Matt Johnson Outdoors
Plastics Preferrence
Matt Johnson Outdoors
By: Tom "CrappieTom" Sawvell

This past spring season brought with a
lot of challenges.  The weather seemed
to never   get "just right"  and the water
had a  real tough time  stabilizing temp-
wise.  Nonetheless, fishing went ahead
as always: some days great, others not
so  great.   This  particular  season also
presented  me  with  the  opportunity to
do some close comparisons on the new Stub Grub as compared
to the Culprit Paddletail when used for crappies.
To be as accurate as possible, I limited my research to three
basic colors very common to both products: black/chartreuse,
blue/chartreuse (new in the Culprit) and purple/charteuse
(Junebug/chartreuse in Culprit). While other colors exist in both
products I stayed with colors that were very close to eliminate an
imbalance. (To note though: many other colors in both products
caught fish all spring but were not included in this little study or
the fish totals using it.) All of these were fished on a 1/32 or 1/16
ounce black jighead of collarless design and fished under a float.
If a color change was made, both baits got changed. Same went
with the head weight. Depth changes were done likewise.
Casting the baits was done alternately, three casts at a time. The
fish, when caught were simply added to the count, not measured.
This data comes only from days when I fished solo to allow
myself the concentration to do this. As mentioned earlier, this
was about crappies only, sunfish not being counted in here at all.
Here is what I came up with.

These trips yielded a total of 1277 fish, beginning as soon as the
ice went out far enough for me to get the boat in the water. There
were six 100+ fish days (142 the best for a three hour jaunty)and
five over fifty fish. The balance was scattered in numbers.

Ironically, the best day was early on and came when water temps
were still quite cold (48 degrees) and the fish were still found
deep (8-15 feet or more). The largest fish taken this spring also
came on this trip and the others a trip or two on either side of it.
The other 100+ days were later on, after the bedding had set in in
earnest. Those fifty fish + days were at times when we had a front
pending within a day or less and the water was at it's at-the-time
highest while doing it's temperature roller-coaster. These were
also times that the fish were relating heavily to shoreline breaks
and structure such as sunken wood and were taken from water
anywhere from two feet down to six feet down in water of that
depth or greater. The best ten days were days when the water
was not exactly dirty, but carried some additional color. Skies
seemed to not be much of a factor.

Of the 1279 fish taken using these two baits, 902 were taken on
the Stub Grub when fished according to what I described. Color
preference went purple/chartreuse, blue/chartreuse, and finally
black/chartreuse. The latter two colors were about the same for
fish counts in both the Stub Grub and the Culprit paddie, but in
both baits the purple did the fish catching.

During those infrequent times where I used a 1/16 ounce head, I
noticed that they accounted for far fewer fish while using the
Stub Grub. The Culprit's ability to take fish seemed not to dwindle
when fished on the larger heads. This was consistent through all
the colors sampled. It is my contention that the ringed bodies of
the Stub Grub comes into play with drop rate in a big fashion
when they are hung on a light head. Certainly they stay inside the
strike window much longer. When on the larger heads, I haven't a
clue as to why the Culprit would show a dominance, but I will
assume it has something to do with the amount of water
resistance being able to get that tail working a bit better on an
un-assisted drop or a slight jig. The Stub Grubs are slightly
thicker through the body and those rings are meant to stop
water. They may do so too well at times. I don't ply too much
weight on the 1/16 head info though. Like I mentioned earlier, I
seldom use the 1/16 in this fashion of fishing.

Both of these baits took fish during a spring period quite unlike
any I have seen in years. Fishing was tough. I would hazard a
guess that I fished more miserable weather this year than in past
years and perhaps that accounts for the numbers being what
they are for the Stub Grub. I have known, through developing
these (Stub Grubs), that they were dynamite when the fish got
lockjaw from cold fronts. And yes, color does matter. On some
days the color changes were coming every ten minutes. On other
days I never had to change a thing and still hammered fish.

Drop rate is apparently much more an issue than I had imagined.
Not only will the weather tone down the fish, but water temp too
is another factor that demands a slow drop. On the best day
when the water was at 48 degrees, 21 of the total were caught
using the Culprit. The drop rate was the only influencing factor
involved. This also shows that cold water does not necessarily
equate to needing bait.

While not used as an active participant in this study, the Exude
Micro Shads showed real stand-up showmanship when I had to
downsize in a serious way. Another paddletail in design, these
little scented guys were able to sucker those really negative fish
when dropped down INTO the wood where these crappies had
retreated. Yes, I lost some jigs down there in the mess that
crappies tend to dig into when they are not in the mood for fun,
but it does serve to show how the basic paddletail profile is one
that is fast becoming a fish getter. Those with the scent factor
can be deadly when on-the-nose presentations are needed. As a
bonus, these little guys are murder on sunnies anytime.

Do fish show preferences to plastics? Absolutely! While the
differences may appear almost negligible to the eye, there are
strong qualities that make these differences all-important to
consider. Color is one quality....are the colors bright and clean
looking? Profile comes into will this drop in the
water? Too fast with this head or too slow with that one? Don't
fret over too slow. When it comes to crappies there is no such

More than anything , this little bit of research has shown me anew
that letting the fish dictate wants is very important. If a person
gets in a rut with just one bait, it can get darned hard to get out of.
Changing a color, changing a profile....done so simply and
quickly and it can make the day. Literally. Think about it.

Horseshoe Chain
Fishing Reports