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Soft plastic baits are great for smallmouth, largemouth, spotted, and all other types of black bass fishing. However, the number of soft plastics available can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of companies that produce thousands of baits with different combinations of sizes, profiles, colors, scents, materials, and more. Even when looking at the offerings from just one company, you’ll often find over 50 different soft plastic baits with endless color choices. So, which are the best soft plastics?

Below is a list of 16 soft plastic categories, along with my favorite bait for each. This mega list was compiled from years of bass fishing—both competitively and recreationally—and every bait on it has brought me success. If you know the style of bait you’re looking for, skip right to that category. If not, here is a look at all of the best soft plastic baits for bass.

The Strike King rage craw soft plastic bait in two different colors. Shaye Baker

How We Picked the Best Soft Plastics for Bass

I’ve fished for bass using artificial lures for as long as I can remember—at least three decades now. This hands-on experience selecting, rigging, and fishing with a wide range of soft plastics serves as my foundation for the selections below. I’ve also covered the sport of bass fishing from the collegiate level to the Bassmaster Elite Series for about 15 years. My job has helped me gain access to some of the top-tier tackle boxes in the bass world, along with insight into tournament-winning baits. This list is a combination of my personal experience and the inside scoop on what soft plastics the pros rely on to make a living. Here are the best soft plastic baits for bass.

Best Soft Plastic Baits for Bass: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Straight Tail Worm: Zoom Trick Worm/Roboworm 

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When looking at the worm category, you can really break these out into three main types: straight tail worms, curly tail worms, and swimming worms. The gold standard in straight tail worms is the Zoom Trick Worm. This fairly plain-looking bait set the standard decades ago for a whole genre of soft plastic worms and still holds up against dozens of competitors as the best seller. The Trick Worm works great rigged weightless, as well as on a shakyhead, Texas rig, Carolina rig, or Neko rig. 

The Roboworm Straight Tail Worm is another best seller. These differ greatly from traditional injection molded soft plastic worms like the Zoom Trick Worm. Using a hand-pouring method, bait manufacturers are able to create softer worms with multiple layers of color in the bait. Roboworms are made using a robotic technology that closely mimics the hand-pour method, which is where the term “robo” comes from. These baits are fantastic for more finesse presentations like dropshots.

The Zoom trick worm rigged weedless. Shaye Baker

Best Curly Tail Worm: Zoom Ole Monster

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The Zoom Ole Monster is another trendsetter that has been often imitated but never duplicated. There are other great ribbon tail worms on the market, no doubt, but the color selection, salt content, action, and availability of the Ole Monster have made it the best bait of this type. The Zoom 8” Big Dead Ringer is another fantastic worm from this category, as is the Berkley Powerbait 10″ Power Worm. The Zoom Dead Ringer 4” Worm is the best of the smaller versions of this bait category.

Best Swimming Worm: Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Worm

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You’re probably starting to notice a trend in Zoom baits. That’s because they’re innovative when it comes to new styles and combinations. The Zoom Ultra Vibe Speed Worm is another staple for any angler’s tackle box, especially if you spend any time fishing down in Florida. Rigging a swimming worm like this, either weightless or on a light Texas rig, and then swimming it through shallow vegetation is a great way to get your arm broken down in the South.

Best Toad: Zoom Stanley Ribbit/Zoom Horny Toad

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Two more classic soft plastics that still boat giant bass are the Zoom Horny Toad and Stanley Ribbit. These baits differ from one another enough that they both warrant mentioning as the best of the best. The Horny Toad has a faster, crisper action, whereas the Ribbit has a slower churning chug. This difference sets these two baits up as great selections from early spring all the way through the fall, with the Ribbit being the best in cooler water and the Horny Toad winning out when things warm up. Another worth mentioning here is the much younger NetBait BaitFuel BF Toad, which has impressed me quite a bit in the last year or so.

The Zoom Horny Toad. Shaye Baker

Best Ned Bait: Z-Man Ned TRD

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The Finesse TRD from Z-Man is hands down the best bait for a Ned rig. Z-Man’s lures are made using their patented ElaZtech—a super durable, ultra stretchy, highly buoyant material. A Ned rig is meant to be fished along the bottom, with its tail pointing up. The buoyancy of the Finesse TRD makes it the best bait to accomplish this. Plus, this bait is durable, allowing you to catch more bass on a singular Finesse TRD as compared to Ned baits made with traditional materials.

Best Soft Stick Bait: Yamamoto Senko

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Another best seller and trendsetter is the Senko, but this one comes to us by way of famed Japanese pro fisherman Gary Yamamoto. The Yamamoto Senko came to be back in 1996, and still sits atop the leaderboard as the best bait of its kind. The slow-falling shimmy of a Senko has caught countless bass for nearly three decades now and stands tall as one of the best finesse baits ever made.

Best Creature Bait: Zoom Brush Hog

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When looking at the creature bait category, you’ll find a lot of different baits are lumped into this pile. The Brush Hog spawned a whole genre of look-alike lures that do a decent job at times, but just aren’t as productive. This bait, with appendages all over, looks exactly like nothing and a little like everything. And that makes it a fantastic bait for pitching, Texas rigging, Carolina rigging, and more.

Best Beaver Style Bait: Missile Baits D-Bomb 

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Reaction Innovations introduced the Sweet Beaver in the early 2000s, and this bait changed the landscape of soft plastic lures forever. The Beaver had a unique profile that mimicked an injured baitfish as it spiraled down to the bottom. In the decades since, some other great baits have been birthed into this genre. A couple of the crowd favorites are the Strike King Rage Bug and the Googan Baits Bandito Bug. The best, though, is the Missile Baits D-Bomb. I prefer this bait when punching in particular, as it goes through the mat easier and draws more strikes whenever you have to yo-yo the bait to get bit.

Best Craw: Strike King Rage Craw

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Craws comprise one of the more popular soft plastics categories. Thus, there are lots of different shapes and sizes to choose from. The NetBait Paca Craw was the first bait of its kind to really set the craw market on fire back in 2000. But the award for best craw goes to the Strike King Rage Tail Craw. Designers of the Rage Craw took their stab at reinventing the wheel during the Paca Craw craze, and they one-upped it, in my opinion. By adding flanges along the front edges of the Rage Craw’s claws, Strike King created a bait with unparalleled action and redefined what the craw genre was all about.

Best Swimbait: Keitech FAT Swing Impact

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Keitech was another company to really set the standard in a particular bait category with their Swing Impact series of swimbaits. The Fat Swing Impact pairs perfectly with a jighead to create a great mix of finesse and power for catching suspended fish that are often hard to target. These baits are also the perfect size to use with an umbrella rig, further setting them out front of the rest of the soft plastic swimbaits.

Best Soft Jerkbait: Zoom Fluke

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The invention of the Super Fluke was another home run for Zoom—a company that has developed quite a track record for excellent lures. This baitfish-profile lure works fantastic in a variety of ways. You can rig this lure weedless to throw on the surface, put it on an underspin or Scrounger for fishing beneath the surface, or even drag it along on a Carolina rig. In whatever case, Zoom has you covered with an expensive selection of colors in the Super Fluke.

Best Minnow: Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ

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Minnow-style baits look a lot like soft plastic jerkbaits, only smaller. But this genre of baits deserves to be broken out into its own category due to its rise in popularity over the last few years. No bait is used more in conjunction with forward-facing sonar than a jighead minnow. And none are as effective as the Z-Man Scented Jerk ShadZ. 

Like the Finesse TRD, the Z-Man Jerk ShadZ is also made using ElaZtech. The durability of these baits allows an angler to rig a single soft plastic on a jighead and catch dozens of fish on it, where he’d go through a pack or two of traditional soft plastics. Jeff Gustafson really put the exclamation point on this being the best bait of its kind with his 2023 Bassmaster Classic win on the Tennessee River—won solely on this lure.

Best Lizard: Zoom Lizard

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With over 50 colors to choose from and 6-inch and 8-inch versions, it’s hard to beat the Zoom Lizard. These baits are durable but still soft. And they have a fantastic action with their four little legs kicking along and the slow flowing ribbon tail swaying in the back. The Lizard is a great bait for Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, shakyheads, and more. It is especially effective on bass around the spawn and is one of F&S Senior Editor Ryan Chelius’ all-time favorite baits.

Best Grub: Strike King Rage Twin Tail Menace Grub

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There are a few different bait profiles that are all considered “grubs,” and this bait category, in general, isn’t nearly as popular today as it was in the past. However, the Strike King Rage Tail Menace Grub is certainly a popular bait today and, therefore, sets itself firmly on top of this odd-ball heap as the best grub. The compact size and action of the Menace Grub make it great for flipping and pitching. This combination of characteristics also set the Menace up well for use as a trailer with a wide range of baits. 

There are some other grubs worth noting as well. In the single/ribbon tail realm, the Zoom Fat Albert is strong. Then there are twin-tail grubs, with the Yamamoto Double Tail Grub winning out in most circles. There’s also the spider-grub subcategory of baits, which pairs a grub body and tails with the tentacles of a tube. The Yamamoto Double Tail Hula Grubs are the best of this bunch.

Best Tube: Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Tube

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Tubes aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, but serious smallmouth anglers still have an affinity for them. Some anglers also use them to flip with. The Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Tube works great for both presentations, with a soft body and a strong scent.

Best Trailer: Z-Man Split Tail TrailerZ

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Soft plastic trailers can be used with a wide range of skirted baits like spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, jigs, and buzzbaits. The best trailer for a spinnerbait, though, is the Z-Man Elaztech Split Tail TrailerZ. These baits are made with ElaZtech, so I can rig one up on a spinnerbait and fish it for multiple days without having to worry about replacing it. The Split Tail TrailerZ works well on chatterbaits as well, as do the Z-Man MinnowZ Swimbaits—which are also made of ElaZtech and thus fantastic trailers. Strike King Rage Craws and Menace Grubs are great jig trailers, as are baits from the Zoom Chunk and NetBait Paca series.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Soft Plastic Baits for Bass

When selecting the best soft plastic lure for a particular technique, there are a lot of things to consider. The most important factor is what style of bait you’re looking for. There are thousands of combinations of colors, profiles, sizes, and shapes of soft plastics. Your best bet is to try to match the hatch, using whatever forage is local to the area to clue you in on the size, profile, and color of your bait selection. And remember, there are times when it’s all about the action of a bait. In high-pressure situations, subtle lures like a Senko, Trick Worm, or Fluke are better. And when fish are more aggressive you can swap over to the Rage Craws and other baits with more action.

FAQs

Q: What color plastic worm is best for bass?

If forced to pick one color, green pumpkin is the best. This is a very natural color that shows up well under the water in both clear and muddy conditions. Watermelon red is also a great color for clear water. And black and blue baits work well in muddy or dark water.

Q: Do you need a sinker with soft plastics?

Fish can be caught on soft plastics with or without sinkers. Many soft plastic baits can be rigged weedless, like Flukes, Trick Worms, and Senkos. But these baits can also be used with weights and hooks to create rigs, like Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, and Neko rigs. Whether or not to use a sinker is situational, based primarily on how deep you want to fish and how pressured the fish are.

Q: When can’t I catch fish on soft plastics?

You can always catch fish on soft plastics. These baits work well during all four seasons of the year. Finesse soft plastics (like straight tail worms on shakyheads, Ned baits on Ned rigs, and minnow-style baits on jigheads, scroungers, and underspins) work better from late fall, through the winter, and into early spring. More aggressive and bigger soft plastics become more popular when the water warms up over 60 degrees all the way through the summer.

Final Thoughts: Best Soft Plastic Baits for Bass

Many of the greatest bass fishing baits of all time are soft plastics. These lures are almost always paired with some sort of rig or other lure. Learning how to rig dropshots, Carolina rigs, Texas rigs, and Neko rigs will help you make the most of your soft plastic game. The same can be said of learning to fish with jigs, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and buzzbaits. 

The more you learn about fishing with these different rigs and lures, the more you’ll be able to hone in on your soft plastic bait selection. And I’m confident that focusing on these best soft plastic baits for bass listed above will help you eliminate a lot of guesswork along the way.