The Swimbait Debate, Part 1 of 2

I like to go big with my swimbaits. It's a confidence thing with me. I know — not believe, but know — that big swimbaits look more natural to bass.

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.


Editor's Note: In this two-part series we'll examine the role size plays in selecting the right swimbait for your fishing. Elite Series pro, Byron Velvick, will offer his perspective on why he likes big baits. His fellow competitor on the trail, Kenyon Hill, will tell us why he likes to go small. Of course, you have to make the final decision.


Part 1: Bigger is Better

 I like to go big with my swimbaits. It's a confidence thing with me. I know — not believe, but know — that big swimbaits look more natural to bass. They're less wary of them. Bass see hundreds of small lures swimming through the water. They quickly become conditioned to them. Big baits are different, bass rarely see them.

 And don't kid yourself about big baits and small bass. A big swimbait might catch more big bass than a little bait, but that doesn't mean little bass won't attack them. They will in a New York minute. Big, heavy swimbaits scare anglers, not bass.

 I like to fish them shallow. I define that as water less than 20 feet deep. If the sun is out and there's a slight ripple on the water, so much the better. And when I'm fishing with them I'm always looking for big bass habitat.

 Areas with rock, wood and grass are prime. Look for the places that make a spot on a spot. A big boulder sitting in the middle of small rocks on an expansive flat is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Or try targeting a big nasty laydown, extending from the bank into 15 or 20 feet of water with nothing else around it. A lone patch of grass will make a good target, too.

 Boat docks and marinas are also super great areas for giant swimbaits. There's always a bass or two around a boat dock, so give every one you see a couple of casts. Marinas can be hot as well. The big ones are the best. Too many anglers downsize when fishing them. It's as if they believe nothing over 4 inches lives there. I know different.

 If you doubt my word, throw some bread or crackers into the water around the docks and check out the size of the bream and crappie that come up to eat. I guarantee you they'll be some of the biggest ones you'll ever see.

 The best time to fish a big swimbait is during the morning and again in the late afternoon. For some reason the bite slows down between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. I know that sounds crazy, but years on the water have convinced me that it's true.

 Now, before we talk specific baits and tackle, let me give you a tip: Don't be afraid to fish behind other boats with big swimbaits. They're throwing little, dinky stuff. The bass have probably seen everything they have a dozen times over. Nothing they're doing will hurt your bite.

 My favorite swimbaits are from the Tru-Life series made by Tru-Tungsten. They have a unique action — not to mention a spectacular finish — that makes them come alive in the water. You can stop them and they'll turn 180 degrees and hold perfectly motionless, as if they're looking back to see if something's after them.

 They're also tough, reasonably priced and are offered in a wide range of sizes and colors. Choose the model that best suits your water, keeping in mind what I said before — big, heavy swimbaits scare anglers, not bass.

 Basstrix, Berkley and Huddleston baits are all worth mentioning, too. They'll catch bass day after day and hold up to the abuse that big bass frequently dispense.

 When it comes to tackle, I prefer a 7-foot, 9-inch Carrot Stix (Boyd Duckett Classic Gold, extra-fast tip, extra-heavy action) with an Abu Garcia Revo Toro reel (5.4:1 gear ratio) spooled with 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene XT Monofilament line (green).

 Go big!