By Jason Sealock
Good things often come in small packages. But for some reason, in bass fishing circles, finesse often draws criticism from "manly" anglers who want to claim themselves power fishermen. Conditions however often dictate that we downsize, fish slower and use baits that appear more alive, natural and subtle, disrupting a big bass's environment less than other power fishing lures.
This spring we received several packs of the new Big Bite Baits Coontail Worms at a writer's conference. The pros were already raving about the worm, but it looked similar to some other ring type soft plastics we'd seen on the market. Truth be told we've since learned that the ring type baits aren't all the same. There are variances that make one better for one application than another, and there are certain applications where this soft plastic worm really does well.
We tested the bait weightless, wacky rigged and of course on a shaky head. The latter really revealed the strength of the bait. It's a more compact design with an interesting uneven coil that sort of spirals through the tapering rings in the bait. Because of its smaller size and they manner in which the worm coils through the rings, it rigs very nicely on a shaky head and stays intact very well on hard whip casts, skipping, multiple fish catches and other things that will ultimately tear up a finesse plastic with rings on it like these.
I've fished the bait off and on over the last several months but it became a go-to lure for us around the spawn and just after the spawn and then again when the bite got tough around shallow cover throughout the year. A long skinny shaky head worm is often a great way to tempt pressured and finicky bass. It has a profile that looks natural, diminutive, unobtrusive to a bass's environment.
But the Big Bite Baits Coontail gave us a shorter bulkier profile that was still small and didn't spook bass. The rings help it rise up, stand on end momentarily and shake off bubbles from close looking but often satiated bass that really weren't in a mood to eat.
We kept our color selection pretty simple throughout the last few months with primary colors like green pumpkin, watermelon red and tilapia. For me and shaky heads I simply want two types of colors. I want a translucent natural green color (watermelon for example) and a solid natural color (green pumpkin). I can't necessarily explain my experience other than to say in clear water I've seen days where a translucent worm caught bass 10 to 1 against a solid color worm. And that experience has taught me to carry both at all times.
The Coontail is 4 3/4 inches long and it's bulk gives it a weight that allows you to cast it quite well. Because the core is fairly narrow, you get really good hooksets on fish. The rings on the bait make a great way to conceal a hook from cover but still make it easy to hook bass on pressure hooksets or on long casts. The rings are uneven as the core of the worm twists and spirals through the rings. It gives the bait great action, but you have to run the jighead through on one side so the hook point comes out in the high point of the rings on the other side.
We've fished the worm on Carolina rigs and Texas rigs, but for me the smaller size makes it perfect for a shaky head where other ring baits I think are better on Carolina rigs, wacky rigs, etc. When I know fish are finicky I like having a couple or three spinning rods with a skinny shaky head, the Coontail shaky head and maybe a drop shot or a wacky rigged bait.
The lures take die well, and a little chartreuse on the tip of the tail seemed to really make a difference for us in the late spring and summer. I've put rattles in the tail with good success and you can even rig the worm backwards for a few more fish after you catch several bass.
If you're looking for another profile worm for your shaky head fishing, you should check out the Coontail worm from Big Bite Baits. They offer a bunch of proven colors with seven worms per bag and occassionally you can find them in bulk packs at retailers like Academy Sports. For more information on the Big Bite Baits Russ Lane Coontail Worms, visit TackleWarehouse.com.