GULP! may have changed the game of flounder fishing as we know it, but truth be told, you can jig for flounder with virtually any type of plastics and enjoy great success. Long before the advent of GULP! dedicated flounder sharpies used soft plastics to target this species, particularly while vertical-jigging in deep water and along channel edges. The tactics may be slightly different, but the success rate is not.
Twister tails and straight tails both work well, however, paddle tails aren’t the best choice for this method. When jigged vertically, many paddle tails and shad-style soft plastics spin as they sink. And as is often the case, a spinning bait looks unnatural and doesn’t attract nearly as many bites.
Gear choice is important: you’ll want a rod with a stiff tip for fast hook-sets, along with braid line capped off with a couple feet of 20-pound mono leader. Jig head size depends entirely on depth and current, but as a rule of thumb you’ll want to choose the lightest head you can keep more or less vertical, in order to get a fairly slow sink-rate. Reel choice is entirely a matter of personal preference. Plastics in the three to five inch range are usually best, and color choice can vary from day to day according to conditions. As a general rule, white is always a good color, greens are often very effective, and pinks, copper-penny, and yellow will all have their days.
As you drift a channel edge, hole, or trough, jig the lure upwards with a very fast snap of the wrist – it should really dart up from the bottom as quickly as possible. Then allow it to sink as slow as possible while maintaining minimal tension on the line. Sometimes you’ll feel the hit as the lure sinks, but as often as not you won’t know you’ve had a bite until you raise the tip back up again and it feels like you’ve snagged bottom. Set the hook, because that isn’t bottom – it’s a flounder. Unlike flounder fishing with bait, you’ll want to set the hook fast and hard. That’s the main reason why you’ll want to snap your wrist when jigging up; half the time you get bit, it’ll be your de-facto hook-set.
Can you catch just as many flounder vertically jigging soft plastics as you can fishing bait? Every day is different, but on the whole, absolutely yes – whether those plastics are flavored, or not.