3 Ways to Rig a Swimbait

3 Ways to Rig a Swimbait


You can do a lot with a soft plastic swimbait. From fishing one weedless and weightless over top matted vegetation, to slow rolling one out in 20 feet of water on a jighead—there’s a way to rig a swimbait to catch almost any bass in the water. And that’s why we’re going to look at three common ways that you can use a swimbait to catch monsterbass today.

Jighead -

One of the more common ways to fish a soft plastic swimbait is by pairing it with a jighead. From small Keitech swimbaits to mid-size baits like the Bruiser Baits Slimmer Swimmer all the way up to larger soft plastic swimbaits like the 6-inch Basstrix Paddle Tail—all of these lures work well on the back of a jighead.

You’ll want to select the size of your jighead and hook depending on the size of your bait and the depth you’re wanting to fish. Something like a 3.3-inch Keitech Fat Swing Impact works well on a 3/16th VMC Hybrid Swimbait Jighead. You can fish this combination effectively down to about 15 feet. But you’ll want to step up to a 1/2- or even 3/4- ounce jighead with a larger 5/0 hook with the Basstrix and other larger swimbaits that you want to slow roll on deep ledges.

When fishing these baits, just keep them on a steady retrieve. You’ll sometimes feel the bite if the fish hits the lure from the side or from the front, or if it turns quickly after the strike. But quite often, you’ll just feel your line go slack, as the bass swims up behind the bait and over takes it. In any case, the exposed hook helps increase the hookup ratio as it doesn’t have to tear through any plastic. So a simple swing hookset is usually sufficient to hook the fish well.

Weedless -

Rigging a swimbait weedless is a great way to catch fish shallow. You can take a 4.75-inch Bruiser Baits Super Swimmer or something even a little bigger like the Zoom Uni Toad and rig it weedless on a 4/0, 5/0 or even 6/0 EWG hook to create a presentation that you can toss into the thickest cover imaginable.

This is a great way to catch fish around the spawn, but you can also catch a few lingering big bass shallow with a bait rigged this way in the summertime too. Keep in mind that the hook will need to be tucked into the soft plastic of the lure (or rigged weedless) so that you can reel it over and through dense vegetation and other cover. But, you’ll also need that hook to tear through the plastic on the hookset to stick into a fish.

So when rigging a bait this way, run the hook point into the nose of the bait about 1/4- to 1/2- inch and then out the bottom of the bait. Slide the lure up onto the bend of the hook. Then put a little bit of a bow in the back of the bait and slide the hook point through the belly of the bait and all the out the back. You want the bait to be able to straighten all the way out when you do this (which is why you put the bow in the back of the bait before running the hook through it).

Now, to make the rig weedless, take the hook point and tuck it back under the back of the bait slightly, or “skin hook it”. This will have the hook point poised and ready to stick the fish, while also keeping it tucked away as the bait comes through the cover. When you get a bite, pause a second so the bass can eat it good, and then set the hook hard.

As a Trailer -

Swimbaits also pair perfectly as trailers with buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and ChatterBaits. These lures work fine on their own, but their profiles are really completed by adding a soft plastic swimbait to them. And the Z-Man ElaZtech MinnowZ swimbait is one of the best swimbaits for this task.

Since these baits are made of ElaZtech, they are super stretchy and extremely durable. You can slide one up as a trailer on the back of a ChatterBait for instance and fish trip after trip without ever having to re-rig a new trailer. This is not the case with most swimbaits, as the tails of the more traditional soft plastic lures often fall victim to short-striking fish.

One thing you’ll want to be aware of though, the ElaZtech material can be a little funky to work with in the the beginning. Because it is so stretchy, the baits can get little kinks in them if you try to slide the lure up onto the hook in stages. Instead, you’ll need to run the hook through the nose, through the body and all the way out the swimbait’s back all in one motion. This is the only way to ensure a straight bait and a true running presentation that doesn’t cause the bait to spin or blow out in the water.

In Conclusion -

These are just a few of the different ways you can rig soft plastic swimbaits to catch bass. Baits like this are well suited for nose hooking on drop shots. They work well on Tokyo rigs and wobble heads too. And you can even use these baits on underspins. 

But if you take a swimbait and rig it one of these three ways we talked about today, you’ll stand a pretty good chance of getting bit anytime of the year throughout a good chunk of the water column. The weedless rigged baits obviously work best along the surface. Then swimbaits on jigheads can be used to catch the deeper and suspended fish. And finally pairing swimbaits with other lures as trailers gives your something for fishing the area in between.

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