Pollen is in the air, on the water and covers my boat on a daily basis. When this happens, it means one thing to me – the bass are on the bed. Now, most people are all giddy about sight-fishing, but that’s not my deal. I can count on two hands how many fish I’ve caught truly sight-fishing. What comes to my mind during this time is swimbait fishing, but more specifically, one kind of swimbait in particular – a line-thru swimbait.
About 10 years ago I purchased my first line-thru swimbait (a California Swimbabe) and for the first nine months never made a cast with it. Well, one morning I was about to head out on my guide trip and my dad put the bait on my trolling motor pedal. Guess I was either going to let it blow out or use it once and for all. The fish were spawning my clients were catching 2- to 4-pounders at will and it was a fun day, but we hadn’t caught any big fish for the day. Around 11 o’clock I tied the swimbait on. Immediately my client joked about my mental health and if I was fishing for sharks. Well, as the saying goes, he who laughs last, laughs loudest. In about 30 minutes I had boated one over 9 and another near 8. I dropped them off after the trip and my love for a line-thru swimbait began. That afternoon I caught a near 30-pound limit and was hooked.
Fast forward five years and after three days of practice at Beaver Lake, yes Beaver Lake, I think I have a legitimate shot at my first ever win on the FLW Tour. This is where I was taught a hard lesson about this bait. It’s your best friend and your worst enemy all balled up into one bait. I saw 20 pounds a day follow, swat and knock at the swimbait. I was too stubborn to throw a follow up bait like a weightless worm or light Texas rig. That tournament opened my eyes to what that bait during the spring will do. It will entice the biggest fish in an area to show itself. If he commits, awesome; if not, just use a follow up bait.
When it comes to fishing a line-thru, the technique itself isn’t very complicated. Tie it on and start throwing it at every target you think a fish will spawn near. A stump, rock, dock, bush, seawall – you name it, just cover water. I like to reel the bait just out of sight. When I can see the bait the entire cast I feel I get too many followers and not enough to commit because not only can I see them, they see me.
I worked closely with Scottsboro Tackle to develop a line-thru that I could reel fast without the bait rolling over and could run within sight, but not run too close to the surface. I feel this gives me the best chance to make fish commit, yet still make them show themselves.
The only thing I do that isn’t “stock” to my line-thru is add a split ring to the treble. I feel this gives the hook more wiggle room and slack when inserted in the bait and positions the hook a little bit farther back into the bait. Choose a shad or bream color and hang on for some of the most violent strikes you will ever encounter.
The next time your friend wants to go sight-fishing take him up on his offer, tie on a line-thru swimbait and never put it down. Not only will you become a believer, so will he.