Big Swimbaits for Bass

Big Swimbaits for Bass

​Although big swimbaits for bass were first introduced in California they have now gone mainstream throughout the US.

​I would like to explain what I learned and what is meant by the term “big swimbait.” I am sure many of you have read articles about anglers using swimbaits 12”-16” in California to land giant bass. 

However, I have learned that the word “big” is relative to where you are fishing and this could vary from waterway to waterway. Basically, I found that the term “big baits” meant 6”-10” lures and this not only meant swimbaits, but all baits.

Big Swimbaits for Bass

​When I first started out the results were very disappointing, after using the big swimbaits for a while I would go right back to normal baits, spinnerbaits, senkos, etc.

This went on for almost a full season. So it was back to the classroom so to speak. I had been putting all my time and effort in the physical aspect of fishing “big bass baits” so I completely ignored the mental aspect!

I am in no way saying the mechanistic part of this sport is not important because they are. However, I would say after experimenting with this for almost five years now, the mental aspect is about 75% of fishing “big baits”!

Big swim bait fishing for bass is a mindset! I knew at this time some changes were in order to be successful at this.

I made several changes before my next time on the water. Instead of trying to make this big bait theory work on every body of water, I chose one to learn, the Oswego River, Minetto to Fulton Pool and the Fulton to Phoenix Pool.

Even choosing only one body of water, those sections of the river offered approximately 12 miles of water to learn and about every type of structure and cover combination possible.

Another change I made was I took all other tackle out of my boat except the big bait tackle I was going to be using. When you are holding a bait that is 6 inches or larger in your hand, it is very hard to imagine a bass hitting something so large. 

​And I bought a dedicated swimbait rod, swimbait reel and only a tackle box full of swimbaits.

When I first started using big baits I really wished I knew how to use them, the wish grew into a desire and the desire grew into an intention. No matter what the cost I would not only learn how to use big baits, but be successful at it as well.

After all, that’s what it is all about. From the summer of 2006 to date I have spent every spare moment on the river. That meant spending from the time the ice thaws to the time the river freezes again.  

My time on the water is when hunting season starts. There were many days when I was the only one out there. Many days were spent just riding up and down the river monitoring the depth finder and once I found a promising area, I would dissect it and completely map it in my notebook.

Another important tool is an underwater camera, just be sure it’s one that has a video out port so you record what your looking at on a camcorder. It is also an advantage to have a depth finder that can record what you’re looking at on a memory card. 

Does this sound too much like work? Not if you are determined to succeed.  Equipment selection like your rod, reel and line are critical. My suggestion is to use equipment that “you” are comfortable with because throwing these large swim baits can get very tiring.

I could tell you some of my exact locations that I have done the best. However, that will not help you at in learning how to use big baits. There are some keys that will help you concentrate your efforts and things to keep in mind. One key is current. There are basically four types of current: 

  • No current: No flow of water is definitely something to be aware of.
  • Natural current: This can vary at any moment.
  • Wind current: This can position fish in the most unlikely places.
  • Back current: This is what I call it when they open the locks on the dams and the water flows backwards.

Another important key is light or lack of it. There can be different degrees of light from sunny to dark and everything in between. Now, I can start putting together a pattern with the varying degrees of current and light. One of the most important keys is angles!

Remember to always work your lure with the current because that is the direction the bass would be facing?

Again, someone forgot to tell the bass about this theory. Did you notice that I didn’t mention temperature or the color of the bait as a key? You know why? Because it doesn’t matter how cold the water temperature is or what the color of the lure is when you place the lure in the right area. The bass don’t care as well! These keys only scratch the surface of big bait fishing.

The most important key in using big baits for bass is having the right mindset! Remember, the beginner’s mind I mentioned in the beginning of this article. That is exactly what you need to fish big baits.

Always let the fish tell you what is right or wrong, never determine that yourself. Remember to remain 100% focused on the job at hand, which means don’t be thinking about the last cast or the next cast, put your entire concentration effort into the current cast.

Dedication to the job at hand, determination to succeed and persistence until it happens, is how I learned how to fish big bass baits.

Tackle Considerations

Throwing these larger swimbaits will mean that your tackle has to be ale to withstand the extra pressure that is placed on them.

An ultralight bass fishing setup is really not going to cut it here.


A good swimbait reel will need to be able to handle a lot of larger diameter line. It will also have to be strong enough to pull large lures at speed if need be.

Look for baitcasting reels in the 200 to 400 size. They will have to have the correct gearing to match your lure. For larger lures a lower gearing is favored as you will need some extra cranking power to fight the drag that a larger lure creates as it is reeled in.


A good swimbait rod for such large lures will need to have a medium to heavy power rating, a fast action and have fall somewhere in the range of between 7 and 8 feet in length.

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