On today’s show, we’re talking about the swimbait, one of the most versatile fishing lure type on the market. Swimbaits have been around for a while, but over the past five years they’ve become more popular than ever. We’re talking anywhere from one inch swimbaits for panfish, all the way up to twelve and fourteen inch swimbaits for musky and pike.
The great thing about swimbaits is, generally speaking, they are easy to fish. Cast it out and slowly swim it back to the bait and eventually something is going to bite it. Our guest host for this episode is Jeremy Smith, a very knowledgeable multi-species angler, and he’s going to give us some insights on swimbait fishing.
Jeremy: “Swimbaits are definitely one of the most versatile tools you’ll have in your tackle box. They catch fish from ice-out to ice-up and I’ve even caught fish with them through the ice. Now if you’re just getting into swimbait fishing, a great place to start is using something like a pre-rigged option. The Storm 360 GT is one of my favorites. You can get it in 2.5”, 3.5”, 4.5” and 5.5” models.
“As you get into swimbait fishing, you’re going to find yourself collecting more and more tackle. You’ll have specialized hooks to accommodate big swimbaits, different jig head styles because they catch just about anything that swims in pretty much any environment you can think of.”
Troy: “To tell you the truth, I rarely go out on the water without one swimbait tied on the end of the rod and that’s any time of year: spring, summer or fall. Now when we talk about the seasonal movements of fish, what in your opinion are some of the best times to use swimbaits?”
Jeremy: “There are certainly many tools in your tackle box that have narrow windows where they shine. Swimbaits do not fall into that category, they’re always working. Right now is actually one of the peak times to be fishing a swimbait for a couple reasons. Number one is fish are scattered this time of year. In early summer, you’re going to see a lot of fish spread out over flats. Largemouth bass and crappies, for example, can be found over developing weed beds. Throwing a small two inch swimbait for crappie can be deadly. Throwing a 3.5 inch swimbait will catch you bunch of largemouth bass in new developing weed beds. Same thing with smallmouth bass over rock flats.
“Another way to fish swimbaits besides the pull-pause or the straight retrieve is the rip jigging technique which is working excellent right now for walleyes in those newly developing cabbage beds and also on rock and gravel flats. And the other thing we’re finding is that muskies are big suckers for swimbaits, too, when we’re fishing in both open water and over the weed flats.”
Troy: “From what I’ve seen all the way from eastern Ontario to the West Coast, they work everywhere, and they’re also a great option when you’re learning new water. Besides pre-rigged options, what do you have in the boat for swimbaits?”
Jeremy: “I carry a lot of stuff in the boat, but you don’t need all that to do some really great things with swimbaits. Primarily it’s jig fishing, so I carry a couple different styles of jigs, and there’s really no wrong jig to fish with. It’s really making sure the jig has a hook that’s the appropriate size to accommodate the swimbait.
“Here’s a couple my favorite swimbait jigs. First, I have the VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig which is actually more of a mushroom head style. I also have the VMC Darter Head Jig which is a bullet head style option. What’s interesting about swimbaits is these two jigs can be the exact same weight and they’ll fish at different depths and have different actions. The mushroom head has more drag in the water. I’ll use that when I want to keep things up above the cover. The darter head works great when I want a presentation to go deeper.
“I also carry some larger sized swimbait heads for fishing bigger baits when I’m fishing pike or even bigger largemouth bass. And I do carry a number of different hooks on board as well. The VMC Underspin Swimbait Hook is a great option designed for big baits, but there are smaller models as well. You can throw these baits for largemouth bass in lily pads. I carry a handful of jigs and hooks that can accommodate just about every sized swimbait you can think of.”
Troy: “The selections and combinations are nearly endless. I saw a show you did with the Tokyo Rig with my cousin James. It was in the midsummer and you had a swimbait on the Tokyo Rig, fishing deep rocks for largemouth bass. That looked like a lot of fun, but it’s a whole other subject in itself.”
Jeremy: “Yeah, it’s another one of those places where who’d have thought that a presentation designed for fishing in heavy, dense cover could actually work on deep rocks and swimbaits can be used on the back of them. The versatility and places that swimbaits work is truly endless. They’re just a great tool that works all season long.”