Go big or go home a swimbait tutorial!
Twin 7lb.Swimbait Largemouth caught by “DSouth” If you’re not familiar with the big swim bait craze going on across the country, let me fill you in on a little secret. Big baits catch big fish! I’m going to use this article to introduce you to the world of throwing large, heavy baits to catch giant largemouth bass…. Throwing big baits will not be for everybody. This type of fishing requires specific gear and an understanding that a day on the water may not yield the numbers of fish that you’re commonly used to. But, if you do go out with that in mind and swim baits in hand, the rewards can be big!
A BBZ Trout swim bait
Let’s first talk about the gear. I am currently using an extra heavy, Okuma Muskie (EVx-C-861XH-Ta) rod paired with a Shimano Cardiff 301A reel. The rod is rated for lures up to 12oz. You’ll need something like this to throw the baits we’ll be discussing later in the article. I am also using 65lb. Power Pro braid to ensure that I’m not losing my baits. These baits can be expensive and keeping them attached to your line is a must. That being said, almost any 7’6” or larger Extra Heavy rod and a reel that can handle large line and baits will work. There are several resources available to learn more about specific gear if you so choose.
In regards to the baits, the options are endless. I only own a dozen or so that I use consistently. These are baits that match what a large bass would eat on my home lake. Many are either perch, blue gill, or black (for night fishing) painted. I tend to use a lot of hard bodied baits, but there are several options in the soft body baits as well. Doing some research on your favorite bodies of water will help you determine what should be used. For example, many baits come in a trout pattern. These are ideal for bodies of water that are stocked in the early Spring. Along the coast, many ponds and lakes have herring runs. Baits that match these fish will yield results in those waters. Knowing the waters you’re fishing will help you achieve success.
Swim baits can be an addictive and expensive part to your fishing hobby. I watched a recent Ebay auction for 1 bait that went as high as $600.00. That’s right, 1 bait! While this may not be realistic for the average fisherman, many baits are less expensive. Many good baits can be purchased for much less. I will often search my local bass forums online and look for deals on used swim baits as well. A large portion of my collection has been purchased this way. The baits still have plenty of life in them and catch just as many fish as a new one. If you’re artistic, repainting some baits to suit your needs and match forage fish in your area is another option.
A local made “Pats Trout” swim bait
So, you now have the rod, reel, and baits. What’s next? Presentation. Fishing a big swim bait is almost the same as fishing any other bait. Slow rolling a 10” bait by some lily pads or across a submerged weed line can incite a strike. Twitching and “dead sticking” a bait on a drift can get them crushed as well. If you read my night fishing article, you know when I’m out the most. For me, fishing with a floating “wake” bait is what works best. The retrieve on these types of baits is a slow, steady one with pauses of up to 10 seconds or more. This creates the illusion of a sick or injured fish that’s stuck on the surface. To a hungry bass, this looks like an easy meal. If I’m out for a rare day time trip, many of the baits that I use for “waking” can also be “cranked down” and fished 1-3’ below the surface. I’ll approach a weed bed or shore line and cast with the wind. This allows the bait to be fished on the windblown side which is where bass will stack up looking for a meal. Getting the bait to swim along a weed line, looking like an unsuspecting meal, is a sure fire way to go.
Whether swim bait fishing is for you, is for you to decide. I have found it to be a rewarding, exciting type of fishing that’s brought in a lot of very nice fish. I too was skeptical at first, and now it’s become something I do on every trip. From “ice out” at the end of February to days before the pond freezes over in November, I can be seen throwing large baits in the hopes that a monster bass will be tricked into eating them.
“DSouth” with an impressive Wood tail largie!