Bill Lowen on swimming a jig



Name: Bill Lowen
Hometown: North Bend, Ohio
Technique: Swimming a jig — retrieving a jig with a steady, "swimming" retrieve; this technique can replace a spinnerbait and give bass a more subtle, natural look.
History: The concept of swimming a jig came as a lucky accident for Lowen. Years ago he was fishing on the Ohio River near his home and working a jig in the conventional manner. After an unsuccessful retrieve, he started to reel the bait in for another cast when a bass took a swipe at the lure. The same thing happened again a few casts later. "There's gotta be something to this," he thought, and he's been swimming a jig and refining his technique ever since.
Highlights: In his first year in the Bassmaster Elite Series (2006), Lowen used a swimming jig to make his first five "cuts." He was also swimming a jig on the Harris Chain at the 2008 Sunshine Showdown when he caught the tournament's biggest bass, a 10-6 largemouth.
When to Use: The technique is effective all year long. As Lowen puts it, "You can catch them on a spinnerbait all year, and you can catch them on a swim jig all year, too." He especially likes to swim a jig any time the water temperature is over 50 degrees.
Where to Use: Lowen will swim a jig anytime other anglers might opt for a spinnerbait. He uses it in heavy wooded cover or around vegetation; rocks are good, too. In fact, Lowen has had such success swimming a jig that he's mostly replaced his spinnerbaits with swimming jigs and relishes the opportunity to swim a jig behind spinnerbait anglers because the look and feel of his presentation is so much more natural and subtle.
Tackle: For years Lowen swam a jig on his flippin' stick, but found himself tired at the end of the day. The rod and its action were just too heavy. He believes the perfect swim jig rod is 7 feet, 3 inches to 7 feet, 6 inches in length and has an action "like a flippin' stick but with a spinnerbait rod tip." You need the soft tip to make good, accurate casts, and it won't pull the jig away from the bass. Lowen is working on a signature series swim jig rod with one of his sponsors. His preferred reel is a Revo STX 7:1 model. He likes the fast retrieve since it helps to keep the bait riding up and allows for more casts over the course of the day. His line is Stren Sonic Braid in 30- or 40-pound test, and he uses it even in the clearest water and heaviest cover.
Lures: Lowen says you can swim any jig, but one designed specifically for the purpose will outperform others. He prefers a bullet head with a flat, planning belly that causes the jig to lift slightly on the retrieve and come through cover better than other models. He's designed a swim jig with D & L Tackle of Corbin, Ky., that fits this description to a perfectly. "Bill Lowen's Swim Jig" comes in 45 colors, but just two sizes — 1/4 and 3/8 ounce. He uses the 1/4-ounce model about 75 percent of the time.
Basics: At the risk of oversimplifying things, but to help anglers unaccustomed to swimming a jig, Lowen compares the technique to fishing a spinnerbait and says that he'll swim a jig anytime others would throw the blade. He also says that his retrieves frequently resemble spinnerbait retrieves. They range from buzzing the jig just under the surface (he likes the 1/4-ounce model for this) to slow rolling the bait along the bottom (he opts for a 3/8-ounce model here) and everywhere in between. "You have to find out what the bass want on any given day," he says. One difference between standard spinnerbait retrieves and the way Lowen swims a jig is that he typically shakes the rod during the retrieve to give the jig some extra action. He'll also s"top" the retrieve when the jig contacts cover so that it can fall, often into the mouth of a waiting bass. He rarely lets it fall all the way to the bottom.
One More Thing: While Lowen maintains that swimming a jig can and will be effective anytime and anywhere other anglers will use a spinnerbait, he does have one caveat. "You need more water clarity to effectively swim a jig than you do for a spinnerbait." He prefers to swim a jig when the water ranges from gin clear to stained. If it's dirtier than that, the Ohio pro will usually join the crowd and toss a spinnerbait.