By Stephen Pineau
If you are acquainted with the sport of bass fishing in the least, you have undoubtedly heard about the tremendous successes that anglers on professional tour have experienced with swimbaits. It is good news for the sport that we can now see an instance of where techniques that are little known elsewhere are now being utilized all over the country and are not only making an impact on the sport, but are creating an entirely new market within the bass fishing industry itself.
Think back, for example, to one year ago on Clear Lake, CA, where Alabama Pro Steve Kennedy absolutely stomped the majority of the field with a whopping four-day total of 122lbs and 14oz. How did Steve manage to sack this astounding weight? With a 10” Huddleston Deluxe Trout swimbait and a soft-plastic hollowbody bait called a Basstrix. Almost instantly, the market was flooded with bassers from all over the country looking to get their hands on a pack of these soft, life-like lures. And even before the next Elite Series tournament could get underway, we were already seeing these hard-to-find plastics surfacing on eBay with outrageous price tags (I know…I looked).
Steve Kennedy (and pretty much every other angler in the top-5 of that tournament) proved to us that these big baits weren’t limited to the tackle boxes of hardcore trophy hunters, but rather were a worthwhile technique that tournament anglers would be remiss to overlook. From that tournament on, swimbaits became a staple in the arsenals of many of the top pros and savviest anglers across the United States. Although Clear Lake provided us with a “birth date” of the swimbait craze so to speak, roughly 30 to 40 top-5 and top-10 finishes have been attributed to swimbaits in the past two years in B.A.S.S. alone! From 2007 through 2008, spectators and anglers alike have witnessed how effective these baits can be in waters ranging from South Carolina to Texas and even to New York! So, just why was it that it took 108 of the worlds best anglers to prove to us that swimbaits weren’t just for those lucky few who call California home; and furthermore, what lessons in swimbaits did we learn from their bass-catching prowess?
I think that when you get down to brass tax, the big lesson we took from all this big-bait madness can be summed up in a few words: swimbaits are NOT a fad. Nor are they a faze, hype, trend or whatever else you want to call it. Swimbaits are big (no pun intended) and they’re here to stay. Allow me to explain why…
It is common knowledge among those who feverishly chase the illusive Micropterus salmoides, that one of the most common types of freshwater forage is baitfish; whether it be shad, shiners, alewives, blueback herring, tilapia, perch or bluegill. Bass HAVE always and WILL always chase these fish in for the purpose of sustenance. Taking this into account, as long as bass are willing to eat baitfish, lures that accurately reproduce the action and appearance of these fish will continue to fool hefty largemouth into taking it for its next meal. It’s as simple as that. Case in point – the jig. It has been proven that all three species of bass tend to consume more crawfish than any other source of food. And as long as bass will eat a crawfish, bass will continue to eat a jig.
So what can the average angler take away from all of this? Well, it should first be that there is a 99.9% chance that the bass in your local waters just LOVE to eat other types of fish. And the second should be that, no matter WHERE you live in the country, you should pick up some quality swimbaits, and go feed ‘em. Good luck, and tight lines!
University Of Texas at Arlington