Sorting Out Swimbaits: A Buyer's Guide

News & Tips: Sorting Out Swimbaits: A Buyer's Guide...

Swimbaits have taken the angling world by storm. Although most of the buzz focuses on trophy largemouth, many of these fishing lure styles are just as deadly for walleye, stripers, pike and other species. To learn the differences in the various swimbait styles, read on.

Swimbaits are one of the latest tackle crazes to hit the fishing scene. Innovative soft-plastic designs and pouring methods create lifelike baits with natural swimming actions. Swimbaits let you cover plenty of water and have a way of bringing in bruiser fish. This season get an advantage over other anglers and integrate swimbaits into your repertoire. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules for swimbait styles, here's a run down of some popular models in some loose categories.

Jighead & Body Combo Swimbaits

SwimbaitsBG BPSSquirminShad
Even though the jighead and body combo is the first generation of swimbaits, they're time-proven to catch dozens of fish.

This style of lure is perhaps the first generation of swimbaits. Don't let this descriptor turn you off, though — these baits are time-proven to catch dozens of sport fish in fresh and saltwater. A soft-plastic body is rigged on a jighead. Darter, bullet, or shad shaped heads are the most popular. All baits deliver a seductive swimming action thanks to either a paddle or a boot tail. During the retrieve, these wide appendages kick and wobble, moving water and putting out plenty of vibration.

Some examples of plastic bodies include:

The abundant selection speaks to the longevity and effectiveness of these baits for a variety or sportfish. Shad shaped baits are quite popular, featuring a fat, wide profile. Alternatively, slender styles also exist. Sometimes fish have profile preferences so be sure to carry a variety of shapes.

For the best action, swimbaits must be rigged straight. Using a jighead with barbs on its collar will secure a swimbait. Alternatively, adding a drop of soft-bait glue to the head of the bait before pushing the plastic tight to the jighead keeps a plastic properly rigged, even after landing a few fish.

You can boost the effectiveness of these baits by rigging them on belly bladed jig heads, like Northland's Thumper Jigs or Sworming Hornet Freshwater Fish Head Spin Jigs. These heads deliver a compact flash to swimbaits and because the blade's swivel is connected directly into the jig head, it flutters and flickers with every twitch or drop of your rod tip during the retrieve.

Internally Weighted Swimbait Fishing Lures

SwimbaitsBG XPSThumpDeal
Pre-rigged swimbaits are lifelike replicas of sportfish and can be deadly when combined with a wire arm jig spinner.

This next type of category encompasses a vast assortment of lures. These baits come pre-rigged and range from basic, swimming shad styles to extremely lifelike replicas of sportfish. Simply tie one on and start fishing. Large baits are usually sold individually while smaller lures are sold in quantity. Some have removable heads to be reused and inserted into a new body when the old one wears out. Paddletail, boot-tail and twister tails are all available in this style of swimbait.

Examples of these baits include:

These swimbaits feature additional detail surpassing the color combinations of plastic grubs. Reflective materials inside the body deliver a baitfish flash. Many also feature large detailed eyes. Sophisticated paint patterns beyond one or two color tones are another common theme in this style.

As previously mentioned, swimbaits can be deadly when combined with a spinner blade. For internally weighted baits, it's best to use wire arm jig spinners, clipping a spinner to the swimbait's hook eye turns it into a mini spinnerbait, with a plastic body instead of a skirt. The safety pin wire shaft acts as a weed and brush guard. The blade adds flash and vibration. On slack line the bait's fall is painfully tempting thanks to its fluttering blade and flapping tail.

Hollow Body Swimbaits

SwimbaitBG YumMoneyMinnowSwimbait
Hollow bodied swimbaits collapse around the hook when a fish grabs the bait, making for solid hook sets.

Hollow bodied swimbaits, sometimes called split-belly swimbaits, are the most recent design in the swimbait lineup. The hollow body gives baits an extremely lifelike swimming motion in the water. It's design also accommodates a wider hook gap.

The bait's flat sides reflect light as the paddletail wiggles, mimicking the flicker from a baitfish. Another advantage is the hollow body collapses around the hook when a fish grabs the bait, making for solid hook sets.

Some examples include:

Specialty Fishing Hooks

While many hollow body swimbaits packages include hooks for rigging, there has also been a boom in specialty swimbait hooks in recent years. These hooks are outstanding for hollow belly baits but they can be just as good for slender, tubular style swimbaits (i.e., not shad profiles), such as the Berkley Havoc Grass Pig, Trigger X Slop Hopper or Gary Yamamoto Swimbait.


Swimbait hooks feature a keeper barb or screw.

The bulk of swimbait hook designs feature a keeper barb or screw. Attached to the hook's eye, this keeper holds the bait's nose, while the hook point is inserted through the body and out the back. Bass Pro Shops XPS Swim Bait Hooks, Lazer TroKar Magworm Swimbait Hooks and Gamakatsu Swimbait Hooks are examples of these hooks.

Another popular style of swimbait hooks feature and offset shank, such as the Yum Money Minnow Swimbait Hooks, that allows for Texas or Tex-posed rigging of swimbaits.

Many swimbait-specific hooks also feature weighted shanks. The lead acts as a keel to keep the bait swimming straight. It also bolsters the soft-plastics swimming action and tail kick during the fall.

Supreme Realism in Swimbait Fishing Lures

Within this category of swimbaits falls a mix of soft-plastic and hard baits, as well as hybrid baits utilizing qualities from both.

From head to tail, these baits offer a new level of realism for anglers. Paint patterns, size and profile all help anglers imitate a variety of fish forage with artificial offerings. These natural replicas help anglers "match the hatch," an important feature in clear water systems such as Western states where stocked trout have become a preferred and easy meal for monster largemouth bass.

SwimbaitsBG BPSZ9R
Hybraid baits help anglers "match the hatch" for supreme realism.

These baits also feature intricate designs and feature flexible or jointed bodies for an natural, swimming action. Certain designs feature billed lips to help lures dive and bolster their side-to-side action.

Examples of these lures include:

Swimbaits are taking the angling world by storm. Although a lot of swimbait buzz focuses on trophy largemouth hunting, many styles of swimbaits are just as deadly for walleye, stripers, pike and other species. Be sure to wet some of these lures this year for more trophy catches — whatever your favorite species may be.