Once upon a time, the swimbait was the secret treasure of Western anglers. Check the tackle holds of top anglers today, however, and you’ll find that it’s become the beast of the East as well!
Top anglers on the pro tour have become increasingly aware of the soft swimbait’s versatility, notes Bassmaster Elite Series angler Russ Lane. Indeed, it has become one of his favorite weapons, one that he fishes with different rigs and retrieves to cover the entire water column from top to bottom.
His favorite swimbait is the BB Kicker from Big Bite Baits. Today it is available in both 4-inch and 5-inch sizes. Although Lane does use weighted swimbait hooks at times, he estimates that he rigs his baits on 3/8- or ¾-ounce J-Will swimbait jig heads from Buckeye Lures for 90 percent of his swimbait fishing. The jig head grants the swimbait freer movement and more pronounced action.
Here are a few ways that Russ Lane combs the water column with these killer lures.
“I use the 3/8-ounce J-Will jig head version with the weedguard for swimbaits when I’m fishing shallow grass and floating docks,” says Lane, noting his preference for braided line around shallow cover. “You can even wake it at the surface around lily pads.”
Bass anglers often claim that suspended fish are the toughest to catch. Swimbaits, however, often mimic what bass are feeding and following while they hover in the middle layer of the water column.
“For suspended bass, I like to give my reel five or six quick turns to shoot the (swimbait) off the bottom, then free spool it to let the bait drop back down,” says Lane, who uses CastAway Invicta rods and other CastAway models retrofitted with Winn grips for all his swimbait fishing.
Several years ago, swimbait aficionado Byron Velvick proclaimed deep swimbait fishing one of bass angling’s “last frontiers.” No more! Count Russ Lane among a number of practitioners of the subtle art today.
“I just slow roll the swimbait along the bottom, always keeping it moving, keeping that jig head bouncing on bottom,” explains Lane, noting his preference for the ¾-ounce J-Will jig head and 16 to 20-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon line to execute the technique. “Sometimes those bass on the ledges get tired of seeing crankbaits or big worms. If you can get that BB Kicker down, those fish can zone in on that big paddletail. It moves a lot of water. Just slow roll it, and keep the head bumping bottom.”
Need proof of the effectiveness of his swimbait techniques? Lane has bagged big bass on Lake Fork, the Texas trophy bass factory, as well as on Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga where he had a Top 10 finish in Bassmaster Elite competition.