How To Fish A Swimbait For Bass And Other Fish

Swimbait fishing is a technique that has seen success around the world. The very image of a poor defenseless baitfish swimming for its very life has produced heart-pounding strikes for many anglers. Popular for largemouth bass fishing and for most predator fish, it is a technique that works. It is easy to tie a swimbait on but not near as easy to fish it properly. How to fish a swimbait for bass and every other species is pretty much the same. All of the tips and techniques presented are for catching Largemouth and smallmouth bass but the same thing will work for every other swimbait fish too.

There is no right or wrong way. There is only a rule of thumb. You can catch bass in a pond or anywhere else. different methods and different techniques will work differently depending on the body of water and other factors. All you need is a good swimbait and maybe a lot of patience. This is a tutorial on how to work that minnow bait once it hits the water, how to set the hook, and a few other goodies scattered throughout. With that out of the way, let’s get started.

But First, Understand What A Swimbait Is And Isn’t

First of all, let’s define what a swimbait is. The term swimbait is a very loosely defined term. The baits imitate baitfish. That should be a given because many lures do but that is not all. Swimbaits actually swim. You can weigh down a swimbait by using sinkers.  They don’t just move through the water like a crankbait or a jerkbait. There are many times when they are jointed or are made of soft plastic. The fishing lures are much more realistic than a lot of options you have in your tackle box. Because of this, they can target the biggest fish in the water.

This lure has its own category. A swimbait is not a crankbait and it is not a jerkbait. Crankbaits are reaction lures that irritate fish into striking. The action on that one is very erratic and unnatural. The opposite is true on a swimbait. Jerkbaits are designed for erratic twitching action on the pause. They are designed to jerk, hence the name. Swimbaits are different from both because they do neither. Swimbaits just swim naturally.

They are not wounded-looking either. They are what you want to throw when the fish are actually hungry. This means they are one of the best bass techniques for winter. The reason for the definition is that you need to know this if you want to fish swimbaits properly. Also, there are many different types of swimbaits to choose from as well as gear to throw them on.

Green segmented swimbait and red crankbait on a white background.

Different Types Of Swimbaits Exist

Hard Body Jointed Swimbaits

The hard body jointed swimbait is just made out of hard material like plastic or wood. It is also hinged throughout the body. It’s not like catching bass on live bait. The body is made up of anywhere between two and eight segments which give the fishing lure the action. These baits swim very realistically but the fish may spit them out once they feel how hard it is. The paint jobs on these particular ones can be very realistic too.

Soft Body Paddle Tail Swimbaits

Paddle tail swimbaits are made out of soft plastic and require special hooks to catch fish with. Paddle tail swimbaits are realistic in the way they feel in the fish’s mouth. They also have a tail that paddles through the water. Because it’s soft and chewy, it’s one of the best smallmouth bass lures.

Pre-rigged Swimbaits

A pre-rigged swimbait is the most basic of all of the options. If a fishing lure is pre-rigged, it means that the hook is permanently inserted inside the body. There’s no special hardware that you need to use. It is as simple as tying it on and casting it out. These are also the most realistic of the bunch and will successfully take the biggest fish that swims in the water.

Line Through

Line through swimbaits are fishing lures where the fishing line goes through the mouth and out the belly of the plastic. The line-through swimbaits can be made from regular soft plastic paddle tails by tying on a treble hook. When the fish hits, the hook comes dislodged from the plastic and the fishing lure travels up the line. You are going to need a good rod too.

Check out the link below for some great fishing rods for beginners.

Fishing Rods For Beginners.

How To Fish A Swimbait For Bass And Other Fish

Straight Retrieve

The best way to fish a swim bait for largemouth bass is to reel it in slowly. Natural prey does not have a whole lot of movement. Most swimbaits have plenty of action on their own.  Because of this, you can often just use a basic retrieve by just reeling. This is especially true if you have a big swimbait or a soft plastic. Cast it out with a fluorocarbon fishing line on a heavier rod and just reel it right back in.

Bottom Creeping

The bottom creeping technique is all about finesse and stealth. Throw your lure out, and reel it in very slowly once it hits the bottom. This method should be fished very slowly. The slower you can get the bait to perform during this retrieve, the better. This technique is absolutely deadly when fishing for bass during the winter.

Bottom Hopping

To successfully bottom hop a swimbait, burn the reel for a few feet and let the bait die. This technique is not always one you can rely on but when it works, it provides great quality fish! Alternatively, you can cast it out, let it hit the bottom, and lift it off the rocks or gravel with your rod tip. Similar to fishing a football jig.


If you don’t take anything else away from this post, remember this. Even if you are bass fishing for beginners, swimbaits are an amazing invention and you are doing yourself a disservice as an angler unless you are throwing them. They are versatile, easy to rig, easy to fish, and they produce the nicest catches in the water. All in all, you should try getting yourself a setup that will allow you to use them. Once mastered, they are a very versatile lure that you can count on to always get bites from something. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment in a reply below this post so we can hear what you have to say.

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