Pick the right swim jig trailer

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James Overstreet

It’s a rare day when I launch my boat without a swim jig on the front deck rigged and at the ready. In my opinion they’re one of the most effective shallow water bass lures that’s ever been made. I can’t tell you exactly why other than I think they look like a real minnow and they’re quiet and nonthreatening. 

Because I fish them so much I get a lot of questions about them. Other than which brand I throw, most of those questions center on trailers and how I use them. 

Here’s the way I see it…

There are three basic types of trailers. There are flappers, curly tails and boot tails. There are uncountable numbers of each on the market. Pick whichever one you like in each group. My personal preferences come from LurePartsOnline, and they’re almost always 4 inches long. That seems about right for most situations.    

Flappers are mostly made from pinched off worms and creature baits. They’re at their best when the water’s clear, the fish are quiet and the conditions around them are quiet. These trailers give the jig a little lift, a little bulk and a wave-like movement. That’s enough to get a bass’ attention but not enough to run it off if it’s skittish.

Curly tails are probably one of the most common trailers, and for good reason. They show action and move water so they’re good for slightly stained water and rough weather. Curly tails are an excellent all-around choice when you’re not sure what else to use. There’s something about that waving tail that excites bass and causes them to strike even when they aren’t feeding. 

I always rig my curly tails with the curve and tail up. I don’t have a good reason for doing that other than I know most other anglers rig them down. A slightly different look isn’t all bad especially in highly pressured water.  

Boot tails are popular, too. They have a hard, recurring thump so they work well with aggressive bass or when you want to put some noise with your bait. But, they are at their very best immediately before, during and after the spawn. That’s now in some parts of the country and not too far off everywhere else. 

I fish my swim jigs exclusively in clear or slightly stained water. My fish can see the lure long before they bite it. That means I want my colors to compliment one another or at least blend into each other, and I want them to look natural. Shad, green pumpkin and black-and-blue are my first picks. 

That’s about all there is to working with trailers and swim jigs other than one last thing. I always trim the skirt back to the bend in the hook. I want it to flair out and I want to make sure the bass sees and feels my trailer.

Another last thing is the idea of not using a trailer. I can’t offer any advice about that because I’ve never fished a swim jig without one. Honestly, I never have, not even once. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. But, I don’t have all the answers. If any of you have experience doing that, please post them and educate me.

It’s never all that easy to pick the right swim jig trailer. Nevertheless, if you keep some of the things I’ve talked about in mind it’ll make your pick easier.