Competing in pro-am fishing tournaments like the FLW events, I am randomly paired with many sorts of amateur fishermen from a wide range of fishing backgrounds. Many of them are highly skilled, having refined skills and techniques that are extremely productive. Therefore, I always take notice of what they bring in my boat for tackle and how they fish it. One thing that I have observed in recent years is the many amateurs boarding my Ranger boat with a rod rigged with a 3 to 4-inch swim bait. And they are catching bass behind me with it!
Typically I see a 3 to 4-inch swimbait on some sort of jighead weighing 3/16 to 3/8 oz. Sometimes it may be an underspin style jighead, in which case it may weigh more. The Keitech brand is a very popular swimbait, but there are many brands that are very similar and equally productive.
Most commonly this lure setup in this size range is applied to smallmouth and spotted bass fisheries. However I’ve seen amateurs in my boat successfully catch largemouths with it as well. I think the bottomline for the most success is to use it in fisheries where the bass feed heavily on baitfish like shad, blue-back herring, smelt, alewives, and so on.
It is a very simple lure to fish. Cast it out, count it down, and then reel it in. Counting it down means that an angler counts the seconds once the lure splashes, before cranking the lure back towards the boat. A long countdown is necessary for bass positioned deep, while a short countdown is adequate for bass in shallow water.
Fine-tuning the presentation to its most productive level can be tricky and is an exercise in trial-and-error. Variables to experiment with are the swimbait’s brand, size, and color, the jighead’s weight, the length of countdown, and the speed of retrieve. Knowing the depth that the bass are holding will greatly help narrow down choices.
A good rod selection is a 7-foot, medium or medium/light action rod. Use your own personal preference as to whether a baitcasting or spinning rod is chosen. I think either selection does well with swimbaits of this size and weight.
Regarding the line, use whatever material (monofilament, braid, fluorocarbon) that you are comfortable with. I view 10-pound test as a very adaptable size for this technique. I definitely would not go more than 12-pound or less than 6-pound. Line that is too heavy has thicker diameter and is more difficult to countdown with swimbaits this size. Line that is too light runs a greater risk of breaking.
Make sure that you have some glue for securing the swimbait to the jighead. Most jigheads have built-in keepers to hold plastics, but many swimbaits are very soft and easily slip past the keeper after some use. Glue will provide much greater mileage with each swimbait before needing replacement on the jighead.
The 3 to 4 inch swimbait has gained a huge following in the last few years especially regarding smallmouth and spotted bass. Amateurs fishing out of the back of my boat have done well catching bass behind me with this presentation. And of course, in the limited time I have been using this technique, I have found successes as well. I am greatly looking forward to experimenting with it in more situations In the coming months!