The art of the swim bait
by Mike Gerry
When you start talking about fishing a swim bait my ears perk up as it is one of my favorite baits, besides being one of my most productive. Over the past ten years I have caught more fish on swim bait than any presentation I have fished. The thing that is key to fishing a swim bait is to recognize its versatility. It’s a shallow bait, a deep bait, a bait you can fish in cover and a bait you can find multiple presentations to fish it on.
The productions of products that allow you to fish swim baits are enormous. You have traditional swim bait hooks/heads, some with open hook, for fishing up in the water column. Swim jigs that have weed guards and skirts that allow you to fish around cover and belly-weighted hooks that allow you to fish in cover by hooking the swim bait and covering the point of the hook. You can also add them to the traditional vibrating jig look and give a bait some chatter and movement. You wouldn’t normally have these along with different weighted heads to fish it deep or lightly weighted to fish it shallow.
The key to swim bait fishing is to always be in position to set the hook. I know, as a guide, I may hand one to a customer and they try to drop the nose of the rod when they set the hook. Often, unless the bass are aggressive, the angler will miss the fish when this is done. You need to be in position to set the hook seamlessly by having your arms and hands in the ready position to accomplish this. This means pulling the bait more in a parallel position with the bottom and leaving your arms where the only movement needed to set the hook is the quick pulling and snapping parallel to the water and set immediately, by not dropping the point of the rod.
Remarkably, this hook-set is like fishing a spinner bait, but I find they often hold on to a spinner bait longer than they do a swim bait. Work your swim bait with different presentations, stop it, drop it, fish it fast and slow, and you will catch fish!