Swim jig fishing is something fairly new and not talked about a great deal. The pros are definitely doing it and it is very effective for covering lots of water. Like a normal jig you can fish it stationary or with hops and bounds. Where this jig differs is it is designed to swim. It slithers right through heavy cover making contact with objects and triggering bass to bite.
You get bass to bite through a feeding action or you make them bite through a reaction type bait. The swim jig can be either. If bass are actively feeding and busting bait, it's all just chunk and wind. The bass will do the rest. Spring and fall can be real easy because the bass want to eat. What about the middle of summer? There has been a bunch of pressure on the bass and quite a bit of the feeding is done at night. Probably most of your fishing is done during the day. The swim jig can trigger neutral to negative bass to bite as well, even on high pressure cold front days.
The swim jig looks much like any other jig. The components are the head and hook, the weed guard and you add a trailer of some sort. The difference is in the design of the components and it makes a huge difference. Starting with the head, it is bullet shaped to pull through cover. A football jig would be hung up constantly. The eye is placed (vertical) in line with the weed guard to slip through as well. The hook has a smaller gap to avoid snags and the skirt has less bulk and undulates with the slightest input from the angler. The weight is light, it will weigh from 1/4oz to 3/8oz to allow a nice steady swim at low speed.
You don't have to choose a certain cover or depth to fish with the swim jig either. You can fish it all. It performs like a crank bait from the shallows out to deep cover, but stays in the strike zone longer. That means you have a better chance at a bite. You can hit more objects and weeds to trigger a bite without weed fouling to mess up the action or spoil a spot. It pulls right through heavy mil foil beds and lily pads to pull the bass out of hiding. The swim jig has the attraction of a swimbait, causing bait to follow it and the ability to start the bass feeding from the fish activity.
To cover lots of water, you use long casts with the swim jig. A medium action bait casting rod around 7 foot will help you make many long casts without wearing you out. This rod will also be accurate for shorter casts around docks and stick up cover items. If you are in pike territory, braided line is a great choice. The sensitivity of braid and its “tooth resistance” make it the best choice. Fluorocarbon is good too especially in very clear water. If fluorocarbon is used, 15 to 20 pound should be used. The heavier the cover, the heavier the line. A high speed reel (6-7:1 ratio) is great if you can discipline yourself to slow down. You really want to go slow and hit EVERTHING you can to attract and trigger bass.
The swim jig can be used several ways, even in one single cast. You need to get the feel of the bass each time you go fishing. A good way to start is cast out and let it fall to the bottom. Keep your finger on the line and watch it carefully to detect a bite while the swim jig falls. Many bites will come this way. Let it sit for a moment, then lift your rod and retrieve it. Drag it right near the bottom with your finger on the line letting it hit everything. This is the best technique and combines the Carolina rig and the crankbait by contacting cover and presenting the bait right on the bottom. In water under 8 feet in depth, this is very effective as most bass will be near or on the bottom.
Another approach to is cast and begin the retrieve right away. You can keep it from middle depth to near the top of the water column when bass are actively feeding. Keep your rod around 10 o'clock and wiggle the tip as you reel to give a pulsing action to the skirt and trailer. Parallel the shoreline with this retrieve to trigger active bass. You will soon find bait like perch and bluegill/sunfish hitting the tail. The bass are never far away from bait concentrations. You will also notice minnows will rush and jump out of the water as it approaches them. As you notice shore structures like points and boulders or wood, cast out and draw the jig back in. This will pull bass in toward these ambush spots just like a swimbait. You can easily start bass feeding with the swim jig by doing this as bait starts to dart around and cause a stir. The nail that sticks out gets hammered!
A good rule of thumb for color is match the skirt. A good pumkinseed imitation is green with a little chartreuse in the skirt with a green trailer. A little chartreuse dipping dye on the tail of the trailer will really sell this to the bass. A single tail curly grub or mini “beaver” style soft plastic is great. Craw imitations are also a good choice. Just keep the whole swim jig set up short and compact. Three inches in total length is plenty when you are imitating a small bait fish. Bass, big and small, will smash this!
Alewife, herring and shad can be duplicated with white/black and purples and good old “sexy shad. Check the pictures and pick the closest colors. Again match the skirt with the trailer. Double tail grubs give lots of action and imitate skittering bait well.
Smallmouth love little perch so this set up should be green/black and don't forget the orange and white on the belly. A single tail green grub will do excellent here. Drag the jig right along the bottom and hang on. Some of the biggest smallies in the area will crush the swim jig when presented like this. Rocky flats and boulders with some weed cover will hold schools of yummy perch so work the swim jig right through these areas. You will notice perch following and hitting the tail. When the perch all of a sudden scatter, the smallies have moved in and it's game time!