Swing Jig Bass Fishing on Table Rock Lake
By Marc Rogers
At times, anglers find techniques that work and then get stuck in a habit of utilizing the same lures, with the same retrieves during most outings. These habits make it difficult for anglers to break out new lures and use new techniques. Once an angler moves from tried and true lures and techniques, they often develop the same habits with the newly learned methods and the cycle starts all over again. In the past, I too, have allowed myself to become a victim to these habits. In fact, at times, I still struggle with this problem.
Recently, I broke down and discovered a relatively new technique for catching bass. The swing jig is my latest newly discovered bass fishing technique. The Gene Larew Hard Head, developed by Tommy Biffle and first produced by Gene Larew Lures, was the first of this style of jig heads and has been duplicated by many lure companies. The new jig head was developed to be paired with the Gene Larew Biffle Bug.
During an August outing on Table Rock Lake with my family, I decided to test and become proficient with this rig. With children on this trip most of the daytime hours were spent swimming and pulling an inner tube to entertain them. Therefore, most of my fishing was going to be done at night while the rest of my gang was sleeping.
It was during this mini vacation I discovered how effective the swing jig could be at catching bass. The bass were in a typical summer pattern, holding in deep water. The Smallmouth bass were positioned in the main-lake areas near submerged bluffs and steep banks close to standing timber. The Smallmouths, during the daylight hours, were staged at 25- 40 feet, but after dark many moved into shallower water and were feeding at night.
Summertime night fishing can be slow, but this trip was quite different. I had three nights of consistently catching Smallmouth bass while experiencing little boat traffic and escaped the hot daytime temperatures. The Midwest Fishing Tackle Swing Jig paired with a Gene Larew Biffle Bug was the key ingredients to my success these August nights.
Each night I set out to discover the potential of this new rig and become better at using it. The swing jig is amazing, and most any soft-plastic lure can be presented using it. My focus was the Biffle Bug rigged on a 5/16 ounce head with a 4/0 VMC EWG hook. When trying to become proficient with any lure, I make it a point to fish with only that specific lure. This forces me to experiment with the rig and become creative in my offering.
While presenting this rig, I found it difficult not to hop it along the bottom like a jig or Texas rigged worm. Within the first hour of fishing, however, I discovered the swing jig is most effective when it is dragged slowly while in constant contact with the bottom. The lead head will hit and deflect off rocks and other debris at the bottom of the water column. The deflection of the lead head enables the soft-plastic lure to exhibit an erratic behavior similar to a crawfish.
The bites I received were very light and often came when I offered a slight pause in the retrieve. Often times I did not realize my lure had fooled a fish until I started the retrieve and felt the added weight. When rigging this set-up I started the process just like a Texas rig but pushed the hook completely through the Biffle Bug leaving the hook point exposed, then skin hooking the point into the ribbed body. Doing so allowed me to use a pull-and-reel hook set when I felt the added weight of the fish.
My color choices for the Biffle Bug were dark colors including neon black and black with blue flake. Lighter colors were not as effective during the night but may have been more productive during daylight hours.
When dragging this rig along the bottom of the lake it acted much like a crankbait, deflecting off the rocks and wood cover. After a deflection is when I paused the retrieve producing many of the bites I received. While the Smallmouths I was targeting were somewhat lethargic, I am confident if they had been feeding more aggressively, they would have taken the offering while it was steadily moving along the bottom.
After using this bait exclusively for three nights of fishing I learned a lot about its fish catching abilities. This rig is certainly one I will keep tied on and ready on future outings.