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Need Tips For Fishing Hollowbelly Swimbaits (Swimtubes)

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I fish in Pa, NJ, MD. Not much shad here, mostly bluegill as forage. I know that they are versitle lures, but I cant seem to catch fish on them. Its a bait that I dont have much confidence in, but I want to have confidence in it. Most of the waters I fish are stained to murky, which as I understand it, is not conducive to swimbaiting. Grass is a staple in my fishing. But at the same time, these baits are supposed to be fished like spinnebaits, which are fished in all clarities.

 

So, I want to know about your most successful techniques, gear, anything relating to fishing paddletail swimbaits. Rod length, action, reel ratio, line? Speed? Modifications? When does it excel? When do you toss something else? Any info is good info. Thanks!

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I use a Gamakatsu screw lock swimbait hook. Usually in the 5/o range for a SK Shadalicious 4.5" swimbait.  This is a lure that when nothing is producing, almost ALWAYS will hook up to a bass or pike for me.  I actually use sexy shad and gizzard shad colors in my lake and there are no shad present. The great thing is that you can fish them anywhere. They go through weeds great. 

 

I use a nice steady retrieve, sometimes with a stop and go to make it a bit more erratic. Rarely do I burn them or keep them sub surface.  That usually doesn't produce much for me.  Throwing them in sparse lily pads is killer too.  you can bang them off the pad stems and they just flat our produce.

 

I'm actually quite shocked you've said you can't hook up on these. Don't give up because they're probably one of the deadliest lures you can fish.  If I had a frog rod and a hollowbelly swimbait set up, I'd be fine fishing those two and nothing else. 

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I like to fish the 5" berkley split or hollow belly or money minnow with a small worm rattle inserted in the tail for a little extra noise. Fish it as slow as you can and still keep the tail moving with a few twitches or directional changes . best fished around docks weeds or other structure on a keel weighted hook

or for open water or riprap and rock a 1/2-1 oz jighead exposed for bottom bouncing and slow rolling.

These are my most productive techniques. maybe they'll help you catch a few

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Throw them the same places you would throw a swim jig or a spinnerbait and then branch out to other locations once you get your confidence up.  

 

I gained confidence in throwing the money minnow by just throwing it and throwing it and throwing it some more.  Started catching a few fish on them and now i do not hesitate to throw them at all.

 

My best success with them has been ticking the tops of grass and running parallel to weed edges.  

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Throw them the same places you would throw a swim jig or a spinnerbait and then branch out to other locations once you get your confidence up.  

 

I gained confidence in throwing the money minnow by just throwing it and throwing it and throwing it some more.  Started catching a few fish on them and now i do not hesitate to throw them at all.

 

My best success with them has been ticking the tops of grass and running parallel to weed edges.  

 

X2

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I fish similar areas and when the basstrix craze got started I held off but then Berkley came out with the hollow belly and I got some to try, like you I had no success at first. It took awhile but I would throw them when the fish were active and hitting spinnerbaits and cranks and I would get a follower or the fish would just swipe at the tail even after changing colors, I didn't know what else to do. Then one day 4 years ago we were fishing in the spring, it was right after trout season began and the water temp was in the upper 50s and we tried spinnerbaits and some lipless cranks and I was going to move out to the first drop and fish a flat sided bait when I thought I'd throw the hollow belly again just for the heck of it. It was game on and it has been ever since, the same conditions that the hard swim baits work. What I learned is here in PA they are a niche bait, there is a window in the spring and the fall in which they out produce anything but after the water gets warm I do better with a solid soft plastic swim bait. Water temps from mid 50s to low to mid 60s, in the cooler water I found if you fish them around drops in 8' to 10' of water with a 3/8oz to 1/2oz jig head they get bit often, the bite is pretty consistent as well, and then when the fish move up look for weedbeds or pad stems starting to get going in the 3' to 5' range, I slow roll them rigged weedless with a weighted hook with the 1/8oz being my favorite. Clear water seems to be key just like jerkbaits, and I have caught fish in the early summer but I went with a bass magic in a 3.5" and fished it on a 1/4oz jig head and fished it faster than what you normally would, you can pick up reaction strikes like that but other baits work better at that time. I guess pretty much, look for the same conditions as a jerkbait with slightly warmer water and that is what I would call the perfect condition for those in PA and the surrounding area.

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I will also say that the hits i get when fishing these baits is nothing short of a freight train.  It also seems like they hit hard to stun it then if you don't hook up, they hit it again.  In these situations after the initial hit i usually pop the rod tip once and let it fall and they nail it again.

 

Man, now i want to get out there and throw some....nothing beats feeling that thump of the tail when you find that perfect speed.

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My most successful combo is Swiming Supper Fluke, Ghost Shad color (?). The most productive way to rig for me is with keel weighted EWG hook, that I bought off of eBay as I like something heavier in 1/4 oz range. I think it is 3/0. The screw lock type wobbled too much for my taste. EWG seems to keep the bait more tight and wobble less and go through stuff better.

 

I use this as kinda search tool, throwing everywhere, against the cover, drop off, you name it. I usually let it go to the bottom, let it sit few sec, then start retrieving. The way I retrieve varies depending on my mood, but I never retrieve with constant speed. 

 

If I want to go deeper or it is windy, I would use Owver Sled Head. With this the bait goes down head first and get to the bottom quicker, but this is less productive for me so far.

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Probably the very best advice I ever received here about fishing all lures applies to your situation too.......take nothing but swimbaits out and fish the #!$* out of them all day and maybe more. I had the same feeling about swimbaits! They'd never produced for me. I came to realize that like any "tool" you have to put your time in to gain experience. You can sure tell that many on this thread have it! They comments here will sure be a guide for me too this spring, especially with regard to temperature :)

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I fish in Pa, NJ, MD. Not much shad here, mostly bluegill as forage. I know that they are versitle lures, but I cant seem to catch fish on them. Its a bait that I dont have much confidence in, but I want to have confidence in it. Most of the waters I fish are stained to murky, which as I understand it, is not conducive to swimbaiting. Grass is a staple in my fishing. But at the same time, these baits are supposed to be fished like spinnebaits, which are fished in all clarities.

 

So, I want to know about your most successful techniques, gear, anything relating to fishing paddletail swimbaits. Rod length, action, reel ratio, line? Speed? Modifications? When does it excel? When do you toss something else? Any info is good info. Thanks!

Same here......and the best thing I have ever done with the hollow belly swimbaits...................is forget about fishing them, and use a swim jig instead. I am not anti-swimbait, I have caught some hogs on jointed hard baits, and I like a solid body soft plastic baits (like a skinny dipper), with a light tungsten sinker pegged to it's nose, but for some reason the hollow bodied baits and I don't play nice together. Could be time/place thing, but I have enough confidence in the other stuff so I gave up on them.

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As others have stated fish them where you would fish a spinner bait. Vary the retrieve much like you would with a spinner bait and rip it out of the weeds to create a reaction strike. To be honest I never caught a bass just by casting and retrieving, it requires an erratic presentation.

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About 3 years back, our best big bass lure was the 6" Berkley Hollow-Belly Swimbait. 

The 6" size was perfect for Florida but has since been discontinued. Nevertheless,

I'm sure the 5" hollow-belly is a more appropriate size for northern-strain bass.

Lois & I don't count fish, but I do record every bass over 7 pounds. That year,

the Hollow-Belly accounted for several bass between 5 & 7 lbs, one over 8 lb and one weighing 9-10.  

 

At that time (about 3 years ago) I submitted a post on 'flank rigging'. The Hollow-Belly is screwed onto

an Owner Sled Head (1/4 oz w/ 4/0 hook), and the hook is rigged edgewise in the paddletail minnow,

instead of through the depth of the fuselage. This provides a little different action but more importantly

it provides more hook gap for setting the hook (the hook is not Texposed but completely buried in plastic)

Though the best delivery for northern-strain bass may be different, the best delivery in Florida

(the only delivery I use) is a Slow and Steady retrieve. Crank the lure just fast enough to produce

a perceptible throb and maintain that speed. It's a big fish delivery that relies on a feeding hit rather than

an impulse strike. If you're looking for fast and furious action, it's probably best to remove the swimbait  ;-) 

 

With a 1/4 oz head the Hollow-Belly runs a few inches beneath the surface like a spinnerbait.

Some bass wallop the swimbait so hard, the water surface looks like a broken pane of glass.

Though I'm still very fond of the Berkley Hollow-Belly, I've since replaced it with the Gambler 5" Big EZ

using the same delivery. Cast placement is just as important as the retrieve, and in natural lakes

it's best to keep the swimbait working in the salad, targeting pockets & alleys in the weedline.  

 

Roger

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About 3 years back, our best big bass lure was the 6" Berkley Hollow-Belly Swimbait.

The 6" size was perfect for Florida but has since been discontinued. Nevertheless,

I'm sure the 5" hollow-belly is a more appropriate size for northern-strain bass.

Lois & I don't count fish, but I do record every bass over 7 pounds. That year,

the Hollow-Belly accounted for several bass between 5 & 7 lbs, one over 8 lb and one weighing 9-10.

At that time (about 3 years ago) I submitted a post on 'flank rigging'. The Hollow-Belly is screwed onto

an Owner Sled Head (1/4 oz w/ 4/0 hook), and the hook is rigged edgewise in the paddletail minnow,

instead of through the depth of the fuselage. This provides a little different action but more importantly

it provides more hook gap for setting the hook (the hook is not Texposed but completely buried in plastic)

Though the best delivery for northern-strain bass may be different, the best delivery in Florida

(the only delivery I use) is a Slow and Steady retrieve. Crank the lure just fast enough to produce

a perceptible throb and maintain that speed. It's a big fish delivery that relies on a feeding hit rather than

an impulse strike. If you're looking for fast and furious action, it's probably best to remove the swimbait ;-)

With a 1/4 oz head the Hollow-Belly runs a few inches beneath the surface like a spinnerbait.

Some bass wallop the swimbait so hard, the water surface looks like a broken pane of glass.

Though I'm still very fond of the Berkley Hollow-Belly, I've since replaced it with the Gambler 5" Big EZ

using the same delivery. Cast placement is just as important as the retrieve, and in natural lakes

it's best to keep the swimbait working in the salad, targeting pockets & alleys in the weedline.

Roger

Can you post a picture? I'd love to see it.

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The Berkley Hollow Belly Swim Bait and solid body Power Bait Flat Back Shad on a 1/2 oz and 3/4 oz Owner Salt water Bullet jig head have accounted for more plus size fish on my local waters than every bait I throw (except a jig & Craw of course). 

 

I would encourage you to look up the articles written by Doug Stange of In-Fisherman on the subject.  There are a ton of them. 

 

Using Casting or Spinning gear, this is an extremely versatile and effective presentation on both Green & Brown Bass (along with just about every other game fish in the system.)

 

Good Luck

 

A-Jay

 

 

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Can you post a picture? I'd love to see it.

 

Flank-Rigged%20Hollow%20Belly.JPG

                 Berkley Hollow-Belly flank-rigged on Owner Sled Head  (BOTTOM VIEW)

 

 

 

Flank-Rigged%20Big%20EZ.JPG

              Gambler Big EZ flank-rigged on Gamakatsu Swimbait Hook   (SIDE VIEW)

 

 

The lakes we fish in central Florida are all shallow & weedy, where 'weedlessness' is a bigger issue than depth.

In fact, I begin the retrieve upon splashdown without any waiting period. Fished in this manner,

the head weight has surprisingly little affect on the running depth (measured in inches).

 

Given a choice, I'll opt for a lighter head which has less momentum, is more easily deflected

and therefore less likely to skewer a stalk. Also, the swimbait has a little more action with a lighter head.

Although you're maintaining a slow, steady retrieve, the swimbait is bouncing around in the pads with an erratic track.

 

When pike fishing over submerged cabbage beds, a much heavier head is needed along with a waiting period while the lure sinks.

When weights over 1/2 oz are needed it eliminates the use of Swimbait Hooks which rarely exceed 1/2 oz.

 

Roger

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Very cool! I like the sled head idea. It makes sense, too. If a bass is looking up for prey, and it sees the detail of the swimbait as it moves below the surface, they should knock the snot out of it!

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I throw a 5.5 inch shadalicious in blue gizzard shad with a Trokar hook. I throw it on several different rods and reels and line. I also use the smallest version and the mid size version with success. There hasn't been a single time in 2 years that a shadalicious is not tied on one of my setups while fishing. The smallest version, I use as a search bait. I used to use a redeye or spinnerbait. I would even go as so far as too say it is up there with a swim jig as far as my confidence baits.

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