Segmented Soft Swimbaits for Bass

News & Tips: Segmented Soft Swimbaits for Bass

SegmentedSoftSwimbaitsBass blogPaddle-tail style soft-bodied swimbaits are effective bass lures, particularly for largemouth bass that have a big mouth capable of engulfing the lure, resulting in a good hookup ratio. I spend a lot of time fishing for river-dwelling smallmouth bass, and while river smallies often hit swimbaits of such design, the number of bites versus hookups is not always encouraging. More slender soft swimbaits, like Lake Fork's Live Magic Shad, are appropriate for the reduced maw of the bronze bass.

My good friend Tom Ference turned me on to segmented soft swimbaits, back when he was the promotions manager for a fishing line company.

"Another of the advantages of the segmented bait is the ability to work it at a variety of speeds," Ference mentioned to me recently, when the subject of swimbaits was being discussed. "With paddle-tail-type swimbaits, you have to move them at a pretty good clip to maintain action. By making minor rigging adjustments to the segmented bait you can work it slow or buzz it near the surface."

When rigged for a slow, steady retrieve, Ference connects the bait with a loop knot, more specifically the Lefty Kreh Non-Slip Mono Loop knot. The "open" connection gives the bait the freedom to kick at slow speed. When he plans on using a more aggressive retrieve, one that involves snappy twitches of the rod tip, he uses a knot that handles the wear-and-tear better, like a Palomar or double improved clinch knot.

Aggressive, faster retrieves are used when fish are likely to be in shallow water and in a feeding mood. Ference said early and late day periods are good for this approach, as well as cloudy prefrontal days. When odds favor bass holding in deeper water, such as off the deep side of a weed edge, he'll go with a slower, steadier retrieve.

A slave to details, Ference has experimented with various hook styles and sizes to get the best rate of hook-ups. His best two choices have worked out to be the Owner Beast weighted swimbait hook and Gamakatsu weighted swimbait hook. The trick, he said, is to choose a hook that sits in the extreme back end of the hook slot. Typically a 1/0 works right for the 3.5-inch bait; try a 3/0 for the 4.5-inch version. On days when the fish aren't locking down solid on the bait, and he's missing fish, Ference shaves just a tad off of the top of the bait to expose a bit more hook gap.