The word swimbait means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Someone could be talking about anything from a 3-inch Keitech to a 10-inch Huddleston. And even those two don’t really bookend the genre of swimbaits. There are some still smaller and some larger than those two.
Then there are the different types and ways to rig swimbaits: boot tail, paddle tail, weightless, weighted, hollow body, glide bait, and the list goes on and on. But this is a swimbait 101 piece, so we’re going to keep it pretty simple and talk about one type of swimbait that’s simple to rig, simple to use and gets lots of bites— the small, paddle tail swimbait.
What is a Paddle Tail Swimbait
The term "paddle tail" refers to the backend of the swimbait where you’ll find a small tail that catches water kind of like a paddle. As the swimbait is reeled through the water, the pressure from the passing water pushes the tail left and then right making for a nice and tight little swimming action.
There’s also a little bit of rocking back and forth of the body of the bait as the tail kicks along. So between the kicking tail and the rocking body of the bait, you get a really nice swimming action that mimics a small baitfish like a shad really well.
How to Rig a Paddle Tail Swimbait
Most small paddle tail swimbaits come without a hook in them, though some do come pre-rigged with a jighead or weight and hook built in. But for the majority, like this Z-Man MinnowZ for instance, comes without a hook. So you need to select a jighead to go with the swimbait. There’s a pretty wide range of jigheads available for this style of bait as well, and the preference often depends on the angler.
I’ll personally often use a little bit larger jighead myself, preferring to have the hook go a little farther back towards the tail of the bait for short striking fish that are just biting the tail of the bait and not getting the whole swimbait. But many anglers prefer to use a smaller jighead with a shorter shank hook so that the body has more action to it. Since the shank of the hook kind of acts like the spine of the bait, there’s less rigidity to the bait with the shorter shank than there is with the longer one.
Best Gear for Fishing a Paddle Tail Swimbait
A small paddle tail swimbait is great for any angler at any skill level because it can be fished on spinning gear, a baitcaster or a closed faced reel like a Zebco. The type of gear you’ll want to use really just depends on your skillset, where you’re fishing, the size fish you’re fishing for and the size line you’re using.
For lighter lines, you’ll want to go with a spinning reel or closed face reel. If you’re comfortable with a baitcaster, you can rig a paddle tail swimbait up on it as well with a little larger line. Around a 7’ medium to medium heavy baitcasting rod or spinning rod both pair well depending on which type of reel you go with.
How to Fish a Paddle Tail
This bait is so great because it is so easy to fish. Simply cast it out and reel it in. But you’ll want to reel it pretty slow so it will stay down. And depending on how deep you’re fishing, you might have to count it down a little. This simply means to let the bait fall for a few seconds before you begin reeling it in. So if you’re wanting to fish the bait 10 feet deep for example, try counting to 10 seconds and that should get you pretty close.
Since this is a pretty finessy technique, you’ll want to use it primarily in clearer water, though you can fish it in water with a little stain to it. For muddy water situations, you’re better off going with a spinnerbait, squarebill, or some other lure that gives off a good bit of vibration. But if the water clarity allows for it, in ponds, creeks, lakes and really any body of water, fishing a simple paddle tail swimbait like this is a great way to catch fish.