Soft plastic baits are confidence baits for many anglers. Yet if there's an Achilles heel to these phenomenal fish-catchers, it's that most have short lifespans. To get more bang for your buck, consider repairing and re-purposing plastics to save money and reduce waste.
|Re-using a topwater toad as a flipping jig trailer is one example of how soft plastics can be reused to extend their fish-catching lifespan.|
Carrying super-strength glue in your tackle box is the first step to giving plastics a second chance. I started repairing baits when I first began using topwater frogs for largemouth. While my target species was bass, I also pulled plenty of northern pike from my home waters of Eastern Ontario. The pike made frogs look like they'd got stuck in a dark alley with Jack the Ripper. In most cases though a few dabs of glue were enough to repair the tears and breath life back into the bait, making it cast-worthy again for a little while longer.
Bait repair isn't exclusive to frogs. I've mended flipping jig trailers, creature baits, swimbaits, and giant muskie tubes with glue. A note of caution: Always be extra careful when using high-strength glue. Certain products are quite viscous and lots can flow from the bottle quickly and bond to skin extremely fast.
Looking for an alternative use for a soft plastic is another way to extract more casts from a bait. This is often as simple as using a different rigging method. For example, when a stickbait is damaged from Texas-rigging or being hooked whacky-style, you can often salvage a few inches of the tapered end and rig it on a mushroom head for a deadly finesse rig. Repurposing worn-out topwater toads as flipping jig trailers is another case in point.
Swimbaits also lend themselves nicely to many rigging methods. Once a bait has gone past the point of rigging with a keeper hook or Tex-posed with a wide-gap, worm hook, its body can be then be treaded on a jig. Adding a swimbait as a trailer to a bucktail jig or a swim jig is a deadly combination for a range of species. The thumping boot-tail of a swimbait also makes it an excellent trailer for a flipping jig.
Don't throw in the towel too soon on soft-plastics. With a bit of ingenuity, baits can often be repaired or repurposed to catch a few more fish before they truly kick the bucket, which is good news for your pocketbook as well as the landfills.