Soft-plastic lizards are deadly for fishing bedded bass. During the spawn, they are the go-to bait for many tournament anglers, including Florida bass pro Scott Martin. But Martin’s soft-plastic lizards are even deadlier than the rest. Why? He rigs his backward. His unique setup causes the lizard to plane and glide away from you as it sinks toward the bed. This lets you swim the lure under cover, such as overhanging branches. Moreover, it keeps your bait in the strike zone longer, because when you lift it off the bottom, it swims right back into the bed, where it should be.
Martin’s alternative rigging also facilitates a very convincing presentation. Because the hook’s eye is at the base of the lizard’s tail, you can stand the bait on its nose by lifting the rod tip. Then shake the rod, and the tail flops around as though the lizard were frantically gulping down fish eggs. No self-respecting bass will stand for that.
Follow the five steps below (and the photos at bottom left) to rig a plastic lizard Scott Martin-style:
(1) Make a cutting tool from a piece of 1/4-inch copper tubing available at any hardware store, or use a spent .22-caliber shell casing. Sharpen the ends of the tubing or casing with a whetstone. Then cut a cavity into the underside of a 6-inch soft-plastic lizard’s head.
(2) Remove the tool and pluck the plastic plug out of the lizard’s head.
(3) Insert a 1/4-ounce tungsten bullet sinker nose-first into the cavity.
(4) Rig a 4/0 offset worm hook backward on the lizard so that the line exits from the base of the bait’s tail.
(5) Hit the water and tempt bass with the liveliest lizard they’ve ever seen.
MORE BED BAITS
(1) PLASTIC WORM Rig a 6- to 8-inch worm Texas-style with a 3/0 hook and a 3/16-ounce bullet sinker. Cast past your target and drag the worm into the bed. Then alternately shake it and let it rest.
(2) PLASTIC CRAW Crayfish, like the salamanders that plastic lizards are meant to imitate, commonly raid bass nests and are therefore natural enemies of spawning bass. Many lure makers now offer extremely lifelike plastic crayfish imitations. Rig one Texas-style and shake it in a bed to rouse a bass’ protective instincts.
(3) TUBE BAIT Rig a 3 1/2-inch tube with a 1/16-ounce jig hidden within the cavity of the bait (the hook point, however, should be exposed). With this setup, the tube sinks slowly, lands softly, and is less apt to spook bedded bass. Also, the exposed hook offers good penetration.
(4) DROP-SHOT FINESSE WORM Impale the head of a 4-inch finesse worm with a No. 4 hook knotted 12 to 18 inches above a 1/4-ounce drop-shot weight. Suspend the worm over the nest and provoke a strike by shaking the rod tip.
(5) MINNOW PLUG Gently twitch a 3 1/2-inch, No. 9 Rapala Original Floater over the bed. It may take a dozen or more casts to trigger a strike, but it can be well worth the effort. –M.H.