By M. L. Anderson
People tend to think of a Texas rig as a weed-proof worm with a bullet sinker, but actually the Texas rig part refers to the method of putting the hook in the worm to make it weedless. You can use Texas rigging for splitshotting, dropshot rigs, flipping, pitching, putting trailers on spinnerbaits and spoons, jigs – just about any technique that makes use of soft plastics can be rigged Texas. The whole point is to keep the point of the hook just under the surface of the bait so it doesn’t catch on every little piece of cover in the lake.
Start by inserting the point of the hook into the top of the bait and insert it about a quarter inch into the plastic before running it out the side. Now twist the bait around so it is on the point side of the hook and pull the hook down until the eye is just outside the bait. At this point, it’s a good idea to kind of measure the hook against the worm and keep your fingers there so you know where to insert the point. Scrunch the worm up a bit and stick the point in and through, then pull the bait down, slip the point just under the skin, and you’re done. Hopefully the bait will be hanging straight. Having the point just under the skin will keep it from snagging under most circumstances, but it will still be easy to set the hook when you get bit.
I live in the low desert so our spawn is probably ahead of yours. Right now, many of the bass are done spawning, but there are some still on the beds. The post spawn fish are still up fairly shallow, and since all of our lakes are full up from all the winter rain, there is tons of brush along the shoreline, and plenty of submerged trees as well. Just about the only thing you can get through all that stuff is a Texas rig or a spinnerbait. Even Chatterbaits hang up if you don’t rig a trailer Texas. In fact, we’ve been catching a bunch of fish on Chatterbaits in coves off the main lake. The fish aren’t all the way in the back – they’re mostly along the sides of the coves. And of course, they seem to want to have deeper water nearby.
It won’t be long now before the water starts falling – Phoenix really sucks up the water during the summer. When this happens, Elite Pro and AZ angler Clifford Pirch throws topwater like a buzzbait or a prop bait first thing, then goes to a Texas rigged soft jerkbait later in the day. He often puts a nail in the head to weight them, pushing it way in. He throws these over submerged brush and rockpiles. One of the absolute best post-spawn places to find, says Pirch, is a nice long point in the middle of a spawning area, especially if it goes out to deep water. A rockpile at the end makes this a gold mine. Every fish in the cove that spawned here will stop on that point, he says. On a long point like this, a drop shot is the perfect rig. He fishes it totally vertical, not moving it to the side unless he’s taking it to a different spot. The fish can be as deep as 30 feet, even this early in the summer. Move on down the point until you graph the fish.
We used to fish with a guy named Dan Marzano a lot back in the day. He was a heck of a stick, and this was his favorite time of year. During post spawn, he always looked for fish on points or steep stuff, always close to a channel or deep water. He’d run over a spot three or four times looking for baitfish or a good drop-off or fish on the screen. Marzano loved to use big worms in summer because he wanted a bit of spread on the hook. A 4-inch worm has about 1-1/2 to 2 inches between the eye and point, whereas a 6-inch or better can have 2-1/2 to 3 inches. The fish are aggressive enough to eat a big worm this time of year, but it’s still a soft bite and the bigger hook gives him just a fraction more opportunity to set the hook.
Legendary western angler "Doodlin' Don" Iovino shows off a fat bass caught on a classic Texas-rigged worm down in Mexico.
One thing to watch for on your home lake is what color the natural prey is. Dan always used red in the summer because the craws are reddish brown this time of year. When you catch a bass, put it in the livewell and see what it spits up. Sometimes you can even see what they are eating by looking down their throat.
Since the water is up so high this year, we’ve got a ton of trees submerged near the shoreline. A lot of those fish are right up in those trees, and one of the best ways to get to them is to flip or pitch in there. A heavy weight is almost mandatory because nothing else will punch through all that stuff. There are plenty of “weedless” jigs on the market, but most of them rely on a brush guard or a wire that loops over the barb. I haven’t had much luck with those at all. The best way to rig weedless is to Texas rig it, and you can do that by using a big hook and peg a heavy sinker to it, or you can use those jigs that have a spring attached to the eye. You screw the spring into the head of the bait, then hook it Texas.
There are various ways to peg a hook, and you’ll want to do that so that the hook doesn’t end up on the opposite side of a branch from the weight. A lot of guys use toothpicks and wedge them up the weight, but that can crimp the line and make you break off on a big fish. A rubber nail is safer and just as effective, or you can even put a bobber stopper on the line before the sinker and use it to hold the sinker in place. There are also hooks that have a weight right on them, but they tend to get messy if there is algae on the branches, and often they aren’t quite heavy enough.
A buddy of mine named Bob Mallory discovered a trick for spinnerbaits that he claims helped him catch three times as many fish. You know how shad have that dark line? Well Bob took advantage of that by adding a smoke/sparkle Yamamoto single tail grub to his spinnerbaits, rigging them so the hook was buried Texas style. He throws it on primary points in the main lake this time of year and around offshore structure like islands. When he fishes a point he’ll go at it from all different directions until he hits the magic angle. The spinnerbait sails through the submerged brush easily when the hook is in the grub, so he doesn’t waste a lot of time getting snagged.
Bob likes a bit of contrast, so he’ll put the smoke/sparkle grub with a white skirt or vice versa, a watermelon grub with a clear sparkle skirt, or a bluegill grub with a smoke/sparkle skirt. Sometimes he even uses a twin tail for extra calling power. He does the same thing when he fishes jigs – mixes the skirt and grub colors. Another trick he has is putting scent in an old (cleaned, of course) roll-on deodorant container. He just rolls the scent onto his baits.
Of course, a Senko is a deadly bait in the submerged brush, but in really clear water the fish can see you and might not bite. What you have to do is stay away as far as you can and pitch the Senko in and you’ll get them. Senkos are the perfect bait for prespawn through post spawn. We were pitching Senkos to shore and just letting them fall at Lake Pleasant one time and we came across a couple who were getting skunked. So we pulled up and tossed a couple of bags of white Senkos to them, and later that day they came looking for us to thank us and show us their big bass. Definitely don’t hit the water without Senkos this time of year. They’re working even better for us now, if that’s even possible, because suddenly we have gizzard shad in our lakes. We just rig them Texas, pitch them to the brush, and let them do their thing,
Pitching a Texas-rigged Senko to the brush.
One last thing – a big Yamamoto grub rigged Texas with the curve of the tail pointing down toward the curve of the hook makes an incredible, subtle topwater lure. Throw it right to shore then crank so it just swims across the surface with the tail churning the water. Fish will charge out of the brush and just smash it.
If you’ve always thought that Texas rigs were just worms you hop on the bottom, you’re missing out on a lot of great ways to fish plastics. Give some of these a try this month and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.