The “Year-Round” Bait
Team Tournament Blogger – Luke Estel
How many times have you flipped a jig into a piece of cover, shook it a couple of times, and then reeled it back in? Then only to see a bass trying to grab it as you reeled in your cast. The light bulb should start flashing and then when it’s time to pick up a swim jig. The swim jig is one of the most unutilized baits out on the market today and when in fact it should be a staple for every tournament fisherman. The unique thing about a swim jig is that it can emulate three different forages that bass love. A shad, a bluegill, or a crawfish. This one bait can be thrown all year round with great success. Since fall is fast approaching we will start with that. Fall is the time of year when the shad start to concentrate and move into the backs of pockets. This is when I have a Smokey Shad colored swim jig tied on paired with a Ztoo or a blade minnow. I can pitch or cast this bait around any type of structure and work the bait back. There are several cadences you can use but generally a jerk, jerk, pause, and reel cadence works as well as any. It is more subtle than a spinnerbait or a bladed jig which can appeal to bass, especially on pressured lakes. Spring time is no different except I switch to a white swim jig. If I want to slow the fall down, I simply replace the Blade Minnow with a white Rage Craw.
If you are getting bites on a bladed jig but are not connecting, then a swim jig will get the job done. Summer time is when I have either a bluegill or crawfish colored swim jig tied on. I look for grassy areas and work it through the grass popping it and letting it fall. I typically use 17lb fluorocarbon and a 7’3” medium/heavy fast action rod. I want a little give in the tip yet have enough backbone to get the fish out, especially around heavy cover. Obviously the lake dictates your colors but a white, a bluegill/craw, and a shad color are all you will need. It is a year round bait that can help you fill your limit and even get that kicker fish. I have one tied on at all times and have witnessed firsthand how deadly a swim jig can be. As the bass and the forage transition into a fall pattern this year, make sure you have a swim jig ready.