The Victory Tail soft plastic is a relatively new addition to the Optimum Baits lineup, but Michael Murphy says that it’s a lure that draws from the past and looks to the future. It can be rigged on just about any terminal tackle that you already use for plastics, and the sky’s the limit when it comes to using it in new scenarios. Available in both 3-inch and 5-inch sizes and a wealth of multicolored precision pours, it may be the most versatile soft plastic in your boat.
“It’s the most realistic soft jerkbait out there,” he said. “It’s hand-poured. All of the others are injected. That extra bit of realism makes a huge difference. Also, it’s softer than most of the others, so the hook up percentage is great. Fish that slap at it don’t get away.”
One of his favorite ways to fish the 5-inch Victory Tail this time of year is on a weightless double rig. He employs two leaders, both at least 14 inches long, one 6 inches longer than the other, with a black oversized swivel at one end and a 4/0 Gamakatsu Round Bend worm hook at the other.
The round bend hook is a critical but often overlooked detail. Many anglers prefer an EWG, which makes the lures walk harder. Murphy typically wants a softer, more natural walking action in this situation and the hook choice helps him achieve that goal.
“To tie the leaders to the main line, first run the main line through the eyelet of the swivel on the shorter leader,” he said. “Then tie it to the swivel of the longer leader. The one swivel will be free-sliding but stop on the other swivel.”
With the hooks exposed through the back of the Victory Tail, Murphy often uses a standard jerk-pause retrieve, but where this bait outshines the competition is with a burn-and-stop retrieve. “This is one of the few that you can burn and it will stay true,” he said. “It won’t roll at all. A lot of guys don’t reel it as fast as they can, but it’s deadly that way. The fish will follow and when you stop, they keep going. They’ll run into it and eat it.”
If the bass does hesitate in the slightest, the realistic color patterns often convince second-guessers to strike. Of course the shad colors work, and he’s been experimenting with one called “Chrome,” which has round holographic flake and big square silver flakes. “It looks just like a chrome jerkbait when you twitch it,” he explained. When the fish are ganged up on prey like bluegills, he turns to Jackson Trout and Ghost Rider to get the job done.
He throws this rig on a 7’ to 7’4” Denali medium-heavy rod and a 7:1 Lew’s Speed Spool spooled up with 12-16 lb test Toray Super Hard Premium Plus High Grade Fluorocarbon.
There will of course be days when the double Victory Tail is too much. That’s not a reason to put the lure away, though. When that happens Murphy often turns to a single rig on either the EWG hook, when he wants a hard walk the dog action, or the round bend for a softer action or when burning it. In this instance he often uses spinning tackle and either 8-10 lb Toray Super Hard Premium Plus High Grade Fluorocarbon or 30 lb. Toray Super Finesse Braided line with the 8-10lb Toray as a leader. While double Victory Tails can result in double the action, there’s no shame in going back to just one when conditions dictate a simpler set-up. The only mistake you can make is if you put it away – it’ll continue to work through the peak of the summer and well into the fall.
In future tips, Murphy will explain other uses for the 5-inch Victory Tail, as well as the multiple ways he turns the diminutive 3-inch model into a heavy hitter for big bass.