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Fishing the Swim Jig in Heavy Cover

By Shane Beilue - May 28, 2021
As spring transitions into summer, a strong population of bass will remain in shallow water, gorging on spawning shad and bluegill and seeking some payback for the nest robbing activities these forage species incurred upon the bass only a few weeks before. Bass will often position within shallow brushy flats and points, presenting a challenge for anglers trying to pinpoint the bass' location among the jungle of possibilities. Provided the water clarity is better than 12-18", the swim jig can be an excellent choice.
The swim jig has some inherent advantages over other moving baits such as the spinnerbait and bladed jig: a natural, subtle movement and a weedless design. In clear water, bright skies and calm winds, bass often won't chase the bright flash of a spinnerbait; however, the swim jig provides a very natural visual appeal that will still draw strikes from cautious bass. Additionally, the weedless nature of the swim jig keeps it from snagging as often around woody cover than the open hook design of a bladed jig.

The old adage, "You don't take a knife to a gunfight" applies when picking a swim jig for thick cover, meaning you need a jig designed to be fished through the cover without snags. Key components to look for are a streamlined head, forward-facing line tie and, most importantly, a heavy weedguard with bristles positioned closely to the hook point. The Stanley Swim Max swim jig is one such example of a jig design that holds up well in the rough and tumble world of extracting quality bass from heavy wood flats.

On cloudy days, bass will often be out roaming in between the bushes in open water, so a swim jig retrieved high and fast in the water column will draw hard-charging strikes from bass trying to kill a fleeing baitfish.

On bright days with high skies, there will be a strong shade line within the cover that will hold bass tight within the brush. This is the time to "attack" the cover by swimming the jig as one would drive a smash-up derby car: looking for reckless contact with nearby cover. The technique is to make a long cast well beyond the intended target and simply mend your line to direct the jig through the middle of the cover where the deepest shade is located. As the lure approaches a bush, allow the jig to deflect off the limbs, pausing momentarily to let the bait settle within the shade before starting the retrieve back out of the bush. If a bass is present within that specific bush, he'll grab the jig before it gets clear of the cover.

Keep the lure within 12-18" of the water's surface at a medium pace. In clearer water, greater than 2' visibility, faster retrieves give the fish less time to decide against eating the lure. The strikes are visual, aggressive and an absolute blast as you manage an angry 4 pounder through the various tangles of scattered brush.

Multiple plastic trailers are available for your choosing. The Yamamoto Paddletail Zako is a trailer that adds plenty of heft to the jig for longer casts and adds a natural swimming motion; however the twin tail craws such as the Strike King Rage Menace or Zoom Z Craw offer more subtle kicking motion and can be great options, as well.

Color is always a part of any lure conversation. One can never go wrong with a white jig and trailer; however, if you're seeing a lot of bluegill in the shallows, a pumpkin skirt and matching trailer can be deadly. Black and blue is always a good choice in stained water; however, don't overthink color: go with whatever color that gives you the most confidence.

Finally, tackle considerations should be as follows: 17-25# fluorocarbon or 50-65# braided line, a 7' medium heavy action rod and 7.3:1 baitcaster to maintain proper medium/fast pace of the jig.

Gear Used

Shane Beilue
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