Small Swimbaits Bring Big Results

If it’s true that big things sometimes come in small packages, then you’ll want to keep several styles and colors of finesse swimbaits in your tackle box. Specifics vary by fishery and its natural forage base, but generally, a swimbait under 4 inches fits the bill.

Various paddle and curly tail baits will produce, while LIVETARGET’s Twitch Minnow and Ghost Tail Minnow in the 3 3/4-inch size play this role well. What makes this bait style strategically beneficial is the diversity of its presentation options.

All Alone: The simplest way to fish your small swimbait often ends up being the most effective — maybe in rotation with other baits if the bite starts to dwindle. Thread your bait onto a Mustad Ball Head Jig and use a simple cast-and-retrieve presentation.

  • Targets: Throw this rig in open water for suspended fish, or work it along points and bluff walls.

Underspin: The next logical step from a single jig head presentation is a lead head that waves a flashy, attention-getting blade. The Mustad Underspin Shad Head fits this technique well, as it facilitates long casts, tracks well, and calls in fish with that spinning blade.

  • Targets: Fire this rig toward schooling bass, slowly bump the bottom when fish are holding low and use the underspin to intercept groups of fish spotted on forward-facing sonar.

Alabama Rig: These multi-arm outfits with lead head jigs at the outer ends are basically the castable version of the larger umbrella rigs trolled for larger predators such as striped bass. (Notably, landlocked stripers also attack these rigs thrown for largemouth and smallmouth bass.) Sometimes accented with flashing willow-leaf blades, “A-rigs,” as they’re generically known, resemble a cluster of baitfish and offer enticing winter/early spring targets.

Rig your favorite finesse swimbait on Mustad Shad Darter swimbait heads sized appropriately for the depth you’re fishing. Nothing wrong with consistency, but some anglers opt to use a slightly larger or different color swimbait on the middle “target” arm. Bass may bite any of the baits and multiple hookups are not rare, but that center position often attracts the bigger bites.

  • Targets: From bluff walls to tapering points, to channel turns, to deep docks, anywhere baitfish might be holding is fair game.

Dropshot: On the opposite end of the spectrum from the A-rig’s boldness, a dropshot offers a more modest presentation. This could be just the thing for those post-front days that leave the fish in a lethargic mood; or it could be a strategic option for highly pressured fisheries.

In order of preference, a small swimbait probably follows a few different finesse worm options, but many times, tough bites come after we show the fish something they don’t often see. Tie your dropshot with a Mustad AlphaPoint Apex Dropshot Hook and nose hook your small swimbait for maximum motion and easy hookups.

  • Targets: Deep brush piles, deep rocks and anywhere you need a subtle deal-closer.

The small swimbait option may be your first choice or a response to changing conditions. Often, when anglers notice bass spitting up tiny baitfish in the live well or at boat side, that’s a clear signal to employ this guaranteed bite maker.


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