The Overlooked Springtime Lure


I find it interesting that in my conversations with anglers at sport shows and seminars regarding spring fishing there’s one lure that rarely gets mentioned. It’s odd because this lure is one that will without any doubt help an angler in the early-season cold waters. From Canada down to the South, in lakes and in rivers, plastics are the best.

Over the years there’s been this misconception that plastics will not catch fish in the cold of the spring, but this is far from true. A correctly presented plastic, be it a shad body, plastic worm or lizard, can be an extremely effective fish-catcher for those willing to break the old habit of thinking they can’t catch as many fish now.

So with that said, let’s explore these wonderful pieces of plastic.

If you’ve ever walked down the plastic lure section of your favorite tackle store you’ve undoubtedly seen that these lures come in all shapes, styles and colors. From shad bodies and twister tails to multi-colored nightcrawlers to imitation crayfish, you’ll see them all. When searching these plastics it’s important to key in on the styles and colors relative to the species you’re going after. For instance, I wouldn’t choose a small plastic grub for walleyes, just as I wouldn’t use a 4-inch plastic shad body for bluegills. The point is that you want to use plastics that are simulations of the forage the species you’re after are eating. By doing this, you increase your odds for success.

Now that we have an idea of what we’re looking for, let’s talk species and presentation for best results using plastics now.

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For you early-season anglers who target fish like walleyes or saugers, the plastic shad bodies are hard to beat. You can fish them on a simple lead-head jig, cast them for those suspended fish or drag them on the bottom. The versatility of these shad bodies is endless. When fishing them, again, remember to match the local forage base in the particular lake or river you’re in. Also, experiment with lure speed. As you have heard me say before, “Let the fish tell you what they want.”

April bass anglers can have success using these plastic wonders. Plastic worms and lizards are excellent spring baits, which is especially true after a spring rain when nightcrawlers get washed into the water. Because the waters are usually still cold, you should work these slowly around and over any structure. And, now is when slower is better. As far as bass colors, I’ve tried everything from natural to pink and have caught bass on them all. But don’t be afraid to experiment. And if you’re with a partner, you both should start with something different in color until you establish a pattern. Then, you can both use what the fish prefer.

For early-season panfish anglers, once again, plastics are great in the spring for crappies, bluegills and perch. One thing I’ve found that helps these small plastic imitations is to either add small euro larvae baits like a spike or mousie, which will add a bit of scent to the lure. Take and crush the larvae between your fingers just enough to get that scent flowing faster in these cold waters, especially since scent does not travel as well in the water this season.

I also want to reinforce the fact that using soft plastic-style lures now is something I wish more anglers would try. Those old stories that they just “won’t catch fish” are simply not true. In fact, there are many locations where I will use these plastics exclusively and don’t even bother to bring live bait such as minnows. This is especially true on some of my early river-fishing adventures now. There have actually been times when the fish did not want a live minnow, but instead attacked a well- presented soft plastic shad.

So, are you ready to try this lure this spring? I guarantee that not only will you be surprised how well they actually work when you tie into one of these springtime beauties swimming in a lake or river, but that you’ll also become a believer.