Over the years, I have spent a lot of time consolidating my tackle down to specific lures and colors that I find consistently catch fish throughout the country. For the most part a bass is a bass, whether we are talking about largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass. Yes, they can be located in dramatically different locations within a lake, but their preferred habitat is similar from lake to lake across the country. Because of this, I believe that you can pare down the amount of tackle you carry with you.
In my quest to do this, I have come to realize that the single most versatile bait I use is a Dirty Jigs Swim Jig matched with a Reaction Innovations Dipper. I’ve won more money on this lure combination than any other bait I throw. It is a lure that catches both quality and quantity making it a great tournament technique that I have utilized from the crystal clear water of the Great Lakes to weed-filled bays of Florida lakes. There’s really no end to the number of ways you can use a swim jig, but I’ve detailed me five favorite swim jig applications for you to see its versatility:
- Pre-spawn/spawning pockets – Throughout the country largemouth will move into shallow pockets as soon as the water begins to warm enough to make them start thinking about their annual spawning ritual. Often times these pockets may only be a foot or two deep and have scattered grass and pads. When I find this scenario I know the first lure I will be throwing is a bluegill colored swim jig in clear water and a black/blue swim jig in stained water. A simple cast and straight retrieve works great as long as you are ticking the tops of the weed with an occasionally pop to the lure when it becomes buried. This is probably the most common use for a swim jig and for good reason, it flat out catches them during this time of year!
- Rivers – A lot of people attribute the origins of the Swim Jig to the Mississippi River. Guys like Tom Monsoor made the swim jig a household name in the upper Midwest by crushing the largemouth and smallmouth on them. Now, it is unusual not to see it being utilized by most competitors in local tournaments that are on the river. It’s really a very simple technique. Find the current seems and cast at them with a steady retrieve. I prefer to throw shad imitating colors when doing this and can usually expect to catch a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth.
- Docks – Most people think about throwing a swim jig through shallow grass and wood. But one of my favorite ways to use it is around deep floating docks. It’s a great bait for skipping under docks and can be fished weedless which comes in really handy if the docks are held in place by steel cables. I like to throw shad imitating colors for this technique and will vary between a steady retrieve at various speeds and a stop and go retrieve.
- Deep Weedlines/Ledges – Over the last several years I’ve begun utilizing a ¾ oz. Dirty Jigs California Swim Jig to probe significantly deeper water. In the north, a bluegill colored swim jig works great for fishing deep weedlines and in the south a shad colored swim jig works great for fishing ledges. The key to fishing both is to make sure you keep the swim jig near the bottom. I’ll cast it out and let the bait sink to the bottom and then start a slow retrieve trying to maintain bottom contact while deflecting off any weed or wood that the bait comes in contact with.
- Schooling fish – One thing I love about the Swim Jig is that they cast easily and make a great choice to use when schooling fish are present. Any sort of shad color works best and I really like having one big single hook over a bait with treble hooks when fishing for schooling fish. Yes, a treble hook allows for the possibility of doubling up on a single cast, but the landing percentage goes way up on the single hooked swim jig.
One thing I like about the swim jig is that you can use the same rod for all of the presentations I’ve detailed above. The key is to find a rod with good backbone and a soft tip to allow you to cast accurately while enabling the fish to inhale the entire bait. The best rod I have found for swim jigs is the St. Croix Legend Tournament 7’1” Medium Heavy Extra Fast “Swim Jig Finesse” rod. Having the right rod makes a significant difference. I highly recommend you spend more time fishing a swim jig and experimenting with it during different fishing conditions. I think you’ll find they can be used in almost all situations and increase your catch ratio.