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Swimbaits - Lessons learned from LASTKAST2010

Blog by: Jim McFarland 10/25/2014

So last weekend the boss and I headed to Vallecito to meet lastkast2010 and learn something about swimbaits.  After all how hard can it be?  It's a lure, you tie it on the end of your line and you throw it to where fish should be, and tada, fish on! Well so that was my thinking.  But my oh my, was that wrong.

            First thing you will likely notice about these baits is how big they are, 7 to 10 inches and at least 2 to 3 ounces.  Lures like Dynamic Dynamo's and Fury's, Savage and Huddleston Trout are massive compared to what most of us use.  You need a large rod to be able to efficiently cast and use these monsters. Ok, well at least the gear that was brought along was sufficient in lastkast's eyes.

            Before we ever cast a lure, lasktkast2010 went over some very basic lessons about swimbaits.  As he pitched the lure out about 20 feet he began explaining the importance of the size and weight of the lure and how quickly it descends.  The particular swimbait I was using descended at a rate of about 2 feet every 2 seconds, so a 1 to 1 ratio.  The idea here is for when you mark fish on your electronics.  So if you marked a fish at 15 feet you would cast and then count for 15 seconds and your lure should then be in the strike zone.  Hence, this is called a countdown.

            After this short demonstration we started cruising and marking fish and the real knowledge was flowing and I was taking notes!  Lastkast wanted to make sure we paid attention to where the fish were in relation to the water column.  Were they laying on the bottom, up just a few feet, on top or suspended somewhere in between?  This is when the idea of a countdown really sunk in.  Most of the fish we marked were hanging around the bottom. We needed lures that would effectively fish the depth our quarry was in. For this, rubber swimbaits are the most effective as they are the easiest to get down to the necessary depth.

Next thing he pointed out was we need to know what our target fish (pike) was and what is it they would primarily be foraging on.  For you fly fisherman you'll appreciate this, because you are essentially matching the hatch.  On this particular lake there are bass, salmon and trout and using a lure that matches those patterns would be the best choice.  Without hesitation I selected my rainbow trout pattern Savage.  We were almost ready to actually fish now and I was excited!  You cannot believe how real these baits look in the water.

There were a couple final things to cover before the actual fishing began. Boat positioning, aspects of the lake and lure retrieval speed.  We were going to be fishing a break in the contour of the lake and the strategies to employ were to fish off or up the drop or even to fish parallel along it.  To make this decision we needed to take into consideration what was happening in the lake itself.  All lakes have current and these currents are determined by such things as lake contour, water flow and wind.  So how fast should you retrieve the lure?  The fish itself determines that for you.  If they are actively feeding and being aggressive, just about any speed will work.  But when they're not active you will want to slow it way down and fish near the bottom.

Finally, lastkast2010 dropped some buoys to mark the fish and we began to go after some pike!   After all the lessons and the fish that were marked I just knew I was going to get a monster on my first cast, I just knew it.  Well, as usual nobody told the fish what they were supposed to do and they didn't cooperate.  LOL  Thatís not totally true, I got bites but thanks to rookie mistakes couldn't seal the deal.  On the other hand my swimbait has some cool battle scars and is now semi broken in.  Want to mention that lastkast also got bites and didn't bring any fish to the boat.  Although I highly suspect itís because he was a great host and instructor and didnít want me to feel too bad about not catching anything.

Lastkast, thank you so very much for taking the boss and me along and sharing your knowledge on your home lake.  Also want to thank you for helping put this blog together, couldn't have done it without you.  The boss and I would love to get together with you again so we can get our next lesson on swimbaits.

Blog content © Jim McFarland
Blog Comments
Mr.Pink, 10/25/2014 12:45:14 PM
Were you using baitcasters or spinning gear?
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), 10/25/2014 2:34:27 PM
for this, baitcaster. Use a heavy rod and a reel with a 4.6.1 gear ratio so it would retrieve nice and slow and stay on bottom.
fishingfreak, 10/25/2014 10:26:25 PM
I have those savage trouts and still have yet to catch a big predatory fish on them but I will soon enough...
pikeNcolorado, 10/26/2014 7:34:01 PM
Jim, how did that Toro Winch feel with the heavy lures in the water?
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), 10/26/2014 7:39:32 PM
you could barely tell there was a lure on. It was impressive. Next time we come up to Estes I'll bring it and let you throw it.
LastKast2010, 10/27/2014 2:07:09 AM
Very nice Jim.... Great story...! I had a great time with you and hope next time we can sack um up.... I went today and it was a little better but super windy... I had four on the fury and one on a jerk bait.... Doing the same stuff we did..... Oh well.... Next time brother!!!! Had so much fun meeting you both!
opencage, 10/28/2014 12:19:45 PM
Great info and good story. Thanks to both you guys. Sounds like a ton o' fun.
pikeNcolorado, 11/3/2014 11:40:10 AM
One thing to note on fishing swimbaits for people who are just getting into it...... Fishing large baits and swimbaits can be long hard days with alot of fishless days. It can also be physically demanding if you don't have the proper equipment. So if you are thinking about getting into it, be prepared for days where you work hard without a reward.
lovekayaking, 11/10/2014 6:48:39 PM
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), 11/11/2014 6:38:18 AM
Kris and Tom, thank you. It was fun, I always enjoy learning something new. PikeN you're spot on as usual. Those lures are big and you are doing lots of casting, I am fortunate to have some good equipment and had a great instructor. LoveKayaking - hit me on my skipper link and I'm sure we can make it happen
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