A lot of new bait and techniques are created every year, but it takes accreditation on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail for any concept to prove its worthiness.
Some of us are a little stubborn and slow to become believers. I include myself in that group.
Like, during the early years of my career, the Slug-Go soft stickbait craze was unleashed, and I said it was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen.
One day I drew Dave Fenton from Texas in a St. Lawrence River Invitational, and he really caught the fire on them. I quickly became a believer and went on a tear in tournaments with that bait for a year or so.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson and become a little more open minded about new concepts. Yet, when Tommy Biffle won a tournament at Fort Gibson with his Larew “Hard Head” swing jig and Biffle Bug a couple years ago, I didn’t give it a second look.
I didn’t even try fishing it even though I began to hear other people talking about how effective a swinging jig head could be.
Once again, shame on me for being stubborn.
It consists of a football-style lead head attached to a swiveling hook. A soft plastic bait is rigged weedless on the hook and allowed to sashay behind the lead.
Earlier this season, Mark Davis nearly won our Table Rock tournament throwing a similar rig. He made me realize it’s different than throwing a football jig and that the swiveling head delivers an erratic action to any soft plastic lure you add.
I stayed after the Table Rock tournament to work a media event and started experimenting with the concept and different types of lures.
I rigged up Mustad’s KVD Fastach Football Weights that allow me to use and change any hook size to match any bait I want to use. That, coupled with a KVD Grip Pin Offset hook and any soft bait, created a swing jig similar to what others are using.
I quickly discovered that the bass will eat just about anything you hang on the back of that swiveling football jig.
I fished it in the same areas as a standard football jig and the results were stunning. I got nearly four times as many bites!
I was fishing rocky bottoms in 6 to 12 feet of water and just reeling it along. What was impressive was the fish would bite it under tough conditions, such as when the water was clear, no wind and bright skies – conditions during which they would ignore the crankbait.
I caught a ton of fish and built a lot of confidence.
So, when we got to BASSfest last week on Lake Chickamauga, I started the tournament on a place where I caught fish on the Denny Brauer Structure Jig and a standard football jig. However, the bite slowed because of all the fishing pressure.
I picked up the 3/4-ounce Fastach swing jig rigged with a 10-inch Thumper worm on a 6/0 Grip Pin hook and caught two big ones on back-to-back casts. I wound up catching a third of my fish in that tournament on that rig and nearly all of my bigger bass.
I’m not only a big believer in the swing jig concept now, but excited about the versatility it offers and the variety of lures you can fish behind it.
You can fish it deep or shallow as long as the bottom isn’t slimy, mucky or weedy. You can pull it, drag it or simply wind it along the bottom. You can bet I will be playing with it some more, as I believe we’ve only scratched the surface in what this technique can add to our bass fishing repertoire.
It provided me another lesson in why I need to stay open-minded, and tournament fishing is all about the attitude!