ALLPHIN: Swim baits are here to stay
The sun had just begun to creep over the tops of the barren hills surrounding the Green River at the north end of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. I began that morning fishing a white spinnerbait, but hadn’t gotten a single strike in the short 30 minutes since I launched my boat. My thoughts were adrift between switching lures and sticking to the same bait that had worked so many times in the past. (This is the internal discussion most tournament anglers have as they struggle to get a bite.)
I decided to make a change.
While searching through a small box of lures, my eyes fell upon a white swimbait. I tied it on and began to cast in the same areas I had just fished the other lure. Within a few turns of the reel handle on the first cast, a three-pound smallmouth bass inhaled the four-inch swimbait without a need to set the hook. Once in the boat, five more huge bass ate that same swimbait on consecutive casts.
Why did I choose to tie on a swimbait and why did it matter?
Swimbaits have been used for as long as people have been fishing but have gained popularity over that past few years. They are baits that resemble fish in the water, are generally made of soft plastic and must be “reeled” in order to produce any action in the water. Most swimbaits sink and must be moved relatively slowly in order to look like a swimming fish.
A decade or so ago, a handful of manufacturers produced a few swimbaits, but now there are literally hundreds of sizes, colors, and shapes of swimbaits and are being produced by scores of companies around the world.
I chose a swimbait that morning because I felt the spinnerbait was making too much noise and water disturbance as it moved. There are times that noise and the “flapping” of the blades on a spinnerbait attract fish, but in the summertime, especially in areas where there is little surface activity (no fish jumping), flapping blades will send fish in the opposite direction.
The swimbait that worked so well for me had a small profile, was only four inches long and must have looked just like a minnow the fish were well aware of and were waiting to ambush the next school that happened by.
So, how and when should you use a swimbait in your fishing?
The short answer is anytime you decide it’s the right choice. But, for this column let’s take a look at the coming fall season. This year’s crop of minnows are now between 1-to-2 inches long and the Division of Wildlife Resources personnel will be stocking their excess fish that they don’t want to hold over the winter. This means that most of the reservoirs in our area will have a very good supply of minnows for predator species (game species) to eat. Deer Creek, Jordanelle, Starvation, Scofield, and last but not least, Strawberry, will be fantastic places to use swimbaits in place of other lures.
When choosing a swimbait, try to match the types and sizes of minnows in the reservoir you target. For example, if you were fishing Starvation you would want a swimbait that looked like either a perch or a trout and the size should be between 3-to-5 inches.
If you are new to swimbaits, I recommend purchasing ones that are ready to use out of the package. Storm makes a fine selection of pre-rigged swimbaits in several sizes.
As the water temperatures drop, reel your swimbaits slower and slower. The key is to make your lure act just like a lethargic fish – swimming, but not really going anywhere fast. Then, hold on because strikes can be vicious.
Swimbaits are no longer a fad; they are here to stay and so now is a great time to learn to use them. You won’t be sorry, I promise.
Don Allphin can be reached at email@example.com.