Swim jigs are an underrated bass lure. This guide will show you how to fish a swim jig. I’ll talk about how to rig them and the best situations to use them in. Also, I’ll cover how to retrieve them.
If you need to cover a lot of water, a swim jig is a great choice. You can pull them through sparse weed beds and bounce them through rocks. They won’t get hung up on weeds and have better landing ratios than treble hook lures.
Overall, you’ll be surprised at the versatility and effectiveness of a swim jig.
What Exactly Is a Swim Jig?
First of all, let’s talk about what a swim jig is. A swim jig has a head shape that is pointed. This makes it better suited for getting through cover easily. The eye of a swim jig should be straight in line with the hook. It should not sit perpendicular to the hook.
Of course the head should not be across the hook like you’d see with a football jig.
Swim jigs can come with a weed-guard or without one. I recommend that you use a jig with a weed-guard when you are going to be fishing heavier cover.
Spring Swim Jig Fishing
In the springtime, bass will start moving up into the shallows. This can be a great time for swim jig fishing.
As bass start to stage in the pre-spawn, they’ll start feeding more aggressively. This is necessary to support the energy demands of spawning.
Try using a swim jig in areas near shallow spawning grounds. Look for gradual slopes with the first signs of growing weed beds. Try retrieving your jig just above the fresh weed growth. This is a great way to attract bass hiding in ambush.
Once the spawn gets going, fish will usually be in water less than five feet deep depending on water clarity. While you may not technically be swimming a jig, you can certainly cast one while sight fishing and use it as a regular jig.
Summer Swim Jig Fishing
In the summer, swim jigs are a great tool to help you find scattered bass. A common tactic in the summer is to search for bass near deep structure. This can be a ledge (drop off), road beds, humps, etc.
Swimming a jig through these structures will help you target bass that are suspended above it.
Simply cast out past the structure and then count the jig down. Learn your jig’s fall rate, so you can place it right in the strike zone. Then, bring it in with a varying retrieve. If the pause and jerk retrieve doesn’t work, try a slow roll or a fast burning-it-in retrieve.
Keep in mind that if you burn a jig in at a very fast rate, it will rise in the water column. If your intent is to keep it at a specific depth, this high speed retrieve won’t work.
Use quick jerks and pauses if your goal is to keep it at a certain depth for as long as possible.
Another great summer tactic for swim jig fishing is throwing it around weed beds.
Fishing A Swim Jig In Weeds
You may be wondering if you can fish a swim jig in weed beds. The answer is yes. You just have to judge the situation.
For example, if you are next to a large weed bed and it looks really thick, you should stick to the edge of the weed bed. Another option is to only cast a few feet into the weed bed then swim the jig back in.
If you cast a swim jig too far into a thick weed bed, it will just come back up to the top or worse, it could dig itself into the weeds. Then, you’d have to go in and dig it out.
But, if you’re looking at a very sparse weed bed with just a few clumps or strands here and there, then fire away. You should be able to navigate the jig through the open areas. This can be a deadly tactic.
Just remember to check the thickness of the weed bed and then decide how you want to tackle it.
Fall Swim Jig Fishing
The fall transition can have bass moving back into the shallows. Bass chasing shad is a common occurrence this time of year. If you can’t find schools of shad, it can be hard to locate bass that may be scattered.
Here, the versatility of the swim jig shines again. Swim it through the remaining vegetation or along rocky outcroppings. This can help you locate bass with the jig acting as a searchbait.
If standing timber is more common where you fish, a swim jig can work there as well.
Sometimes lures that carry treble hooks can be problematic in timber. Constantly getting hung up can be a problem if there are several narrower branches still protruding.
A swim jig may be less likely to get hung up in these scenarios.
Swim Jig Trailers
There are two main categories of swim jig trailers that I like to use. The first is a swimbait trailer and the second is a craw trailer. Examples of swimbait trailers that I like are the Keitech 3.5 and the Gary Yamamoto Sako.
When would you want to use a swimbait trailer over a craw trailer? Well, if you know that the bass are feeding on baitfish such as shad or bluegills, then a swimbait trailer would be a good choice.
Look for bass busting the surface, chasing shad. Or, use your fish finder and locate bait balls.
This will clue you in that baitfish are the forage of choice.
As for craw trailers, I really like the Strike King Rage Chunk.
Crawfish trailers of course come in handy when you have crayfish in the area. However, even if you don’t, trailers that mimic crayfish or are marketed as creature baits can be effective swim jig trailers.
This can be especially true if you’re fishing river systems or areas with rocky structure.
Try the bottom hopping technique or a sudden fast jerk. This action is similar to a crayfish jumping and then darting away. You can trigger reaction strikes this way.
Also, many crayfish trailers have arms that move up and down in alternating fashion. The Rage Chunk does this. This back and forth action can be very effective when used with a swim jig.
Swim Jigs Over Rocky Structure
Over rocky structures is a prime way to fish a swim jig. Letting it sink and then occasionally bouncing it off the rocks as you retrieve it can really get some bites.
Make sure you know the depth where you are. This will help you countdown your jig. With this tactic, you can drop it until just before it reaches the bottom. Then, start your retrieve. You can try different retrieve speeds.
Try the slow and steady retrieve. If this doesn’t work, change it up to a ripping retrieve. There is a variation of this called stroking a jig.
Stroking a jig is basically just giving your jig some really aggressive jerks or hops. You can hop it once or multiple times. The key is to do it aggressively. Some anglers also make it a point to let the jig fall back on a slackline. This gives the jig more of a natural fall rate.
Swim Jig Colors
Swim jig colors are an important consideration. To keep it simple, you can rely on old adages and vary from there.
The basics are as follows. In clear water, try some natural colors. Green pumpkin of shad patterns can work. Another good color in clearer to stained water is black and blue.
When the water starts to get darker or has some mud in it, change things up. Try using chartreuse with some gold flake for some added sparkle.
Swim jigs don’t get the credit they deserve. Fished properly, they can be surprisingly resistant to getting hung up in weeds. They can be fished deep, shallow, fast, or slow. This is what makes them so effective. Their versatility is their strength.
Keep in mind that trailers are important. They can really add the extra action that causes a bass to strike.
So, next time you’re thinking about what to throw, make sure you give a swim jig some consideration.