Hook, Line, and Sinker: How to Rig a Lizard for Bass Fishing
Among the many different bass fishing lures, a few oddballs fly under the radar for most anglers. Lizard lures fall into this category: they are one of the most overlooked soft plastic baits out there.
Being from a northern climate, I used to think there was no place for lizard lures in my bass tackle box, as reptiles weren’t a forage species in my area. Little did I know then, but lizard baits are incredibly useful just about anywhere.
In fact, soft plastic lizard baits can imitate a wide array of forage species, such as baitfish and crayfish. Not only this, but they can closely resemble salamanders, which are known to prey on the eggs of spawning bass.
In this article, we’ll look at everything you need to know regarding how to rig a lizard for bass fishing. We’ll dive into crucial rigging methods, top-notch lizard lures, optimal fishing times and locations, and much more. The goal is to equip you with another effective strategy to catch bigger bass more often!
How Lizard Lures Work
When used correctly, lizard lures can be a highly effective option for bass fishing. The variety of sizes and colors available make them exceptionally versatile in representing many different forage species.
Not only do they have a unique look, but the legs and tail create a ton of action that grabs the attention of bass in the area. These appendages also generate resistance in the water, causing lizards to sink slowly when rigged weightless. This results in a much more realistic look that will draw in strikes time and time again.
Lily pad fields provide an excellent environment for using plastic lizard lures, particularly with a Weightless Rig
Top Plastic Lizard Lures
Today, tackle shops are teeming with lure companies, many of whom offer a range of soft plastic lizards, with each variant boasting unique selling points and signature designs. Add to this mix the vast assortment of sizes and colors, and the array of options can quickly become overwhelming. Yet, despite a crowded market, there are a few stand-out performers.
The first and most popular lizard lure has to be the Zoom Lizard. This lure first popularized plastic lizard baits due to its durable design, low cost, and ability to catch tons of bass. To this day, it is held in the highest regard among experienced bass anglers who know how to rig a lizard for bass fishing and operate it correctly.
With a larger profile, the Zoom Lizard excels with heavier-weighted rigs, such as Texas or Carolina Rigs. This is especially true in offshore areas with intermixed rocks and vegetation. The Zoom Lizard’s durable construction allows you to continue catching fish with the same lure over and over, saving you valuable time and money in the long run.
Another excellent plastic lizard lure is the Berkley Powerbait Lizard. The legs and tail on this lure are broader than other lizards, so it tends to float naturally when rigged weightless. This floating quality makes the Powerbait Lizard a great option around lily pads and in other shallow, weedy areas.
It is also equipped with the signature Powerbait scent, further improving your chances of landing a bass or two.
Last but not least, we have the YUM Finesse Lizard. With a smaller profile, the YUM Lizard can help downsize your presentation for those days when the bites are tough. As a finesse lure, a great way to present this lizard is weightless or on a Texas Rig with a light weight and fished in shallow water.
The Best Ways to Rig a Lizard Lure
There are many ways to rig a plastic lizard lure; you’re only limited by your imagination. However, a few methods are known to work very well. If you don’t know where to start with lizard baits, start with these rigs.
The infamous Texas Rig is one of the most widely used for soft plastic baits, and that’s not due to chance. Texas Rigs can be configured in several ways and have the added benefit of being weedless, so they’re tough to beat.
To rig a lizard lure on a Texas Rig:
Tie your mainline to the hook with a strong fishing knot, such as a Palomar or improved clinch knot.
You can fish a Texas rigged lizard several ways, but to get the most out of it, use a lift and drop, or dragging method. Both approaches allow you to pull the rig through weed beds, where it’s likely to be highly productive; bass lying in wait here will quickly key in on your rig.There are very few downsides to a Texas rigged lizard. A minor point to note is that adding a weight can lead to the rig getting hung up on vegetation. However, this risk can be mitigated by placing a bobber stopper ahead of the weight, which pegs the weight in place and creates a more streamlined shape.
The Carolina Rig is the next rigging method I must mention in any conversation about lizard baits.
The Carolina Rig is essentially a weight separated by a long leader and rigged to an offset hook and soft plastic lure. This configuration creates a unique presentation, characterized by a free-moving bait and a distinctive “clacking” noise, produced by the bead and weight colliding.
To tie a Carolina Rig using a lizard lure:
Tie your mainline to a barrel swivel using a strong fishing knot, such as an improved clinch knot.
Take 16-18 inches of leader material and tie it to the other side of the swivel using a strong fishing knot, such as an improved clinch knot.
I recommend using this presentation as a search bait for spawning beds. In spring, bass congregate in shallow flats to build and guard their spawning beds. You can cover a lot of water using a Carolina Rig by making long casts and dragging your rig along the bottom of these shallow flats. Once you get your first bite, gradually hone in on that area to catch more.
Using the Carolina Rig as a finesse technique can be effective when bites are tricky. For this, smaller plastic lizards, such as 4 or 6 inch lures, are ideal. These small sizes not only offer a subtle presentation but can also stimulate finicky bass into biting.
If you haven’t yet considered pairing a lizard lure with a Carolina Rig, you should definitely give it a try. Just know that casting can be challenging and may take some practice.
Another awesome rigging method, and my favorite for lizard baits, is a weightless approach. It’s straightforward to put together and works great for dragging across lily pads or pitching into shallow areas with plenty of cover.
To tie a Weightless Rig, simply thread your lizard bait onto an offset worm hook and then connect the rig to your mainline:
The Final Result:
I love fishing this rig by casting it into weed beds or other cover, and letting it gently sink for a few moments. To give it some extra action, make a few pops with your rod, pause, and repeat. Bass will have a hard time turning it down, often striking on the pause.
The only drawback to a Weightless Lizard Rig is its limited casting distance due to the rig’s lightweight nature. To help with this, I recommend a light spinning setup with no more than 8 lb fluorocarbon line. This type of setup enhances your casting distance despite the weightless nature of the rig.
Jig Head Rig
When discussing how to rig a lizard for bass fishing, it’s crucial not to overlook the Jig Head Rig, another effective and versatile rigging method for plastic lizards. It involves threading a weighted jig head hook on the bait for a quick, easy, but valuable presentation.
The Jig Head Rig is an excellent choice when bouncing the lure along the bottom with a lift and drop approach.
To rig a Jig Head Rig, simply thread the weighted jig head hook into the nose of the soft plastic lizard:
The Final Result:
When using a lizard with a jig head, seek out rocky areas and hop the rig along the bottom. As the jig head is positioned at the head of the lure, the bait will stand up vertically on the bottom. This presentation often proves irresistible to fish, misinterpreting it for a crayfish or baitfish.
Avoid areas with thick vegetation or wood, as this setup uses an exposed hook which can more easily snag.
Lizard Lure Rigs: Summary
Common Questions About Lizard Lures
When Is the Best Time of Year to Fish a Lizard?
Spring is the most productive time of year to use a lizard bait. This is because bass will emerge from their offshore winter hideouts and migrate to shallow regions to spawn. Lizards and salamanders are notorious for preying on bass eggs, making the fish especially receptive to a plastic lizard lure during this time.
Which Colors to Use?
Much like other types of bass lures, you have a vast array of color choices when it comes to selecting a lizard bait. The right lure for the job will depend on the conditions.
In most scenarios, a natural color, like green pumpkin, is a safe bet for clear water conditions. Black lizard baits with a chartreuse tail work wonders on cloudy days or in murky water, and Junebug can be effective in various other conditions. These are general recommendations, and I recommend experimenting with different color patterns in your local water, which can often lead to surprising results.
A Zoom Lizard in black with a chartreuse tail. A great color for cloudy days or in murky water.
What Sizes Do Lizard Bass Lures Come In?
Lizard lures typically come in three primary sizes, each with its own application. For more delicate, finesse techniques, opt for the smaller 4 inch lizards. The mid-sized lizards, usually 6 inches long, are the most common and versatile. They can be adapted to various rigging styles, making them an excellent choice for general purposes.
If you have a “go big or go home” attitude, the largest lizards, usually 8 inches or longer, might be for you. These larger lizards are well-suited for big, aggressive Texas Rigs and are excellent if you’re chasing big bass or your next personal best.
Believe it or not, I know bass anglers who have never used a lizard. For some reason, lizard baits are the forgotten soft plastic in the bass fishing community. That’s unfortunate, because lizards are a great bait that catch bass just as well, and in some cases better, than more popular soft plastic lures.
Don’t make the mistake of forgetting about lizards for bass fishing. Try these different rigs to see which ones you like and which work best for you. Who knows, lizards might become your new favorite plastic lure!