Jun 20, 2012, 3:14 PM EDT
You can really swim jigs in any kind of water, but I tend to use them to cover shallow grass flats and clumps of vegetation in water less then 5ft deep. You can also slow roll a heavy swim jig down to 30ft plus just like a big spinnerbait. Swim jigs can be a great bait for both big fish and numbers.
When approaching different bodies of water with swim jigs, I think it comes down to the forage and then secondly water clarity, likewise I think you should consider those 2 conditions first with any type of lure. So on large rivers and impoundments I tend to throw more white and shad colored swim jigs, or if the water gets dirty I use more black, blue and purple jigs. On northern natural lakes, where most of the time bluegills or perch are the main prey, then I use more natural greens, with hints of chartreuse, blue and orange. Then target the water column and cover that I think the bait will is positioned in.
Swim jigs are one of many great baits or tools in my arsenal. I also catch fish on spinnerbaits, lipless cranks and chatter style jigs, which often cover the same water columns. I like swim jigs when the fish are more pressured because it’s a more subtle presentation and more overlooked by many. Another scenario is around really thick vegetation, not many baits come through grass as well as a good swim jig. If your bait is constantly fouled then you are not being efficient with your casts. Lastly, when I have a wide variety of cover, I lean towards the swim jig, because I believe its more versatile; if I come to a stump, dock, laydown or hole that I feel needs a vertical presentation, I can pitch and hop my swim jig like a normal jig through it and not switch baits or rods, plus I can skip a swim jig into places that would be too difficult with many other baits.
As far as size and trailers, I tend to stick with the basics. I usually throw a 1/4oz had tied swim jig with a single tail 4-5” salty grub. If I want to keep my jig on top of vegetation like a frog, I will drop down to an 1/8oz jig or if I need to fish a deeper weed flat or edge, I will probably use a 3/8oz, but you can also vary the depth of your jig by tweaking your trailer. A really dense salty trailer will keep your bait down and a more bulky unsalted grub will lift your bait. Sometimes I will bulk up my swim jigs with an Optimum Double Diamond Swimmer or a Speed Craw when I need to move more water or target a big bite.
My normal setup is a 7’3” Dobyns Coalition series baitcasting rod (CW-734C) with a high speed 7.1:1 ratio reel, and I utilize both 17lb fluorocarbon and 30lb braid depending on water clarity and the amount of cover I am fishing. The long rod helps you get the bait out on longer casts increasing your time in strike zone, helps get good hooksets and gives you the control of the fish all the way to the boat. I like a swim jig with a good balanced bullet shaped head that slips through cover, a hand tied skirt that moves naturally in the water, a super sharp hook that is heavy enough not to bend but not too heavy that it impedes a hook set on a long cast and lastly a trailer keeper is a must. It saves on trailers, plus keeps you from constantly fixing your bait; which means more casts and more bass. I find all those qualities in many of the custom jigs in my area, like Super K, Lethal Weapon & Brovarney jigs.
I like swimming a jig anytime the water is around 60 degrees or above, so I pretty much fish them as the fish start to move shallow and stick with them until they back out for winter. In general, if you are starting out, try swim jigs in water and conditions that you would normally throw a spinnerbait and expand from there. The bite tends to be better when you have a little wind and cloud cover but you can catch them in a wide variety of conditions. Most of the time, I find a steady moderate retrieve with subtle shake of the rod tip catches most of my fish, but if I am not getting bit, I will try changing speeds and adding action with my rod tip from time to time. Also dropping the jig into holes or around cover can be very deadly as well. In the end, listen to the fish and let them tell you what they want in that moment.
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