More Tinkering with Trailers

This article was adapted from the “More Tinkering with Trailers” article in the Oct/Nov 2011 issue of In-Fisherman by Doug Stange. Watch Doug and the crew of In-Fisherman TV Saturdays at 8 pm & 11 pm ET and this Sunday during Attack of the Bass” at 7 am ET.

There’s a lot of discussion about one of the best bass lures of all time: the rubber-legged jig, which usually doesn’t fish as well without the addition of a soft-bodied trailer to make it come alive. Bass anglers often find it difficult to decide which trailer to use. You never know for sure until you start fishing and comparing the options. It’s easier to work through the choices if you divide tipping options into three categories.

1. One trailer category adds bulk along with the slightest vibration. The classic option here is the #11 Uncle Josh Pork Frog, but today many similiar chunks are made of soft plastic. In the last post, I mentioned the 4-inch Berkley Gulp! Shrimp, which adds a nice glide to a jig on the fall. Bass respond visually to the jig as it swims and falls. With their lateral line, they also feel the jig pushing water.

2. The second category is a big one. Within it fall all the options that add bulk and vibration, but add it without doing what the last category does, which is add vibration along with swimming movement. The options begin with the addition of subtle movement, by using say a Berkley PowerBait Power Hawg, which has straight legs and thin tails. To step up the vibration package, trim about an inch off the head end of a 7-inch PowerBait Power Worm and slide the remaining action tail on the jig hook. To add even more distinct vibration, use a Berkley Havoc Craw Fatty, with its two wildly paddling arms. Again, each trailer adds a bit of bulk along with different vibration patterns bass can discern with their eyes and their lateral line.

3. One of the most appealing of all vibrations is produced by lures in the boot-tailed soft swimbait category. That’s the final trailer group. It can be incredibly deadly, and it remains mostly underutilized by bass anglers. The idea is to add a soft swimbait body to a jig so the entire package swims. That is you want the jig and trailer wobbling back and forth as the boot tail also thumps on a straight retrieve. It’s almost like fishing a wobbling crankbait, with the option to kill the jig at anytime and have it swim to the bottom, always a key triggering move.

The best jighead design is cone style, which works in concert with the soft swimbait to get the jig to swim. Head designs like the football head, by comparison, allow the thumper tail to do its thing, but the head remains too stable to get the package to swim. Meanwhile, the swimbait body should be rigged flat instead of up and down like it was designed to fish.

Bass often prefer options from one category over others, depending on fishing conditions. Once the water gets cold, for example, bass often prefer almost no vibration; so choose options from the first category. Fishing can be tricky at times. Once you discover which category is working best, work through various options from within the category to discover the best possible option overall.

Good fishing to you.