Well, to fairly frame this, we need to kick out the deep water offshore stuff and keep it to the shoreline, to nearshore stuff. Even in this narrowed-down zone, you’ll likely get a myriad of opinions, largely based on what anglers consider their strength. However, consider the widely-applicable — sometimes dissed — but always viable soft plastic stick worm.
From the iconic Yamamoto Senko, to a Big Bite Baits Trick Stick or YUM Dinger, the simple form and enticing wiggle will get bit in even the toughest of conditions. Rigging options include:
Texas Rig: Use a Mustad Offset Worm Hook for swimming an unweighted stick worm through open water and sparse vegetation or add a bullet weight and switch to a Mustad Grip Pin Flip-ping Hook for sending it into heavier cover.
Shaky Head: A different look than the standard finesse worm, a stick bait on a Mustad Elite Standup Head can be a deal closer. This one’s a good bet for everything from dancing around dock pilings, to walking down a bluff wall.
Wacky Rig: With a Mustad Titan-X Wacky/Neko rigged tucked under an O-ring around its mid-section, the stick worm’s constant wiggling motion proves irresistible, especially when the fish snub more imposing baits. Move the hook closer to the bait’s front third and add a nail weight to the head and your Neko rig is ready for bottom duty.
Dropshot: Take the same principle that makes a wacky rig so effective — the subtle, wiggling appearance — and add it to a dropshot rig with a 3-inch stick bait.
Ned Rig: Cut a full size stick worm in half (or use a 3-inch model for a slimmer profile), rig it on a Mustad Grip Pin Ned Head and scoot this unassuming profile around the bottom or fish it through the water column for suspended bass.
Carolina Rig: This is a good example of how subtlety can play to your advantage. Most C-riggers use lizards, creature baits or even fluke style baits, but this does’t always have to be a bold display. This rig is designed to bump a long the bottom and trail a bait a couple feet behind and that slender stick worm rigged on a Mustad Grip Pin Big Bite Soft Plastics Hook looks a lot like a baitfish trying hard to go unnoticed. Suffice it to say, bass respond aggressively to fleeing prey.
So, while the stick bait is not made to handle every imaginable bass fishing scenario, it most certainly will keep you in the game throughout a broad range of opportunities. Tip: Experiment with a variety of worm colors and try to match local forage. If the bite gets tough, you can often entice a couple more fish by dipping the bait’s tail in chartreuse or orange dye.