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Power-fishing hollow-bodied swimbaits.

As we've reported now many times, plastic swimbaits in their various forms remain as hot as can be all across North America, for a variety of fish species. Everything that eats something else that swims eats a well-presented swimbait.

The newest group of swimbaits is the vaunted hollow-belly style or hollow-bodied style that hit the bass scene several years ago. This is a body designed to be fished on a weighted wide-gap hook, or weighted in other ways to achieve depth control. One of the most common "other" weighting systems is to add lead into the hollow belly of the bait.

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But why not just add a jighead to it, when more than a shallow depth is desired? This simple concept seems totally foreign to many anglers, especially on the bass-only side of the fishing world.

Depth control is the most important fundamental aspect of the lure or bait presentation--and we have long taught that a jighead is the most precise way to get a presentation to a depth and keep it there. Weighting systems like Carolina-rigging, for bass; or split-shotting, for bass and other species; or Lindy sinker-rigging, for walleyes and smallmouths, accomplish somewhat the same purpose as a jighead but never so precisely.

Take split-shotting, for example, which is easy to picture in one's mind. A plastic body or livebait is added to a single hook, and a shot is added to the line ahead of the hook to take the presentation to depth. The farther away the shot is from the lure or bait, the less control the angler has over that presentation. The closer the shot is, the more precise the presentation.

So, the most precise shotting method of all is to move the shot right up next to the hook, which is approaching what a jighead accomplishes. A jighead is a weight on a hook allowing the most precise delivery of a presentation to a specific depth.

A 5-, 6-, or 7-inch hollow-bodied swimbait weighted with a 1/2-ounce or 3/4-ounce jighead is a hot power-fishing tool. You can fish the bait steadily and shallow like a crankbait or spinnerbait, with your rod tip held high. Or you can let the combination sink deeper (count it down) and fish it steadily over deep flats--or, as I so often use it, along and through deeper weededges.

The lure is nothing if it isn't doing what it was designed to do, which is swim along like a living thing, so it must move along steadily in order to trigger fish. Adding a momentary pause during the retrieve often gets fish to bite. At times, you also need to pause and let it sink to reestablish contact with the bottom. Just depends on the situation.

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The various plastic swimbaits are designed to be fished so they offer the normal profile of a baitfish. But they all fish well rigged flat, too--indeed, the hollow-body-style baits offer more action fished like this, in most cases way more action.

Some other notes:

* The 4-inch hollow bodies are a great smallmouth tool, although a 5-inch bait fishes best for them most of the year. I also catch a lot of smallmouths on 6-inch models.

* When fishing a hollow body with a particularly roomy hollow interior, which is the case with the Berkley Hollow Belly, you need to be careful to run the jig hook very shallow just below the skin of the bait, in order to get it to run correctly. You don't want the hook riding loosely inside the lure--the action won't be right.

* You might also note in our Pop Culture column more commentary about the various swimbaits, in answer to a reader question.

I love fishing with swimbaits because they're easy to fish and incredibly appealing to just about everything that swims. A guess would be that I've fished them on jigheads more than just about anyone else--and I've discussed doing so, extensively. So it's still surprising to me that all of the fancy-pants bass guys I get a chance to fish with have never considered fishing like this.

Somewhere along the line it's gotten so that you can't teach some anglers much, anymore. Everyone knows so much they can't hear you--and everyone knows you fish a hollow body like you fish a hollow body, which isn't with a jighead. Some of them actually don't get it until you stand next to them and outfish them two or three to one--beat them badly with a stick. The learning curve could be a lot shorter than that.

BY DOUG STANGE EDITOR IN CHIEF
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Title Annotation:Inside Angles
Author:Stange, Doug
Publication:In-Fisherman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2009
Words:768
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