Solid Mexican Calico Bass on the MC Swimbaits Viejo weedless swimmer. Kelp colored bass and bait.
Cover shot!

Fishing the kelp in the saltwater, is a lot like fishing massive grass beds like you’d find in Franks Tract at low tide, or Lake Seminole or Okeechobee.  Your bait often comes out of the water, and you need to be prepared to drop it into holes and gaps.  Expect it.  Expect a fish ‘tracking’ your bait while its out of the water.  You need to choose your casts wisely.  Choose good swim lanes where you get  to run your bait thru juicy spots and long pools of water.  The guy who can cast the furthest, is off the front of the boat, and covers the most water with the best presentation will catch the fish.   Be ready, followers abound, and they tend to be big or bigger or way bigger, depending.  Your fishing partner needs to be on their toes when you hook one.  There’s usually more calicos around than the hooked one who are fired up and will bite.  

Weedless Saltwater Swimbaits are great for the saltwater kelp or any vegetation I suppose in salt or brackish water.   Also, if you’re hunting a big one a grass lake in the freshwater. I have to say, the boot tailed/paddle tailed/cut tailed swimmers, that are long and slender get bit really well.  You might give the 3-5-7 pounders a different look with the following couple?  

Split Belly

The following two baits both have a split belly.  Split belly baits are synonymous with weedless swimbaits.  It helps hide/hold the hook and make the bait more low profile and less likely to snag.  The beauty of things like the Weighted Owner Beast Hooks, 10/0 is a good choice w 1/2 oz, because it fits a lot of swimbaits with split bellys really well. 


MC Swimbaits Inshore Weedless swimbait

Kevin and everyone I know that fishes the MC Swimbaits refers to Corey.  Corey Sanden is the guy behind MC Swimbaits.  He is credited with many innovations, baits, and developments in the world of saltwater bass fishing.  The heavy floro leader attached to braid, for example, I believe Corey is credited with. The only downside of braid is that sharp teeth will cut it.  Calico Bass have sharp teeth, so do the 10+ pound largemouth bass and trophy spotted/smallmouth bass.  You can cut braid on a bass’s teeth, if they inhale/choke your bait deep enough.   Many calico bass have been lost by the braid cutting against the fish’s teeth, hence the 12″ floro leader of 50 or 60# 100% floro.  Corey is in a position to design weedless baits and make modifications from a place of authority.  

Long, skinny, split belly and sorta penny colored is always good for calicos 
Magnum calico choked the MC Inshore swimmer

Kevin fishes Corey’s MC Inshore Swimbaits exclusively. I have now fished it quite a bit too.  Great running and fishing bait.  Pairs up nicely with the Owner and Trokar weighted swimbait hooks out there. Kevin does a lot of damage, and is all about the tons of MC Swimbaits plastic Kevin carries around.   Slender profile, yet beefy, nice little boot tail.  Great colors and offerings.  Very resilient and will last multiple fishes.  Catches big ones.   The split belly helps make it hold and rig on a screw lock style hook really well.


I love trying new baits, other peoples’ gear, new gear, new setups. Believe me, I wanted to fish one of Kevin’s MC Swimbaits to get a feel for them. Yeah, they work! Daiwa Tatula HDs are a great wider than normal/bigger spool bass reel, built w saltwater grade components. Casts a frickin mile reel.

Shellback Customs Swimbaits

Chad Yates came onto the weedless swimbait scene with his Shellback Customs series of swimmers.   His bait is fatter/wider than the other weedless baits.  It has the largest profile, and a large paddle tail.   The Shellback Customs baits have a really neat slender profile in the water.  They have a really tight body movement yet, loud, obnoxious and vibrant tail doing some good thumping and displacing mad water. 

Shellback Custom Swimbaits in a safety / garibaldi orange



Extremely resilient bait

Check out Chad and his baits on Instagram:


Kelp burying fools


I love fishing buzzbaits.  Adding swimbait tails to buzzbaits and spinnerbaits isn’t super new, but I’m unclear what guys actually use. I have always liked the Persuader Clacker Buzzbait.  I have caught big fish on buzzbaits, especially ones with clackers.  I love a black buzzbait with clack and a big ole ugly bait on the back, like a big Skinny Dipper or Zoom Lizard.   I have done really well, on the opposite end of the spectrum, with the Buzz Hammer.  The Buzz Hammer is smaller, more finesse, and quiet buzzbait that makes adding a swimbait tail really easy.

The Persuader Clacker Buzzbait

Skinny Dipper Swimbait Tail (trailer)


The Persuader Clackin' Buzzbait with the full size Skinny Dipper as a trailer bait
The Persuader Clackin’ Buzzbait with the full size Skinny Dipper as a trailer bait
A more finesse approach, the Buzz Hammer is a softer gurgle and the Big Hammer Square Tailed swimmer is a catchy little swimbait.
A more finesse approach, the Buzz Hammer is a softer gurgle and the Big Hammer Square Tailed swimmer is a catchy little swimbait.

The Buzz Hammer fishes really well with a 3″ Big Hammer Swimbait Tail.  The head on the Buzz Hammer designed to receive the Big Hammer Swimbait Tail, so naturally there is good fit and swim. I wish there was 3/4 and 1 ounce (or bigger) sized Buzz Hammers with bigger hooks and heads to accept the Sledge Hammer and just bigger paddled tailed swimmers out there.   You need to ‘bigbait’ your buzzbaits is my thought.

The Little Dipper on the Buzz Hammer looks awfully good, and is a great clear water/pressured fish approach to buzzbait fishing
The Little Dipper on the Buzz Hammer looks awfully good, and is a great clear water/pressured fish approach to buzzbait fishing.



Clack Clack Clack-----Blam!  The small willow leaf blade on the Persuader Buzzbait adds flash, but most importantly a good clack. I have caught a lot of fish on this buzzbait. It runs true and wakes 'em up.
Clack Clack Clack—–Blam! The small willow leaf blade on the Persuader Buzzbait adds flash, but most importantly a good clack. I have caught a lot of fish on this buzzbait. It runs true and wakes ’em up.

I’m probably a month too late for some folks, but it’s surprising how well fish eat topwater baits, like buzzbaits as the winter sets in. Fish eat moving and reaction baits way better in cold water, when the water is in a cooling trend.  For example, 52 degree water that is falling from the summertime highs is NOT the same 52 degree water that is warming from 42 or wherever you lake bottoms out.  It’s relative of course, but think about cold water that was warm and figure those fish are better active chasers and hunters, than cold water that is only slightly warmer than the bottom out temps.

The Buzz Hammer, aka, Buzz Hamster.  Rigged with a 3" Big Hammer Swimbait Tail, of course.
The Buzz Hammer, aka, Buzz Hamster. Rigged with a 3″ Big Hammer Swimbait Tail, of course.


Buzzbait fishing is badapple.  You need to be throwing the Whopper Plopper if you haven’t seen it. This is what I’m talking about, bringing some bigbait into your buzzbait.

Click to Purchase the Persuader Clacker Buzzbait
Click to purchase the Buzz Hammer


Ledge Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti. This 5″ Bay Smelt Big Hammer on a 1 oz head got tore up. This is the baseline, the 5″ Hammer. Go bigger from here is my advice.


I’ve been sitting on this footage, unsure of how or when exactly to release it, and finally just sat down and cranked it out.  I was concerned this information might hurt me, but I’m starting to think completely differently than I used to about sharing information and ideas..  I am not headed to Kentucky Lake anytime soon, and it appears to be ‘good timing’ all things considered.   Stroking baits is something you don’t learn in San Diego.  Stroking a bait, literally means jerking/ripping it 1-8 feet off the bottom and letting the bait settle back down to the bottom.  Think about snatching rattle traps in the grass, where you snatch the bait clean of the grass and the fish eat it on the fall.   Stroking football head jigs and spoons on the Tennessee River is a staple and it took me some years to clue into.   Some local tricks you pick up instantly at the gas station, other things, you somehow miss for years.  Stroking is not something I’d done ever, until I arrived at Kentucky Lake in 2011.    Stroking is now one of my presentations of all baits I fish. It just makes sense.  To really snap and snatch your bait hard off the bottom, and then let if free fall back to the bottom seems to be a truth of fishing….it just works at times.

Stroked and Choked Big Hammer Swimbait on the ledges of Kentucky Lake, but ultimately a good choice for any of the TN River, or any open water offshore bite.


So here goes, another meandering, long winded, ‘first chapter’ of a thing I’m calling Ledge Zeppelin I, Stroking Swimbaits.   This footage is post 2011 FLW Tour on Kentucky Lake, and my 2011 summer in Southern California, where I did some saltwater fishing.  I blended things together to share how and where I got the methods and tools that ultimately led me to start stroking my Big Hammer swimbaits, instead of just swimming and jigging them along:



If you are ready to stroke swimbaits off the ledges of the Tennessee River, or any other offshore lake, this stuff applies lots of places (the Ozarks, Champlain, Great Lakes, etc), here is what you need:

I was stroking my Big Hammer swimbait on a Medium Action 8 foot rod and Shimano Calcutta 300 TE reel, and 20# P-Line CXX….however, this is something you can do with standard low profile reels and I always recommend 8 footers, and braided line.  Especially adding a short leader section to your braid.  I am slowly migrating all my fishing over to braid, in case you haven’t noticed.  You have more sensitivity, more hookset, more torque, and more guts to do more with your bait with braid.

My buddy Brian Somrek was as stoked as I was on the bite. We were learning as we were going. Brian was catching them on the 5.5″ Big Hammer, which to many out West is the best Big Hammer swimbait.


We speak to Warbaits and the effect their swim jigs will be having.  You are seeing the future now.  When Strike King, Spro, and Berkley come out with a swim jig that is >1 ounce, it will be as a result of the Warbait Slayer Swim Jig.  These things are legit and taking the West by storm.  You have an early warning and heads up. You need to check their Slayer Swim Jigs and Weedless Swim Jig Heads out.  Just by having a weedguard, you are helping yourself out in some cases, because exposed top hook single swimbaits are really sticky around wood.  Swim jigs are just awesome and popular and catch fish, so why not fish them out at 20-30 feet, instead of 1-3 feet?   You can stroke them or just fish them on the slow grind, and look out.  Fish love baits with skirts.

I cannot say enough about the Warbaits Swim Jigs, and I’m finding the more rounded paddle tail of the Robo Ocean Swimbait Tails are a fine swimming and stroking combination.


Stroking Swimbaits Photo Gallery:

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 The 2012 Ouachita River Everstart Championship

I really suck at tournament fishing sometimes.  My buddy Casey Martin, finished 5th place, running the same pattern, in fact, we stayed in the same hotel room for the event, and he whacked ’em to make it all four days and I went home a kook, again, at the Everstart Championship.   The Ouachita River is like 70 miles of main river, and another 70 miles of other tributary creeks and rivers and bayous and backwaters galore.   There were no less than 25% jon boat in this event.  Guys came prepared for stump jumping and fishing in the extreme backwaters.   I did not.  I came to fish my game, and found a pretty decent pattern on the first day of practice, drop shotting 4.5″ Roboworms in Bold Bluegill in the mouths of pockets/backwaters, just off the main river channel.  In fact, there were fish in the main river channel, on any point or rock pile and in the laydowned trees.  Now, you have to understand that catching 5-7 keeper 12 inch fish right now is pretty much whacking them.  It took 6 pounds per day to get paid.  I caught 5 pounds per day.   I had a good gameplan, and Casey just did what Casey does and it speaks volumes to his fishing versus mine.  My practice became San Diego style worm fishing.  However, it was a popular pattern, as many guys stayed close and fished around the weigh-in/release area and did well.  I had the right idea, but what I will let Casey tell you for sure is that he found the better quality fish AND got them to eat.  Umbrella rig for sure and Casey had a trick one, and the Boing topwater lure on Day 2 with a solid 3-4 pound fish that escalated him to 8 pounds per day, which he for sure was in the drivers seat, just because cutting to 20 and the 10 boats (in days 3 and 4 consecutively), he would have much freer reign on the mouths of creeks and pockets and his prime choice point/mouth which was at the intersection of D’Arbonne and the main river channel.    Duh.   Ask anyone about the Ouchita River and D’Arbonne is the most popular creek/bayou and it’s big and gnarly and is like 45 miles with 5 MPH zones and an abundance of stumps, logs and bayou.  It’s where some fish got caught, but this tournament wasn’t dominated by back bayou water necessarily.  Some main river played in bigtime, but understand, you have giant cypress trees and oaks and black or really dirty coffee with cream style water.  Heck, this where the Duck Commanders live.  Monroe, LA you were great, but man, you guys got some tough fishing around there.   Especially when it comes to boat handling and navigation.  Rivers are not generally what I like to see after the name of a body of water. I’m a lake guy, but as the White River, where I live and watch daily, I’m learning.

Casey fishing another Top 10 Cut at the FLW Everstart in May 2012 on Guntersville. Casey ‘slipped up’ this day, when low 20s pound bags suck. Justin Lucas had 30+. Sickness.


Great job Casey Martin, and the BETTER news is Casey just signed up for the 2013 FLW Tour as a Boater!!!  Casey will update his blog about his tournament and he can fill in the gaps and day 3 & 4. I’m such a loser, I didn’t even hang around for Days 3&4 which I almost always do. I am a little lost and did sit still easily lately, but anyway… I am so stoked, pumped and definitely jealous that Casey and many others are fishing the Tour in 2013.  It’s a great schedule and with only 6 tournaments for some guys and Casey is one.  Fewer tournaments is less risk for some of us (me included), and the lakes are lakes I feel like I know pretty well (save Grand Lake), and Casey too. I’m just sick to not have my deposits in.  Casey knows how to fish tournaments, and is just on fuego.   He has fished the FLW Tour the last few years as a Co-Angler, which means, the non boater who gets partnered with the Pro for the day.  Casey has won like $150K from the back of the boat, and does really well at the Everstart and BFL Levels as a boater, so it’s not like he can’t or doesn’t fish from the front of the boat well, he was just wise to take the education that fishing as a Co-Angler affords, and took that to off the chart levels, so this is a natural progression.  Casey is up for the challenge and I know he will do really well.     I am just so lost at times with where I’m at, and so addicted to tournament fishing, yet even more addicted to throwing bigbaits, and I love the blogging, but I’m just struggling financially and in no position to fish the FLW Tour in 2013, even though I’d like to.  I asked Bill Taylor if he’d take 3 deposits (vs. the required 6) and a handshake, he just laughed.  I have to laugh too.  I’m crazy to be flirting with the FLW Tour. I’m just hoping to fish the Everstart on Okeechobee in early January, win the damn thing, and go from there!!! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH.  How is that for an addict?


There is a direct relationship between the amount of photos and videos I shoot and how well I’m fishing. I took very very very few pictures, and zero video. I figured I could catch 5-6 pounds per day and did. Bold Bluegill is color of Robo Worm I highly recommend. Throw it in 4.5 or 6 or 7 inch and in the dirty Ouachita River, it was catching them really well. One of the staple drop shot worms and colors for me.


Casey staked out the BEST mouth of a creek.  The most major creek with the most history in it, he choose that one to focus on (I decided the ones upriver were less pressured and could be milked better), and what was key to him was it had better fish on it.  And not only that, Casey had better tricks up his sleeve than most to catch them.  He found an angle he could throw a prototype Picasso A-Rig called the ‘bait ball’ and he told me he had like 18 fish the Day 1 of the event fishing the exact same cast (uphill) with his umbrella rig that features tiny blades and a much smaller profile than most u rigs you see.    That is how Casey caught 8 pounds the first day, and followed it up with 8 pounds on the second day.  Guess what he caught the big fish on Day 2?  A Boing Topwater bait.  This is a new walking bait with a cool ball on wire noise maker rattle inside that gives it a strange ‘boing’ sound, but clearly the fish ate it.  He caught one 3 pounds on it.  The bait was thick all over the Ouchita River. I mean, you find and see bait everywhere.   And occassionally fish would push the balls to the surface and could be caught.  I caught fish on the Picasso School E Rig with 3″ Big Hammers (silver phantom), and J-Will Swimbait heads in 1/8 Ounce in the tournament.   But my fish were squeakers. In fact, I didn’t have 5 fish on Day 2 either, so that really hurt, but ultimately one more fish I was on wouldn’t have helped.  I needed high 12 pounds, like 12-10 to get paid. I had 10-2 for the event, and never caught one over 2 pounds in the practice or tournament, and lots of swimbaits got thrown.  No swimbait bite to speak of, besides the U Rig.  No backwater fish for most, but some did find good sacks.  Is Brandon Medlock sick or what?  Guy broke down on Day 1, comes back on Day 2 with 14 pounds and is like Top 5 and then sticks 15 on Day 3 before struggling on Day 4….but dang, a 14 or 15 pound sack for 2 days in a row, you gotta be bad to find that on the Ouachita River I saw!  Some guys found some backwater fish, but the main river was a player for sure.  Lots of guys cashed checks fishing within site or around the bend or two from the weigh in. I fished there myself some too.   You will have to read Casey’s blog post to get the full scoop on his tournament.  I yo-yo’d Red Eye Shads, fished umbrella rigs, and drop shotted the mouths of creeks mostly, but had a few good channel swings, clay points, and banks that seemed to be holding fish.    The problem of course was many guys found the same fish, because the backwater were sucking and the main river became the clear choice, so it wasn’t easy friendly fishing all the time out there.   You had to defend spots and try to manage water best you could.  The wind was either blowing the wrong way for me, or not at all for my red eye shad bite. I had 2 sneaky spots I felt I could load up and get some good keepers, but they never panned out.   Anyway, congrats to Casey and boo to Matt.  Is it time to go to Florida yet?  MP


Just like Dolly Parton’s coat, my 3″ Big Hammer swimbait box, is of ‘many colors’.

The Big Hammer family of swimbaits has some prime real estate in my tackle boxes, boat, and ‘office’.  I spend a lot of time tinkering with the various flavors of Big Hammer swimbaits on and off the water.  The 3″ Big Hammer swimbait is a neat little bait, that fits into the “swimbait fishing with spinning rods” category. You can consider this a tackle review of the 3″ Big Hammer if that is what you’re after.  I score this bait a 9.99  (the only .01 deduction is because at times, a more rounded paddle/boot tail seems to be a better choice of swimbait for super finicky highly pressured fish) and give it an A+.   We shared how we fish bridge pilings with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait in Southern Trout Eaters…one of the things that ‘just happened’ during the filming window we had.  I put together a little video clip of me fishing the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait on a spinning rod, with braided line + florocarbon leader, fishing the water intakes at the Kentucky Lake Dam.  Here are the highlights:



Get the Lead Out

Swimbaits with an exposed lead head are something you need to pay particular attention to.  Exposed lead, like what the Hammer Head provides in the setup and rigging does some things that baits with internal weighting cannot.  Namely, the exposed lead head of the Hammer Head helps the bait fall straight down vertical, there’s no buoyancy or dampening of the weighting system by surrounding it with soft plastic.  Falling straight down makes a swimbait fish really well next to steep things, for example:  bridge pilings, dam walls, steep walls, man made structure, and fishing deep and straight vertical like you do in winter.   Also, you can fish the bait vertically under your boat and electronics really well, so when, for example, I was on Beaver Lake in the FLW Tour Major in 2011, the fish were in 15-35 feet of water suspended over cedar trees, the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait came thru for me, because I was able to count the bait down and fish it over top of the deep trees and yank the few fish I caught suspended around the tops of the deeper standing trees.   I just read about how the guy who won the BassMaster Southern Open on Smith Lake in Jasper, Alabama was using a small paddle tailed swimbait with exposed lead jig heads on 5# florocarbon…Go ahead and add the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait rigged on a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce Hammer Head ( you want both heads, same hook size, just have both for shallow to medium or medium to deep presentations), to the ‘single top hook swimbait’ conversation too.    The other derivative of the exposed lead jig head, and the fact the 3/16 and 1/4 ounce Hammer Heads were designed to match up perfectly with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait tails, you get a swimbait that swims on the sink.  I repeat, swims on the sink.  The bait will spin and sorta meander slightly, depending how slack you give the bait on the fall, but in a controlled fall, where you keep slight pressure on bait as it’s sinking, that little square tail is twisting and recoiling and beating along on the sink.  There are a lot of garbage swimbaits out there that swim like crap on the sink….they tend to do nothing at all or sorta just fall like a blob, they don’t swim, they don’t orient nose down and swim on the sink and that is a huge deal, especially when fishing the deep and steep stuff.  You going to be pumping and yo-yoing your rod and bait a a lot.


How To Rig a Big Hammer Swimbait:

Step 1: Eyeball how the Hammer head jig head matches up with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait tail. You want the top of the jig head/line tie area to match up perfectly with the top of the soft plastic flat top side of the swimbait tail. Pay attention to where the hook will come out of the bait…


Step 2: Use one of the edges of your thumb nail to ‘mark’ where the jig hook will come out of the Big Hammer tail….


Step 3, use the hook point to jab a little mark into the soft plastic where the hook will exit the swimbait, once you thread it on the jig head.


Step 3B, the mark should be dead center, and enough you can see it and use it to guide you as you thread the bait on


Step 5, very important. Insert the hook in the absolute center of the swimbait tail, whereby the top of the jig head lays flat (there’s no step up or down, the jig head and body come together clean and smooth). Use the line tie to touch the flat side of the bait to give you a guide, but pretty much, dead center of the “superman” shaped fat ‘v’ of the Big Hammer swimbait tail


Step 6: In one smooth motion, paying attention to push the hook thru the plastic keeping your North/South and East/West orientation as straight and plumb as possible, push the tail onto the jig head, and let the bait curl up in doing so, and time your exit angle so it comes out at the mark you did in Step 2 & 3.


Step 6 again…make sure you hook point comes out perfectly in the center of East and West, and also assumes you mark was accurate so you don’t have too little or too much length of swimbait tail threaded on the hook.


Okay, you’re done except for glue. Notice how the jig head matches up with the tail, at the top by the line tie perfectly. You can see how the jig head fits into the swimbait tail, thanks to the clear bait and some backlighting. You want things straight, centered, parallel and clean. No bunching or off centered rigging!


Once I’ve made a good rigging, I back the tail slightly off the head, and put a dab of superglue, where it runs down and gravity coats it all from top to bottom, and I push the tail back up and snug it tight to the jig head and let the glue dry.

Braid Connections

One of the more important developments in my fishing in the last year has been the move to braided line, almost exclusively, on all baits, all water clarity, and all rod types.  Not 100% but moving that direction.  The key is using floro and mono leaders at times, choosing the right knots, and matching your hooks and terminal tackle so your hooks and split rings and things don’t bend out or fail due to the power of braid.  I use Power Pro.  It has been really good to me.  I recommend 15# Power Pro Braided line and a 3-5 foot section (5 foot allows you to re-tie a couple times without putting a new leader on) of Sugoi Florocarbon.  I use 6-12# florocarbon leaders paired with 15# Power Pro braid on my spinning rods.  You change your leader sizes based on conditions and baits. I’ll fish 12# floro when fishing a small 3/8 or 1/4 ounce jig but will use 8-10# pound when fishing the 3″ Big Hammer on a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce jig head.   Braid has several advantages, especially on spinning gear.  First and foremost, line management. I find braided line handles and fishes really nicely on spinning rods.  I have 1000 and 2500 sized Shimano Spinning reels that both handle the small diameter of 15# Power Pro nicely.  You can ‘top-shot’ the braid, where you spool up 50-75 yards of 6# mono ( I formerly used 6# P-Line CXX on my spinning rods) and then tie on the braid and spool yourself on a good 75-100 yards of fresh braid, and then tie your floro leader to the end of your braid.   What knot do I use to connect my florocarbon leader to my braide?  The Double Uni Knot.  Google it, YouTube it….I use 6 wraps on each side of the knot, and it’s frickin’ excellent.  However, pay attention here, the Double Uni knot is NOT a good knot for attaching 80# or 65# braid to 25-30 pound mono.   The physics of bigbait fishing comes into play here.  DO NOT USE THE DOUBLE UNI to connect your bigbaits to your braid.  That is a separate conversation.  For some reason, that knot cannot handle the repeated casting/stress of lobbing >4 ounce baits.   I have 110% confidence in that knot though, in the smaller more conventional applications, like 15# braid to 10# florocarbon (my number one most common rig….3″ Big Hammers, Wacky Rigs, Shaky Heads, Jika Rigs, etc)

The Double Uni Knot is great for connecting

Braid provides you some additional advantages, especially when it comes to spinning rods and small swimbait fishing.  The braid is super sensitive, and I can feel my bait, the swim, and control the bait far better on braid than on mono.  When I go back to mono, my bait feels real mushy on the end of the line, and I don’t have the feel that I do with braid.  I can feel the bait swim on the sink and control the sink and depth the bait swims at so much better on braid. I know when I’m fouled up (tail gets stuck in the gap between a rigged bait and the hook), and I tend to be able to unstick myself or straighten out the lighter wire hooks of the 3/16 and 1/4 Hammer Head at times to get a hung bait free.  I re-bend my hook into place of course, and check the hook point to make sure all is well, and feel my floro leader to make sure it didnt’ get damaged too.  The hookset and hooking fish advantages are amazingly improved with braid.  I keep my drag fairly tight with the 3″ Big Hammer and braided main line setup.  A little line might pull off during a hard reel down and come up hard hookset, but not much.   The zero stretch of the braid gives you tremendous hook set capabilities you don’t get with 100% florocarbons or mono/copolymers.

You can use 1000-2500 sized spinning reels with braid, and they both work great. I love this little spinning reel, it just matches up with the tiny diameter of 15# braid nicely. Heck, I trout fish with this setup….Mepps and Roster Tail style with the braid + floro. You can throw light stuff (and heavy stuff) really well.


If you haven’t seen our Alabama Rig Super Nova blog post and video, click HERE to see it.  You want to have 3″ Big Hammers and Hammer Heads (3/8 recommended for the A-Rig based on hook size and strength, so you don’t bend out the 1/4 and 3/16 ounce lighter wire hooks) in your possession for your castable umbrella rig fishing.    Also, carry yourself some Super Glue and get in the habit of super gluing your Big Hammer swimbait tails to the Hammer Head and letting it dry BEFORE you go fishing.  You will make your baits last much longer by doing this.  If you get a good properly rigged Big Hammer swimbait and glue it the Hammer Head jig head, you can get 10-20 fish per bait.  You’ll get into bites where as quick as you can unhook and re-cast, you’ll just keep on catching ’em.

The 3″ Big Hammer was part of the Alabama Rig Supernova that happened on Kentucky Lake, the Fall of 2011, FLW Everstart Championship. Troy Anderson would win on the Co-Angler side on a handful of 3″ Hammers and heads I gave him, following our practice together. Hammers are a very important tools for all kinds of jobs.


The 3″ Big Hammer Photo Gallery:

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The 2 ounce Warbaits Slayer Swim Jig and Sledge Hammer swimming thru.  “and we confident, in the victory of good over evil” ……me say War (baits)

The WarBait Slayer Swim Jig

I haven’t been impressed by a bait company, a website, a video production crew, and just a group of fisherman like the fellas at Warbaits in a long time.  I don’t know any of them.  I know a lot of the fishing scene out West, but not these guys.  These are young men in their 20s and late teens for the most part, or way cooler than me 30 thirtysomethings!  hahahahahahah.  Anyway, young, and running wide open, running a good business, with a good product and fishing and filming and doing the things a company who makes baits should have and do———-have sick and real footage of your baits in action.  Your crew, your people, your vibration, your DNA, your ethos….our baits and gear are our lives, and the bass fishing media and industry is paralyzed into only doing tournament highlights and tradeshow + tournament guy in jersey highlights as their highlight reels….Which is fine, but after too many years of that stuff, it’s no longer credible because even if a guy wins a tournament on LURE X, the tournament itself is only a part of a the much bigger, more deeper, much more interesting fishing discussion about the bait or technique.    Take a look at the Warbait videos, the videos from Radio Silence Fishing, etc.  These guys are out there getting after it, and using the modern Internet properly, I enjoy their work and their baits.     Heck, these are my people.  I can relate to their style, the fishing, the water, the terrain, the boats, etc.   It’s not about right or wrong or about style, its about the fishing, and these guys are working hard to produce good products and good media, and work really hard at the on the water fishing part, and appear to be having fun with it (love the War theme and derivatives that play off that for marketing and sales things, just incredible), and my hat is off to them.    I’m going to suggest you look at both their Slayer Swim Jigs and Slayer Heads,  (and the Warblade—you didn’t hear that from me) and rig them with Big Hammer swimbaits (all shapes and sizes 5″ to Sledge) and Robo Ocean Tails (both 5&6″ versions), if you fish for bass in deep water, maybe even as deep as 80+ feet, but certainly 10-20-30-40-50 ranges for sure. Check out the video we put together of the Warbait Slayer Swim Jig rigged with a Sledge Hammer:
I was first told about Warbaits by Brian Kettler at Big Hammer Swimbaits. He was telling me about these saltwater grade swim jigs I needed to check out.  Boy was he right.   You have to understand that the swim jig is probably the #1 best kept secret tool out there in most FLW Tour and BASS Elite series boats right now (the other two being head spins/tail spinners and chatter baits).   Swim jigs are just awesome, and the guys at Warbaits make a bait geared for catching giant calico bass, halibut and other offshore gamefish off the coast of San Diego.  The baits were made to fit the swimbaits that guys were already using (ie, Big Hammer).   The Warbait Slayer Swim Jigs, you have to see.  Big oversized heads, available up to 2 ounces with a 7/0 hook.   This is where swim jigs and bigbait fishing intersects.   There are now a zillion swim jigs on the market.  Take a look at how many swim jigs are available in a size >1/2 ounce.  Almost none.  The Warbaits Slayer Swim Jig family is available in these great saltwater based sizes, so 1, 1.5 and 2 ounce swim jigs.

Flared skirts and full figured baits, I can dig it.

The Intersection of BigBait and Swim Jig

So why do you need a swim jig that is upwards of 2 ounces and has the hook to match the Sledge Hammer?  Because you need to fish bigger, if you want to target the bigger fish.  That is the lesson of bigbaits.  You need to fish significantly larger (meaning, if you’ve never thrown a bait over 6″ long and 1 ounce, move up to 9-12″ long and 2-3 ounces…not just slightly bigger, way bigger).   Where would a 2 ounce swim jig work?  I’m not 100% sure all the places, but let me be clear and just tell you the entire Tennessee River system to start.   I am going to guess at the North Country, Great Lakes, where you have offshore, fishing done in deeper water.  The Ozarks, I will go ahead and volunteer to be part of that test group.   I’m going to be probing the depths of many Ozark lakes in the cold and in the heat.   Texas.  I have heard a lot about big fish being caught offshore in Texas.  So lets try and net this out.  The intersection of bigbait and swim jig happens in deep water for the most part.  You can swim the jig, but you can also drag, hop, and stroke the jig, and that is the key.   Grass fishing up shallow with magnum swim jigs is a whole other conversation, one we’ll circle back to someday.  The Warbait Slayer Swim Jig is the only tool I know that is geared toward catching fish in 15-100 feet (if necessary), besides just a standard lead head in 1-2 ounces, top hook style standard jig head.   The size of the bait, the skirt, the weedguard,  and ability to rig it with the good magnum kind swimbaits, makes it a unique tool.


The Sledge Hammer

I am a huge fan of Big Hammer swimbaits. I’ve been fishing them for years now, and have gotten pretty good with a few sizes of them.  The Sledge Hammer is one I’ve only the last 2 years really put time into.  The Sledge Hammer, is of course exciting to a guy who likes to throw bigbaits.  It’s way bigger, 9″ long to be exact, and has a huge oversized version of the Big Hammer square tail, and slender/thin profile.   Long and slender softbaits (think about big worms for a second) tend to get bit by big fish, and the Sledge Hammer fits nicely into a big, long, slender, swimming bait that almost nobody has an answer to.    The Sledge Hammer is one of a couple swimbaits that match up with the Warbait Slayer Swim Jigs nicely.   My other favorite swimbaits on the Warbait Slayer Swim Jigs are the 6.5″ Big Hammer, the 5.5″ Big Hammer, and the 5&6″ Robo Ocean Tail swimbaits.   The Sledge Hammer is hands down the largest (yet not obnoxious) of the swimbaits you can choose to put on the back of your Warbait Slayer Swim Jigs and put yourself in position to catch a biggun.


Underwater video, and just paying attention and messing around, I realized the heavier jig heads (when talking about exposed lead head, top hook, single swimmers) swim much better at times on the sink/fall than with lighter weights. Not 100% true the world over I’m sure, but pretty confident about it with regards to plastic square and boot tailed swimmers from 5-9″ long. Heavier than normal jig heads help get more ‘falling swim’ out of your bait at times.

The Harder They Come, Harder They Fall

Everyone needs to pitch a 1 ounce Medlock Jig on 80# braid with a Gambler Ugly Otter Trailer on it around reeds in 1-3 feet of water on Lake Okeechobee.  1 ounce jigs don’t fall that fast.  Especially with a big bulky skirt and bait with a lot of drag/resistance.   So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.   Come closer….let’s talk softly now so as no one else may hear.  “The heavier your jig head is, the better your soft swimbait swims on the fall/on slack line”  So, 1/2 and even 1 ounces aren’t enough weight to get a bigbait swimming right at times.  You need 1.5 and 2 ounces to get the Sledge Hammer and 6.5″ Big Hammer fully swimming right, tail twisting and kicking, body moving, etc.   There are inherent buoyancy properties of soft plastic baits and skirts combined with your line and stretch, etc etc etc whereby it becomes noticeably better/significantly better, to have twice the weight than you would when fishing for freshwater bass.  The rate of fall, in this case, often is the key to the bite, or some of it, but I’m also weaving in, the heavier weight will pull your bait back down to the bottom harder and force a better swim out of your bait on the fall.  You don’t get quite the twist and body undulation on landing, nor the pock marks on the moon effect in sand and soft bottom effect with a 3/4 – 1 ounce head on the Sledge Hammer  as you do with the 2 ounce version.  You get more glide and less swim out of the tail with lighter weights on the jig head with big soft plastics, especially at depth.   And then of course the obvious benefits of better bottom contact, get the bait down quicker (more casts to more sweet spots on tournament day benefit vs. waiting for your bait to sink out), better at crushing rocks ( the 2 ounce Slayer Head crushes rocks and turns them to rubble when touching down each time, no, not really, but it does have more clank/noise/displacement than anything most guys are throwing).   Out West, I read a lot more about guys fishing the “1-Ton”  back in the day.  The Yamamoto Jig with a 1 ounce Football Head on standard 7 foot bass rods in deep water.   Same sort of deal.  The heavier weight creates a reaction bite, or the better swim out of the bait which creates the bite, or it’s just that much more fishable (where can cast it way out and literally drag the bottom while reeling at near full speed if you wanted to….power dragging/swimming style.   Anyway, the net net is try a 1.5 or 2 ounce Slayer Swim Jig and tell me it isn’t the shiz for fishing a top hook style swimbait out deep.

The Song Remains the Same

Everything I find myself doing is a ‘work in progress’ and part of other conversations and discussions.  I have found some outside/deep water swimbait bites, and plan on exploring a whole lot more it.   It’s the ‘single top hook’ swimmer vs. the A-Rig conversation, it’s the deep swimbait bite conversation, the TN River conversation, “swimbaits in current/moving water” conversation———but I will stop there.     This is WAR.   I have an ongoing war with the fish, war with myself, and war within the fishing industry about what is good fishing content and the dynamics of making a living fishing.   It’s okay, it’s a healthy war, one that I enjoy most times, and one I plan on sharing with you each time I update this blog.   You can expect some more on this subject sometime soon.  I have learned a lot about and taken my own fishing to new levels with the 1, 1.5 and 2 ounce Warbaits swim jigs and various Big Hammer swimbaits (5″, 5.5″, 6.5″ and Sledge)  for the last couple years, mostly fishing the TN River, things I plan on sharing, discussions backed up with film, photography, style and soul.


I hate that I killed this fish, but it didn’t go to waste and was an accident. Big old halibut destroyed the Warbait Slayer Swim Jig and Sledge Hammer (Sexy Dine) right off Trestles.

The Warbaits guys aren’t looking at my website or your website for ideas and stealing info and pirating stuff—they are out fishing, pushing, progressing, traveling and searching, and proving why their stuff is legit. These guys are leaders and are trail blazing their own paths with better products, and better media, all done and packaged better.   They tournament fish too.  Check out the SWBA  (Saltwater Bass Anglers) .  I’ll be fishing that SWBA for sure if I lived in the Dana Point/San Clemente, CA again someday.  Calico bass in kelp are just awesome, and you never know what you are going a hook, yellow tail, white sea bass are there too, but big calicos will eat a spinnerbait, swimbait, swim jig, and all sorts of freshwater bass baits better than largemouth do!   I swear, they are just awesome fish and it’s really cool fishing and its rad to see the Pacific Coastline become a good place for tournament fishing, especially bass.   They are catching 25-35+ pound limits too, these aren’t no small 5 fish limits they are catching of calico bass. They fish the entire Southern California coastline, so it’s cool like that so you go from San Diego north to Orange County and Long Beach.  Anyway, educate yourself on these guys and their baits.  This is a style you are going to be using someday probing ledges, points, high spots, vertical faces, fishing over standing timber, etc to hunt and catch bigger fish out deep with a swimbait.

Crossover fishing. Sand Bass on the WarBait Slayer Swim Jig and Sledge Hammer. I plan on sharing what I know about saltwater fishing and how it’s helped me with catching them in the freshwater.


The Warbaits Slayer Swim Jig and Sledge Hammer Photo Gallery:

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