1 Bait, 5 Reasons: Watson's Perfect Swimbait for Winter Ozark Fishing - Major League Fishing

1 Bait, 5 Reasons: Watson’s Perfect Swimbait for Winter Ozark Fishing

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James Watson breaks down why a 3.5-inch Tackle HD Swimmer on a 1/4-ounce head is his go-to winter setup. Photo Courtesy of James Watson
December 24, 2020 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

MLF pro James Watson has called Table Rock Lake home for many years now. Watson has experienced plenty of chilly winters in the Ozarks and has found a time-tested bait that does a great job at getting him bit—a 3.5-inch Tackle HD Swimmer on a 1/4-ounce head.

“Something that works really well during winter in the Ozarks is something we call ‘grub fishing’,” Watson explained. “The evolution of swimbait technology has only made it a better technique. When the water cools down and those fish aren’t as active, I think this swimbait catches their eye pretty well.”

Watson sat down and listed five big reasons as to why the Tackle HD Swimmer is his go-to for winter bass.

1. Watson on the Wobble

A swimbait’s effectiveness is essentially dependent on the action it produces. Watson says that it’s hard to get better action from a swimbait than what he gets from the Swimmer.

“The bait has a wider side and belly to it than other baits like it,” Watson said. “Those features give it a different wobble as well as a different thump on the tail. Pair that with a darter head, and the bait is near impossible for a fish to pass up.”

2. Perfect Around Cedar Trees

Watson has said before that cedar trees are one of the best targets you can find in the wintertime on an Ozark Lake. That statement holds even more true when there’s a swimbait involved.

“If trees are sitting super deep in the water and submerged, I like to throw my swimbait over the tops of the trees,” Watson detailed. “The bigger bass on the lake are usually hanging out in the limbs and branches of those cedar trees. If you can work the bait over the top of the tree and near them, they’ll come out and get it.”

3. Easy to Use with Light Line

Watson is sure to point out that this technique works a whole lot better with lighter line. The clear waters of the Ozark lakes make it imperative that your line is as light as you can get away with.

“I go with 8-pound usually but I can go as small as 6-pound sometimes,” Watson tipped. “That lighter line really gives the bait and the head the action it needs. I like to back my reel with 10-pound Maxima braid and do a 30-foot leader of Maxima fluorocarbon.”

4. Economical Packaging

Sometimes you don’t always get a bang for your buck when it comes to buying baits. Paying a good amount of money for only a few swimbaits in a package isn’t the greatest investment according to Watson. That’s why he says he never has an issue with Tackle HD and the way they package their swimbaits.

“The economical thing about the Tackle HD Swimmer is that we put 10 Swimmers in a package,” Watson pointed out. “When you buy a bag of these baits, they’re going to take you a long ways. That’s really important for me when I’m out on tour, knowing that I’m always going to have enough and I’m never going to run out.”

5. A Quality A-Rig Swimbait

An Alabama rig is quite popular in the Ozarks come winter. Any good angler will tell you that the A-rig is only as good as the baits you put on it. That’s why Watson loves the Swimmer and the number of baits he gets in each package.

“This swimbait is perfect for an A-rig setup,” Watson advised. “With so many that come in a package, you can get two full A-rig setups from one package. Alabama rigs are great to use in the wintertime and a Tackle HD Swimmer is the perfect swimbait to put on it. Five of those things swimming around is going to be hard for a fish to pass up.”