There are all sorts of different lures on the market, all offering different styles and actions, promising extraordinary results. One of these baits is the swim jig, the spinnerbait with no blades. At first glance there's really not much to a swim jig, a cone shaped head, a silicone skirt, weed guard and a stout hook, but once you couple this with an action filled trailer and add some tried and true techniques, this simple bait turns into a bass catching machine.
**Above Picture: Two Super K Swim Jigs in black chartreuse and white flash.
Being a self proclaimed jig fisherman, this technique is actually somewhat new to my repertoire. To be honest, I never really saw all the hype in the bait and just thought a crankbait or a spinnerbait would be a better bet, therefore I ignored most of the rumors and never really gave the technique a fair shake. It wasn't until this past spring when I signed up to fish the Bassmaster Weekend Series, where all the events where scheduled on different pools of the Mississippi River. A swim jig, amongst others, is known on the river to be an effective method to catch nice limits of both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Going into the season I hadn't had a whole lot of previous experience fishing the Ole Miss and after finishing 2nd in the angler of the year points standings the year prior fishing popular lakes throughout northern Minnesota, I was looking for any advantage I could get.
I made a sincere commitment to myself that I would take the time and figure out why this bait was so popular. It didn't take long and it quickly became one of my go to techniques and not only did I find success on the river, but also found the swim jig to be equally as lethal on lakes and reservoirs. This bait straight up catches fish and big ones at that. My first time really using it was on a trip to pool 2 of the Mississippi where I managed to catch 10 to 15 solid keeper largemouth, while my two friends couldn't buy a bite on any other bait.
A month later, I counted on a Super K Swim Jig to help catch some prespawn smallmouth at the first event of the Bassmaster Weekend Series and was able to ride the success to a first place finish. When it came to a reaction bite, I couldn't find any bait that could better perform and the quality of these fish was surprising. Being a jig fisherman, I've always said that jigs are big fish baits and the swim jig is no different.
Swim jigs are made of five key elements, a weighted head, weedguard, skirt, hook and some sort of trailer. In my opinion, Super K offers the best version on the market. Some of their qualities include a weedless cone shaped head along with a custom hand tied skirt. The hook is all muscle using a 5/0 Gamakatsu Round Bend that gets custom bent to 28.5 degrees.
Since this is generally a shallow water presentation, you'll want a rod with both a light tip capable of throwing 1/4 oz. swim jigs, as well as a strong backbone capable of pulling big fish through thick vegetation. I use a 7' heavy action baitcasting rod and a fast 7.1:1 gear ratio reel. I find most often that 15 lb. fluorocarbon works best, but if I'm in the real thick stuff I'll opt for 30lb. braid, to insure that I get the fish through the mess without breaking off. Also a sensitive rod is real important to me because depending on the bite, a swim jig strike can feel awfully similar to that of a worm bite. All you feel is a "tick" as the bass engulfs the bait from behind, knocking slack into your line. This is also why line choice is so important, you really only want to be using fluorocarbon or braid, because mono has way to much stretch, making hook sets a real gamble.
After having much success throwing swim jigs on the river, I decided I needed to start incorporating this method on some natural Minnesota lakes. I really wasn't too surprised with my findings, swim jigs catch fish on any body of water, the key is to match the forage that the fish are biting. Usually rivers and southern reservoirs require your standard shad colors as well as darker hues when the water muddies up. Lakes on the other hand, require more of a bluegill or perch presentation. Gregg Kizewski, creator of the Super K Swim Jig, has daily success fishing swim jigs in lakes and has really turned me onto the tactics in which he approaches this style of fishing. "On natural northern lakes, I look for weight in regards to my swim jig fishing", explains Gregg. "Many of our northern lakes have weeds in 8 to 20 feet, soft plastics and flippin' jigs are not the only methods to pull fish out of these deep weeds. Often times the fish will want a moving bait and a 3/4 oz. swim jig with a heavier weedguard is made to order for this application."
Being that bass feed on prey by detecting vibrations in the water column through the use of their lateral lines,this is what makes the trailer on a swim jig so important. The trailer is what gives life to the swim jig, by imparting a vibrating action into the water. Grubs tend to be the most popular choice amongst swim jig fisherman, especially in clear water or when the fish have been conditioned to other more flamboyant baits. depending on the conditions, there are other options that can be more effective. When the water's dirty, I like to use a bait with dual appendages like a Sizmic Toad or a Zoom Speed Craw, largely because these baits will disperse more water, making it easier for a bass to locate it. Also baits like a Basstrix Paddle Tail or a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad, provide a great look when bass are hitting larger prey like gizzard shad or tilapia.
When retrieving these bait's it's important that you play with your speeds. Most of the time I get 'em by using a slow standard retrieve and occasionally killing the bait and letting it free fall as if to suggest it's injured, yet at times burning the bait will get the best response. Smallmouth are especially vulnerable to this tactic, a fast retrieve can really activate a school of rogue smallies in a quick hurry.
Next time you're out on your favorite body of water, pick up an extra rod and tie up a swim jig. If you're not a believer now, you will be in no time.