Most bass anglers have used the same mentality for years. Pound the bank with a spinnerbait, maybe a crankbait or two and the occasional jig. More often than not they are overlooking a couple of the most productive and largest bass catching baits available.
The swimbait is not a new concept. In some fashion or another it has been around for decades; yet it has really evolved into a solid tournament and trophy fish catching tool in the last five or six years. The Incredi-Swim from Culprit is a fine example of the modern swimbait. It’s simple, yet realistic motion requires no motion imparted by the angler. Merely cast it out and reel it in! A large paddle shaped tail simulates a steady thumping vibration even at slow speed. Culprit engineered the body shape so that it would also run true at quick retrieves as well.
Swimbaits can be rigged in multiple manners; threaded on a weighted or weightless swimbait hook, or added to a jighead, which is the most common method. Since the Incredi-Swim is a five inch, full sized bait, I prefer a long shank jig head much like the one Culprit incorporates in its pack; (a weightless swimbait hook is also supplied). Matching the weight of the jig head to water depth and retrieve speed is critical. I prefer a 3/8 ounce head, as I target suspended fish in three to eight feet of water most often. Anglers fishing deeper water or wishing to present the bait closer to the bottom will want to rig up with one half ounce heads. Speed of retrieve will also effect the depth of the lure; i.e. a slower retrieve allows the bait to go deeper while a faster speed causes the tail to move more water thus rising in the water column. Line diameter will also define the swimming depth of the Incredi-Swim. Many anglers prefer 14-17 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, although if thick vegetation is present, braided line is perfect.
Although springtime is optimal for catching trophy fish with a swim bait; they work fantastic in fall and winter as well. Swim baits can also be used for a not so subtle, finesse tactic when fronts move in. Slowly swim an Incredi-Swim near thick cover, docks, bluff walls and it’s natural movement will draw strikes from the bigger fish than feed on larger prey. During cold front and tough bites, I down size my line and switch to a nearly invisible fluorocarbon line.
The vibrating jig or bladed jig is no stranger to headlines. Anyone who follows pro bass fishing has read about it. Amazingly, few recreational anglers employ this effective lure. I have found that it will typically catch a larger average fish than the spinnerbait does, and in many regions bass have yet to see it. Strike King produces a variation of this lure, called the Rage Blade. What sets the Rage Blade apart from other bladed jig – is that the Rage Blade has its body weight molded into the lip with a swivel between that lip and the hook. This concept reduces snags and makes it more difficult for the fish to throw the lure .
These bladed or vibrating jigs create a wobbling action that the angler can easily feel in the rod handle. Imagine how far this vibration travels in the water? Additionally the large, wide lip of the Rage Blade deflects weeds and timber quite well. Once again depth of run is determined by retrieve and lure weight. Most pros use 3/8 ounce or ½ ounce baits, but my choice is always 3/8 oz. Since the Rage Blade is excellent for drawing strikes from bass situated in cover, stout line is recommended. I have always found moving baits like a spinnerbait or crankbait to be best fished on a long fiberglass “crankbait” rod. This is also true with bladed jigs like the Rage Blade. Bass seem to get hooked better with the somewhat slower action of a fiberglass rod and it also reduces losses due to “thrown” lures.
Although there are a dozen or so colors and variations, I prefer simplicity in my tackle. I merely utilize a pair of colors, green pumpkin and a chartreuse/white combo. Anglers can fish these baits straight out of the package in their skirted mode, or go for a more subtle approach by stripping the skirt off and threading a medium swimbait body onto the jig. In clear water this is my normal approach, especially if I deploy the green pumpkin Rage. Occasionally I will leave the skirt on and run a straight tail worm or add a Culprit/Riptide Mullet onto the hook. Strikes can be vicious which is another reason for the fiberglass rod.
This is one lure that doesn’t require any extra action! I do move my rod tip around to control how deep the bait is running or to direct the ‘Blade into cover such as timber. Experiment with different retrieve speeds and depths. Normally I start fishing it just about out of sight then work higher or deeper in the water column as needed. As I mentioned earlier, experience has shown the fish than bite the Rage Blade are a higher quality fish on average; although I do catch the occasional dink.
Expand your horizons, stray from the norm, escape mediocracy; tie on a couple new lures this spring. I firmly believe these simple yet effective lure will work in nearly any scenario for bass or other aggressive fish. More information as well as colors, sizes and where to buy can be found at Culprit.com and Strikeking.com.