By Alton Jones
    
A 4-pounder will love a creature bait. A 10-pounder will love it. A 12-pounder will love it. A 2-pounder? Well, maybe not as much. Sure. You’ll catch a few 1-½- and 2-pound fish on a creature bait. Mostly, though, this style of soft plastic simply draws in bass on the lunker-side.

Whether we’re talking about the new YUM Christie Critter (my absolute favorite), or the tried and true Wooly Hawgtail, a creature bait is a big-bass lure, and it is one of the first lures that I am going to select when I need a kicker fish or if I’m fishing someplace like Falcon or Amistad where the bulk of the bass in the population are large. There’s just something about those appendages flapping and that big profile about that big bass like.

Beyond the big-fish focus, the situation needs to be right, and a creature bait is my primary lure of choice for a few specific applications. Specifically I like it as a flipping bait for wood, a trailer on a football jig and on a Carolina rig.
creature
Flipping Wood
A creature bait is generally my first choice for flipping and pitching around wood cover, and the wood could be in the form laydowns, stumps, mesquite trees, willow bushes or even docks. If it’s wood and has big fish around it, I’m going to flipping a creature.

I like creature baits better than a jig for working wood because it is less prone to snagging, so I can fish it in the middle of the thickest, nastiest cover. Similar to a flipping jig, though, a creature bait offers a chunky profile that appeals to big bass.

I Texas rig with a ½-ounce weight, and I always peg the weight so everything stays together when I’m working it through thick stuff. Because I’m targeting big bass in heavy cover, I usually use 50-lb braided line with about 4 feet of 25-lb fluorocarbon leader at the end.

Football Jig
Of course, creature baits aren’t only for flipping thick cover. It’s also my absolute favorite trailer for a football jig, which I use primarily for working offshore structure. The creature/football jig combination becomes extra important for catching big bass late in the fall and continuing all the way through winter, so I’ll be throwing this rig for the next few months.

I don’t trim a Christie Critter in any way when I put it on football jig. I use the whole thing on a ¾-ounce jig because I want every bit of length and all of those appendages flapping like a big crawfish claws. In terms of colors, I simply try to match the creature to the general tone of the jig’s head and skirt.

My presentation advice is pretty simple. Make a long cast, let the jig sink to the bottom, and then retrieve the bait slowly and steadily, not changing anything unless you feel the bait hit something solid like a big rock or stump. The idea is to not hop the bait. You want to maintain bottom contact all the time, except for the occasional need to jump it just a bit to get it past a big piece of cover.

Something worth noting about this technique is that it even works in extremely clear water. It seems like a big, bulky offering could spook fish in ultra-clear water, but those big bass don’t seem to mind that at all.
alton
Carolina Rig
Finally, a creature bait is my favorite lure to use with on Carolina rig. I almost always start with a creature when I fish a Carolina rig, and the bass really have to show me that they don’t want it before I something else. The Carolina rig’s weight kicks up sediment and gets the attention of the bass as it drags along the bottom, and that big creature cruising along, unweighted and just up from the bottom, looks too good for bass to resist.

I like a 1-ounce weight, 20-lb main line, and 15-lb leader for Carolina rigging, and that’s the same whether I’m dragging it in 5 feet or 50 feet of water.

My presentation is also consistent for the whole range of depths and is very simple. Like with the football jig, I start with a long cast and let the rig sink to the bottom. Then I work it all the way back with short drags. Drag it about 6 inches. Pause it for a moment. Drag it 6 inches. Pause it for a moment. Drag it 6 inches…

There isn’t a lot to Carolina rig fishing, but it’s a fabulous technique for covering a lot water and catching fish.

Creature Colors
I’m pretty basic with my color preferences. I like some form of Green Pumpkin or Watermelon, and I’ll use those somewhat interchangeably. I also like Blue/Black and Junebug.

When to use which color is not as much based on conditions as what the fish show a preference toward any given day. I’ll experiment and let the bass decide and stick with whatever they show me.