Overlooked Shad-Imitating Swimbait for Tough Bass

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Jacob Wheeler loves targeting grouped-up offshore bass but attests these fish are among the most pressured in the lake. He shares one of his favorite sleeper paddle tail swimbaits for imitating natural forage, the two methods he uses to fish it near the bottom, key adjustments to experiment with, and his go-to rod setup.


Fish finder advancements and a never-ending onslaught of innovative tackle have produced more lure-educated bass than ever before. Wheeler stresses that if you want to stay on top, you must constantly try new lures and techniques while making subtle changes to established ones to show the bass something different.

He compares and contrasts a proven hair jig presentation with a comparably sized paddle tail swimbait. While “preacher jigs” still produce, an internally weighted and keeled paddle tail swimbait fished with a 1) reel and pause cadence or 2) bottom drag delivers more action and shad-imitating realism than hair jigs. Wheeler walks us through what a typical cast and retrieve look like and shares his overlooked bottom drag retrieve, similar to fishing a football jig.

As mentioned above, tweaks to a particular technique or lure can make a difference. Wheeler often upsizes from his starting 4-inch swimbait to target bass keyed on bigger bait or just bigger fish altogether. Lastly, he details the best rod, reel, and line setup for employing this proven offshore swimbait technique. If you’re an avid bass angler, chances are good you already have what you need in your inventory.