By: Shaye Baker
A swim jig is one of the more weedless baits an angler can fish with. With a built in weedguard and pointed nose, this lure is designed to come through and over cover better than almost any other bait on the market. Able to venture through areas you wouldn’t dare cast other baits, swim jigs have become the all-terrain vehicles of the bass fisherman’s tackle box and are the go-to bait selection for savvy anglers looking to haul big fish out of dense cover. But these baits also work well around sparse cover, and even out in open water. There are certain tweaks you can do to your swim jig to set yourself up for success depending on the type of cover and depth at which you want to fish.
In this piece, we’ll look through a few of these modifications and talk a little about the gear you’ll need to swim a jig. Let’s get to it. Swimming a jig in shallow, thick cover versus deeper, open water - Shallow cover is probably the style of fishing most associated with a swim jig. Many anglers think of thick cover, usually vegetation, and big bass that want to stay buried up in it. As previously stated the weedless characteristics of a swim jig make it the perfect selection for shoreline water willow and reeds, as well as topped out or submerged vegetations like coontail, milfoil, eel grass and hydrilla. For this task, you’ll want a beefy swim jig with a stout hook, like the Dirty Jigs No-Jack Swim Jig for example. And when fishing in these situations, you’ll almost always want to pair you swim jig with braided line.
Braid in the 40- pound test range gives you a line that’s strong enough to haul big bass out of dense cover, and the braid is also able to cut through fairly stringy vegetation. If you’re skipping a swim jig under docks, or fishing one out in open water all together, it’s a good idea to swap over to fluorocarbon line. Fluoro works better in these situations for multiple reasons. For starters, the line is less visible. Even in clear water situations, braided line disappears in the fray of thick vegetation. But in open water, the braid sticks out like a sore thumb. Fluoro also sinks, where braid floats. So when wanting to fish a swim jig a little deeper, the fluoro again wins the day. As for the weight of the jig, 3/8- ounce is a great all-around size for fishing over and through cover in less than 5 feet of water. When venturing deeper, it’s more efficient to select a jig that’s 1/2- ounce or even heavier at times.
Color and trailer selection - Color and trailer selection depend heavily on the forage you’re wanting to imitate and the depth you’re wanting to fish your bait. If you’re fishing around shad or herring, you’ll want to lean more towards the whites and chartreuses in muddy water and lighter translucent skirts in clearer water. If you’re fishing around a lot of bluegill and bream, dark colors like black and blue and green pumpkin work well in stained water as well as clear. You can tailor your trailer selection to match the forage you’re fishing around too, using small paddle tail swimbaits and grubs to mimic shad and even blue gill. But the right trailer gives you the ability to do far more than match the hatch. Even though craw style trailers don’t really help your jig profile match that of the baitfish you’re fishing around, these trailers can help you more efficiently fish your swim jig in certain situations. Wide craw trailers have the ability to add lift to your bait, the same way wings help a plane rise into the air. So when fishing around topped out vegetation or grass that’s submerged just beneath the surface, it’s a good idea to go with a craw-style trailer. This will help you keep your bait high in the water column without having to fish it faster. And the converse applies when wanting to fish your bait deeper. Small swimbaits and grubs offer less resistance and create less lift, which will allow your bait to get deeper in the water column. This is beneficial when you want to swim a jig in deeper submerged vegetation, through laydowns or even out in open water.
Gear needed - Baitcasting gear is best when fishing a swimjig, and a medium heavy rod with a soft tip but plenty of backbone is ideal. A rod like this in the 7- to 7- foot, 3- inch range works really well with a swimjig. The backbone is often needed to pull fish out of cover, but the soft tip is crucial in multiple ways. When swimming a jig, you’ll want to constantly impart a little action by twitching your rod tip as you reel. And the softer tip helps when making roll casts and skipping your jig as well. But perhaps the most important reason to choose a medium heavy action rod shows up when you get bit. Though it makes sense to go with a stiffer rod when fishing heavy cover at times, a stiff tip when fishing a swim jig will allow the fish to feel you before they can get the bait good, or you’ll even feel the bite a little too quick and snatch the bait away from the fish. The softer tip of a medium heavy rod allows the fish to get the bait good and the rod to load up on the hookset, which leads to a far better hookup ratio.
In conclusion - Swim jigs are extremely effective baits to use throughout much of the water column and work well around all sorts of cover. You can adjust the speed and depth at which you can efficiently fish a swim jig by altering the weight of the jig, the style of trailer you use and even the type of line. Use braid in shallow, heavy cover and fluorocarbon out in deeper, clearer water. Wide trailers help the bait rise in the water column, narrower trailers allow it to sink and be reeled faster. And you’ll want to pay close attention to your rod selection, as the right or wrong rod can make all the difference with this style of fishing.