Bass fishing’s funniest man, Gerald Swindle, doesn’t draw smiley faces on all his tackle boxes, but he inked one on his buzzbait box for several good reasons.
Along with skipping a jig around docks, no lure brings Swindle more joy than a buzzbait. He’s cashed a ton of tournament paychecks using the classic topwater, and perhaps as much as anything, they’re a sentimental connection to many weekday evening jackpot tournaments when thoughts of fishing for a living first became a heartfelt dream.
“Growin up, buzzbaits were a way for me and Johnny McCombs to win jackpots on Smith Lake in my early 20s when I was trying to figure out a way to stop framing houses in the Alabama heat for a living,” reflects the much-loved Team Toyota angler.
Three decades later, with $2 million dollars in prize money and two Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles to his credit, it’s been a long time since Swindle swung a framing hammer. However, his in-depth love of tinkering with buzzbaits to catch bass is as strong as ever, and he graciously offers 30 years of wisdom about these bite-generating topwaters.
They’re not all created equal
Swindle’s shade tree mechanic mentality figured out years ago the key to reducing lost bites on a buzzbait was to set a sharper angle on the wire as it exits the lead head, in turn, forcing the hook to ride lower in the water column for better hook-ups.
As a result, the buzzbait he’s about to launch with Buckeye Lures features an exceptionally heavy wire, that’s bent at a better angle than most buzzbaits to reduce lost fish. Plus, the heavier wire creates more friction where it makes contact with the blade for a louder fish-attracting squeak.
Not too heavy, not too fast
“One of the biggest mistakes people make with buzzbaits is they try to fish them way too fast. The goal is to retrieve them just fast enough to keep them on the surface, and the two keys to achieving that are using a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce bait, not a 1/2 ounce, and don’t use a fast retrieve reel. I don’t like anything faster than my 6.6:1 Inception reels from 13 Fishing,” emphasizes Swindle.
His rod is a 7-foot, 4-inch medium heavy action, also from 13 Fishing, and his go-to line for buzzbaits is 18-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon. He avoids braided line on his buzzers at all costs, because braided line pulls the bait away from the bite way too fast in his opinion.
Postspawn is primetime for buzzbaits
Depending on what latitude you call home, obviously, the phases of the spawn occur at different dates on the calendar, but one thing’s for certain, soon after fish are done spawning is a fantastic time for buzzbaits.
“Whether you’re getting fry-guarding males to eat it, or a big old hungry female laying around a dock resting up after she spawns, there aren’t many lures that allow you to cover more water and generate more bites during the early postspawn than a buzzbait,” says Swindle.
And he should know, it’s been 26 years since he buzzed his way out of the house framing business.