The Versatility of the Soft Plastic Swimbait
Big Bass Baits, Jig Trailers and in between, the Soft Plastic Swim Bait Can do it All
By: Glenn Walker
When you say the word swimbait around a bass fisherman, many times their thoughts go to big baits that cost a lot of money and only work for targeting big bass. However, the soft plastic swimbait is also a great lure option to target big bass in a variety of fish holding cover.
The soft plastic swimbait has also evolved into a versatile option to present bass with a natural presentation in numerous situations.
One of the ways that soft plastic swimbaits, both solid and hollow bodied can be rigged is on a Texas-rig. By rigging your baits this way you are able to fish the bait through heavy cover, thus presenting a very natural looking presentation in the dense cover that bass live in.
Some of the areas that this presentation shines in include, shallow vegetation, such as eel grass flats and lily pad fields. You can fish this bait along the edge and let it just tick the vegetation or cast it into the grass and bring it through the cover; this will look like a baitfish or bluegill fleeing a predator.
The two other areas of shallow water cover that a Texas-rigged swimbait is a good choice are laydowns and boat docks. The bass that inhabit these areas see countless jigs, spinnerbaits and even shallow running crankbaits. So if you can present something different to them, you are likely to have some great days on the water. Around boat docks there is a plethora of baitfish and bluegill, so a swimbait mimicking that forage will tempt bass to come out from underneath the dock to hit your presentation.
Some of the tackle that you’ll need for this presentation includes a hook, the two options you have include a standard extra wide gap hook with a small tungsten weight in front of it, or a specialty swimbait hook that has a corkscrew up at the hook eye and a weight on the shaft or bend of the hook. My two choices would be a Lazer TroKar Magworm (TK120) 4/0 or 5/0 hook, depending on the size of the swimbait, with a 1/16 or 1/8 oz. tungsten weight pegged in front of the hook. I’ll use this setup when fishing in and around vegetation, as it will come through the cover with ease. When fishing around boat docks or laydowns, I’ll opt to go with a swimbait hook like the TroKar Magnum Weight Swimbait (TK170) hook.
Regardless of which rigging option I go with, I’ll use a long 7’6” Witch Doctor Tackle Voodoo II Medium Heavy Power Fast Action rod. I can make long casts, feel exactly what my bait is doing and then have the power to get that bass out of the heavy cover. For line, I’ll either use 15 or 17 lb. test Seaguar Inviz X Fluorocarbon line, as it is very abrasion resistant and I can make long casts with it.
Another reason that the swimbait is so versatile is that it makes a great trailer for several lures. Using a swimbait as a trailer on a swim jig, vibrating jig or spinnerbait is something different than a standard grub, thus giving your bait a bigger profile and different than what other anglers are presenting to the bass.
Since the lures I mentioned above are used to replicate baitfish or bluegills the majority of the time, adding a swimbait as a trailer makes a lot of sense because it completes the lure package and makes it look very natural in the water. Two of my favorites are the Zoom Swimmin’ Super Fluke Jr. for a smaller lure profile in the water, or the bigger Boot Tail Fluke to show the bass a big meal.
Selecting colors for swimbaits as a jig trailer can go in two different directions. The first being, match the hatch as they say, meaning if you are fishing in clear water and the bass want a natural presentation, then go with a swimbait that looks like what the bass are eating. If they are eating shad, go with a shad colored swimbait, and if they are eating bluegills, go with bait that has more of a brown, green and blue color pattern to it.
The other color selection possibility is when fishing in stained water, go with a swimbait that stands out and brings attention to your lure. Such as when fishing a white swim jig or spinnerbait in the spring on a stained river, use a chartreuse colored swimbait, this will really make your bait pop and catch the bass’s attention.
A subtle soft plastic swimbait that I rely on is a soft plastic jerkbait, like the Zoom Super Fluke. This bait has the body of a baitfish and a uniquely shaped fork tail, that when left still, will move ever so slightly. Fishing a soft plastic jerkbait like this is ideal when an active school of bass has shut down feeding. Casting a white soft plastic jerkbait out to the school, letting it sink down, and then ever so slightly working it back to the boat with minor twitches of the rod tip will drive hungry bass wild.
I will also employ a soft plastic jerkbait in areas where other topwater presentations would get hung up. A weedless soft plastic jerkbait can be fished through heavy vegetation and dead sticked in the sweet spot to coax a tight-lipped bass into biting.
It is important to use an extra wide gap hook when fishing a soft plastic jerkbait, as the bait has a lot of plastic that needs to slide up the hook when you set the hook. If I’m fishing light line on a spinning setup, I’ll use the standard wire Lazer Trokar TK-110 Extra Wide Gap, but when I’m fishing around heavy cover and with baitcasting gear, I’ll go up to the TK-120 Magworm hook.
If you are looking to add a new fishing presentation to your list of options this season, give swimbaits a shot. They can help you catch bass in tough situations, along with help increase your chances of catching that big bass you’ve been looking for.
Glenn Walker has been fishing tournaments for over ten years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. He keeps busy fishing events across Minnesota and on the Mississippi River. Glenn’s sponsors include: Bass Boat Technologies, Humminbird, Mercury Marine, Minn Kota, Plano, Rayjus, Seaguar, Snag Proof, The Rod Glove, TroKar, War Eagle Custom Lures, Witch Doctor Tackle, Wright & McGill and Zoom Baits. For more information check out glennwalkerfishing.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/glennwalkerfishing.