Swimbait Tips

Jacob Wheeler’s Top 5 Ways to Rig Paddle Tail Swimbaits for Bass

Pro bass angler Jacob Wheeler routinely relies on soft swimbaits to catch all bass species, at all depths, on fisheries across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. He lays out his top 5 favorite ways to rig and fish this versatile bait, so you too can experience success in wide-ranging situations. Without further ado, here are Wheeler’s top 5 swimbait setups and applications:

1. 3-inch swimbait rigged on a jig. A small swimbait rigged on a ball head jig is one of the best all-around get-bit baits in existence. This setup excels when bass are keying on small baitfish (early fall on southern impoundments), year-round for smallmouth and spotted bass, or anytime fish are just finicky in general. This setup is best fished on a spinning rod and reel combo.

2. 4-inch swimbait rigged on a jig. A mid-sized paddle tail rigged on a jig is Wheeler’s most used and favorite all-around swimbait setup — it catches ’em shallow to deep all year long. Just increase or decrease your jig weight/size based on the depth you’re fishing. Wheeler prefers fishing this setup on a medium action rod and reel combo spooled with 12-pound fluorocarbon.

3. Swimbait rigged on a Tokyo Rig. Tokyo rigging swimbaits is a relative newcomer and still overlooked in many situations. Fished either weedless or with an exposed hook, a Tokyo-rigged swimbait is an excellent substitute for traditional swinging jigs. The physics of weight hanging below keeps the swimbait glued just off the bottom while also permitting the swimbait to move freely and independently of the weight.

4. Weedless rigged swimbait. A Texas-rigged swimbait rigged on a belly blade swimbait hook is an excellent baitfish imitator and comes through cover snag-free with ease. Wheeler uses this setup religiously in shallow water and offshore when targeting mid-depth bass relating to isolated brush piles. It’s an excellent alternative to fishing a spinnerbait or ChatterBait, especially when the bass want a less imposing bait.

5. As a trailer on moving baits such as vibrating jigs (ChatterBait), swim jigs and spinnerbaits. Wheeler advises not to overlook using a swimbait as a trailer on your favorite moving baits. Specifically, he’s had excellent success (tournament wins) by adding bulk and action to the backs of ChatterBaits, swim jigs, and spinnerbaits. Bulkier, flat-sided swimbaits also have the added benefit of improving the ability to skip baits deeper under overhanging cover such as brush and docks.

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