Art of the Swimbait with Byron Velvick

Let me start off this lesson by saying there is no such thing as the perfect swimbait rod, not at this time anyway.

Byron Velvick

About the author

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.

Let me start off by saying there is no such thing as the perfect swimbait rod, not at this time anyway. Swimbaits come in sizes ranging from 3 inches to over 12 inches, and in weights ranging from 1/2 ounce to 4 ounces or more. No one rod will handle that wide variety of lures. If you're going to go first class, you'll need more than one.

With that in mind, a good swimbait rod will have a long handle in the back, a long foregrip, a stiff backbone and a quick tip. It'll be strong yet flexible. It will not have the action of a pool cue. A good one will bend on the cast and yet have enough power to set the hook in a big bass when the time comes.
Let's start at the top of the rod. A quick tip is an absolute necessity. Bass tend to hit swimbaits hard and fast. (They mistake these baits for the real thing. They're trying to kill and eat their prey.) You need lots of flex in the tip to absorb the shock of the strike.

A stout backbone is also an absolute necessity. It helps throw the bait on the cast and will help you pull an outsized bass to the boat.

Stout is not the same thing as stiff, however. Stout, in my world, means strong. The backbone must flex or you'll never develop the casting accuracy you need. Even worse, you could pull the hooks out of the bass' mouth during the fight. At that point all you'll have are memories of what might have been.

The foregrip and butt sections of the handle are also important. Most of the time you'll throw a swimbait two-handed. To do this properly, you need extra handle length in front of, and behind, the reel.

You also need this extra length to wind the bait back. The best technique for swimming the bait back is to tuck the butt of the rod under your arm and hold the rod at the foregrip with your hand above the reel. You can crank the reel handle with your other hand.

This might need more explanation. If you are right-handed you should tuck the butt of the rod under your left armpit. Hold the rod on the foregrip with your left hand, and crank with your right. The right swimbait rod will be balanced when you do this. It won't try to roll or otherwise move as you fish with it.

Right now, well-designed swimbait rods are hard to come by. I honestly don't know of a swimbait rod on the market that I'd rate as great, or as even being worth the money.

But, that's about to change. I'm currently in the final stages of designing three swimbait rods for Duckett Fishing's Micro Magic line. Our rods will rate in the great class, I assure you of that.

The lightest rod — we haven't named them yet — will be for baits 3 to 5 inches long. It'll be about 7 foot, 6 inches in length with a blank that'll toss small swimbaits with ease. The medium rods will handle lures 5 to 8 inches in length and will measure 7 foot, 8 inches. The big one is designed for baits that measure over 8 inches. It'll probably come in at 7 foot, 10 or 11 inches.

Of course, they'll have long handles, weigh next to nothing, be properly balanced and come equipped with our micro guides. Micro guides have a small diameter that reduces the weight of a rod and also reduces line friction as it passes through the guides on a cast. That makes for much greater distance and more accuracy.

The Duckett rods should be available shortly, hopefully by the middle of the summer. In the meantime I suggest you use what you have. The only other option I can recommend is to find a flipping stick that's too soft. Some of them will do a serviceable job. (Actually, that's what I'm using now.)