hmmmmm, those seem to be two of the most important pieces of the puzzle when fishing for any species of fish. During the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, those puzzle pieces will vary. Most of the lures that are available, are restricted to a particular water column. For example, most shallow diving crankbaits will run to about 4 feet, the medium divers will run to about 9 feet, and the deeper crankbaits can reach depths of 17 feet plus. If an angler wants to cover the 1 to 20 foot water column, with crankbaits, then he/she will have to have a minimum of 3 crankbait rods rigged with the appropriate lures. This is a great way to locate a group of active fish, but if you are looking for a new technique to play with, try targeting this same zone with a swimbait.
I guide a lot, so I am always looking for “user friendly” lures and techniques that will help make my job easier and more productive. I never know the “talent level” that my clients possess until I’ve seen them make a few throws in the morning. Most of the fishing we do is in and around vegetation and heavy cover, whether that be against the bank or offshore. Many of the clients that I have are not used to casting a treble hook lure into a pocket that is the size of a bathtub. I had to come up with a bait and technique that could be used on a daily basis, at a variety of water depths, could be cast into a 15+ mph wind, and most importantly generate bites!
The swimbait has become my “Go To” lure for most of my guiding. Whether we are targeting Largemouth or Stripers, the swimbait will get it done more often than not. There are many swimbaits on the market from 1” to 15”+. Some float, suspend, sink slowly, are made of wood, balsa, pine, plastic etc., the list is endless. For me, I have found that a 4 to 7 inch plastic swimbait, rigged on a jighead weighing between ¼oz and ¾ oz, is extremely effective under the widest variety of conditions.
I don’t like to have a bunch of rods laying on the deck of the boat, so to simplify things, I usually start with a 3/8 oz and ½ oz Bladerunner Weedless Swimbait head, rigged on a 5 or 6 inch AA’s Shad Tail Swimbait. My rods of choice are the Falcon LowRider LFC-6-276T and Bucoo BMC76H. Both of these rods are medium heavy 7’ 6”. I like the length and action of these two rods for hook penetration and being able to “control” an above average size fish. I use two different reels for this style of swimbait fishing. The Lew’s TLP1SH which is a 7:1 ratio model, and the Lew’s TS1S that has a 5:4 gear ratio. The TS1S is a great reel to utilize when the fish are a bit sluggish, especially after a cold front has gone through.
If the target zone is open water with minimal obstructions, I will pull the weedguard out of the Bladerunner head. Most of the time we are casting towards wood, vegetation, tulles and rock, so I will leave the weedguard intact. My favorite colors are Pearl, Jackson Trout, Sexy Shad, and Baitfish. I evaluate the foliage base, watercolor, depth and time of year when making my color choice for that particular day. In water that has a heavy stain with less than 1 or 2 feet of visibility, I will always start with Pearl. If I can see my AA Shad Tail Swimbait at a depth of more than 2 feet, then the color choices will be a bit more specific. The Sexy Shad pattern is an excellent choice in water that has 2 to 4 foot visibility. The slight hint of chartreuse running parallel down the body is perfect for these conditions. When visibility is 3 or 4 feet and beyond, I will opt for the Jackson Trout or Baitfish patterns. The clearer the water, the more natural a pattern I will choose. If you are going down a bank and catch a few fish on the Jackson Trout color, many times you can go right back through the same stretch with the baitfish scheme and pick off a few more.
The 3/8 oz to 3/4 oz Bladerunner Weedless Swimbait Heads are the sizes I use the most on my AA Shad Tails. Occasionally I will use a 1/4oz head when fishing 2 feet deep or less. Wind, and the depth I am targeting, will determine which size head to go with. 80% of the time, I prefer to fish my swimbait while staying in contact with the bottom. I like the 3/8 or ½ sizes, however if the wind is not allowing me to keep in contact with the bottom, then I will use my AA Shad Tail on a 3/4 oz head.
Give the AA’s swimbait system a shot. The colors I mentioned in the article are a good place to start. You will notice at times that fish will change their color preferences. In some lakes fishermen have more success with a little blue, orange or green in the bait. No problem, AA’s has 42 different colors to choose from in 9 different sizes, so I am sure that they have the right color for you and your home lake. the FishDelta Video page has video support for the above mentioned products and technique.