The swimbait is all the rage in today’s fishing world. This type of lure glides through the water when retrieved giving the illusion of a naturally swimming fish.
It is one of the oldest fishing styles. Early models were handcrafted with wood. The Creek Chub Fintail Shiner, a wooden swimbait first produced in 1924, is famous for catching George Perry’s world-record 22-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass (caught in 1932 in Georgia), a record still held today.
The newest models are generally made of soft plastic, with flexible joints and/or rounded tail tips allowing the lure to “swim” and give off a vibration.
Swimbaits are great “search” baits because they can cover a lot of water quickly and predatory fish often can’t resist an easy fish meal. They are generally a good year-round lure in Oklahoma, but tend to have the most success in the spring and fall when predatory fish are gorging before/after the spawn and fattening up for winter, respectively.
Large soft-plastic swimbaits, 5-inch or larger, are great in Oklahoma for all species of black bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass) and striped bass and striped bass hybrids.
Small soft-plastic swimbaits, 3-inch or smaller, work well for white bass, crappie, sunfish, sauger, saugeye and walleye. Though most anglers elect for hard-plastic or wooden swimbaits for sauger, saugeye and walleye due to their sharp teeth.
Soft plastic swimbaits can be affixed to many different hook setups.
The three most common hook setups are with a simple jighead, offset weighted hook or offset hook and bullet weight (known as a Texas rig).
More complex setups include drop shotting, Carolina rigs and weightless presentations.
Sassy shad, baby shad and solid bodied swimbaits perform best on jigheads, while flukes, hollow bodied swimbaits and jointed swimbaits do better with an offset hook either weightless or weighted.
Swimbaits can also be secondary baits when used as trailers for jigs, buzzbaits and offset spinners.
Pre-molded swimbaits are convenient lures to add to an umbrella rig. With pre-molded swimbaits, stick to natural colors like white, gold, shad, bluegill and pearl that have flashy streaks through the middle of the lure.
3-inch sassy shad in pearl white paired with a 1/4th - 1/2 ounce jighead are great for temperate bass (striped, hybrid striped and white bass) or attached to an umbrella rig and trolled for big largemouth bass.
A white fluke fished weightless on an offset hook is a great option for clear water stream bass.
A baby shad in bluegrass paired with a 1/32nd - 1/8th ounce jighead is a dynamite combo for crappie year-round.
Jointed swimbaits, such as magic shad, in natural colors fished weightless or with a bullet weight and an offset hook typically pick-off some of the biggest pre-spawn largemouth bass in a farm pond.
Swimbaits are often fished on the increasingly popular umbrella rigs, such as the Alabama-rig or A-rig. Large umbrella rig set-ups allow for anglers to fish multiple swimbaits simultaneously while using only one line. Smaller versions create the illusion of multiple baits through the use of spinning blades while using one hooked lure. Oklahoma’s current state-record largemouth bass was caught on an umbrella rig. Sassy shad and paddletail swimbaits rigged on jigheads are a great pairing for an umbrella rig. Umbrella rigs can be cumbersome to store and travel with, so a tackle box specifically designed for umbrella rigs is a must to keep these pricey rigs safe.