Swindle Has Learned To Love Marabou Jigs

July 14, 2022
B.A.S.S. News - Archived

After 300 pro fishing derbies, Alabama’s Gerald Swindle is living proof that at age 52 you can still teach a dude with plenty of grey hair in his sideburns a few new tricks – specifically, that marabou, a feathery material from storks and turkeys makes a savory snack for fat smallmouth.

In fact, Swindle left the dock on Day 1 of the 2022 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite on the St. Lawrence River with a tiny marabou jig tied to more than half the rods on his front deck.

“I got my first marabou jigs 20 years ago from a pro named Carey Beaver when he and I were both on Team Lucky Craft. He sent them to me and told me they were the ‘secret juice’ to catching big smallies up north. I looked at them and thought there ain’t no way I’m throwing my grandpa’s crappie jig to catch big smallies. So, they sat in a box for about 18 years,” grins Swindle.

Well, enough trips to places like Mille Lacs and the St. Lawrence taught Swindle those tiny little jigs were truly part of the “smallmouth underground” and kept somewhat secret by hard core northern anglers for good reason.

“Last year (2021) was the first year I truly committed to fishing with marabou, and the first time a 5-pounder came out of super shallow water and smoked it, I was like, okay dummy, maybe it’s time you learn to use these little suckers,” remembers Swindle.

His open-mindedness to adopt a new technique netted Swindle 56-pounds of St. Lawrence smallmouth at the 2021 Elite Series on the St. Lawrence – good enough for 23rd place and a check for $10,000.

While nobody seems to know exactly what food source big bronzebacks think the tiny piece of black feather represents, Swindle says he’s certain the key is to not add much action to the lure.

“I try to fish it like a tiny little micro-spinnerbait. I throw it over 2 to 5-feet of water with my trolling motor moving slow and steady, and just slowly wind it in,” explains the Team Toyota pro.

“You ain’t trying to get jiggy with it. Just retrieve it slow and steady. And out of nowhere, here comes a big old ‘black shark’ to just absolutely smoke it!” says Swindle.

About 90% of the little black marabou jigs hard-core smallie chasers throw are black in color and weigh 1/8 or a super light 1/16. So, what’s with the purple one Swindle had tied on?

“Oh, the purple one is for guys like me with Attention Deficit Disorder. When I’ve had all I can stand of the black one, I switch to purple to keep my head in the game,” laughed bass fishing’s funniest angler.

Black, purple, whatever it takes, just know there’s at least one greybeard in this tenacious field of Elite Series anglers who’s planning to cast a little marabou jig about 90-percent of the time on Day 1, proving full well that even after 300 pro tournaments he’s still willing to learn a new trick.