Bobby Lane
The Versatilty Of A Boot-Tailed Swimbait

Friday, June 08, 2012

Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Bobby Lane says the Berkley Havoc Grass Pig is a superb bait for targeting post-spawn fish.

Swimbaits have come a long way since I started fishing. During the past few years Iíve used a particular type of swimbait as a search bait, bed-fishing bait and post-spawn staple. Smaller, boot-tail swimbaits arenít new, but they are revolutionizing the way anglers fish.

The problem with these swimbaits is that nobody has been able to classify them.
They arenít the typical giant soft-plastic swimbaits that have been thrown on places like Clear Lake or Falcon, but what these boot-tailed swimbaits lack in size, they make up in versatility. They are one of one of the most useful baits Iíve ever thrown. In fact, 9 months out of the year I guarantee that it is rigged on one of my go-to rods.

June is usually the time of year when most fish have entered into a post-spawn pattern, and these fish have begun to move out of their mating haunts. There may be a few spawning females hanging up, but they are few and far between and located way up north. My main focus in June is catching those fish retreating to their summer homes, which is in deeper waters around heavy amounts of structure.

Berkley Havoc introduced the Grass Pig last year, and it has exploded in the swimbait market. Stores canít keep them on the shelves, and anglers canít keep them off their hooks. Anglers throw these baits anywhere and everywhere.

I start out by throwing the Grass Pig on a main lake point or deep ledge where bass are getting ready for the heat wave. I make longer casts, making sure that I am not spooking these fish because you have to remember that you are not the first person on the water casting to these fish. Anglers may be able to get in and look at these fish early in the season, but as time wears on you need to move farther away.

I like to start out with a slow retrieve, and this is only to give the fish a longer look at the Grass Pig. If you notice a fish moving in on your bait, following it back to the boat, back off and immediately throw a similar-color 4-inch PowerBait Crazy Legs Chigger Craw. Be sure to work the Chigger Craw slowly.

Fish that are moving to deeper waters will begin to seek out easier prey like the Grass Pig. That is exactly why I speed up my retrieval. Speeding up the bait will create a reaction bite from starved bass, looking to recover from the spawn.

The colors of the Grass Pig will vary, but if I encounter cloudy or stained water, I stick to green and brown colors. If the water is super clear, I'll go with colors with some red in them like the California color. My hook choice is a 5/0 wide-gap or 5/0 belly-weighted hook, depending on what the bass are looking for or what kind of cover anglers are fishing.

You need to cast far and precise. I use 20- to 25-pound test Trilene 100% fluorocarbon when I'm fishing for those early-season spawners in clear waters, but when I'm fishing for fish in tannic waters, I like to go with 50-pound SpiderWire Stealth braid. I find myself using braid more during the summers because more of the water I fish is dirtier than other lakes.

Every single reel I use is a high-speed Abu Garcia Revo. I know there are a bunch of doubters out there who only use a 6:4.1 gear ratio, but let me explain why a high-speed reel is so efficient.

The Abu Garcia 7:1.1 reels allow me to gather in the slack when a bass hits the bait and makes a run toward the boat. I can take in more line, which equates into more efficient angling. It is also easier for me to slow down my presentation.

Photo: BassFan Store
Lane prefers green- or brown-colored Grass Pigs for stained water.

The rods I use fit right in with the rest of my tackle and can handle the stress of using the higher-strength line. When using the braided line, I use an All Star 7-foot, 6-inch Flippiní Stick. When targeting early-season spawners, the stick I use is an All Star 7-foot, 4-inch medium-heavy rod.

Swimbaits aren't typically used as search baits, but they are highly effective. When bluegill are cruising around looking for an easy fry snack, the Grass Pig is a perfect imitator when targeting these bass in transition areas or when locating bass that move out of the backs of pockets.

Every angler encounters new-lake phobia, but this bait is very helpful in eliminating the fear of searching for fish in a new area. The unique versatile characteristics of these types of swimbaits are the ability to throw them anywhere. When searching for bass before a tournament, I start at the typical main-lake points and move out to the deeper ledges, targeting any type of structure that I can find. These are the times when the heavy lines are vitally important. Bass can run an angler into all kinds of timber and trash. This takes a toll on line and having stout line is the best way to ensure success.

Swimbaits give an angler a distinct advantage in any situation, but these smaller versions give anglers every opportunity to catch fish in any season. Like I said, I use them 8 to 9 months out of the year, which means I'm targeting pre-spawn, spawning and post-spawn bass. You can Texas-rig them, swim them weightless or add a weighted belly hook. Whichever way you choose, more fish will find their way into the boat.

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