Swimbait Setup Guide for Beginners

Swimbait Setup

​Choosing the right swimbait setup means matching you rod, reel and line to the size and weight of the swimbaits you are looking to fish with.

A lot of people may think you just cast them out on a normal bass spinning rod and reel and retrieve, but things are a little more complex than they seem when using swimbaits.

There are a tonne of different swimbaits available to buy in all different shapes, colors and sizes.

​In recent years the larger swimbaits have become extremely popular and throwing them on the wrong setup is a recipe for disaster.

​Swimbait Setup

​Matching your rod, reel and line is paramount to perfecting your swimbait setup. Ultimately your choice of tackle will be determined by how big the lures are that intend on fishing with.

Medium to large sized swimbaits will need a setup that lies somewhere in the following ranges:

  • ​Rod - 7' to 8' in length, fast action, medium to heavy power
  • Reel - 300 or 400 sized baitcasting reel
  • Line - Braid or mono to match your reel size


​The best swimbait rods will usually have a fast action and a medium to heavy power rating.

Again what you should choose will depend on how big and more importantly how heavy the lures you intend on fishing with.

If you are using swimbaits that are six inches or less in length then chances are you won't need a dedicated rod. 

Once you go a little bigger with lures then it's time to start looking at a purpose built rod.

Personally I think the sweet spot in length is about 8 feet long.  

There are plenty of big brands that offer rods specifically for the larger lures and they are preferred over a normal small casting rod.

You'll want something with a rarely beefy backbone so look for a rod with a power rating of medium to heavy.

The heavier rod give you a much better hookset. Plus you will be targeting bigger fish so the extra resistance through the rod blank will be needed.

Action wise you'll want a fast action. A fast action means much better casting and it also gives that little bit more sensitivity through the rod tip.

Setting the hook right with big ​swimbaits can be a little bit difficult to judge, if you were to use a slower action rod then you would have even less feedback through the rod tip.


The best swimbaits reel for your setup will most probably be a sized 300 or 400 baitcaster.

​A baicaster is the preferred choice to a spinning reel as you can generally get a longer cast and you have perfect control of where the lure stops in mid-flight due to the thumb control on the spool.

Larger swimbaits will almost certainly require a size 400 baitcaster, some fishermen when throwing the giant swimbaits will even use a size 500.

The larger reels tend to be available in either a high or a low gear ratio.

The lower gear ratio gives you a lot more power for cranking really big lures. Larger lures do create a lot more resistance in the water as they are retrieved.

A higher gear ratio will give you a much quicker retrieve but at the expensive of power. Line per turn is usually measured in inches and you will often see manufacturers quote it this way.

​A strong drag and a high quality spool brake are also crucial. Cheaper reels will generally use weaker materials and have poor engineering tolerances when compared to the top brands.

When throwing swimbaits chances are that you are targeting the bigger fish. A robust drag built from high quality components is crucial. 

​Lower quality drags will almost always end up seizing on you and buckling under the pressure of a large fish.

Learning how to tune your reel correctly is crucial to getting the best performance out of it when using larger lures.

The braking system on the spools needs to be adjusted and the best way to do this is by experimentation. Dedicate half an hour to make a lot of casts whilst making small adjustments to the brake pressure setting.

Once you find the best balance between distance and risk of over-run then record what the setting is for a variety of different lure weights.

​Always favor spending more money on the reel rather than the rod. Rods get broken regularly, reels however if looked after and servived ever couple of years should last at least 10 years of for even the heaviest of users.


The age old choice between mono of braid rages in the swimbait world just the same as in most other forms of bass fishing.

Most anglers end up having a preferred choice and will use it almost exclusively for just about every style and setup that they choose to use.

If you are using mono then for medium to large swimbaits 25 to 30 pound monofilament is probably the what you should spool your reel up with.

For braid you can usually double the breaking strain for the same amount of mono, so 50 to 60 pound mono.

Using mono fishing line for swimbaits allows you to have a little bit more stretch in the line which can act as a great shock absorber when targeting really big fish.

Braid however has very little stretch and you can generally get a little bit more casting distance out of it.

Braid will also slice through weeds much easier than mono. So, if you are working your lures in and around or over large weed beds than switching to braid may be the better option.

A great compromise is to use braid as the main line on the spool and then to use either a monofilament or a flourocarbon leader of between 5 and 8 feet.

This type of line setup for swimbaits gives you the best of both worlds, the casting and slicing performance of braided fishing line with low visibility and stretch of mono.

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