Springtime is swimbait time

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Byron Velvick

Byron Velvick

Byron Velvick is a pioneer in the swimbait movement and holds the B.A.S.S. record for heaviest catch in a three-day tournament (5-bass limit) at 83-5.

Hey folks, I’m back and it’s springtime. That means the water’s at or above the 58-60 degree mark almost everywhere. You might want to start thinking about putting your hard jerkbait away in favor of a soft swimbait, but not just any soft swimbait.

You want one that has good tail action at slow speeds. A swimbait that lacks tail motion is useless. The easiest way to test one is to drag it real slow past your boat. If it glides or doesn’t have serious tail movement, put it back. It won’t catch them. My preference is the Rago BV 3D. (Tightlines has a UV version of it.) Berkley and Basstrix also make good ones.

When you choose a color and a size you must match the hatch. There are no exceptions to this rule. And I’m not talking about threadfin shad and other tiny forage, either. I’m talking about the bigger things that pose a threat to the bass’ nest — bluegill, crappie, bullheads or whatever else is in your lake or river.

The importance of this can’t be overstated. If it doesn’t look real, you’re wasting your time fishing with it. Bass do not strike at swimbaits because of instinct. Regardless of whether a bass is going to their nest, on it or leaving it they have an innate instinct to clear the area. Sometimes they kill and eat, and sometimes they just kill. Either way, you can catch them if your swimbait looks like something they’ve seen before.

Another important thing about springtime swimbait fishing is that your best bite will be in the late afternoon — after 2:00 for sure. Sometimes there’s a very early bite right at daybreak, but it tends to be light and sporadic. Don’t depend on it. Avoid the hours between 9:00 and 1:00 at all cost. They’re killers. It’s cast after cast with nothing happening.

I’m guessing that the late afternoon bite is so good is because the water warms up during the afternoon. Spring nights are cool, sometimes downright cold. That slows down the bigger bass, the ones that’ll chase a big swimbait. They need some extra warmth to get going.

Make long casts. This is not target fishing. You’re covering water, often water that looks ordinary and barren. Bring your swimbait back as slow as possible in a straight line with a low-speed reel  — if you don’t have a bow in your line, you’re fishing way too fast — and keep your lure down, near the bottom. In fact, I like to bump the bottom occasionally with mine.

Winding a swimbait back slowly is every bit as important as matching the hatch. It’s really easy to fish one too fast. Guys do it all the time. I can’t tell you how often I see this happening. It’s so frustrating to me. They aren’t catching anything, and they’re blaming the lure. They should be blaming themselves.

I strongly encourage you to give swimbaits a try starting right now. Get a couple that look like the real thing and learn to fish slow. You’ll be amazed at how it’ll improve your catch.

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