For much of the country, April is without a doubt the best month for soft plastics.
Because many fish are shallow, they become territorial and protective. You will find slow presentations rule most days this month.
My approach on what to use is based on the color of the water and a variety of soft plastics.
If the water is heavily stained or dirty, I like to flip a big, bulky bait like a 4″ Incredi-craw. Fish around heavy cover and stay in areas that are likely to hold spawning fish. I use heavy tackle for this tactic: 7′ 6″ rod or longer and 20lb. line. Nothing new to this pattern but it is highly effective in the Spring where the water is dirty.
If the water is slightly stained or on the clear side, one of my all-time favorite ways to catch a bass is on a “floating worm”. The name is deceptive because the worm is not actually floating; it’s simply fished weightless Texas-style. You want the worm to have a little bend so that you can move it back and forth from side to side- “walk the dog” at a slow pace under the water and pause periodically. This set-up is mostly fished with spinning tackle and 10lb. line to cast more easily. I occasionally fish it on baitcasting gear and 14lb. line, especially in heavy cover. You can use a 4/0 offset or widegap hook. I’ve had equal luck with both so I don’t have a preference.
My favorite worm to use for this is Culprit’s 6″ T-Rex. It is a little heavier than most straight tail worms so it casts better. There’s also a really nice texture to it that looks like something real to eat. If I can get away with it, I like to use bright colors such as Merthiolate, Candy Corn, or Pro Blue. I like these because I can see if I’m working the bait correctly. If the water is really clear and the fish are picky, I’ll try the colors Watermelon, Ayu, or Green Pumpkin.
I have found, after many years of fishing with a weightless worm, that you will catch way more fish if you just start pulling and reeling hard when a fish bites. You do not want to do a massive hookset even though it maybe more fun. It is hard not to set the hook so you just have to be really disciplined and conscious about not setting the hook when a fish bites. I don’t know why this works better but trust me it does.
I also really like both the Original Culprit worm and the newer Fat Max if the water is stained. For fish that are a little fussy, I like the Original’s thinner profile. For more aggressive fish, the Fat Max grabs their attention a little better. I would fish both of these baits on spawning flats with weeds. Try to train your eyes to look for something different; it can be a light spot or something dark on a light bottom. Anything that is different is where fish live. The 7.5 Original fishes good on a 1/4 ounce in shallow water. The 7″ Fat Max is best on 5/16 ounce.
Special Note: Florida Strain fish prefer clearer water or black water but try to stay away from mud. Northern Strain bass can handle stained or muddy water better and is actually preferred in many cases.
Good luck this month!