Throughout my time in bass fishing, as I mentioned last week, there have been baits and techniques that I was rather resistant to. Swim jigs do not fit that category per se, but we have been in somewhat of a love/hate relationship. I like fishing horizontally. I like covering water. I like heavy cover. I love jigs. So, when I was first introduced to swimming a jig years ago, I figured that it would be a match made in heaven. Yet, for years I just never found them as productive as many let on, nor as productive as I thought it should be. This year I have spent much more time with them and have learned a few tricks that have helped me get more bites, and more so, put more bass in the boat using a swim jig.
The Subtle Beast
My first mistake early on was fishing my swim jig too heavy and too fast. I know many fish them this way, but it just never seemed to be too productive. My mindset with swim jigs is that I am typically trying to imitate a meaty, tasty meal that is easy to catch. I have downsized my swimbaits from the 3/8 to 1/2-ounce baits I was using down to 1/8th, 3/16th, and 1/4-ounce versions. Though I still have plenty of 3/8th-ouncers in the box, they are the heaviest option I will go with. These days, a ¼-ounce swim jig is my starting point. Why? I’m glad you asked. The size and profile of the jig doesn’t change much, but the lighter weight just allows me to ‘feather’ the bait a little more around and through heavy cover. Instead of burning the bait, I am (for lack of a better term) ‘finessing’ the bait. This more subtle presentation has increased my bites by a minimum of 500%. This change alone has brought me from a frustrated swim jig angler to an absolute swim jig junkie over the course of a few months.
The Trailer Makes All the Difference
When you factor in the trailer options, a single swim jig can become a quite versatile tool. My jig colors boil down to Green Pumpkin, Black and Blue, White, and a Bluegill color for good measure. But the key to matching the hatch is all in the trailer as you can add any hue of color you need to.
After much experimentation, I’ve narrowed down my trailer options to a Strike King Rage Swimmer (3.25”) and a Strike King Menace. I utilize the paddle tail when I want to keep the bait up in the column more or if I really want to slow the bait down to the slowest of retrieves. This is my trailer 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I will opt for the Menace. I do not have a strict science as to why except for; if the Swimmer isn’t getting bit or if they are short striking, I will switch to the Menace.
Finessed Presentation, Strong Man Set-Up
I know I used the word ‘finesse’ to describe my presentation, but that doesn’t mean I’m going light on my tackle. I’m typically putting this bait in places most men wouldn’t want to go. Whether that be grass, wood, or what have you; I’m looking for the nastiest cover.
For my line, I’m using anywhere from a 30 to 50-pound braid. I have used 15-pound fluorocarbon when fishing around docks and in places where cover is a little more scarce, but I’ve learned that the braid does seem to affect the number of bites I get and it still offers a much higher bite-to-boat ratio.
My rod and reel set-up is a Dobyns 734 rod paired with a Bruin ELS 8.1:1 reel (see…far from the ‘finesse’ you were thinking). I use such a high-speed reel for a couple of reasons. I do not tend to fish the bait as a ‘winding’ bait. I simply pump and feather the bait with my rod tip high and pick up slack with the reel. Second, my hookup percentage has been 100% with the faster reel, because if the fish eats it coming at me, I can catch up to him quickly. And, most importantly, an 8.1:1 reel is a beast when it comes to snatching them out of the heaviest of cover.
So why should you be using swim jigs? They are extremely versatile as well as efficient, and they offer some of the most fun fishing days you could ever have.
I would like to hear from you! Be sure to find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube and drop a comment telling us why you love swim jigs!
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