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Swimbaits For Bass

Updated on July 14, 2010

An unrigged swimbait

This photo shows an unrigged soft plastic swimbait.
This photo shows an unrigged soft plastic swimbait.

Swimbaits For Bass

Swimbaits for bass! You have heard about them, read about them and maybe have even fished with one. They are gaining popularity and are creating a buzz among bass anglers throughout the country. The swimbait itself isn't new, swimbaits for bass have been around for quite a few years.  However, new technology has enabled the bass tackle companies to make new shapes, styles and colors that can match just about any bass fishing situation you may encounter. More bass anglers are realizing that the word swimbait doesn't have to describe a 10" bait designed to catch monster bass in the south or western part of the United States. With scaled down versions of those baits bass fishing enthusiasts are discovering that swimbaits catch bass just about anywhere. Smallmouth bass have been tricked into being caught on many swimbaits in the northern states and into Canada where there are abundant populations of smallies. A smelt imitating swimbait for bass present properly can trick even the wariest fish.

Types of Swimbait Bass Lures

Swimbaits for bass can be broken down into three categories. There are hard body baits, pre-rigged soft plastic baits and unrigged soft plastic baits. All of these swimbaits have their own niche but all mimic baitfish and are very productive in helping you put more fish in the boat.

Hardbodied Swimbaits

Hardbodied swimbaits are jointed and will come with treble hooks already attached. The jointed body sections are what create the action to attract the bass. These bass lures will range from 4 inches up to 10 inches. These baits are designed to imitate baitfish such as sunfish, perch, rainbow trout, smelt and shad to name a few. The smaller, hardbodied swimbait can be thrown with lighter spinning tackle and monofilament line. However, once you get up into the six inch and larger sizes it is recommended to step up to heavier casting tackle with braided line. Bass anglers that throw these bigger swimbaits prefer rods that are 7'6" to 8'0" with a softer tip but a strong backbone to the rod. The soft tip is to help cast the bait and the strong backbone further down the rod is for hooksetting power and control of the fish once it is hooked. Large baits = large bass so the proper gear is very important when dealing with big bass.

Pre-rigged Soft Swimbaits

Pre-rigged soft plastic swimbaits make great bass fishing baits. They range from 4" to 10" in size. Some will have internal weights and others won't. Again, the smaller pre-rigged swimbaits can be used just fine with spinning gear. Getting into the bigger ones of over 5" it is recommended to step up to casting gear. Being these are soft plastic baits they can be poured into many different styles so you shouldn't have too hard of a time to find the shape, color and size bait that you are looking for. Some of these swimbaits are very lifelike and some bass anglers prefer this style over the hardbait style.

Unrigged Plastic Swimbaits

Choices in unrigged plastic swimbaits are endless. Shapes, sizes, colors and tail styles or only a few items you need to consider while shopping for these bass fishing baits. You will find that an unrigged swimbait can be found in sizes from 3.5 inches up to 6.5 inches. Some of these bass lures are made with a hollow belly such as the Berkley Fishing line of Hollow Belly swimbaits. A straight tailed swimbait will come through the water with very little to no action. They are perfect for bass that may not be in an aggressive mood. Some swimbaits are offered in a split tail design which will give the bait a bit more action but not too overbearing. From split tail you go to the paddle tail. These are swimbaits in every sense of the word. The tail wobbles and has a very lifelike action that a hungry bass will have a hard time ignoring. Being these bass baits are unrigged it is up to you to rig them properly. The 3.5 to 5" baits can be rigged on a jig head. Some of the softer plastic swimbaits rigged with a jig head will have a realistic appearance. The hook will be exposed so they aren't the best in cover. There are hooks made just for swimbaits. They are widegap hooks and are available in unweighted or weighted. 4/0 to 6/0 seem to be the most popular and versatile hooks. These are stout hooks and are excellent for tackling large bass. You will find that a swimbait rigged this way can be very weedless so make a great lure to present over weeds and around cover.

Fishing With Swimbaits

It is time to go bass fishing! Keep in mind that swimbaits are very versatile lures. They do a great job imitating baitfish and come in so many colors, styles and shapes you should easily find a few that match what you need for your region. Swimbaits can be cast or trolled at various speeds and depths. If the fish are deeper or in a negative mood they can be slowed down and still have good action to them. If the bass are shallow and active, a swimbait can be sped up and "burned" shallow. Like I mentioned earlier, some can be rigged weedless and can be presented to bass in or around cover. Swimbaits are very effective in early season lily pads for shallow roaming largemouth bass before the pads get too thick to get a bait through. These bass lures are very easy to use. If you are taking your kids out or someone that hasn't fished alot these are great baits to have them fish with. It doesn't get much easier than casting the bait out and reeling it back in. These bass baits catch fish and you know how much kids and newcomers like to hook fish! If you are in an area that you would throw a spinnerbait for bass give a swimbait a try instead if you haven't already. You just might be surprised at the results. Swimbaits are one of the most versatile bass baits to use and appeal to largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Remember to have fun on the water and practice catch and release.


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