Big swimbait fishing is alluring and addictive, but not easy on the old ticker. Everyone who has thrown a big swimbait any reasonable length of time has at least one heartbreaking horror story involving a lost giant and a lesson learned the hard way. We sat down with big bait aficionado and ANGLR Expert Alex Rudd to discuss how he approaches glide bait fishing to help you cut down on the learning curve.
Fishing a Glide Bait: When to Throw a Glide Bait
Early spring when the water temp is in the low 50’s, the bass seem to want those big paddle tail, soft body swimbaits for some reason. But the more we start to move into the high 50’s and low 60’s when the fish are moving into the late pre-spawn, that’s when I want to get the glide baits out. I think it has a lot to do with the fish fattening up right before they go onto their beds.
I like a glide bait all throughout the spawn though.
I live in Tennessee. In the south, we’ll have fish all over the place. There will be some pre-spawn, some spawning, and some post-spawn. A lot of the time the bass I’m wanting to fish for are spawning in 10-feet of water where I can’t see them and actively fish the beds. So, I’ll just lock a glide bait in my hand because I can draw bites from the big pre-spawners that haven’t spawned yet, I can draw spawners off the bed because they think it’s a bluegill, and then I can get those post-spawners to eat because they are coming off the bed and their instincts are driving them to eat.
Fishing a Glide Bait: Where to Fish a Glide Bait
You can target spots, smallmouth, and largemouth with a glide bait. The spots I’m usually going to try to draw up out of deep water. So, main lake points are good. I’ll target anything with a shelf where it goes from like 5 to 15-feet of water, then has another shelf from 15 to 30-feet. I’m just going to cast it up there and start working it back and you’ll have packs of fish come up and try to kill it.
For smallmouth, I definitely key in on where the river channel swings.
Those big obvious areas where the river channel swings in and there’s a gradual taper. I’ve found that those smallmouth, on bright sunny days, will want to move up there and feed while they just kind of hang out and sun themselves.
With big smallmouth and big spots, they’ll want to spawn beside something big. So, if you find an area with gravely rock and then big boulders, you’ll want to work it past those big boulders and they’ll crush it.
If I’m targeting largemouth, I’m looking for any kind of hard structure. Boat docks, laydowns, seawalls. All of those really obvious places where you think, ‘well somebody’s already hit that a thousand times’. Well yeah they probably have, but they haven’t thrown an 8-inch glide bait at it. It if looks good and you think a fish ought to be sitting there, I’m going to throw that glide bait at it.
Fishing a Glide Bait: How to Throw a Glide Bait and Why
I’m going to make more than one cast at those areas too. I want to make 5 or 6 casts. I want to change my angles. Because a lot of times when you’re fishing for a bigger than average fish, that fish’s instincts are a little more honed than the young ones. So, you have to mess with the angles to get them to come up and investigate the bait.
A lot of times when you’re fishing laydowns or docks, the fish will come up out of there just to see what it is. I think they do that because of two main factors. There’s nothing that displaces that much water with that kind of signature.
That bait is just so big and pushes so much water that those bass just have to come out and see what it is.
The other thing is, usually when a bass sees something that big, it’s not fake. You have a lot of bass that are conditioned to certain baits and certain sound signatures whether they’ve been hooked before or not. Over time, that self-preservation instinct in their mind flips them into a mood where they don’t want to mess with anything. But when you throw an 8-inch glide bait at them that’s slow moving like that and lumbering, that’s an easy target for them and something they’re going to eat.
I always want to be able to see the bait when I’m fishing it.
The biggest reason is, I want to be able to see the followers. You have to read their body language. You’ll have fish that come in on it real hot and then pull off of it. You’ll have fish that follow it out and are just lazy and investigating it. Then you’ll have fish that I call trackers. Every time that bait glides, those trackers will follow it and be right on its tail.
In most of my experiences, those fish will eat the bait. Their body language is telling me that. So when I see that, I’ll start to make more distinct movements. I’m not just gliding it at that point. I’ll make a few big twitches and make the bait do a 180 and turn around and look at them. Or I’ll speed it up and make it look like it’s trying to get away from them. And that’s when you can get that reaction bite. That’s the deal. Once you see the fish, you want to get them to react to the bait.
You can catch them in a little dirtier water too where you can’t see them. I’ve done it where they just blast the bait and I never see them. But most of the time, I’m looking for that little bit clearer water where I can see the fish and determine if they’re going to want to actively eat it or if I’m going to have to work them a little to get them to eat it.
Fishing a Glide Bait: Gear to Use
Glide Bait Rod
My rod is a little unique. It’s an 8-foot Extra-Heavy, moderate action G-Rod. But it’s a prototype. The main thing those is the 8-foot Extra-Heavy gives you enough back bone to really toss those big baits. I’m throwing 200 S Wavers, 8-inch Mag Drafts, even a Depps 250 on that thing. Those are anywhere from 8-to-10-inches and 3-to-6-ounces.
One of the other big things about that rod is the moderate action, because a glide bait is really just a giant crankbait. I think a lot of people lose big swimbait fish because they use too fast of an action rod. You have to have the heavy power because your throwing those big baits. But the action can be different. You also want that moderate action so when they bite it, you can drive a hook in but not rip it out. It’s really easy to rip a 2/0 treble hook through a fish’s face.
When you have that moderate action, it also absorbs the shock of the fish eating it.
And then it drives the treble hooks in and doesn’t rip them out. It’ll load up like a cranking stick, almost to the first guide. The action also helps on throwing the baits because you can load the rod up and really whip the baits out there and get them to go.
Glide Bait Reel and Line
I use a Lew’s Super Duty 300 reel spooled with 25-pound P-Line CXX. It’s a copolymer mix between monofilament and fluorocarbon. It’s neutrally buoyant so wherever you put it in the water column, that’s where it’s going to stay. It doesn’t sink or float. It has a little more stretch than fluorocarbon but not as much as mono and I feel like that little bit of extra stretch in the line helps absorb a little of that shock too. The one thing about swimbait fishing is when you do get a bite, it’s usually going to be a big one and they’re usually going to freak out when you hook them. So, you have to have something that absorbs that shock like the moderate action rod and the copolymer line.
Selecting the Right Glide Baits
My three go-to glide baits are a 200 S-Waver, a Deps 250 and a Megabass I Slide in the 185 and the 262 sizes. The 185 and 262 I Slides are a little bit different. You want to work those baits really hard. They’re still glide baits technically, but you want to work them almost like a jerkbait. I start to fish those baits more towards the post-spawn because the bass seem to be a little more aggressive.
Glide Bait Hooks
One thing I’ll do every time is change my treble hooks. Something like the Owner Zo Wire Hook is what I’ll use most of the time, but honestly, I use a lot of different ones. I like something that’s still a strong, stout hook, but with a little finer diameter so you have a better chance of hooking the fish. Especially with big spots and big smallmouth. They’ll tend to slap at it more than really commit to it and eat it. Those fish will come up out of deep water and hit it but more with the intention to kill it and not eat it right away. I feel like with a little smaller diameter hook you have a little better chance of hooking those fish that just want to slap at it.