Put some swing in your plastics
I’ve made a good living fishing big crankbaits and Texas rigged worms during the summer, but in the past couple years I’ve added another valuable tool to my arsenal – the swing head jig.
Tommy Biffle gets credit for bringing this nifty rig to the bass fishing world when he won an Elite event with his Hard Head and Biffle Bug. That created an explosion of similar rigs and a new technique we’ve all learned to embrace.
I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I thought it was a gimmick, but I learned a long time ago to take anything new to the water and experiment before forming a solid opinion.
I tried a variety, including Strike King’s Structure Head and Mustad’s Fastach football weights, and came away impressed.
The action these swing heads impart is unlike any other soft bait presentation. Because the hook swings freely behind the jighead, the bait does things you can’t make it do with other rigs and provides a more versatile and year-round presentation than what most of us assumed.
Now it’s important to remember that these rigs are best utilized on hard, clean bottoms. They’ll work around scattered grass bottoms, but the hard bottom is key to any situation.
While most people rig them with small creature-style baits, I experimented with a variety of soft plastics and found you can use anything from a straight tail finesse worm to a big swimbait and be successful.
As you move the bait along the bottom, the soft bait shimmies behind the jighead in a tantalizing fashion. Baits that seemingly have no action, like a finesse worm or a stick worm, come alive behind that jighead. You can fish them deep or shallow, too.
Water clarity, seasonal pattern and the forage base dictates which soft bait I use. At Table Rock, for example, the water is clear and the forage base is predominately crawfish, so something like a Strike King Rage Craw or Structure Bug is hard to beat. In ultra-clear water, I like the Strike King Menace Grub, which is what Mark Davis used to finish second at Table Rock last year.
So, in water where you have 3-4 feet of visibility, the smaller baits with a more subtle action work best. But when fishing stained or deeper water, bigger bulkier baits like full-size creature baits, swimbaits or even a big worm are good because they displace water and help the fish find the bait.
During the 2014 BASSFest, I fished a 12-inch Thumper worm behind a swing head and caught more fish than I did on a Texas rig.
Another advantage to the rig is it gives you a better feel of the bottom than a standard Texas rig worm. You can feel the bottom composition change and know when you pull it across a shell bed.
Swing heads come in a variety of sizes and weights. You want one heavy enough to maintain bottom contact but don’t want it so heavy it hinders your feel or hangs up a lot.
I use two different ones, the Fastach and the Jointed Structure Head. The Fastach has a football head design which is good for fishing rocky bottoms; the Structure head has a pointed head so I prefer it for fishing areas that aren’t very clean, such as around grass edges.
The beauty of the Fastach is it has a clip system that allows you to easily change hook sizes. For example, if fishing a big bait, I might want a 5/0 or 6/0 hook, but if I decide to try a smaller lure I can slip off the big size and replace with a smaller hook.
So when you’re fishing your favorite deep water haunt this summer, show those bass a swing jig instead of the same ol’ baits. You might find you love ‘em like I do!
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!