Swimbait Fishing Guide
Big Baits means Big Fish. This has been the motto of many dedicated swimbait fishermen for years. Large soft plastic and hard body baits have long been under the radar of most fishermen but now they are making their way into the mainstream market. Attention to detail and large profiled baits offer anglers one of the most realistic lure presentations to trick finicky bass into biting.
Swimbaits range in price from $2 to over $200 and offer anglers a huge variety of options depending on which species they are fishing and time of year. Specialized rods and reels provide anglers with premium tackle to handle big baits and even bigger fish. To get started, we recommend first choosing which bait and size you want to use. You can use this to help select which rod, reel, and line to use to perfectly compliment your swimbait choice. Check out some of our tips and info below to get an understanding of large swimbait fishing and the gear you need to target giant bass.
Hard Body Swimbaits
Hard Body Swimbaits come in all shapes and sizes. Jointed glidebaits and swimbaits have been a staple in the swimbait fishing world for years as well as one-piece topwater style baits. These jointed swimbaits typically swim just below the surface or mid-water column and offer a huge variety of color options and profiles. The swimbait you choose depends on where you are fishing and for what species. For example a trout patterned hardbait will be suitable for lakes containing trout whereas a shad profiled bait would be best suited for lakes containing large threadfin or gizzard shad. Learn your local lakes and study what the large forage fish is that these giant bass feed on.
Soft Body Swimbaits
Soft Plastic swimbaits have become more popular across the country. They are effective all year and offer a endless variety. From 2" to over 10", there is a swimbait to match the preferred forage fish of those hungry bass. Typically fished between mid-water column and on the bottom, soft plastic swimbaits can present a more realistic action and presentation in certain situations. Many swimbait manufacturers have taken their traditional lures and created "Magnum" sizes to appeal to larger fish. Keitech and Basstrix are just a couple offering large versions of their most proven swimbait designs. Typically, soft plastic swimbaits don't come with hooks, so it's important to make sure you pick up swimbait hooks suited for your swimbait of choice.
Choosing swimbait line is entirely bait specific. As a rule of thumb for swimbaits 2oz or bigger, 18lb line and above is a good start. Baits 2-4oz can usually be fished with 20lb line, 4-6oz baits with 25lb line, and 30lb line is recommended for baits over 6oz. It's important to keep in mind that a heavier bait can be tricky to cast, and you may have to change your casting style and be more conscious of the bait as you throw it out. Casting too hard or from an awkward angle can put added stress on both the line and your rod. Monofilament is a great option for large swimbaits, but some anglers prefer fluorocarbon when fishing ultra-clear water or when fishing highly pressured fish. When fishing a large topwater lure, braid is recommended for both its sensitivity and buoyancy.
Once you have chosen a swimbait, you'll want to find a swimbait rod that can handle the lure. The weight of the lure dictates what size rod you will need to throw it comfortably. For most small swimbaits under 1oz, heavier bass rods can be used. For heavier swimbaits, the lure-weight rating on the rod is definitely something to pay attention to as it will tell you what size lure it can handle. Ideally, choose a rod where the weight of your swimbait is somewhere in the middle of the rod rating. For example, if the lure weighs 4oz look for a rod rated 3oz-6oz. Swimbait rods will often give a brief description of which style or size of swimbaits the rod is built for. Swimbait rods usually have a more moderate action than most other bass rods, meaning they will bend and flex farther down the rod blank allowing for better control of big fish and a better chance of getting to the boat. Swimbait fishermen want to make long casts and use a long parabolic action so these specialized rods tend to be longer, typically ranging from 7'5" up to and over 8'.
Most major reel manufacturers now offer some sort of heavy-duty swimbait reel. Casting and retrieving heavy lures takes a toll on your reel and these specialized swimbait reels offer the performance and durability to fish large baits with confidence. The three main attributes to look for in a swimbait reel are a large spool, increased drag, and heavy-duty gears and bearings to handle throwing heavy baits and reeling in big fish. Round reels like the Shimano Calcutta were the standard for fishing large baits but today there are more options to choose from. Many reel manufacturers offer 300 sized spools in a low-profile style reel. This blends the perfect balance of both lightweight comfort in the hand with the heavy-duty internal components to handle the stress of swimbait fishing. Line capacity is important when fishing heavier line. At minimum, having a reel which holds at least 150yds of 18lb test is a recommended allowing enough line to fish heavier line without running low on the spool. Most specialized swimbait reels offer enough drag to handle big fish, but 15lbs minimum is recommended.
There are a wide variety of swimbait heads available to be paired with soft plastic swimbaits. Bladed swimbait heads can be used for added flash in murky water, or standard jigheads can be used for a natural presentation. Keep in mind, this category covers top-hook jigheads, ideal for fishing open water or areas less prone to snagging. If fishing around cover, look for weedless swimbait hooks described below. Swimbait jigheads typically have weighted heads to get the swimbait down to depth. There is a huge variety of jigheads available to perfectly match your swimbait of choice.
Weedless Swimbait Hooks
Weedless swimbait hooks are a good recommended when fishing large plastic swimbaits around cover. A heavy-duty version of a traditional Extra Wide Gap (EWG) hook, most of these hooks come rigged with screw-locks on the nose of the hook to keep your soft-plastic swimbait in place cast after cast. Having a few of these hooks in various sizes gives any swimbait angler added versatility and rigging options.
Want to add some extra flash to your presentation? Need a little extra weight to get your lure down to the perfect depth? There are a vcariety of accessories designed to enhance your setup. Set your swimbait presentation apart from the rest of the field by fully customizing your bait to your liking. This section also covers extra rigging parts to have just in case you need something re-rigged on the water.
Swimbait Rod & Reel Packages