As it turns out, toothpicks aren’t just for picking teeth and poking your sister until you get a whooping; I’m not sure if the latter was ever an intended use for them or not but either way, I learned from my childhood it was frowned upon and I don’t recommend it.
Regardless, there are quite a few times when a toothpick comes in handy when bass fishing. Today, we’re going to look at a handful of those.
When rigging a Texas rig or punching rig, it’s a good idea to peg your weight to ensure it doesn’t slide up and down the line. This keeps the overall setup compact and ensures a cleaner presentation, particularly when fishing around thick cover. Though there are all sorts of rubber pegs and bobber stoppers now, the old timers found early on that a toothpick made a great utensil for pegging weights.
Though it’s an old trick, it still works well today and is an extremely affordable and readily available method even if you typically go with rubber pegs or bobber stoppers and happen to run out. You could walk in nearly any restaurant, convenience store or big-box chain and be back on the water in no time with weight pegging devices even if you’re a hundred miles from the nearest tackle shop.
Pegging a weight with a toothpick is super easy, too. Just poke one of the pointed ends into the top of the weight until it gets tight and snip off the excess. As the toothpick gets wet, it will swell a little and tighten up even more to firmly hold the weight in place.
A not-so-common but very effective use of toothpicks enters the conversation by way of painting baits. When touching up or customizing lures, especially as it pertains to the finer details. A toothpick gives you a cheap utensil with which to paint that can be discarded each time you want to change colors.
Fingernail polish is also great for touching up or customizing baits. Naturally, each bottle of nail polish comes with its own little brush. Using this brush for the broader strokes and toothpicks for the finer details makes short work of the process and there’s no cleanup necessary since the brush stows away in the nail polish bottle and the toothpicks can just be thrown away. In addition to painting, toothpicks can also be used to precisely apply glue if you’re wanting to reattach an eye or mend a swimbait without making a mess.
SECURING SOFT PLASTICS
Though most hooks now have either a bait keeper or sharp bend in the shaft to help ensure soft plastics stay in place, quite often they still slide or are pulled down. To prevent this, you can run your soft plastic up a hook like normal and cover the eye, then stick the tip of a toothpick through the bait and the eye, effectively locking the soft plastic in place. At that point, simply clip off the excess the same as you would if you were pegging the weight and you’re good to go.
Nichols Lures offers an entire lineup of jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, shaky heads and swimbait heads that take a unique approach to this principle. Their baits actually inspired me to try securing a soft plastic through the eye of a hook as previously mentioned. But with their baits, Nichols incorporated an eye into the bait-keeper barb that’s molded onto the bait.
So after you push your soft-plastic trailer up onto one of their jigs for instance, you then have the opportunity to stick a toothpick through the eye in the bait keeper to lock the soft plastic in place in perpendicular directions. This makes it nearly impossible for a bite or especially a hard cast to dislocate your trailer. A bass might bite a claw off of a craw but you won’t be re-rigging very often for any other reason.
EXTENDING JIG TRAILER LIFE
I’m not sure if professional angler Scott Suggs was the first to do this one but he’s where I first saw it. Some anglers like to hang a chunk-style trailer on a hook as opposed to threading it up onto a hook and securing it with the trailer keeper. This makes for a free-flowing presentation with a little more action since the bait isn’t rigidly held in place by the hook shaft and trailer keeper. The only problem is that when rigged this way, fish tend to snatch a chunk trailer off the hook or throw it during the fight.
To combat this, you can take a toothpick and run it through the meaty part of the chunk from side to side. Then clip the excess off of each side, cutting the toothpick back til the ends are flush with the soft plastic. Now when you run the hook point below the horizontal piece of toothpick and through the chunk, you have a much more durable trailer. Where the hook could easily rip through a little soft plastic before, now the hook would have to either break the toothpick or pull it all the way through the bait sideways, which is quite difficult to do.
These little wooden sticks can come in quite handy whether you’re looking to touch up baits, apply a little glue or peg a weight. And we’ve seen there are several ways to use a toothpick to secure a soft plastic. Surely there are other uses on the water for them as well. If you have a toothpick trick, by all means share it with us on social media and we may just write another one of these down the road with some of your ideas.