Howell, Hackney on the Swim Jig: "I Fish It 365 Days a Year" - Major League Fishing

Howell, Hackney on the Swim Jig: “I Fish It 365 Days a Year”

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Randy Howell and Greg Hackney rely on a swim jig for big fish and big numbers.
January 3, 2020 • Dave Landahl • Major League Lessons

Swimming a jig isn’t a new, breakthrough technique. In many ways, it’s as basic as it gets as far as bass-fishing techniques are concerned: Anglers have been swimming them as long as they’ve been slinging them.

But while plenty of bank accounts have been padded by professional anglers and weekend warriors alike thanks to the unassuming swim jig, many anglers still don’t keep them in their arsenal. But, that’s not the case with MLF pros Randy Howell and Greg Hackney. A swim jig has been one of their most consistent producers of bass for a couple of decades now.

Check out what Howell and Hackney have to say about one of their favorite lures.

Are swim jigs a numbers lure or can you catch big fish with them as well?

Randy Howell: Swim jigs can catch numbers for sure, but typically this is a big-fish technique. I love swimming a jig because it’s fast and efficient, and you can cover lots of water quickly. It also catches big fish.

Greg Hackney: A swim jig is the best of both worlds. It’s great for catching high numbers of quality fish and for covering huge expanses of cover-filled water.

Randy Howell views a swim jig as a big-fish bait that you can also cover a lot of water with. Photo by Joe Branch

What’s your preferred setup for fishing a swim jig?

RH: I use the Daiwa Tatula Elite “Skippin’ Jig” rod. It’s a 7-foot-1 heavy action with a shorter handle for swimming and skipping. My reel is the Daiwa Tatula Elite with an 8:1 retrieve ratio. I spool up with 65-pound Daiwa J-Braid Grand.

GH: A Lew’s 7-2 Hack Attack Swim jig/frog rod, Lew’s Custom Pro Reel 8:3.1 gear ratio, and 50-pound Strike King Tour Grade Braid.

Do you have a preferred time of the year to fish them?

RH: Spring. I like power swimming a jig in the pre-spawn/spawn season. You can also fish a different style swim jig technique out in deeper water at other times of the year, but that’s a totally different technique.

GH: I fish a swim jig 365 days a year.

What’s your preference for cover and/or structure to fish them?

RH: I prefer standing weeds like water willow found in most of the southern reservoirs. But any kind of shallow cover like stick-ups, trees, and floating docks are all good for the swim jig technique.

GH: My favorite cover would be around any type of vegetation. They work from 6 inches of water to 30 feet deep.

Greg Hackney has a favorite time to fish swim jigs: “365 days a year.” Photo by Josh Gassmann

What size jig along with color and trailer combos are your “go-tos” for swim jigs?

RH: I use two different Lunker Lure jigs: a 3/8-ounce single Rattleback Jig and a 3/8-ounce Ultimate Rattlin Jig with a Yamamoto 4-inch twin tail grub or single tail grub. If I want a larger profile and slower bait, I use the twin tail, and if I want a faster presentation usually in warmer water, I use a single tail.

I use several colors depending on water color. I like white flash with a white trailer, crawfish color with green pumpkin trailer, and black and blue with green pumpkin trailers.

GH: I use only a Strike King Hack Attack swim jig in 1/4-, 3/8-, or 1/2-ounce. I use three trailers: the Strike King Rage Craw, Menace Grub, and the Rage Swimmer. My three favorite colors are green pumpkin, black and blue, and white. I choose the color depending on water cover and what the dominant forage is at the time.

What’s one of your favorite memories fishing with a swim jig?

RH: My best memory comes from back in 2004 and winning the inaugural Bassmaster Elite 50 tournament in Arkansas with the power-swimming technique. I don’t believe the bass had ever seen it around that bank grass on Lake Dardanelle. It was the dominant technique that week. That week, I caught them on a white flash with a white Yamamoto twin tail.

GH: Probably my last swim jig experience on the final day of REDCREST on Pool 7 of the Mississippi River.