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Gear & Accessories

About Swimbaits

by In-Fisherman   |  July 2nd, 2012 3

Dave Hrbacek, St. Paul, Minnesota, says: “I’m a new subscriber and just read Doug Stange’s “Inside Angles” in the October-November 2003 issue. I have questions about swimbaits: (1) What type of retrieve is best? (2) The Berkley Power Bait Swim Shad is a saltwater bait. Is it OK for use in freshwater? (3) What size swimbait is best? (4) Do swimbaits work best on heavily fished lakes, or do they work as well on less-pressured waters?

Doug Stange: The swimbaits work well for bass in some instances. They’re particularly good fished on a 1/2-ounce jighead when you’re searching new territory, because they can be cast far and retrieved quickly. Cast one out, let it sink to the bottom, or to the intended depth, then retrieve it, using a combination of lift-fall and straight retrieve. Sometimes, in other words, you let it fall to the bottom, then move it along again for 10 feet or so before letting it fall again. And so on. Other times, move it along steadily until you contact weeds, snap your rod tip to break free, then move it along again. Bass eat it on the fall, or as you make a steady retrieve. As you become more proficient with the baits, add further swimming motion to the jig by flexing your wrists to nod the rod tip as you swim the jig along. Bass like it, pike love it, walleyes eat it, and occasionally I get a muskie to bite.

I fished a new lake last year that had a big sunken island in it. I positioned the boat at about 20 feet, off the drop-off, and made long casts with the swimbaits, along the edge of the drop off, and up onto the shallow part of the edge, bringing the jig back to me. Having consulted a lake map before beginning, I knew the general layout of the island. In 30 minutes I had probed all the way around the big island, finding two distinct points that each had a lot of weedgrowth on them. Along the way, I caught four or five bass and a half-dozen pike.

The next pass I picked up a Texas-rigged plastic worm and just fished the two points with the heavy weedgrowth. I was able to catch another bass from each of the points, probing with a lure combo that allowed me to fish slower and get deeper into the weeds.

Some of my best bass catches have been during early summer, but the bait works all season long. The designation “saltwater,” by the way, is mostly about marketing, not where the bait can necessarily be used. A variety of swimbaits are available, from the multispecies smaller (4- and 5-inch) kinds I’m talking about, to the huge baits used in the South and West for giant bass. You’ll note in our February 2004 issue an article on using the larger baits.

  • Brian Wilson

    I want to respond to Mr. Hrbacek because I recently had some great success using smaller swimbaits at a pond in Iowa (early to mid October). I figure he can try the same techniques in Minnesota. The reason I used smaller baits was because I was specifically targeting crappies. I tried several different baits in a 2" size: Berkley PowerBait Ripple Shad, Berkley PowerBait Swim Shad, and Storm WildEye Swim Shad. The bait that really did the trick was the Berkley PowerBait Swim Shad. It is pre-rigged with a perfectly weighted internal jighead and has a very sharp hook. The bait worked well casting it into deeper water and varying the retrieval speed (slow was definitely better). This bait was absolutely DEADLY when I cast it directly into the wind, let it sink to the bottom, jig it while only reeling in a small amount of line, jig it again…lift up slowly and more often than not the crappie are hooked and stay hooked.

  • russ neff

    i need some help finding the maker of a hybrid lure i found, its 4.5 inches long soft plastic bodt over a plastic bottom weighted rattle chamber with a hard head and lip for diving. it has a realistic look and
    the one i have is colored insuager or walleye. it has two trebles. i found it and casted it 8 times and caught a 42 inch muskie. help me i have a photo but cant post it here?

  • Captain Bubblenose

    On one of your shows you were striper fisning off the coast of Va and Nc. While trolling you used a large jointed minnow swimbait along with a couple of parachute rige. Could you tell me who makes that swimbait and what size it was. I would like to try some on Smith Mountain Lake in virginia.

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