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I reckon its best to trial this out somewhere you know intimately, especially the bottom contours. Go with someone. Be quiet. No lights toward the water. Slow everything down. Dark colour plugs. Hang on to the lunker when she arrives. Good luck and be safe mate :D

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Just thinking where to start night plugging and was wondering if there any rules to tips I need to start with. It is my intention to have a few practice sessions but any help would be appreciated.
Huge topic and one which kjw and I will address in some detail when we get the chance after the initial migration here.

If you read my blog, 90% of that relates to plugging by 'night'.

Blog is in the signature at the end of this post.

Like I said though, we will cover it here from the basics ----> up.


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soft plastics at night is another whole new topic.

very different in general to the way I fish SP's in daylight, or shallow moonlit water for that matter.

Slow rolling seems to work good as does just subsurface 'walking' and 'shaking'

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slow rolling = basically trundling a SP back along the bottom at various retrieve rates. At night, high contrast baits work best in our experience.
say, white bucktail and trailer over dark bottom. In daylight, the opposite seems true.

Kick twitching = A style we use on plugs too. Chuck out a slow sinking or floating plastic, maybe a slug style bait 7 1/2 sluggo springs to mind.
On the steady and often slow retrieve, stick your leading finger (from the rod and reel hand) in the way of the line as you crank the handle.
You can modify the tail angle on a slug bait to give added kick.
You'll see what happens..

More to follow and more in depth, ok
Hope that helps, for now.

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Pulled together a few old posts that cover night bucktailing.
Relevant here I think even though the thread is 'night plugging'.

We can keep this thread 'general' and splinter off individual topics from there if we agree ?


Both of us are bucktailing, at night, in rough ground,
really close quarters stuff often only mere feet away
from the rocks (the ones you stand on)


Kev is outfishing me.

Bass @ 4lb ish on the boga. Took a 1/2oz bucktail
rigged with a curlytail worm late into the night.

In reality, this scenario is often reversed but...
I fished 1/2 oz bucktail + sluggo "bubblegum, alewife,
black" trailers. Tried all white and black bucks.
Tried drop shotting a 6" sluggo right in the mix.

But, Kev again gets the pulls converted to fish.

we both fish a very similar style and retrieves are
counted and shared...

But, Kev has just recently invested in some 3000 sized
reels of the same make as mine but for every turn he's
got a slower retrieve than my 4000 sized reels.

Knowing this, towards the end of the session i did
SLOW it down again and got a few bumps.

The tide saw that time wasn't allocated to test this
theory further.

Isn't it strange how the simplest and most obvious
things can affect our fishing.

We often use 240S pork rinds and the black pork trailers
behind a series of heads. Normally in the 1/4oz thru
3/4oz even in fastish water as long as its fairly shallow,
say less than 10ft.

We'll work in edges of current, or, in direct current when
we are in a position to cast upcurrent to get a lighter
buckie down and floating.

The trick is to just retrieve (rod tip up mostly) at a
speed where the bucktail JUST trips occasionally the
bottom. In the daytime you can be slightly more
aggressive, but it don't catch any more fish.
Stop start retrieves also work well.
Pork rinds add bouyancy but sluggo's add more bouyancy.
Just swap and change sizes around at certain spots till
you see a pattern forming.

kjw said:
Bucktails come in a vast amount of weight's and you can fish them with or without trailer's,the best size's i've found from the shore angler's point of view are 1/4 oz,1/2 oz and 3/4 oz,but sometimes the slightly heavy one's come in handy,the best colour's i've found to use in daylight or in the pitch black of night are all white,white,and did i mention white,the best way's of fishing these are to just have enough weight for the bt to lightly trip bottom with a slow to moderate retrieve and not plough the deck,to get the right size bt for the jod at hand is the hardest part,you can alter the bt's desent through the water column buy changing the weight of the bt and the type and lenght of the trailer to get the perfect combo,the type's of trailer we use are uncle josh porkrinds 270s,sluggo's and curly tails.

why even bother fishing the bt,because they catch fish,end of.

the best approach to fishing them is to cast them up currant,and fish them with a slow straight retrieve(when i mean slow i mean sloooooow),a stop and go retrieve,or let them swing through wetfly style,the deal is that fish spend about 70%+ of there lives on or near the bottom in pursuit of food so put the lure where the fish are,the other great thing about these lures are they are cheap to make,so for all the guy's that don't like losing lures in bottom structure your pray's have been answered with bt's.
In a world of super fast rods, high technology and
£20 lures.....

There is still a place for a bit of lead,plastic and hair
probably costing no more than quid combined.

Yea, we loose quite a few when searching new ground
but its far cheaper than loosing those shiney japanese

People have admitted being loathe to chuck £15 -
£20 lures into structure and who can blame em.

5 plugs, 1 small bag and £100 spent.

loose them, or loose these and work out the difference.

Bucktails just happen to catch fish too.

Of course, i love to work those top end, super balanced
rigs just like anyone else but, there is a time and
place for everything.

I'd recommend everyone shove half a dozen 1/2oz
bucktails OR plastic shads which can be ok too into thier
lure bags. 1/2oz maybe, in my experience, the most
versatile size for the shore angler if you are limiting
your choice.

you are fishing this sort of stuff....

Kevin chucking the buckie up North in whitewater.
Bass love this stuff. Shame UK based Bass equipment
isn't mostly upto the task. Modern equipment is
generally nice, but it isn't built to take the hard knocks.

In water like this 3/4 oz or even upto 1 & 1/2 oz if
faced with this AND current. However.., a bag full of
leadheads starts to get heavy if you carry every combo
for every foreseeable trip. We swap em about a bit to
save weight and our backs.

As we use bucktails as mobile heads for SP's I think a link to this is relevant..

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2,889 Posts
Another extract relevant to 'night plugging'.

I remember my first "double" on bait, in the brightest, hottest, sunshine beaten, windless day in 3ft of water.

But, when I got the hit, the current was raging !!

So, current, over the years has been my best friend whilst Bass fishing. The wind and actual tide height coming in a poor second. However, both together, brilliant.

That, unfortunately, doesn't happen often enough does it. So, faced with calm, mirror sea's etc what the hell do we do different ? Bass have to eat.

I'll tell you this, in our South East gutters and gullies, calm weather exposes Bass movement to the point that its spooky. The main thing we learn from this is the way the Bass move in the gullies on both windless calm days as opposed to wind chopped days.
On calm nights/days fish HUG !! the side structure big time. Often within inches of this structure is dry land, heavy weed, boulders, cut sand, etc. This has taught us that Bass tend to hug structure more during the calm sea than the rough sea.

So, you ask...
" what has this got to do with our Bassing, we don't have gutters and gullies like those guys ?"

The fact remains that..., Bass are Bass.
They have to eat and they can't wait till the wind blows to feed. So, they'll have to either hug available structure more or be so visible, they'll go hungry. Obviously, in rich times, pack shoal schoolies will round up mackerel etc but I'm talking bigger Bass in and around rocky or reefy terrain.
Get CLOSE !, even more so than when its whitewater conditions.
I've been reading on here even that folks have seen BIG fish right under there feet. Thats because those fish ARE under your feet. Not all I'll admit, but enough that if you were to cover enough ground, your plug might cover one or two.

In calm conditions, both myself and Kevin tend to start close, then, if no show, drop deep. Bucktails will search down deep and dirty and the cost is around a £1 for a self built plastic trailered bucktail. They can and do, often save the day.

I've also found that excessive topwater plugging isn't so effective. I reckon, those glassy sea's are the days when jointed plugs just ran subsurface can rule the roost.

Colour (during daylight) also starts to matter but never place it ahead of action or profile. Calm seas will see more refusals overall than whitewater days too.

Its all down to how much of a look the Bass get at your plug/lure. I'm not making this a statement of fact, its just my assesment from 20 odd years of Bass plugging in clear sea's.

On these calm days a few things are your friend.
Low light, Swell and Current.

We can often get residual swell well after the wind had abated. Use it. Find any current.
Now, Swell can generate current.
Look for area's where swell rolls up into long backfills or trenches, or area's of rock that create fingers or gullies.

Whe a swell rolls up, they might be 4ft deep, stay there for a while, then, as swells tend to run in sequence, they'll empty, and with some speed. Fish the exit points with your plugs but... cast up into the drawing out water to simulate trapped bait exiting. Bass wait at such exit points even though they may only be present for mere minutes on a particular tide.

These are the days when the fly, either on a fly rod or fished on a "bombarda" can really pay off. The latter especially as you get smaller profiled baits closer to structure thats away from YOU with a much more delicate approach.

Soft baits grubbed down and around structure can pay off. These are the days to fish those low water marks where there is always residual water regardless of tidal height. This is where small fish live in more abundance and, as little is going to get washed out, Bass have to go to the food sources more.
Look for sandeel beds, use a bib on your plug that digs in to the sand.
We have marks where when you walk, sandeels leap out of the water, and of course, the bottom and then, in a frenzy, attempt to re bury themselves. We've seen Bass bouncing the bottom, disturbing the abode of the sandeel and then intercepting those same eels as they make a run for it.
At the end of the day, use whats available to you.
If you haven't tried night plugging before, these are the times to fish your favoured marks without reprisal of heavy swells and rogue waves. But..., don't judge night plugging based upon you success or lack off on these calm nights. At night too, action in the water, be it current, wind driven or swell driven is a far better scenario for us as anglers than flat calms.

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540 Posts
thanks for the excellent quick reply, im deffinately gonna be doing alot more with sp`s at night. i tie a hell of alot of flies during the winter months and have stacks of various bucktail, is it just a skirt with the sp threaded onto a single? or do you have a pic or is classified? lol :D

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Pictures are in the blog article m8..

In a thread I started on wsf...

called VIS

Yesterday, on our east coast it was perhaps 10 meters of vis.
On the west we had a rolling swell that destroyed vis at times down to less than 1 meter.

Fact is, there were more fish, or more seen fish in the low vis than the great vis.

Forget night v's day etc...

Topwater men ?
Do you still reach for the same baits in crap vis and, if so, do you fish them the same or, do you pause longer between pops, or slurs ?

Colours vanish real fast in bad vis, been there, done all the tests.
Black stands out the best in vis below 4 mtrs from above, the side and certainly from below.

In these conditions, fish are relying on the lateral line more, wouldn't you agree ?

Just to go back to night plugging for a second..
I've found that on the darkest nights, black is often the best yet, on normal, half moons or full moons, normal colours are just fine and especially in area's of ambient light.

But, eye's adjust to see well in clear water even at night for humans so i would assume bass can see just fine.

However, light in poor vis just doesn't travel.
Or, it may travel, but it's so weak it can't reflect a true image at any usable range.

You can often creep right up on Mullet and Bass in really poor vis IF you are ultra queit AND, there is some swell or surface chop.

So, your pressure wave as you move through the water is disguised enough to approach the fish.

I think therefore that sonics, underwater and pressure waves in poor vis should take preference to colours and perhaps even profile or action, though obviously, the right profile AND actions will send out the right 'food' signals to the Bass.

But, I feel the need to advise people to wait according to the available vis and this would give curious fish TIME to approach the lure which, in bad or low vis, it won't see until it reaches the 'now visible' zone.

Bass can move quickly, but I'd hazard a guess that in low vis they tread more carefully before leaping in.

How far do ripples or pressure waves travel ?
Ok, calm day, lure hits the water.

See how far they go.

Quite a distance but, they obviously diminish as they spread out.
We should wait because this is the best omni directional and strongest pressure wave.

If it takes 10 seconds for the wave to find a bass, or whatever...
It will take the bass a similar time to reach the zone of the lure.

In clean vis, a fish may now either zoom in after visual aquisition or, in low vis, it may not see the lure until within perhaps a meter or so.

This brings me to timing.

With poppers or topwaters, this wave will go out, we retrieve creating a 'vee' uni directional wave behind the lure that spreads out laterally from behind the lure agreed ?

Good. So, move that lure too fast initially and what happens ?

Bass hears or 'feels' lure splash down.
You don't wait long enough and you retrieve.

What happens ?
You move the lure from where the bass expects to find it.
You destroy the best road map the bass had by creating a new pressure wave that could in fact cancel out part of the initial seeking wave.

So, I reckon...

Cast, splash, WAIT ! for X amount of time, perhaps 30 seconds in lower vis.
Then, rather than splashing the lure all over the place, retrieve SLOWLY, Then POP, or sweep a sunk suspending bait.
Just because you don't see the pressure wave on a sunken lure doesn't mean you don't create one, you do.

Make each pop,or jerk count. Wait each time.

Rather that sending out confused signals to fish, make them clearer.

You guys should think about this, especially if you are contemplating 'night plugging'.

To see how devastating this method can be...

read these threads and articles.. 2007 2008 2009

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540 Posts
i just read it!!! lol. right i know what ill be doing at the lodge this week!!! i bet i will raise a few eyebrows tying them little gems!!! the technique you described in your blog (about fishing them like wet fly fishing) has made my mind up! think ill start of slowly at first on the shore before getting in there though and skishing!!! one last question(s)

what range sizes of hooks and weights?

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what range sizes of hooks and weights?
mould size usually determines hook size m8.

we find 2 ranges useful.

for slow rolling...

1/8 through 1/2 oz carrying upto 6" trailers.

For bottom bumping, much heavier, say 3/4 thru 2oz. This is for knowing when, sometimes in rough or
fast conditions, the bucktail thumps bottom. Waiting rules still apply but...

Remember, a Bass won't grab the lure, It will suck it in. Too heavy and you are screwed. Swings and roundabouts m8.

Kev will have the hook range's i'm sure.

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540 Posts
thanks keith got a good idea on what i need! done quite alot of bottom bouncing for salmon with "betty`s" and fully understand about choosing the correct weight to critically balance the lure. just as an afterthought, can any jig head be used, stand-up, football, plain round, bullet head, smile face (as in your pics)

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2,889 Posts
we use mostly smilin bill heads.
We could refine it I guess just like we do when shooting Xlayers and similar baits out into various
terrain. However, we have found no real need with trailered bucktails (where we fish em)

Your experience could vary but I think you'll find, with bucktails, simple and heavily flared jigs
are best. Don't make em pretty, make em work. Chuck em anywhere and everywhere and be prepared to lose
loads when you first start.

Over sandy runs and gutters you might not lose any of course but get em, down and dirty.

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2,889 Posts
try 'swinging' bucktails across current too m8.
Use a float set at various depths to suspend the jig and control the float speed over a run by
either backwinding or, lifting and following the float across with the rod top.

This also works over heavy reef in white water. The float suspends the jig and the swell, works the float and jig.
If you use a LIGHT bucktail or plastic, you could, occasionally, lift and drop the jig through a sliding float setup.

Just more food for thought.

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3,604 Posts
Great info on the bucktails, I tied a load up in the summer after making them with the moulds but am yet to do well on them, I have had a couple of hook ups which resulted in being smashed up. Not sure what in both cases, other than that i've found it hard to "feel" the light ones but waiting for the new rod to arrive which will do the job with those and SP's just fine. (Sorry not red, can't afford that sort of money).

I will as always persevere and keep on experimenting!!
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