Soft swimbaits took the fishing world by storm a number of years ago. They instantly became a game changer. Primarily thought of as bass baits, their alluring and seductive tail cadence — coupled with a true-to-life profile — made fish and anglers alike take notice.
Although the original "chuck and wind" tactic still holds water in terms of catching fish, new rigging modifications are opening the door to improved tactics and multiple fish species.
We all know the fish catching qualities of spinnerbaits. Same goes for swimbaits. Intuitive anglers recognized the effectiveness each of these baits had on their own and a marriage of sorts was made between the two.
Partnering a spinnerbait and swimbait offers flash, realistic body shape, and an intrinsic action from the back end that is ripe for catching fish. And this bait doesn't stop with bass.
This tactic is equally effective on toothy critters, namely walleye, northern pike and muskie. Experiment with different blade combinations, size and style of swimbaits, and retrieve speeds. To get the full action from the tail, a slow to medium pace generally works best.
When largemouth bass are hunkered down amongst submergent grass, a proven tactic is to work a swim jig through the open water to draw fish out. Regular plastics certainly work, but combining a jig with a swimbait makes this tandem even more of a fish magnet.
The speed a swim jig is best retrieved works particularly well in conjunction with a swimbait, allowing the perfect tail thump while retrieve rate remains at a constant depth. The fact that the profile replicates a fleeing baitfish is the icing on the cake.
When fish are finicky, stick with 3 or 4-inch baits. Hot days and ramped-up fish dictate a size increase to 5 inches. To attain a better hooking percentage, I remove the weed guard entirely, leaving the wide gap hook exposed for the best bite. However, if the water you are fishing is particularly snag infested, a few strands of the guard are best left untouched.
Although this rig excels when working weed largemouth, it also has its place in the walleye and smallmouth anglers' box — especially when those two species are relating to expansive sand flats.
Supersize your jig and swimbait to take on northern pike and muskie.
We all know the advantages a Texas-rig offers in terms of its weedless qualities. For snag-infested waters, there may be no better rig. Plastic craws, worms, and creature baits generally get the nod, but for those looking to upgrade sound and action with this vertical tactic, swimbaits are a proven choice.
I've had great success with this rig when targeting largemouth bass tucked in amongst thick weed edges, especially when working water depths greater than five feet. This increase in water gives the bait more depth to showcase its swimming action, facilitating added attention and greater bites. Deep docks are another structure spot that screams Texas-rigged swimbait.
Largemouth bass are not the only gamefish to take a shining to this bait, as walleye anglers are readily recognizing.
A finesse approach to catching fish, the drop shot rig is a proven tactic that often yields big results. To add increased attraction, vibration, and a variation on profile, teaming this rig up with a swimbait is a smart choice.
Swimbaits come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, giving this rig the ability to target panfish, bass, or larger gamefish — especially when your quarry is holding tight to bottom.
Rigging should be dictated by water depth and fish specie, in terms of weight, hook and swimbait configuration. For perch, crappie or bluegill, a 1 to 1.5-inch swimbait gets the nod, whereas a 3 or 4- inch plastic works best for bass or walleye. Upgrade if chasing larger prey and always match your hook to the size of the swimbait you are throwing.
Subtle lifts and drops, intermingled with short pulls, will be enough to get the paddle tail quivering and appearing alive. For greater action, work the drop shot in a Carolina rig fashion — utilizing long sweeps of the rod to get the swimbait swimming and appearing more active. This tactic is a winner when fish are fired up.
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