Thursday, January 14, 2016
January and the new year are finally here and for the next few months we have our best opportunities at catching the biggest bass in our lakes! From Clear Lake, CA all the way to the Big “O” in FL one of my favorite techniques and bites is getting ready to go wide open and that’s…..SWIMBAITS! Ever since the swim bait explosion in the late 90’s swim baits have continued to evolve and become more than just a tactic for big fish hunters only. In fact many tournaments across the states are won each year on swim baits. Now we are lucky enough to have a very wide variety of baits to choose from, everything from 14oz trout imitating baits, multi jointed shad baits, glide baits, hollow body’s and giant top water baits. All of these swim baits have a time and place where they will be successful, but a question we get at the rod shop almost daily is “I’m just starting out swim bait fishing and I’m not sure what rod and reel I need”. Like swim baits, the rods that fish them properly have evolved also, almost to the point of crank bait rods where there are so many variations in baits that you would need 7 rods to fish all their different weights.
With all these variations, there are a few rods that I always recommend to guys getting started or looking for a rod that will lend the most versatility in the swim bait realm. 795SBMT,796SBMT,806HSB… These 3 rods will handle most the bulk of swim bait fishing especially as tournament fisherman so that your always abiding by the 8’ rod length rule that some circuits still employ.
795SBMT/795SB- First so there’s no confusion the only difference in these 2 rods are handle length. The 795SBMT(swimbait mag topwater) has a 10” handle and the 795SB(swimbait) has a 13” handle. Both of these rods have the same blank, guides, reel seat and will handle the same weight and line capacity. The 795 is a very good rod for fisherman that plan to fish a smaller profile swim bait and light to mid weight A-rigs. This rod will really shine with a bait like the 5”-6” Bullshad, 5”-6” ospreys, 6” Hudds, 7” MS slammers and A-rigs that are set up between 1.5oz-3oz. A very nice asset with this rod is that it will accommodate smaller diameter line and the rod will not overpower the line on hook sets and casts and the smaller diameter line can be very critical for certain baits in order to get the proper action out of them.
796SBMT-This is a phenomenal rod that offers the most versatility in my opinion! The 796SBMT was designed with a 11 ¾” handle and it was built that way to offer a longer handle to aid in leverage and hand placement for casting heavier baits but kept shorter than the Long handle models to help with top water baits and glide that require a tip down cadence while helping to keep the handle from getting caught up in your shirt and hoodie sleeves. This rod will handle baits from 2oz-8oz and also accommodate the larger multi bait A-rigs in that 2oz-5oz range. An advantage the 796SBMT has over its counter parts is that it’s a little bit faster of a rod which has helped me with certain baits such as the lunker punker, and mid size glide baits say from 7”-9”, another thing the faster action helps with is fishing swim baits as a bottom contact bait almost the same as you fish a jig. The 796SBMT is a very versatile rod that will suit any angler that plans to fish baits in that 2oz-8oz range and mix in large topwater bait and mid size glide baits as well. The 796SBMT is a rod I always carry with me and also a rod that I can tie almost any swim bait or wake bait on and it will perform!
806HSB/806HSB-LH- This rod has 2 handle length options as well, the 806HSB has a 13” handle and the 806HSB-LH(long handle) has a 18 ½” handle and again every thing on the rods are the same except for the handle length. The 806 swim bait rods are the best option for anglers looking to focus on standard techniques in a chuck and wind fashion. The rod handles 2oz-8oz and is very well suited for baits such as 7”-9” ospreys’, 8” hudds, larger Bull shads, and other mid size to large baits. The 806HSB-HSBLH are very user friendly rods for fishing the mid size swimmers, the rod has a slightly slower action that makes it very easy to cast large baits and also helps keep them pinned once you hook up.
When picking out a swim bait rod there are a couple key factors to look for. Be sure to pick the rod that is going to handle your desired weight range, casting a big bait is part of the battle, a good swim bait rod should have a good pre load for the cast with your bait and a smooth recovery after the bait has been released, this translates to farther casting distance for you and less risk of breaking off on the cast. Rod weight and balance, because if you fish a rod that’s not balanced and is overly heavy it will burn your arms out that much quicker and make swim bait fishing a pain rather than good learning experience. Lastly pick a rod that has your desired specs for overall length and handle length, pick the rod that’s right for you not for somebody else. If your swim bait equipment is comfortable for you then that will make it that much easier for you to fish those baits confidently.
Swim bait fishing is not just for the west coast, fish will eat swimmers at any lake in the country! Pick a couple good baits that match your regions baitfish and go experience swim bait fishing during the best monthes of the year for it! Good luck everybody!