it more like a crank bait than a worm. After letting it sink to the bottom, with the rod tip low and to the side, I wind it back with the reel, just fast enough that I'm not actually dragging the bottom, but slow enough that I still bump it every few feet. I can fish this rig about 50% faster than a regular Carolina rig, and it usually catches as many — and sometimes more — fish as the more widely used straight Carolina rig.

From outdoor writer, Rich Zaleski...