Tips For Using Swimbaits Year-Round to Catch More Bass

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Tips For Using Swimbaits Year-Round to Catch More Bass

As an all-season imitator of bait fish big and small, there’s no wrong time of year to throw a swimbait. 

However, the smaller paddle tail swimbaits in early spring and late fall really excel at getting bites. 

You won’t find me out fishing places like St. Clair in the spring without at least two different kinds tied on. There are so many different ways to fish them, but finding the right size, weight, and presentation are key. 

For the sake of keeping this article focused on spring and fall bass fishing, we’ll focus on a proven technique that is deadly for both smallmouth and largemouth. 

Deer Lake Largemouth Bass
Photo via Rick Vogelbacher

Typically, I will use one of 3 different head sizes when fishing swimbaits

  • 1/4 ounce
  • 3/8 ounce
  • 1/2 ounce

I really don’t think the style of the head matters as much unless you’re fishing around heavy vegetation. 

Over the years, I’ve used football heads, Dobyn’s swimbait heads, Strike King, and several others. 

What is definitely noteworthy is the weight. You can find that a slower descent will trigger strikes, and sometimes a faster descent to the bottom will trigger strikes. 

Choosing the Right Color

I do like to try to match the head color on the jig to the swimbait if possible. Anything to make it appear more natural helps. 

If you are having trouble finding an exact or close match, you can even paint some colored nail polish on it to match it up.

Colors of swimbaits are also key when targeting bass. I’ve had good success with my partner fishing lakes in northern Michigan with an alewife color. 

When we go down to southern Michigan lakes, or into Ohio and Indiana, the fish don’t always prefer that color. If I was given just one color and had to use it all the time it would be ayu.  

The reason I choose ayu color is because it mimics so many different fish species (including perch, baby bass, green sunfish, sunfish, or even bluegill). 

St. Clair favorites for me are white with a silver flash, or ayu.  Some of my biggest smallmouth have come from that lake on swimbaits. 

Nailing the Presentation

7 Pound Bass
Photo via Rick Vogelbacher

Presentation has to be the most important thing when targeting these bass in the spring and fall. 

If you’re fishing clear water, you want to make as long of a cast as possible as the fish can be skittish.  You will let your lure sink to the bottom before starting your retrieve. 

Now, it’s key to watch your line on the lure descent because sometimes you will see the line jump. This probably means a fish hit it on the fall. 

Once the lure falls to the bottom and you don’t get a hit on the initial fall, it’s time to start the retrieve. 

There are two effective ways of doing this spring/fall presentation. 

The first is the drag-and-pull method. You sweep your rod to the side in a slow steady motion for about three feet and let the lure fall back to the bottom. 

Drag-and-pull is really effective if you’re drifting along with a drift sock or slowly drifting with the boat along a flat.  The key is to let it stop and hit the bottom.  The hit usually comes as you start your drag and pull. 

The second method involves four or fives cranks of the reel and killing it, letting it your bait fall back to the bottom.

Once again, the hit often occurs as you start your retrieve again after killing it. 

This really gives the illusion that the small bait fish (which is your swimbait) is trying to swim and get away.  It causes a reaction strike from the bass. 

Your next time out, go ahead and give this method a try for bass fishing

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