Out of all the bass fishing techniques used these days, swimbait fishing has to be one of the most complicated type of lures out there, both to get used to and be successful in doing so. Or so I used to think myself years ago.
I think intimidation is the key factor in this. I certainly understand why. You take something totally new and 10 times bigger than what most folk fish on a daily basis, give them all these rules to follow, tell them they need all new equipment to even think about throwing them - and then there’s the cost. It’s enough to make you run away with your hands flailing in the air.
As with everything in fishing I preach keeping it simple. I have spent the last couple of years narrowing my swimbait box down from an unmanageble cluster down to a few Plano boxes, and here are my favorites (in no particular order).
The 6” Castaic original boot tail
Coming in at 2.435 oz
This bait hands down has caught me more bass than any other swimbait I own, in particular spotted bass. For some reason this is the best spotted bass swimbait I have had experience with. I like using this bait on a relatively fast retrieve and just bumping it into anything I can find submerged in the depths: points, rocks, trees, carp, whatever. I particularly like to parallel steep rocky banks with this bait.
The Lunker Punker Jr
Coming in at 7” and 2.700 oz
Talk about a versatile bait, this topwater wood swimbait can be used on just about any body of water anywhere and the size is not overwhelming. This bait in my opinion is best at a good spook-like walk but can do many things depending on water conditions. I have always been a fan of wood plugs so that is what really sold me on this bait more than anything.
8” Huddlston Deluxe
Coming in at 8” and 4.200 oz
The Granddaddy of swimbaits, no swimbait box is complete without it. This is the bait that really sold me on swimbait fishing as a whole. With the rate of fall system built into the baits it really helped put a new swing on big bait fishing.
Coming in at 6” and 2.055 oz
Just when you thought your swimbait box was complete, this thing came out. I immediately got a hold of one. Well, I was not one of the people that paid over $100 for one on eBay, I did hold back a little. I did not even have a period of being not-so-sure about this bait. I caught fish on it the first day. The second time out I had a 7 pounder in the first hour.
3:16 Mission Fish 6” and 7”
Coming in at 1.455 for the 6” and 1.885 for the 7”
This bait lets you throw a swimbait in all those places you grew up fishing for bass, in the thick stuff. I have had my best swimbait days on Clear Lake with this bait. Just add wind and cover and you’re on your way to one heck of a day. I just realized the other day I had not fished a spinner bait in over a year and all I have to say is I blame the Mission Fish.
Matt Lures Bluegill
Coming in at 5” and 1.820
This is the Huddleston of bluegill baits; this bait has to be part of your swimbait arsenal. It is so versatile; it has made its name as a bed bait but think about it: the blue gill is top on the menu of a largemouth bass diet. Any time of the year this thing shines from 1 to 40 feet of water. It can be fished fast, slow, hopped dropped dropped suspended you name it. Just don’t leave the ramp without it.
Coming in at 7.5“and 2.475 oz
This bait is one of the heavy-hitters in northern California and really brought a lot of people over to the dark side. I have to admit I don’t use it quite as much as I should but when it does come out of my box it rarely disappoints me. This is an awesome shallow bait, big but not cumbersome.
3:16 wake Jr
Coming in at 7.5 “ and 3.165 oz
Another bait with a cult following like the Hudd. All I have to say is if you have to beg, borrow, or steal to get his bait it will be worth it. Mickey is one of my idols when it comes to bait design, and my swimbait box was not complete before this bait was in it, and neither is yours. This is a topwater wake bait with a plastic lip.
Jerry Rago Baby tool
Coming in at 8” and 4.085 oz
This bait is made by another innovator in swimbait design: Jerry Rago, and is the culmination of years of design all in one bait. If you do not own one of these baits I am sorry. It is not a bait that is built for everyday fishing, but more of a trophy-hunter bait. I have caught just a handful of fish on it but I have to say: you will have to pry mine from my cold dead hands.
JSJ Tackle Snack Size Trout
Coming in at 7” and 2.200 oz
You did not think I would leave my bait out of this list did you? This is a topwater bait that I designed, redesigned, tested, and went back to the drawing board about 5 times with before I was happy. After years of fishing all my favorite baits I decided to try my hand at bait design myself. This is what I came up with, a 100% hand, made completely in the US. I took my favorite aspects of baits I owned and added some twists. I designed a bait that was big but not too heavy, a bait that could be effectively ripped, walked, jumped, turned, and just about anything your imagination can come up with.
Throw all the rules out the window and just go fishing every once in a while.