In a previous article about fishing for perch, we found that hardbaits are great for covering water and locating fish quickly. However, sometimes perch can be more difficult to catch and won’t spring for a fast-moving bait. It must also be noted that fast lures are super-efficient at catching loads of small perch. But softbaits are for big perch because they fish deeper, slower, and look more natural will tend to get on average bigger fish.

Because softbaits for perch is a slower technique, it is important to carefully select your fishing spots. Each body of water is different obviously but let’s try to draw some general guidelines to save some precious time. The first observation is that perch love man-made structures: bridge pilings, boat marinas, seawalls, and other steel or concrete structures.

Perch strive in an urban environment. They are the perfect companion for street fishermen. In lakes or rivers with few or no artificial cover, perch will congregate around grass. But unlike black bass or pike that bury themselves deep in the shallow grass, big fish will prefer to hang around deep submerged grass beds. So, whether you are fishing in a city or near a deep grass bed in a natural lake, softbaits catch perch.

The venerable jig head and grub

Why go to a complex rigging method when the good ole reliable jig head is probably the best and easiest presentation to use softbaits for perch. The name of the game here is the rate of fall, in other words how fast your combo jig head plus lure will sink?

For an identical jig head, each lure will have a certain amount of drag that will slow down the sink rate. For example, with a five grams jig-head, a straight tail worm will sink faster than a grub or a swimbait.

You might ask how do I know about the proper sink rate? Well, there is no one set rule, but here’s a list of things to consider:

  • How deep is your water? obviously the deeper the water the faster your sink rate
  • Do I have current? In slack water, if your rig is too light, you can just wait longer. That doesn’t apply in current, it’s a trial-and-error thing, if you can never reach the bottom, switch to a heavier weight.
  • Are there snags? Whether you are fishing around grass or if the bottom is littered with obstructions, use the lighter weight you can get away with, it will reduce the number of snags.
  • Do I want to fish the bottom or somewhere in between in the water column? For example, behind a bridge piling the perch can be on the bottom or midway down. If you get hit as the bait sinks, you can switch to a lighter head and fish more effectively.

What are the best softbaits for big perch ?

I tend to narrow my lure selection down to just three categories: finesse minnow, swimbait paddle tail, and craws.

Of the three the most commonly used is by far the swimbait shad baitfish imitator. It’s the best option for any predator fish in coloured water. Select a lure that will support a fast retrieve with lots of action. Size matters as we all know, and 5 to 8 centimeters is a good place to start. Upsize to ten centimeters to target larger fish.

Finesse minnows are great in very clear water, they will also sink faster for an identical jig head. With a pointed jig head, you can pop them with your rod tip for a very erratic action.

I use a lot of craw imitation as a softbait for perch around grass or wood cover. If you use a light enough head, you can let the bait fall on the grass and let it lay there for a few seconds before making a quick hop to the next grass. If you snag, just pop it free with your rod tip, that action will attract fish so don’t hurry to reel it in.

Drop shot rig

First a quick definition, the drop shot rig is essentially defined by having a weight hung lower on the line after the hook and bait. It is also a fantastic way to present a softbait for perch. You can use any of the lures defined in the previous paragraph.

The benefit of a drop shot rig lies in the capacity to sink faster and yet present the lure above the bottom weight-free once the sinker rests on the bottom. It’s a great way to fish a precise spot as you can move it without having to bring it back to you.

But a drop shot can also be used in a more conventional cast and retrieve manner. If I intend to just shake my bait on one spot I will tie a shorter leader. Say about 20 or 30 centimeters between the hook and the sinker. For dragging the bottom on longer casts I will rig a longer leader about fifty centimeters. You need to take into consideration the angle of the line. That way even on a long cast it will keep my bait well over the bottom.

Finally, keep it simple whatever method you decide to choose when using softbaits for perch. Softbaits are relatively inexpensive and it’s a great method to take kids fishing and introduce them to the sport. Stay tuned for more information on how to catch big perch and other game fish! 

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