Swim Bait Bass

By Bob Jensen - August 1, 2008
There’s a new bait style in the Midwest that is proving itself to be an outstanding producer of largemouth bass. It’s called a swim bait. Swim baits have been a big deal for a couple of years in other parts of the country where largemouth bass are the primary and most popular gamefish. Oftentimes bass trends start in the west or south where bass are chased twelve months a year. These trends then make their way to other regions. The swim bait deal has reached the Midwest, and if recent results continue, swim baits will become a part of every bass angler’s arsenal. Although largemouth bass are probably the primary target of swim bait anglers, swim baits will also take smallmouth bass, walleyes, and northern pike. I’m sure a musky would hit a bigger swim bait, and it’s also likely that crappies would take the smaller sizes.

The swim baits that were and are being used in other regions come with treble hooks installed and can be quite expensive. They look a lot like the crankbaits musky anglers throw, but they’re made of soft plastic.

The swim baits that I’ve been using with tremendous success are made by Berkley and called Hollow Belly Swim Baits. They’re a soft bait, much like traditional PowerBait. They look like a minnow and have a large paddle tail. They’re available in four, five, and six inch lengths. And, as the name would suggest, they’re hollow. This is an advantage. When a bass clamps down on this swim bait, the bait collapses, allowing for a very high percentage of hook-ups. Generally, when a bass bites a Hollow Belly Swim Bait, you’re going to catch it.

We’ve been fishing swim baits just like a crankbait in many situations. Most recently we were fishing a windblown point on a Midwest lake. There were boulders on the point, and smaller rocks off to one side. There were rushes on the other side. There were lots of nice largemouth all around the point, but mostly near the boulders. The water was stained, and the fish were in two to four feet of water. We simply cast the swim bait to the shoreline area and started reeling slowly. The strikes were savage: The fish really wanted to eat this thing.

We rigged the baits Texas-style on the large hook that comes in the package. Before inserting the hook into the tail, a treble hook, which also comes in the package, was hung on the large hook. The large hook was then inserted into the tail.

A Northland Sling Shot Worm Weight was on the line at the nose of the swim bait. This system allows an angler to change sinkers without cutting the line. The sinker allows the rig to be cast farther, and also allows deeper depths to be worked.

Some baits go through cycles. They’re great when they’re first introduced, then after a few years their effectiveness wanes. If you want to get in on a new bait that is just beginning its productive cycle, you need to check out Hollow Belly swim baits.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at www.fishingthemidwest.com.