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Jacob Wheeler’s Tournament Paddle Tail Swimbait Technique

We listen up when Jacob Wheeler starts sharing bass fishing techniques that give him an edge. For Wheeler, mid-sized paddle tail swimbaits are highly overlooked, particularly in offshore fishing scenarios on the Tennessee River and beyond. He goes into great detail on how to rig and properly fish finesse swimbaits in the 3- to 4-inch range for stingy offshore bass.


The process starts with selecting a high-quality jig that locks the swimbait in place so you can get catch multiple fish on a single bait. Wheeler walks through how to rig soft swimbaits on screw-lock jig heads perfectly straight every time. So what’s the mark of a quality swimbait? –this boils down to baits that engage (swim) on the fall and when reeled at the slowest speeds. A constant tail kick mimics shad and generates bites.

Fishing the bait too far off of the bottom is the biggest mistake Wheeler sees anglers making when fishing paddle tail swimbaits. It’s imperative to keep the bait near the bottom in most situations. Wheeler achieves a deeper running depth and better overall action by using a lighter line (12-pound fluorocarbon) and a heavier head. He also prefers a slower 6.3:1 reel to help resist working the bait too fast. Use a rod with a more moderate taper and make sweeping hooksets. Like ChatterBait fishing, a slight hesitation supports deep hooking with little chance of losing a pinned fish.

Lastly, Wheeler takes us through what a typical cast should look like starting with an initial fall to the bottom, then a horizontal retrieve. Reel just fast enough to keep the bait a foot or two off of the bottom. Want to up your catch by 20-30%? Stop the bait mid-cast, letting it fall back toward the bottom. Trailing bass can’t resist a shad-imitating lure dropping from the school like a dying shad.