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Discount Tackle Staff
Swim jigs and bladed swim jigs (aka vibrating jigs or ChatterBaits if they are produced by Z-Man) are two incredibly popular power fishing presentations for targeting bass. Both options are moving baits that imitate common forage like bluegill, crawdads, shad, and shiners and are typically constructed with strong, stout jig hooks that can haul in big bass. But the question often remains: which situations does it make the most sense to throw one bait versus the other? Are swim jigs and bladed swim jigs interchangeable? Or does one shine in some scenarios where the other doesn't and vice versa?
In this blog we compare and contrast these popular, effective bass fishing techniques and breakdown when and where you should throw swim jigs and bladed swim jigs for maximum fishing success.
When you're fishing in an area where the water is clear, swimbaits, without a lot of extra features, are often exactly what you need. You can select colors that imitate bait fish like shad, shiner, etc, and you can fish different depths with them.
But what about when your environment is more complex? Other environmental factors, like brush, grass, murky water, or weather may require variations in your presentation. Swim jigs and bladed swim jigs are variations on the ordinary swimbait with features designed to adapt to these environmental factors. Swim jigs and bladed swim jigs can also imitate the same bait fish as a plain old swimbait, but certain special modifications can make them appear to be larger fish, as well as making them more effective in certain environments.
Swim jigs are designed to be used with paddle tail swimbaits that kick the bait back and forth to imitate a swimming action and come equipped with a skirt made up of flowing strands that pulse with its movement in the water, giving the illusion of fins and the shine of fish scales. The body of a swim jig moves more forcefully, and even affects the movement of the head itself. The skirts on a swim jig give the illusion of a larger size, which may be too large to imitate panfish, bluegill, or crappie. With the right trailers, you can fish a swim jig around all sorts of cover: branches that hang over the water, logs, grass and other water plants.
With a lighter swim jig, ½ an ounce or under, you can steer it around the cover. Heavier jigs should be tossed into the thicker cover. In the heat of summer, big bass will hide in the shade of water plants and turn to a more ambush-focused style of hunting. This is when to use the heavier, thicker swim jigs, ¾ ounce, to punch right through the cover to where they are hiding. The thicker metal of the hook makes it less likely to bend or break after being hit by larger bass. If it gets stuck, jerk it loose and keep going.
Bladed swim jigs have some similarities, but, again, they have their own special features for certain environments.
They also have a skirt, but they have a blade in the front that helps the skirt to flow and move. Bladed swim jigs are great for pulling reaction strikes and are often pulled past a spot where a bass might be lying in ambush. They can be used in thin, sparse grass. Bladed swim jigs can work in clear water, like swimbaits, but they work best in murky or stained waters. Bluegill, panfish, perch, large shad, large shiners, and similar bait fish are all fish that swim jigs and chatter baits can imitate. Shad colors work particularly well. If there's cover, especially during the summertime, they can be your best option.
Z-Man Evergreen Jack Hammer ChatterBaits are a very popular bladed swim jig choice among professional bass fishermen. They are very durable and tend to last a long time without needing to be repaired. Trailers are very important. If you're fishing in dark or stained water, where fish are eating bluegill, black and blue or green pumpkin might be the best option. Segmented tail trailers like the Yamamoto Zako, Z-Man RaZor ShadZ, and Big Bite Baits Kamikaze Swimon have deeper belly profiles and realistic tails that flow very convincingly and are good for imitating bluegill and panfish. As far as colors go, the type of bait fish you're imitating, and the clarity of the water come into play.
The type of tail on a trailer can dramatically affect the type of action you get out of the bait. Some pros prefer to pause as they reel, to let the bait sink periodically. Others prefer to reel in more steadily, arguing that a baitfish won't pause and wait to be eaten, so neither should your bait, if it's supposed to be life-like. Those who reel in at a more consistent speed may occasionally pump one rotation of the reel more forcefully to create a jerking motion in the bait. This is to trigger an instinctive bite response from any fish that may be curiously following your bait. But the type of tail on your trailer can either help the jerking action that draws an instinctive bite response or hurt it. Trailers with larger paddle tails or fins may slow down the movement for this style of fishing. Paddle-like fins still catch fish, but they are less likely to get that instinctive, impulsive response.
Overall, bladed swim jigs tend to shine in the murkier, choppier waters where the extra vibration from the blade helps the lure stand out and attract bites. In clearer, more tranquil open waters, where you are trying to imitate smaller baitfish, smaller finesse swim jigs are the way to go. In the summertime, when larger fish are sheltering beneath grasses and water plants, you'll want a heavy swim jig that can come through cover without risk of bending out the hook.
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