Cool (cold) weather is upon us here in the Southeast, and for shear numbers, it’s speckled trout season. While speckled trout will eat literally everything in your tackle box, soft plastics really shine as the temperatures drop.
There are literally thousands of “soft plastic” artificial lures with just as many reviews and opinions on each. One of the most discussed features of artificial lures is color. I am of the opinion that, for the most part, color does not matter. Speckled trout do not care. But there are definitely some nuances that can make a big difference at times.While I will mix it up during the cooler months, I’ll usually fall back on the basic paddle tailed swim bait. This is another plastic that has quite a few variations. The profile that has worked best for me over the years has “rivets”, or “ribs”.
While, again, there are many sizes and shapes of ribbed paddle tails, I prefer the Swing Impacts by Keitech, Lit’l Boss by Bass Assassin and the Power Swimmers by Berkley. My favorite length is the 3.3″ Power Swimmer from Berkley, but I will go up to over 4″ at times.
While there are a few different riggings, including the popular weedless weighted swim bait hooks, I opt for jig heads, with the hook exposed.
In my opinion, even more important than retrieve, is the actual weight of the jig head. While 1/4 ounce, is quite popular, I very rarely throw anything heavier than 1/8, and often chose 1/16 and 1/32 ounce jig heads. Using smaller reels, (1000-2000), smaller diameter braided line (6-10lb) and lighter rods (6-12lb line rating), goes a long way in facilitating the effectiveness of using these light presentations. I am a firm believer in that the lighter jig heads impart a more realistic presentation as well as transmitting the bite to the angler better.
The actual retrieve can and will vary. It’s important to remember exactly HOW you were working the bait when the bite occurred. Usually the trout will tell you how they like it. A slow retrieve with intermittent twitches is a good start, but I do mix it up until I find a retrieve that is successful. Lifting and dropping slowly, sharp twitches, and countless other cadences will entice a bite. It should be noted, as with many artificial baits, that often the bite is on the pause. Imparting the pause is key! While you can work the baits at different water columns, I always bump the bottom, even if it means waiting a few longer seconds in deeper water.
It’s not the only way to catch trout by any means, but it is a sure fire way cover a lot of water, at multiple depths, anywhere speckled trout live.