Small Swimbaits for Summer Bass with Alton Jones

During the summer and into the fall, many bass spend their days and nights chasing schools of baitfish. Shad, shiners, or herring - it may change from region to region, but no matter where you go, bass this time of year are on the hunt for forage. One of the best ways to catch bass eating at the baitfish buffet is with a small swimbait.

Major League Fishing pro and 2008 Bassmaster Classic champion Alton Jones loves to throw a small 3.5-inch swimbait in these situations, and he utilizes two different rigging methods depending on where he is fishing. He will utilize a standard jighead as well as a unique sliding head that allows him to use a treble hook and increase hookups from short striking bass.

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Selecting the Right Swimbait and Color

Jones prefers the Yum Pulse Swimbait that comes in both a 3.5 and 4.5-inch size. It’s offered in a host of good shad patterns, but Jones named his three favorites.

“When it is sunny, and I’m fishing clear water, I like the Tin Foil color. It has silver flake in it, and it looks like a school of baitfish swimming,” he says. “It also works great when the fish are pressured and everyone else if fishing solid colors.”

He is also a fan of the Houdini Shad because it has a subtle and translucent look in the water. When fishing on cloudy days or slightly dirtier water, he reaches for the tried and true Pearl White color.

When it comes to size, he prefers the 3.5” size for most situations involving school bass.

“The baitfish are usually smaller, and it is my first choice. If the water is stained or if it is earlier in the year, the 4.5” is my choice, but most of the time when you find schooling bass it is summer and fall, and the 3.5” size is perfect,” added the Texas pro.

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Sliding Weight vs. Jighead

The head that Jones uses for his small swimbaits is called the Slip-Shad made by Lure Parts Online. It allows the line to slip through the head similar to bullet weights and then anglers can affix a treble hook to the line. The head also features a screw to secure your soft swimbaits.

This is really important when you are targeting schooling fish because you so often get them swiping at the bait or just swimming up to it to take a look. The treble hook doesn’t change the action of the bait and greatly increases your hookups and you land more fish with it,” said Jones.

He will still fish the small swimbaits with a traditional jighead in certain situations. “The Slip-Shad is excellent for open water, but it is not good around grass or wood. The treble hook hangs up on everything you come across

“Using a jighead will still hang up some but not as bad. I fish my swimbaits on a jighead around submerged grass and brush and also if the water is a little dirtier,” he shared.

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Fishing the Yum Pulse

There is a multitude of small swimbaits on the market, but Jones is a big fan of the Yum Pulse because of the action it provides.

“The ribs on the side give it a perfect side-to-side roll and a little wobble while the tail sill kicks hard. I like to fish it with a slow retrieve and will fish it as slow as I can and still get the tail to move,” he said. “It can still be burned and fished faster, but a slow and straight retrieve is my preference for schooling bass.”

When using a 3/16-ounce or larger weight, Jones likes to fish the bait on a 6’10” Kistler cranking rod with a 6.4:1 reel spooled with 12-pound fluorocarbon. For lighter heads, he prefers spinning gear with a braid to a fluorocarbon leader.

“I get better control of the bait and when fighting fish with a baitcast rod and feel that the cranking rod lets me make a longer cast. I have also noticed I land more bass with a rod with a softer tip,” said Jones.

Instead of using a faster reel as is becoming common for bass anglers, Jones likes to keep it simple.

“I am an ‘old-school’ guy, and the 6.4:1 reel ensures that I am not fishing the bait too fast,” he shared.

Fishing small swimbaits during the summer and fall can be one of the most productive ways to catch bass. They are often keyed in on schools of baitfish and willing to chase anything that imitates them, and nothing does that better than a bite-sized swimbait.