How To: Swimbaiting

In this article, I'll take you through what swimbaiting is, a range of species to target, outfits, techniques, and some other top tips.

By Dean Thomson

What is a swimbait?

So, what is a swimbait…? It’s a larger than normal lure that imitates a large baitfish. It’s called a “swimbait” because it’s designed to swim naturally like a baitfish thanks to the shape and profile of the lure.


Typically, swimbaits were designed for largemouth bass in America, but like most lures, they tend to work on other species too. Australian’s have taken these lures to target a variety of fresh and saltwater fish with great results. Originally, they were used, more exclusively for Murray Cod, but since then, we’ve experimented and adapted and now see people using them from Barramundi to Threadfin Salmon in the upper reaches of rivers, from Bass in impoundments to Mangrove Jack in canals.

The ideal combo:

My ideal combo, that I believe, has the perfect balance of power, comfort and castability is the Jewel 7’10” swimbait rod matched with a 300 Tranx or the new TCurve 7’9” swimbait rod with the Curado 300.

Line weights & knots:

When fishing river systems I would rather use anywhere from 20-30lb braid main line and 30-40 fluorocarbon leader. The reason for going so heavy in a river system is if I do happen to hook one of those elusive 1m+ Cod, I don’t want to lose the fish of a lifetime. Or the lure… In saying this, a perfect saying I live by is “lures are replaceable, fish aren’t”.

When I’m fishing impoundments, I tend to push towards the heavier line class. Around 30-50lb main line to 40-60lb fluorocarbon leader. In impoundments, you tend to be making those longer casts and typically targeting a lot of bigger fish, so it pays to beef up the line. As far as knots go, I can’t go past the FG for braid to my leader. It’s by far the most successful knot I’ve used. As for the leader to lure, I recommend tying a loop knot like the Lefty’s Loop, to ensure you get the best action out of the swimbait.


 As there are several different types and styles of swimbaits, from sinking to floating, the versatility of fishing a swimbait is endless.

- The standard slow roll is one of the most effective ways to raise those big lazy fish

Normally when fishing swimbaits, we are targeting those fish that are holding anywhere from 2-15ft deep and with a quick adjust of adding a nose weight, we can then target deeper fish. If you see that fish following but won’t commit, try and vary the retrieve and add twitches and longer pauses to entice a reaction bite. The best tip I can give anyone when fishing swimbaits is to finish every single cast, good or bad. You just never know what’s down there watching that lifelike lure swimming along and waiting to pounce. Having the right rod and reel combination is a key part to fishing swimbaits. If it’s not balanced right or easy to cast and control, slogging away with a big swimbait all day can become quite tiring and not enjoyable.

If you can take anything from this article, take these 3 points:

1)      Don’t be afraid to fish a bit heavier

2)      If the slow roll isn’t working, vary up your retrieve and add longer pauses

3)      Finish EVERY cast