The 5″ Big Hammer is a workhorse swimbait plain and simple.  Born in the Pacific Ocean, to catch calico, sand, and spotted bay bass the 5″ Big Hammer Swimbait is a unique bait that swims high and low, and with the exposed lead head design, provides you bottom contact and rate of fall few other swimbaits can match.   The 5″ Big Hammer is one of the few swimbaits I can say I’ve consistently caught fish with in >15′ of water (speaking about non-trout fed tournament style lakes) off the bottom and fish that were suspended.  The ledges of Kentucky Lake, for example, has deep schools of fish and I found the 5″ Big Hammer to be an excellent bait to catch them with.  This Swim Signature Series piece is dedicated to showing the swim, hop and drag of the 5″ Big Hammer swimbait.

The 5″ Big Hammer Swimbait on a 3/4 Big Hammer Head. The 5″ Big Hammer swimbait is a swimmer but also a drop bait, a stroke bait, a vertical bait, and a dragging style swimbait. A well rounded swimbait, you might say. But the tail is anything but round. Known as the ‘square tail’ you can see the twist of tail and the ripple effect on the back half of the bait in the picture. Also, you can see the beautiful purple hue of the color, “Silver Phantom”.

I fish the 5″ Big Hammer on a 3/4 ounce Big Hammer Head with the 4/0 hook.  That is the setup in the above swim signature series, where we are looking at the the Big Hammer as a swimmer, but also a dragger and a hopping bait too.  The exposed lead head just gives you excellent touch and feel, to know hard and rock bottom vs. sand or muck, and dang it if the bait doesn’t sink out like a rock.  Incredible rate of fall, even with a 3/4 ounce head (Big Hammer makes them up to 1.5 ounces).   So, you can fish these thing DEEP and maintain excellent bottom contact.

Notice the pyramid head and shape of the Hammer head how well it orients a bait that sits on the bottom. For an exposed hook/top hook swimbait, the Big Hammer is amazing at getting thru rock and hard bottom/sand. Not so great around wood. The pyramid head shape with the line tie back off from the nose, is really good for swimming and for hopping and dragging. You don’t bang your knot into rocks as bad and you tend to be able to orient the bait up and pop it up and out of harms as you fish it out deeper.

I suggest fishing the 5″ Big Hammer swimbait on at least 20# mono.  I fish the bait on 65# Power Pro braid tied to a 4 foot piece 20-25# of P-Line CXX Copolymer.   I have excellent feel with the braided line, and get a good hook in the fish with the braid too.  I have fished this setup lots of times successfully with just 17-20 pound mono/copolymer, and no braid, and this too is another setup I’m switching over as I slowly migrate all my swimbait baits to braid + leader.     A faster action, not super fast, but not super slow, long rod is what you want to fish this bait. I like the Shimano Crucial 7’11” MH  for the 5″ Big Hammer.


Song: “Not Even…”

Album:  The Left Hand Side

Usage Courtesy:  Body Deep Music

Click the above imaged for the enlarged version, that you can read. This is a digital image of an article I was fortunate enough to get done in collaboration with Curt Niedermier. The intent was to take a simple look at various tails on swimbaits and understand some subtleties and just keep it simple.
The guy has a Stiffy!!! Great day on Okeechobee, sight fishing, poling around some good areas, taking it slow and stealth, and it paid off.

I have a 14 foot fiberglass Stiffy Push Pole.  It works great.  You need a push pole for many reasons, especially for hunting big bed fish up shallow in places like Okeechobee and Seminole.  The Stiffy Push Pole I have is two pieces, it screws together and can be stored in two 7 Foot sections.   The size of 14″ is a good size for me, the size of the boat and how deep of water I’m sitting.    I seriously like having either 7 foot sections or one long 14 foot section of strong fiberglass pole in my boat when I run around Okeechobee.  Between snakes, gators, birds and who knows what else, you never know when you need something to keep the critters away.   Also, getting stuck, high centered, overheated, lost or otherwise in a bad situation, a push pole is quite a useful tool that I find myself using often.   I imagine guys on the California Delta or Potomac, with the tidal nature of those waters, and for sure the river rats that duck into backwaters and ponds and need to push up and over shallow bars and structures, could use a good push pole.   Click HERE to see us fishing on Lake Okeechobee, where we show the 14 foot fiberglass Stiffy Push Pole in action.

Something about a push pole is just cool. You get back to slowing things down, and taking the stealth approach. Don't kid yourself, it's way physically exhausting to push yourself and a 20 foot fiberglass boat around. It takes time to get skills and even get your boat pointed the direction you want to go.

Stiffy makes other push poles and accessories too.  You can get the high end (and much lighter weight) graphite Stiffy Push Pole.  There are multiple piece/modular push poles and also single piece.  Just talk to the them if you have any special requests, they are good and can work with you to get the right length, material, and modular setup for your boat, and have the accessories for storage and mounting the push pole to your boat.

Stiffy storage on my Ranger Z520. I wrap the cord around it and secure it to my step, works great. Run that thing right down the center of your boat seems to be a good way to store it,when you plan on using it a lot and want to keep it as one big long piece.


Kaenon is based in Newport Beach, CA and has a ‘waterman’ DNA, where they strive for excellence in eyewear that meet the demands of the surfing, sailing, boating, paddle boarding, swimming, and fishing lifestyle.  They make a family of stylish and functional frames, that can be fitted with excellent grey, copper or yellow polarized lenses.   The lenses are a high end SR-91 composite material, which is their own high tech composite material–not glass, which means they are light weight and durable, yet they are quality, extremely high quality  lenses, so they are awesome to look thru.   They are light weight and sporty, and are a great compromise of function and fashion.  They are fun to wear, especially on calm days, warming trend, somewhere between the North Shore and Indian Prairie!  There is no reason to not experiment and try new things with your sunglasses and lenses and see what works and what fits you best and see if you don’t find something you like or something that works better.   Kaenon’s are available in 3 vibrant and distinct color variations, that are polarized of course:  Yellow, Copper, and Grey. I show you how I use the yellow (Y35) lens in the above video.      I’m going to introduce you to my world viewed thru various Kaenon sunglasses with the various lenses in separate projects, starting with the yellow lens.  The Y35 Kaenon Hard Kores are my choice for fishing in the black water of Okeechobee.

To understand why the Yellow lens helps ‘add light’ and brighten up the dark water of Florida, and brighten up cloudy and grey days for sight fishing, you have to understand the basics of ‘light transmission control’. The simple is, Yellow lens technology allows more light thru the lens. It blocks less sunlight, so you are gaining light vs. grey or copper lens (with the exception of the C50 which has my curiousity!). Go ahead and get yourself some yellow lenses and try them out. I bet you don’t take them off all day (in Florida anyway).

The Y35 Lens is amazing what it does to brighten up and ‘electrify’ an otherwise grey and gloomy day.   When you mix in the black tannin water of Florida, the Y35 has a whole new meaning.  These things pierce thru that clear black water we all strain our eyes to just see a little further, a little deeper, and detect a fish or a bed that much further away.    Here are the advantages to a Yellow lens:

  • Added light:  Great for seeing in black water, grey days, and cloudy conditions, especially when you are sight fishing.  Yellow lenses allow more light thru, and are a tool of serious sight fishermen.   Serious anglers have multiple sunglasses and lenses to approach certain situations, and these yellow lenses from Kaenon will be something you will appreciate and use regularly in your fishing.
  • Added contrast and detail:  You can detect beds further away (light spot in dark water) or dark fish tail against light spot better.  Or when it comes to detail, you can make out the shape and/or color of a fish better (vs. confusing it with grass or moss).   Think about competition skeet and trap shooting.  Those guys where yellow lenses, and I’m guessing it’s just for many of the same reasons.  I find even on the bright bluebird days of Okeechobee, yellow lenses work just fine middle of the day, not just the low light and grey days.   With the dark water of places like Okeechobee, the yellow lenses of my Y35 Kaenon Hardcores just work all day long, rain or shine, to give me added edge to see better.
  • Electrify your eyes:  I find the Kaenon Y35 lens a lot like being in a room with a black light.  Your eyes take a minute to adjust, but once you get the feel for them, the darks and lights really stand out and contrast each other. It’s like playing with the color levels of a digital photo editing tool.  Adding light or otherwise taking away/filtering out darkness, can make a photo come out great, whereas natively, it might have been really too dark to make out whatever you took the picture of.   Editing software makes it possible to make digital photos come out best.  Use this same mentality to choose colors of lenses to match the water and lighting of your fishing spot.  Yellow lenses electrify your vision and add contrast and detail you wouldn’t otherwise get.   Again, think sight fishing where you are looking for the black tails on the fish, lateral lines,  the white belly of a fish nosing down on your bait, looking for light spots out at the edge of your horizontal range, where you can best anchor down/setup on the bed to assess if a fish is there, and all the things you strive for perfection when sight fishing.   Yellow lenses are just an aid to help your vision to see more fish, beds and better see your bait and “the bed fishing theater” while sight fishing.
  • Seeing your bait:  It is no accident the colors of 5″ Big Hammer swimbaits (bright white, chartreuse/yellows really stick out with Y35 lenses on) I tend to throw at big bed fish ala the 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fish Rig, tend to contrast nicely and be highly visible with the Y35 lenses.
  • Boat Driving:  There are plenty of occassion to wear your Y35 Kaenon Hard Kores when operating your boat.  Morning take-off, and just any grey/cloudy dark conditions are ideal for using the Y35 lenses to add some light and just give you better visibility driving in the exposed outdoors at 65-70 MPH.
  • Hipster Alert:  You can wear your Y35 Kaenon’s out to nightclubs and trendy bars!!
Yellow? You hear me? Kaenon Hard Kores with the Y35 lens are a key tool to my bed fishing, especially in Florida. The fish, your bait, and the beds all tend to contrast in the dark water better with a yellow lens.

I definitely recommend getting yourself into a yellow lens for fishing the dark water of Florida and just to have as a tool in grey/cloudy conditions and perhaps for driving your boat.  I wear the Kaenon Hard Kore frame, because I find it incredibly light weight, sporty, and comfortable. I can wear them all day and don’t feel the fatigue of the nose or ear pieces on my head.   You have a few frames to choose from from Kaenon that offer the Y35 lens.  Here are the others frames that have the Y35 lens:  The Arlo, The Kanvas, and The Rhino.

FishStrong published a review of the Kaenon Kores with the C12 (Copper) lens.  Yellow lenses are a specialty thing, and definitely a tool to have, especially if you like “lookin’ at ’em” .  But copper lenses, as Hale White from FishStrong explains, are the most universally useful.  Take a look at  FishStrong’s write up HERE.    You can expect us to be back with our own take on the copper and grey lenses, and expect more collaboration with us and FishStrong too.

Sight fishing is like anything else, you need a system. Yellow lenses are part of my system and I encourage you to give it a try in the black water especially.

The Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig is part of a system. It's a system that involves using finesse baits and bigbaits to aggravate a fish into biting. The swimbait is fished as an 'intruder' and provides a power fishing approach to big fish, the female kind usually, but also good for the better than dink males you might need in a tournament situation.

We shared this rig in Southern Trout Eaters.  We have been getting asked a lot of questions about it, and Spring has sprung, so here goes.    Think of the 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig as a workhorse bed fishing bait, geared for ‘bigger’ fish.   The one rod you have rigged up in case you come up on or purposely hunt big fish on  beds.   We’ve had a few years to validate this rig, in the mountains, and in the grass of Okeechobee and Seminole.  I credit my friend and trophy bass hunter from the Bay Area, Rob Belloni, for sharing the fundamental of his Big Hammer Texas Rig with me. I’ve sorta dumbed it down since I’m usually not hunting double digit fish with it, most of my world, 4-9 pounders are king, with chances at double digits for sure though.    I’ve made my own adjustments and have made it a staple in my sight fishing system.   Rob has fooled giants, I have now fooled quite a few 4-9 pounders with it in multiple Southern States.   This is a great trophy and tournament style of sight fishing, and it points out the need for a knock out punch in your bed fishing arsenal.

The 5" Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig. 5" Big Hammer, rigged flat side up. Just bury your hook point enough to keep the bait weedless and free from snagging the fish, but able to sting one that just barely grabs it. Peg your weight, pitch and hop this thing around larger bed fish and see what happens.

The 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig:

Bait: 5″ Big Hammer Swimbait  (colors:  Pearl, Invader, Glowbug, Silver Phantom, Chartreuse, Fire tiger)

Sinker: 3/4 to 1 ounce Picasso Tungsten Weight or Pro-Metal Weights (since you just need ‘weight’ high performance tungsten not 100% necessary.)  (pegged)

Hook: 5/0 Owner Wide Gap Offset Worm Hook

Line: 25# P-Line CXX Xtra Strong w/ Palomar knot

Glasses:  Kaenon Hard Kore Y35 or C12 Lens

Reel: Shimano Curado CU200G6

Rods: Powell 7’10” MH (7105) Flipping Rod or Okuma Guide Select 7’6″ Heavy Casting (761H)

This 7'10" Powell Flipping Rod is a favorite all purpose 'heavy pitching' rod, for baits >1 ounce but not more than 1.5 or so. ie the Medlock Jig, 5" Big Hammer Rig, pitching 3/4 -1 ounce creature baits in grass, and light punching. The rod has guts. I think of it as a heavy pitching stick. I have whipped some nice fish with this rod. The short handle makes it handle and fish nicely, but long enough for leverage.

When you look at the trends in where bed/sight fishing is going, you will notice certain swimbaits and softbaits have flat sides or can be rigged flat side up are doing the most damage out there.  More cutting edge, more geared towards targeting bigger fish or a better mouse trap for fooling weary pressured fish.   The Dean Rojas Warmouth,  and the Jackall Clone Gill 2.5 and the Mission Fish are all part of the big picture of modern sight fishing.  All have wild variations and secret rigging and tricks I’m sure. I know the Hammer and Mission Fish best, both part of my toolkit.  Believe me when I tell you I use a drop shot a lot when sight fishing.  You need a big knock out punch and you need finesse, so I use the Mission Fish and Hammer as my big knockout punches, and drop shot/wacky and light texas rigs like the Warmouth and Clone Gill as my finesse approach.  I thought it important to note flat side up  or just flat sided bed fishing baits, have something about their swagger.  Flat sides, square/boot/slight swallow tails, realism, perch/bluegill profiles, buoyancy, weedlessness, unique vortex, and big fish attraction.   The Lateral Perch from PowerTackle is a derivative here, and likely a bed fishing bait for someone out there, but too has the this flat side up profile and swim, and is worth noting. I cannot speak to how well the Lateral Perch catches fish, but all of the other named baits I’m 100% certain catch fish on beds really well, and have too much in common not to connect the dots.   They all fish differently, but in the grand scheme of sight fishing, you better have tools that can be drop shotted, pitched, weightless/wackied, hopped, swam, and texas rigged if you want to be competitive.   Don’t just limit yourself to white tubes, craws and creature baits.  Be thinking perch/bluegill too.

The Okuma 7'6" MH Rod getting it done too. You need some 7'6" and shorter than 8' rods for fishing baits like the Mission Fish. This is an even beefier style of pitching stick vs. the Powell, but it takes the conversation to more like 2-6 ounce baits no problem. I liked using it for the 5" Big Hammer rig too. Lots of power and fished very nicely. The rod still has good feel even though my rig was under weighted for the rod, and it just worked for me.

The 5″ Big Hammer Sight Fishing Rig is an excellent sight fishing system.  You can see your bait very well in the black Florida water, and it shows up well fishing a bed fish in >8 feet of water in clear water.   The rig has ample weight involved, which means you can ‘rapid fire’ and harass a fish with the bait, pushing the fish around, and firing them up into biting.  The bait hops really well, and has the square tailed flap on the way back down to the bottom.  It’s more of a hop hop and slight drag and shake style of  bait.  The fish love to ‘catch’ the bait coming back down to the bottom, with a well placed and timed hop.  The 5″ Big Hammer gets bigger bed fish to bite and has an excellent hook-up and land ratio.  There is very little risk of foul hooking or snagging a fish, with the Texas rigged nature of the bait, which also opens up the ability to bounce the rig off of the side, head and tail of the fish, making them eat it.   You can expect to see a sight fishing production from us in the near future, highlighting this rig.  We gave a sneak peak of the bait underwater in our Lake Seminole FLW Evestart Preview video, in case you missed it.