The Power of the Swim Jig
article by KENNY COVINGTON
One of the things that all fishermen do very well is having the tendency to take this great sport and at times, over complicate it. We get so engrossed with colors and seasonal fads that we are guilty of overlooking the obvious and more simple solutions to catching bass. Sometimes these simple solutions give us our best results.
A jig has long been described as the best big bass bait ever created. It’s hard to argue against this claim. More big bass are caught around the country on jigs year to year, regardless of water color, temperature, season or type of fishery. They just flat out catch fish. But what if I told you there was a simpler approach to this special lure that has been around for several decades, yet you rarely see people use the technique I am about to talk about?
The name of the lure itself is called a “Swim Jig” but the technique of swimming a jig is really nothing new. Or is it? When I was a kid fishing Cheniere Lake, I learned to never allow your worm or lizard to ever hit the bottom. The fish would always suspend around the Cypress trees so swimming a worm was and still is a deadly technique when fishing Cypress tree infested waterways.
The first time I recall swimming a jig was years later. I had heard of people using the technique down on Turkey Creek to catch monster pre-spawn and spawning fish. The idea was to pitch the jig past the Cypress trees a few feet and retrieve it under the surface a few feet “swimming” it past the targeted areas. It was the same thing I had done years earlier with a plastic worm; they simply had upped the ante by using a jig.
Fast forward several years and you can see how things have changed. Now there are specialized jigs made just for the Swim Jig technique and there is an abundance of trailers as well. There are specialized rods, as well as the types of lines used to complete the whole “Swim Jig” system. Let’s take a look at what you need to get started.
The first question I am usually asked is “what color Swim Jig do you like?” I keep my choice of colors very simple. I use a white or a shad pattern, a black/blue or I will use a bream or green pumpkin color. Those three colors will cover everything I am trying to mimic so that is all I throw. I will use either a ¼ or a 3/8-ounce size with the 3/8 being my choice 90% of the time. The only time I prefer the lighter jig is if I am fishing extremely heavy grass areas. No matter the size of the jig, always make sure it has a stout hook.
Trailer choices is where the technique can get a bit confusing. I will use a boot tail style trailer, a crawfish type of trailer, or a swimming grub style trailer. In cooler water I have found the boot tail trailer to be most effective because it gives the lure its own action during a slow steady retrieve. I like the crawfish style trailer during the spawning season because of the action transmitted from the claw portion of the soft plastic and I use the swimming grub when the bass are keying on shad. I always match my trailer color to the jig I am throwing with the exception being I like a green pumpkin trailer on my black/blue Swim Jig.
My rod set up is similar to what I would use for regular jig fishing. The key difference is I will use a medium/heavy rod with good tip action. The tip action is important especially if you find yourself skipping the jig under or around targets such as trees, docks or flooded bushes. I have found my frog rods to be the perfect rod choice for this technique.
I use a high-speed reel spooled with 50 lb. braided line. I do not use monofilament or fluorocarbon lines when throwing a Swim Jig because braid offers more advantages. The braided line gives me excellent hook setting power, it doesn’t backlash as bad when skipping the lure and I haven’t seen where using braid costs me an abundance of strikes, even in clear water.
Fishing the Swim Jig is probably the easiest aspect of this whole concept. When fishing it in open water or over submerged grass I make a long cast, hold my rod at a 10 o’clock level and use a slow steady retrieve. When fishing shallow cover such as gator grass or fishing around clumps of submerged moss or milfoil, I will keep the jig up near the surface and twitch and pop the rod periodically throughout my retrieve. The erratic movements tend to trigger strikes from bass that have taken refuge under or around the vegetation.
I honestly haven’t found a lake where the Swim Jig won’t catch fish and that’s the main reason, I always have one tied on in my rod box. It also works well when fished around or skipped under boat docks. As mentioned earlier, its deadly when fished around Cypress trees and grassy areas. It is especially effective when skipped around flooded buck brush regardless of the time of year. It is a great substitute when fish are short striking a spinnerbait or when fishing behind other anglers on crowded lakes.
Recently I won a tournament on a lake that had been getting an overabundance of fishing pressure. Even while fishing in one of the more popular areas of the lake I won by throwing a white Swim Jig with a matching crawfish trailer around shoreline gator grass. I was able to fish these areas more effectively and show the fish a lure they hadn’t seen by presenting the Swim Jig inside of the thickest parts of the grass. That is the beauty of the Swim Jig and when used properly, it is a bass killer!
Well, it looks like we have run out of space and time for another month. I sure hope I was able to teach you a few things about Swim Jig fishing and that you give it a try the next time you visit your favorite fishing hole. With summer in full swing our lakes and rivers will be crowded so please be extra careful when enjoying our waterways. If you are able to go wet a hook, please make sure you catch one for me. See you next month!