As their name implies, plugs can resemble wooden cask stoppers of olden days. In fact, original fishing plugs were crude pieces of wood whittled into cylindrical-sort-of-fish-shaped things with hooks attached. These days, plugs come in a range of shapes and sizes, usually painted and fashioned as fish. Larger designs can feature segmented bodies that may appear to move more naturally through the water. They can weigh as much as 1 1/4 ounces, but like all models suited for campers and hikers sporting ultralight gear, smaller, lighter models of 1/8 or 1/4 of an ounce are more appropriate.
Tip: There are three variations on the plug: popping plugs, floating-diving plugs, and deep-diving plugs. Nomenclature aside, plugs are superb for snaring all kinds offish, from trout to muskellunge.
Popping plugs are floaters, meaning they are designed to be played across the water’s surface. They attract attention to themselves by virtue of the fact that they feature an indented face that breaks up the water’s surface as they travel along. They are designed to be pulled along slowly, and are frequently used to catch small- and largemouth bass, depending on how big they are. Poppers make their “pop” when they land in the water after being cast. Anglers should let ripples in the water generated from their landing to dissipate before the plug is reeled in.
Skimming plugs are dragged along the water’s surface and the disturbance they make when reeled in is designed to attract fish. Elaborate models such as the Crazy Crawler feature moving parts that wobble as they are reeled in. These plugs feature moving pieces in the form of spinning propellers and arms that draw attention to the lure. They may be the nuttiest-looking things around, but many bass-fishing anglers swear by them. Experts suggest that these plugs be reeled in intermittently, meaning erratically and slowly. And still others recommend letting these plugs sit on the surface of the water for a time with an added, ever-so-slight twitch thrown in every so often.
These are the most colorful and varied plugs you’ll find. Many are designed to look like small fish, namely minnows that are referred to in the fishing communities as “rapalas.” No matter what their shape, they are designed, as their name implies, to both float and dive. Left alone after being cast into the water, they merely float on the water’s surface. But reel one of these plugs in and the plug will dive beneath the surface. Such radical action is accomplished by incorporating a lip on the front of the lure that causes it to “dip under” as it is reeled in. Floating-diving plugs are available in camping-hiking sizes that weigh in at less than 1/8 of an ounce-ideal for catching trout and small bass. Like skimming plugs, erratically playing this plug in the water often leads to landing the catch of the day. Try making the plug dive, and then let it resurface and sit on the water for a spell. The faster you reel in, the deeper the plug will dive; so alternate between fast and slow reel-ins to see which method works for you.
Deep-diving plugs are designed to plunge to depths of as much as 30 feet, typically where bass like to dwell. These plugs use the same lip technology to propel them downward into the murky depths as floating-diving plugs. So-called sinking plugs, which are designed to sink on contact with the water, are also members of this deep-diver’s club. These plugs are available in a range of colors, from “natural-looking” imitation fish issue, to bright fluorescent models.
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