Posts Tagged swimbaits

Presque Isle and Pymatuning Lake

Saturday my dad, Dave, and myself went up to Presque Isle Bay because we heard that the smallmouth bass had started to move into the bay. For anyone who hasn’t been to the bay in the spring you have to make the trip. We started by fishing for largemouth straight across from the launch. It didn’t take long and Dave caught one on a tube and I hooked up with a swimbait. I was determined to use the swimbait because I knew the chatterbait would catch a bunch of fish. I managed to catch 3 largemouth on the swimbait through the day. that isn’t impressive, but it is a little confidence builder to keep trying them. throughout the day we caught smallmouth on jerkbaits, tubes, and drop shot worms. We spent most of the day fishing for them. I believe we caught over 20 between the 3 of us and we caught over 25 largemouth. We caught largemouth on brush hogs, swimbaits, chatterbaits, tubes, beavers, and jerkbaits. The water temperature was 58 – 60 degrees. The fish were not spawning, and the males were not making beds yet. I believe in 2 weeks there will be an explosion of fish getting on the beds.

Sunday even though there were bad weather predictions I decided to head to Pymatuning Lake to fish a club tournament. The club I belong to (West Penn Bass Hunters) was launching from Jamestown Marina. With strong winds predicted to come out of the South we were protected from the wind to some degree. I pulled up to my first tree and caught a nice 2.5lb fish. I started throwing rattletraps to my next tree and caught a nice 15 inch largemouth out of a small weed bed. I started work the tree and nothing. I decided to just keeper moving down the shore throwing the rattletrap because I have had some success for smallmouth bass there. It didn’t take long and I had caught 5 more keepers, and lost 2 on the rattletrap. Even though they were keepers I released them all because I feel that stressing 12-14″ bass is unnecessary at that lake. You aren’t going to win with one of them in the well anyways. Jumping spot to spot landed me catching another nice 2.86lb largemouth on a chatterbait. My gut told me to run north, but with building wind and aready high waves I decided to stay in the south. I caught some fish flipping, but decided to try a variety of different tatics with no success. During the last hour I decided to run around the lake and flip every tree I could find. It turned out to be the right move. I culled five bass in the last hour. I won the tournament with 3 fish that weighed 7.45lbs. I also won lunker with the 2.86lb fish. Not a very impressive day, but it was fun none the less.

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How to Rig Soft Plastic Swimbaits

By Craig Toerien

Before I go any further I would like to let you know that 4″ and 5″ Hollow Swimbaits have caught quality Blue Fish, Redfish, Sea Trout, Striped Bass, Walleye, Lake Trout, Musky, Pike, Pickerel, Smallmouth, Largemouth and Kentucky aka Spotted Bass.

The word swimbait conjures up images of giant hunks of wood or hard plastic shaped like a trout and armed with multiple sets of treble hooks. They look cool, often weigh a ton and cost a small fortune. Those big intimidating ones are a category unto themselves however there are several others all of which have different capabilities and applications. There have been many innovations since the early 1990’s with an explosion of natural looking, ultra realistic hard and soft models swimbaits to choose from.

My focus today is the Hollow Swimbait which made a big splash on the bass circuit starting in 2007.  Sure it had been used for years before secretly and with great success, but when a big time pro wins a major tournament or two or three with the same bait, that secret gets out in a hurry!

Why is the Hollow Swimbait so popular?

Three simple reasons:

  1. versatility
  2. value
  3. effectiveness


It is unmatched by conventional hard Swimbaits because it can be fished through almost any kind of cover, around any kind of structure, at any depth, from early spring through late into fall. Another benefit to a soft swimbait over a hard swimbait is you won’t need special rods or reels to effectively cast them. Use a bait caster with 12-18 lb line coupled with a 7′ medium heavy rod action. As a result hollow swimbait have become a favorite of angles in all regions of the country for the last 3 years.

Hollow Swimbaits are made of soft plastic just like the worms and tube baits which most anglers already use. It is essentially a tube shaped like a bait fish with a paddle tale.

Largemouth, smallmouth and Spotted or Kentucky Bass are proverbial “pigs” when it comes to eating habits as many of us have experience by hooking fish half the size of our lure. A 12oz bass will attack it just as readily as a 12 pound lunker. Bass spend a large part of the fishing season, either in or close to some kind of cover or shallow water structure that is less than 10 feet deep. This would include a variety of live vegetation, fallen timber, stump fields, boulder flats, docks, sand bars and points.

There are several ways to rig a hollow swimbait, each allowing the angler to effectively cover open water structure and varying types of cover.

Regardless of which rigging technique you use, please pay extremely close attention and take you time making sure the any time your hook enters or exits the bait it is precisely centered. If entering the nose go in dead center, out the back or through the belly dead center.  If you fail to do this your swimbait will not track correctly, it will roll on its side or helicopter. Consider this, if your car’s alignment isn’t right it won’t perform as it should and if your lure is not rigged straight it won’t have a desirable performance either.


Weightless – You will be able to find several hooks for targeting fish in weeds and other vegetation. If you want to keep the bait at or near the surface with a slower more deliberate retrieve use and unweighted EWG style hook and rig Texas style like a worm (Owner Wide Gap Plus 6/0 are best). This is my preferred shallow technique covering weed flats and boulder flats and shallow stump fields.



Texas Rig -You can add a tungsten bullet shaped weight on your line so that it rest against the nose of the bait if you want get deeper.



Weighted Hook – Another popular hook style is a weighted EWG or a nose screw lock hook. These hooks have varying amounts of lead molded onto the hook shank.  Increasing the amount of weight will allow you to fish the bait at a faster speed or great depth if that’s what the fish want. This is a great way to hit deeper weed edges, ledges and submerged structure.



Exposed hooks:

When fishing more open water areas with little or no snags you can go with exposed hook rigging. Insert weighted hooks like jigs as seen in the photos or use a new innovative product made by KSH called the Original Bait Weight. This weight gets inserted through the belly of the bait and pushed as far forward towards the head as possible, then pushed up through the top of the head. The opposite end of weight has a split ring to attach a treble hook.


Wacky rigging:

If you have caught a few fish and damaged the nose of your swimbait don’t throw it out. Cut off the paddle tail section and rig the middle diction of the bait with a circle or octopus hook, add split shot and you have a great wacky style bait. Throwing this around docks, flooded trees or at bass busting shad on top and you have a very realistic dying shad presentation.



I cannot comment on the effectiveness of the soft plastic swimbaits that you might have purchased and tried to use in the past. I can only advise you t make sure that you look for a thin body and soft plastic consistency. I would recommend my Hippo Tackle Hollow Core Tube Swimbaits, Berkley’s Hollow Belly Swimbaits or the original Basstrix Swimbaits. The rest are thick, tough and lack the required action to be effective.

The last tip I can give you is to spend more than 10 minutes throwing these baits adjusting your retrieve depth. Tie one on fish it for at least 40 minutes each time you hit the water, it will be well worth your time and effort.

Special thanks to Craig Toerien from Hippo Tackle for sharing his knowledge of  soft plastic swimbaits with everyone here at FishPittsburgh.

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Clear Water

Berkly hollow belly swimbaits are great options when fishing clear water.

If you are fishing clear water for any species of fish you must match the forage of the body of the water.  This is well painted jerkbaits and crankbaits can really do well.  Also, life like swimbaits are a good options.  If you are using spinnerbaits or chatterbaits you should use a more natural looking skirt with the proper blades to match.  The same is true with crawfish.  Depending on what part of the country and type of structure that  you are fishing crawfish take on different color patterns.  Knowing which pattern will lead to a higher success rate.

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