Everything I read or watch on TV, with regards to bass fishing, has been revolving around this new “swim Bait” craze. I use the term “new” very lightly, considering this style of fishing has been around a lot longer than I have. Being completely in love with soft plastics, I’ve been fishing this way ever since I can remember. With that being said, I’d like to write up an “article” that helps other anglers to not only brake down swim baits, but also a few other soft plastics that really work. It seams like these companies are really pushing these soft plastic swim baits to the consumer…and with a hefty price tag!
For starters, swim baits come in literally hundreds of different styles, sizes, weights, and colors. I’m just going to go over a few that I like and explain how I personally rig them. By all means, I’m not a pro at using them, but have been exploring different ways of fishing them. And I’m going to explain how I rig some other soft plastics that I have had a lot of success with.
Gambler Flappin' Shad;
Growing up fishing saltwater flats in Texas, I’ve brought a few ideas of mine into the freshwater environment with good success. My favorite swim bait of all time is a Gambler flappin’ shad. They come in a ton of different colors, but I like the motor oil, clear with red glitter, and green. There are a few different ways I rig them depending on where I’m fishing and at what depth. My favorite way to rig the Gambler Flappin' Shad is with a weighted worm hook. These hooks come in all sorts of different weights and sizes. Depending on what depth you're fishing will determine what weight you will need, but I mostly use a very wide gap 2/0 hook. This bait has a little larger body and requires a larger hook to help increase hook ups.
Rig this bait weedless and you can do anything you want with it. You can crank it through shallow water, using it as a search bait. You can role it slow on the bottom for a cold-water bite. You can litteraly do anything you want with this lure. This is why I like these kinds of baits. Go and buy a six dollar hard bodied jerk bait and you're limited to what that lure does with it's built in characteristics. With baits like the Flappin Shad, you can get fish this with any pattern you found. Not to mention you get a lot more "bang for the buck" at the cash register compared to hard bodied baits. By rigging this bait with a weedless weighted worm hook you can even use it flippin' into the thickest grass you can find. The shape of the body glides through the thickest cover imaginable without the risk of snagging.
Another way you can rig this bait is threaded onto a jig head. This is deadly in open water situations where grass is not much of a problem. If you are ever fishing a sharp drop off or a weedline in deeper water, rig this bait with a jig head. It's deadly, trust me! With the tail on this bait there is not much movement needed to produce an action. So when fished on a jig head, you can just cast it out and let it sink to the bottom. If the bite is tough like after a cold front, during a big high-pressure system, or even that really hot August day with no wind, this is the time to do this. After the bait has hit bottom, work this bait s l o w l y on the bottom, lifting your rod and letting it drop back down to the bottom. If you're familiar with worm fishing, this is what I’m talking about! Now, if you've located a school of feeding fish than you can just cast this bait out, let it sink to the desired depth and rip it back to you. The possibilities are endless with these styles of lures!
The Bass Assassin;
Now most anglers who are familiar with this bait don't really classify it as a swim bait, but more in the jerk bait category. And for the most part, I'd have to agree with them. The Bass Assassin can be used as a swim bait and produce bites on certain days. But you, the angler, impart most of its action. There are three ways that I like to fish this bait. One is on a jig head like I mentioned above. When worked threaded onto a jig head, I've found this bait to be an excellent search bait. The best way to work it to cover a lot of water is to pop the rod aggressively and just letting this bait fall. Making sure you line stays tight on the drop will enable you to feel those bites on the drop. Similar to a Tube, this lure will spin on the drop, driving fish mad in the process. While you're twitching it, continually reel it back to the boat. Try it this way, you won't be disappointed!
My color choice on this lure is white, green, motor oil, and red glitter. Another deadly way to fish this bait is the same way I mentioned above....Rigging it with a weedless weighted worm hook! This gives it a very unique, slow drop that triggers bites. I like to fish this bait this way during the post spawn. Cast it out and letting it fall to the bottom, sometimes letting it sit for a minute or two. Work it back with short twitches of the rod, allowing it to fall and sit. It will lay right on it's belly when it hits the bottom, and bass will sometimes hit it after it's sat for a little while during the post-spawn time. Considering this bait falls into the jerk bait category, I also use it on just a non-weighted weedless worm hook. This is deadly in shallow water or tall grass. The sink rate is very slow and has an awesome darting action when twitched quickly. Do it this way and you'll see....It's a very deadly bait and also one of my favorites!
Well, it doesn't get anymore basic than the twister tail grub bait. Coming in mostly smaller sizes, this makes an excellent finesse bait. I haven't had much success fishing it with a weightless worm hook, but have done well fishing it with a weighted one, like mentioned above. Most of the time I use a jig head when fishing the grub. The different ways of fishing this are endless! You can swim it at any speed back to you, you can jig it on the bottom, and you can even buzz it on the surface for and explosive hit!! This bait has been around forever, and for good reason...it catches fish! Like most soft plastics, they come in all different colors and are made by several manufacturers. Experiment until you find one that works for you. My favorite colors are pretty much the same colors listed above.
The Sassy Shad;
Like the grub tail, this bait is a smaller finesse type lure, but is absolutely DEADLY on pre-spawn smallies. The only effective way to fish this bait is on a jig head. Experiment with retrieves and fish it anyway you want. The tail on this bait has a lot of action. Here's a lil' secret for you....
Fish this bait tandem. When you tie one on leave about 15 inches of tag line and tie another one on to it. You will be running two baits next to each other and this is a Killer rig! I grew up fishing it this way for Speckled Trout in TX and I found out really quick what this bait would do on suspended bass!
Tsunami Swim Baits;
Considering these baits are pre-rigged there isn't but one way to rig them, the only down fall on this lure is that it comes weighted. I personally like the larger one, but feel it's too heavy for most applications. But makes a very good open water bait. Very realistic and does very well in gin clear water, and with the action built into it, doesn't take anything to work it. The tail has a deep swimming action and the body has a terrific wobble to it. A bit pricey, but worth it. This bait and like other pre-rigged swim baits aren’t my first choice. I like having the ability to rig this several ways.
What? A worm for a swim bait? Yup, that’s what I said! Well, considering this is all about swim baits, I won’t get into details of all the different ways to fish the worm. But I will tell you this much, tie on a 7” Berkley Power Worm on a jig head and you’ll know why I’ve listed it here. Slow role this in open water, over vegetation or anywhere you think bass are holding, and you can bet your waders it will get bit! If you’re fishing thick grass you can even rig it Texas style with a worm hook, but instead of allowing the weight to slide on the line, take a toothpick and “peg” it!
Those are just a few baits that I’ve had the most luck using, and find them a very economical bait to fish. I didn’t mention those new baits out that have are hand painted with eyes, gills, mouth and whatever else they have decorating them. They are over priced and are designed to catch fisherman, not fish. You don’t need all those details that these bait have, and they don’t hold up any longer than any of the ones I listed.
Many people complain that they can only catch a couple of fish on a soft plastic without having to replace it. There are a few reasons for this, and I’ll start with storage. Don’t store your soft plastics in the boat all summer and expect them to hold up. Heat causes them to break down and get too soft. What I do is separate all my soft plastics into categories. Put the worms with the worms, the swim baits with the swim baits…. you get my point. Store each category in a large, good quality freezer bag. Don’t take them out of their original packaging though. These are the best bags to store them in!
Another way to make sure your baits last a lot longer is choosing the right jig head. I LOVE the “cork screw” type jigs heads. They have a little corkscrew like spring coming out of the lead. Thread the bait onto the hook like normal, but once the bait reaches this spring rotate the bait around the hook shaft. Apply upward pressure to make the corkscrew penetrate the plastic and just spin it around the hook until the plastic makes it to the lead. It will hold on until you’re tired of it!!! It takes a little practice to get use to, but with time, it’ll be as simple as tying your shoes!!
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