Best Swimbaits for Catching Monster Bass
Swimbaits continue to become more and more popular as anglers learn about their giant bass catching abilities. As their popularity has grown, so to has the number of manufactures now offering swimbaits of their own. This has led to many innovations and now gives anglers many different styles to choose from. Having so many choices can make it tough to decide which lure is best for you. Additionally large swimbaits are much more expensive than other bass lures so buying a lot to try out is very costly. I don’t suggest you buy every bait recommended. Instead I recommend you pick a couple different styles to try and make sure you enjoy this style of fishing before you invest too heavily in swimbaits.
Bluegill swimbaits are great options when fishing ponds and smaller lakes that don’t have shad. In smaller bodies of water bluegill are often bass main source of food. Because of this a realistic bluegill swimbait can be absolutly killer for targetting the biggest bass in a pond.
A lot of bluegill baits get a bad rap for having a bad land ratio. This is due to bluegill having a more rounded tall body which is harder for bass to swallow. This leads to bass striking the bait trying to kill it but often times bouncing off and not getting hooked. My three recomendations below don’t seem to have this problem due to being designed thinner or more collapsable. This makes them much easier for bass to fit in their mouths.
Soft Body Bluegill Swimbaits
Savage Gear Pulse Tail Bluegill Swimbaits
The weedless LB version is great at getting through grass and heavy cover without getting hung up. The bait collapses easily to expose the heavy duty hook making it easy to get a good hookset.
If you are fishing more open water the RTF with the exposed hook is the way to go. Having an always sharp exposed hook gives you the chance of sticking the bass even if with a bad hookset. The issue with jig hook baits is they can be easy for bass to spit out if you don’t have the right gear. Gear is everything with jig hooks, you need to get the fish in as fast as you can. If you fight them for long or they start taking out drag then your chances of losing them go up. Check out our swimbait rod guide for more info on proper gear or for recommendations.
Both versions are 4 inches which is smaller than a typical bluegill swimbait. The biggest issue with most soft bluegill baits on the market is they are too large. Bluegill have a big round profile which makes it hard for bass to eat. So a lot of times with those larger baits a bass will come in and hit them but bounce off the hooks because the large profile makes it tough to eat. The Pulse Tail swimbait’s smaller size and folds up so easily it makes it much easier for bass to fit the whole bait in their mouths.
Hard Body Bluegill Swimbaits
The Jackall Gantarel is another great bluegill swimbait for ponds or bodies of water without shad. It is a bait that is best fished around cover which is where most bass will be in a pond. Walk around the pond until you find cover and cast out just beyond it. Do a slow retrieve until the swimbait is close to the cover. When the bait reaches the cover give your reel two quick turns and then pause right as the bait passes the cover. The quick cranks will accelerate the bait producing a really tight wobble before the pause which will cause the bait to glide out super wide. This action makes the bass think it has been spotted and the bait is turning to get away. This kicks in their instincts to strike even if they aren’t hungry. Repeat this retrieve on each piece of cover you find and be ready for strikes on the pause.
The Bull Gill is a higher end bluegill swimbait designed by swimbait legend Mike Bucca. It is a four piece bait that is perfect for targeting big bass in ponds. Unlike our other two pond swimbait suggestions this one should be fished fast. Quickly turn your reel 3 or 4 times before pausing for a short moment. Keep repeating this retrieve while covering as much water as you can. The bait produces a great natural swim action that mimic a bait fish trying to get away. Just like with the Gantarel if you get near cover add the pause then. These baits don’t have any fins so they are much more streamlined than most gill imitators. This streamlined design make them much easier for bass to swallow.
Best Multi Joint Swimbaits
Multi joint swimbaits are made up of multiple body sections all hinged together. Having multiple joints allow these swimbaits to have a tighter swimming action than their single joint counter parts. This tighter swim pattern works better during periods when bass are more aggressive and chasing bait fish. For this reason multi joint swimbaits excel during the early fall before the water cools and the spring as the water warms up. Multi join swimbaits are fished faster than a typical swimbaits in order to trigger split second reaction bites from bass even if they aren’t hungry. There are two multi joint swimbaits that I really like:
Mike Bucca Bull Shad
The Bull Shad is another lure designed by the swimbait legend Mike Bucca. This bait is similar to the Bull Gill mentioned in the bluegill section but is a shad profile. The Bull Shad has the same great quality but is more ideal for larger lakes that have a shad population. This baits is a tried and true fish producer. Bass will come out of nowhere for this bait and not only hit it, but swallow it whole. The Bull Shad will work anywhere in the country.
This bait is designed to be fished super fast. I like using a burn-pause-burn-pause type retrieve. Throw it near ambush points for best results.
The Bull Shad comes in multiple sizes but I prefer the 6″ version. For colors either shad color will work great. If you are targeting striped bass specifically then the Dirt Bone color is a good option.
22nd Century Triple Trout
The Triple Trout like the name suggests is a trout profile multi joint swimbait. It is an extremely effective lure that works regardless if the body of water you are fishing has trout in it or not. It will work when fished fast or slow but I prefer fishing my multi joint baits faster. I have found over the years that fishing them faster during the early fall and spring seems to catch more bass. A nice thing about this bait is it comes standard with bearing swivels that are attach to it’s hooks. This allows the hooks to rotate independently which makes it harder for bass throw the lure during the fight.
This bait comes in a range of sizes and colors but the 7″ version in Green Lightning Shad is my favorite.
Best Glide Baits
Glide baits are similar to multi joint baits in design except they only have one hinge. Having only one hinge makes glide baits have a much wider swimming action than their multi joint counterparts. I split glide baits into two categories. Those designed for fishing around cover and those for open water.
Open Water Glide Baits
Open water glide baits are larger than cover glides. They are designed this way becuase bass are generally willing to travel further the larger the bait is. This long pulling power makes these large glide baits perfect for large clear lakes. In larger clear lakes bass will often suspend along ledges and ends of points in deeper water watching for prey to swim above.
Along with their bigger size open water glide baits have a super wide swim pattern. The wide swim pattern can add multiple feet left to right in swim distance so it takes the bait longer to be retrieved back to the boat. This gives bass time to catch up to it even if they are 20-30 feet away. This is beneficial because in big clear lakes you are fishing such a large area out in open water that may be 40 plus feet deep.
The issue with open water glide baits is they can get so large that it is hard to produce a good action. I have found that open water glide baits sized 8-10″ produce the best result.
The Baitsanity Explorer is a glide bait that you will fall in love with. It is my favorite open water glide because it is the perfect balance between size and action. It is a very large bait at 9.5″ but it’s still able to be worked like smaller baits to produce a great action. It produces a large sweeping movement that can draw bass in from super far away, especially in clear water. The Baitsanity absolutely smashes stripers and largemouth bass.
The Baitsanity Explorer was recently updated to gen 2 and now has an upgraded tail that is much stronger than the previous one. Although it is one of the most expensive swimbaits I recommend, for it’s size it is a very inexpensive glide bait. This is an amazing lure that has everything you want in a open water glide bait. For colors I recommend either Kokanee or Trout.
Savage Gear Magnum Shine
The Magnum shine glide bait is a tall, big profile bait. If has an unique feature in that it has soft pads in it’s joint that makes it silent. Most hard baits make a clicking noise as the sections knock together. That noise can help in murky water but for clear water it can make bass wary. So the Magnum Shine is great for fishing open clear water. Another great thing about this bait is it comes stock with double split rings connecting to the hooks. The double split ring connection give the hooks a wider range of motion which really helps prevent bending out hooks when you catch a monster bass. It comes in some great colors but my go to are: Light Trout and Hitch.
River2Sea S-Waver 200
The S-Waver 200 is a larger version of the 168 that I will cover below. Like the smaller version, this bait is a bass magnet. The 200 is 8″ so it has a lot of drawing power and works great in open water. The joint on this bait is loud and has a distinct clicking noise. This makes the bait better for fishing murky water with less than 6 feet of viability.
You can’t go wrong with the S-Waver it is the most consistent and reliable glide bait on the market. I reccomend ether Light Trout or Warden Hitch for color.
Glide Baits for Fishing Cover
Cover glide baits are very similar to open water glides but much smaller. The swim action is much tighter with shorter sway. They are also much more reactive to twitches. This makes them much easier to fish around cover than open water glides.
G-Ratt Sneaky Pete
The sneaky pete is a phenomenal glide bait for fishing cover. It has a loud knocker which produces a ton of noise. This bait works best when targeting cover. A steady retrieve while you approach the cover then give your rod a twich-twich as you pass it. If there is a bass sitting there they will most likely smash your bait. It works best in 8-10 feet of water.
The Sneaky Pete comes in two sizes but I prefer the 7.5″ version in Gizzard Shad or Hitch color.
Savage Gear 3D Shine
The 3D Shine is a smaller version of the Magnum that I talked about earlier. Like the larger version this bait has a padded joint making it much quieter than other hard baits. It has a great twitch that produces a ton of flash. This glide bait works best on a stop and go retrieve. It is perfect for lakes with a lot of shiners or herring.
There are two sizes, I like the 7.25″ in colors Gizzard and Hitch.
The Antidote is a smaller version of the Explorer. The Antidote comes in a slow sink or super slow sink. I have only tried the super slow sink though. The Antidote is designed to be fished near the surface. So it is great for fishing in shallow cover or around docks. This is an excelent bait if you are looking for the quality of the Explorer in a smaller package. Trout and Shad are great producing colors.
River2Sea S-Waver 168
The S-Waver 168 is a must buy. If you only buy one lure from this list it need to be this one. It is just small enough that you can throw it on a standard bass rod. Most of the other baits on this list need a dedicated swimbait rod so this is the perfect intro into swimbaits.
The 168 is just under 7″ and is a super twitchy, reactive swimbait that catches bass from coast to coast. The S-Waver is best fished with 4 reel turns followed by a quick twitch-twitchwith your rod. If I could only have swimbait it would be an S-Waver 168. Bass go absolutely crazy for this bait, it will work anywhere in the country.
Lite Trout it my favorite color but Bluegill is great for pond anglers.
Best Soft Swimbaits
Soft swimbaits come in two styles: paddle tail and wedge tail. Wedge tails are a little more specialized. Soft body swimbaits are great because they can fold up when a bass eats them. This makes it easier for bass to get the whole bait in their mouth which increases your hookup ratio.
Paddle Tail Swimbaits
Paddle tail swimbaits work best as water is cooling into the low 70s or high 60s. This makes them great for fall fishing.
The Magdraft is a great paddle tail swimbait. It has a belly treble hook that is attached by a rotating swivel. The swivel helps prevent bass from being able to throw the bait once they are hooked. This soft bait has great action and does a good job at drawing in fish from further distances. This bait comes in a few different sizes but I personally like the 8″ version in either MB Gizzard or MB Shad colors.
Little Creeper Trash Fish
There are two versions of the Trash Fish that I like. The Fatty, which is a 6″ version and the All American which is a 8″ version. Both are great and catch fish. These baits are much softer than a typical soft swimbaits. Because of this you must fish these baits much slower. Going too fast will make the tail bend up and you will lose all the desired action. This is a swimbait that should be fished slow and on the bottom. Since they are so soft they do amazingly well deflecting off rocks and cover. Every bump makes the fins move and flutter just like a real fish. Fish these near cover or docks slow and you will be very happy with these baits.
These baits come without hooks so you will need to pick up some. I recommend using Owner Beast Hooks size 8/0 for the 6″ Fatty or 10/0 for the larger 8″ All American. For colors LC Hitch or Just Shad are my recommendations.
Keitech Swing Impact
You have likely come across or at least heard of Keitech swimbaits before. They are extremely popular in their smaller sizes for trailers. Although not as common, their bigger sizes like the 6.8 and 7.8 are great cheap options for large swimbait fishing. They produce a ton of tail kick with minimal body movement. They work very well in murky water.
For a weedless setup you can rig them with a 8/0 beast hook. This setup is great for fishing grasses, heavy cover, or around large rock. When targeting open water, small rock, or mud bottom rig them on a 3/4 oz Matt Allen Swimbait Head. The lead head will allow you to really feel everything it comes in contact with.
Kietech’s come in a ton of great colors but I really like: Electric Shad, Pro Blue Shiner, and Rainbow Shad.
The Scottsboro swimbait has a perfectly matched tail kick and body roll which make it a very realistic looking swimbait. The erratic movement produces a ton of flash and vibration which helps draw in bass from further distances. This is another bait that will work anywhere in the country. Like the Keitech you can rig it with an 8/0 beast hook for a weedless setup or the Matt Allen head for more open water fishing. Tip: when fishing this bait weedless bend the hook point up very slightly to increase your hookup ratio.
These soft swimbaits come in multiple sizes but the 6″ version is my favorite in Viper shad or Mullins Madness color.
Osprey Tournament Talon
The Tournament Talon is another universal bait that works no matter where you are in the country. It comes in a ton of different colors so you can match the hatch of your lake. Fish this swimbait at a medium speed along bottom. Allow it to occasionally deflect off bottom or ledges to best results. The Talon has an exposed jig hook so it is important to keep the fish pinned and fight them in as fast as you can to prevent losing them.
Both the 6″ and 7″ inch versions are great. My go to colors are Chartreuse Shad, TW Shad, and Reverse Hitch.
Wedge Tail Swimbaits
Wedge tails give swimbaits a wide kick that creates a lot of flash and vibration. Typically you want to fish these baits on a straight retrieve. Wedge tail style swimbaits are ideal for colder water, low 60s all the way down to the high 30s. This makes them the ideal winter baits for catching giant bass. During this time bass will stop following bait fish and start holding on structure and cover. The best way to fish wedge tails is ultra slow along bottom. When I say ultra slow I mean it. Think 1 reel handle turn per 15-20 seconds.
Huddleston Deluxe 8″ Trout
This swimbait might be the best value in large swimbaits. I have heard of more people catching their personal best on this bait than just about any other lure on the market.
The huddleston should be fished ultra slow along bottom. When fished slow the bait will stay upright with very little tail movement. However when it bumps into cover the bump will send movement down the entire bait. The almost lifeless movement followed by a jolt of movement mimics a dying fish making one attempt of getting away. This action is what typically draws a bite with this bait.
This bait comes in two versions that I like, the ROF 5 and the ROF 12. ROF stands for rate of fall. The 12 sinks faster than the 5. The weight of the 5 is more spread throughout the bait so it glides across the bottom and deflects off of rocks and cover a little more naturally. The ROF 12 is more weighted in the nose so it digs into the bottom and pops over things. The ROF 5 is a good choice if you mainly fish in less than 20 feet of water. If you targeting deeper water then the ROF 12 is the way to go.
If your fishery has trout then go with the trout color. If your lake doesn’t have trout then go with silver/blue back.
Savage Gear Pulse Tail
Savage Gear makes two great wedge tail swimbaits. One in a trout profile and the other is a shiner profile. Both baits are line through baits which you can rig with the hook on either the top or belly of the baits. The benefit of line through baits is once you hook a bass the bait will slide up the line. This allows bass the thrash all they want without being able to use the lure are leverage. This significantly lowers the chance on them getting away once hooked. As the name might let on these swimbaits have tails that pulse and put out a ton of kick.
For the trout profile colors I like: Hitch and Trout. For the Shiner profile I like White and Shad.
Best Top Water Swimbaits
Top water swimbaits are an excellent choice if your new to big swimbaits. Because they float they are not as prone to loss. This can save you a lot of money while learning to fish big baits. My preferred top water swimbaits are:
Spro BBZ 8″ Floating Swimbait
Johnny Rat Wakebait
Swimbait Hardware Modifications
When swimbait fishing you need to upgrade your hooks and split rings. It really cant be said enough. Swimbait fishing is a style of fishing you invest a ton of money into the baits and gear. It can be heartbreaking when you catch a monster bass, a true fish of a lifetime and they bend out your hooks and you lose them. You need to do everything you can to avoid that. Using the right hooks and split rings can move the odds into your favor of landing that once in a life time fish. These are fish you will be telling stories about for the rest of your life. Hardware is something that makes a difference and something you have control over. Do not let your story be about how it got away due to weak hardware.
The treble hooks I use for swimbaits and all my other treble hook baits are the Owner 3X ST-56. The ST-56 are 3X which means they are 3 times stronger. They are super heavy wire which is exactly what you want when you hook a giant bass. Mistakes happen but you do not want hook failure to be the reason you lose a giant.
Another thing you can do to help land more fish is swap the front hook for a red one. Having a red hook on the front gives bass a last second target to hit. It really helps get a solid front hookup and allows the back hook to catch the fish somewhere else. This increases your odds of keeping the bass pinned and successfully landing more fish.
Replacement Hook Size Chart:
- Size 2 Trebles: S-Waver 168
- Size 1 Trebles: 3D Shine Glide, Sneaky Pete, Antidote, Triple Trout, Bull Gill
- Size 1/0 Trebles: Bull Shad, S-Waver 200, Magdraft
- Size 2/0 Trebles: Shine Glide Magnum, Baitsanity Explorer
Swimbait Split Rings
Split rings are the second piece of hardware that can fail. If you have ever had a split ring turn into a figure 8 from hooking a large fish then you know the heartbreak. Owner Hyper Wire split rings are much stronger than standard stock split rings and significantly reduce your chances of bending them out. To take it to the extreme Owner also has an Ultra Wire split ring which is even stronger and has essentially a 0% chance of bending out.
Swimbaits are much larger than your typical bass lures and require specialized gear. If you are looking to buy a swimbait combo then I invite you to check out our swimbait rod & reel guide.