If you fish a lot, or just are plain bad at casting (make sure to read my articles on accurate casting), you'll find that the cost of buying baits adds up. Soft plastic lures naturally get torn by aggressive fish, sharp objects, or the fish just pull them off the hook. It's inevitable.
As fishermen, we sooner or later go look at cheap Chinese knock-offs of more expensive American and Japanese soft baits. They usually are cheaper than their American counterparts, and feature more baits per bag, too. There is usually a free but 30-day long ePacket delivery. You can usually find such listings on Amazon and eBay.
Above: Here's a 50pk bag of 4" soft jerkbaits that I managed to snag for $2.50.
The biggest question surrounding these soft baits, however, is their performance. Many baits you find by Chinese manufacturers often are extremely stiff, and don't have much action underwater. That translates to bad catches. The baits are often very ambiguous to rig and fish; you aren't sure how to effective use your bait. Some baits even are shriveled up or are made of non-plastic components. I have also heard about packages not arriving, or in very subpar condition. The seller wasn't very open to communication in those cases. However, there are some ways to tell if a bait is worthwhile or not.
Above: Many baits lack instructions on use, or hook slots for rigging. You pretty much have to figure out how to fish them yourself.
The first thing to do is to look at the reviews. If a bait is well made, it should have a lot of good reviews. However, keep in mind that on some sites, such as Alibaba, the reviews are often fabricated. eBay and Amazon reviews are pretty trustworthy. Look for detailed and well written reviews when looking at a bait.
The next thing to check out are the descriptions. Look to see if the bait's description is well written and detailed, and if the seller looks like he knows what he's doing. For example, look for the material of the soft bait. You want plastic, not silicone. Many of the less-desirable baits are made of silicone.
The third thing that I like to do is to find out whether or not the bait is unique to the seller. Many, if not most, Chinese listings are of the same bait, only by different sellers. The sellers are basically middlemen; they buy mass produced bait from a certain factory and then sell them online. These mass produced baits are usually of subpar quality. Look for baits that only one seller has for sale. Those baits are usually better designed and made.
Above: Kinked tails are often found on Chinese soft baits.
And lastly, I would like to see whether or not the bait is well packaged. The packaging speaks a lot on the seller's expertise in the fishing industry, and how well the bait is made. Look for clam packaging or baits neatly arranged, in custom bags, as opposed to being jumbled up in a generic ziplock bag.
While some Chinese baits may be poorly made, make sure you give some of them a try. They can be really nice low cost options for weekend fishing.
Hi. I am Ian, an extremely avid bass fisherman living in Howard County, MD. I like to bank fish and fish at local ponds and small creeks. I will explore budget friendly options for people to use in this blog. I hope I can teach you something.