Swimbait Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide!

Swimbait Fishing Lures – a Complete Guide!

The subject of this article will be swimbait fishing lures. Swimbaits are very effective lures that will produce a wide variety of species.

swimbait largemouth

A swimbait is a fishing lure that resembles a swimming bait fish. They can be soft or hard plastic. Swimbaits have a body with a tail that produces a swimming action when retrieved.

Swimbaits are fairly easy to use, that is one of their advantages. In most cases, the lure is cast out, allowed to sink, and reeled back in slowly. The action is produced by the tail in soft plastic lures or by the segmented body with hard plastic lures. Some anglers consider them “big fish” baits. This is mostly due to the fact that swimbaits are available in large sizes to target trophy fish.

Swimbait varieties


Swimbaits come in two basic varieties; soft plastic and hard plastic versions. As in all things, each has advantages and disadvantages. Hard baits are more durable while soft plastic swimbaits are more versatile and economical.

Hard plastic swimbaits

Hard plastic swimbaits come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. Many manufacturers offer quality baits. Some of these that are meant for trophy bass or musky are huge! The segmented body gives these lures their swimming action. Some of them are incredibly lifelike.

finesse fishing

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Hard plastic swimbaits have a treble hook or hooks hanging below them. This limits to some degree where they can be fished. They are mostly limited to open water situations. Hard plastic swimbaits are also fairly heavy. They cast a long distance. However, the baits also make a pronounced splash, limiting their use in shallow water. These are excellent search baits that can be used to cover a lot of water.

Soft plastic swimbaits

swimbait fishing lures

Soft plastic swimbaits are used more often than their hard plastic cousins. These lures are available in a wide variety of colors and sizes. They have a solid body and a shad type tail which gives it the swimming action in the water. There are two types of soft plastic swimbaits, lures designed for swimbait hooks and lures that are used on a jig head.

Soft plastic swimbaits are more versatile than hard plastic baits. Anglers can quickly and easily change the size and color by changing the body. Also, these lures swim with a single hook that faces up, often times rigged weedless. This makes them much better choices for fishing in vegetation and other heavy cover.

swimbait fishing lures

The basic jig and grub combo is basically the first swimbait. Anglers rig the grub on a jig head and then cast it out and retrieve it back in. It has been used for decades in both freshwater and saltwater, being productive on a variety of species. However, all jig heads are not the same. The best jig heads for use with swimbaits have the eye further forward as opposed to on the top as stand jig heads. This results in a better swimming action in the water.


Dedicated soft plastic swimbaits are designed to be used on a special swimbait hook. These hooks have a holder of some type on the front which holds the bait. The hook has a wide gap to account for the bulk of the lure. The bait itself has a “pocket” or slit where the hook can go. A weight is molded on the bend of the hook. These combine to result in a horizontal presentation when anglers swim the bait through the water.

Best rod and reel for fishing with swimbaits

Baitcasting rod and reel combinations are best in most cases for casting swimbaits, for a couple of reasons. The reels have faster retrieve ratios, making it easier to crank the baits back in. Baitcasting reels also have more power for setting the hook and handling a big fish.


Anglers can certainly use spinning outfits as well, particularly when using smaller swimbaits. A 3” bait on a ¼ ounce jig head will be much easier to fish on a 10 lb spinning outfit than a baitcasting rig.

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Best fishing lines

Anglers have three choices when it comes to fishing lines; monofilament, braid, and flourocarbon. Monofilament is the least expensive, but has a lot of stretch. Braided line is costly, but lasts a long time, casts well, and has no stretch. Flourocarbon line is also fairly expensive, but has little stretch and is nearly invisible. Flourocarbon is best in clear water while braid is a good choice in heavy cover.

Swimbait fishing techniques


One great aspect of fishing with swimbaits is that they are really pretty easy to use. The lure is simply cast out, allowed to sink, then reeled back in using a steady retrieve. They are true search baits which allow anglers to cover a lot of water efficiently. Swimbaits can be used in any water depth, from a foot deep to over twenty feet deep.

The angler controls the depth that the lure runs by the weight of the bait, the time it is allowed to sink, and the speed of the retrieve. The size of the bait is often dictated by the size of the fish being pursued. Big bait equals big fish! Dedicated anglers seeking trophy fish will cast a huge swimbait all day just for a bite or two.


Swimbaits will produce in all of the same spots that other lures and baits do. As in all fishing, locating the fish is the first order of business. Open water deeper spots such as points, bluffs, and deep submerged weed beds are good spots to cast hard plastic swimbaits.

Soft plastic swimbaits are versatile and can basically be fished anywhere except the heaviest matted vegetation. They are extremely effective in shallow water weeds and other vegetation. Fallen timber only adds to the chance of a fish holding there.

Best swimbait fishing lures

search bait fishing lures

There are many fine, high quality swimbait fishing lures on the market. It would be impossible to list them all here. However, a few of the top swimbaits will be highlighted for anglers unfamiliar with them.

Bass Assassin swimbaits

bass assassin


Capt Jim’s favorite line of swimbaits is the Bass assassin line. They offer several models from the Sea Shad grub to the Die Dapper swimbait line. They are available in many different colors.

Strike King Rage Swimmer

rage swimmer swimbait

The Strike King Rage Swimmer is available in several sizes from 2 3/4” to 5 3/4”. They are also made in a dozen colors. The Strike King Rage Swimmer is a durable and economical swimbait fishing lure that catches a ton of fish.

Berkley Swimbaits

berkley swimbait

Berkley offers anglers several swimbaits in various styles, shapes, sizes,and colors. They also include the added benefit is being scented. These include the Power Swimmer, Paddle shad, Hollow Body Swimbait, Ripple Shad, Swimbait Shad, and the Champ.

Hard body swimbaits

There are plenty of lure manufacturers that offer hard plastic swimbait fishing lures. These can get a bit expensive, but are durable and catch a lot of trophy fish for anglers dedicated to using them. A few of the best will be listed below.

Lixada swimbaits


Lixada offers anglers a huge selection of hard plastic swimbaits. There are many different models, shapes, sizes, and colors. The largest baits are used by anglers chasing musky. Smaller lures catch bass and other species.

Catch Company

catch co swimbait

The Catch Co Bull Shad is another large bait used to target trophy fish. The Baby Bull Shad is a smaller version that is better suited to a variety of species with more action. They available in a half dozen different colors. The Baby Bull Gill is a very realistic bluegill imitation.

bass fishing with swimbaits

In conclusion, this article on swimbait fishing lures will help anglers understand the options available to them as well as the best tackle and techniques to be successful.





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