Since the beginning of fishing, anglers have been trying to come up with better ways to fool fish. The swimbait is undoubtably one of the best ways to simulate a baitfish. The reason swimbait fishing has become so popular is because almost anyone can fish one of these lures and catch a big fish. It's a friendly style for beginning fisherman and is great for more experienced anglers who just want to keep things simple on the water. Often, these lures will produce when the fish just aren't hitting anything else, especially when it comes to largemouth bass that live in heavily pressured lakes and rivers.
The main reason they are so effective is because of how truly lifelike they are, and the designs just seem to get better with each passing year. Lure manufacturers are constantly researching, tinkering, and finding new ways to make these baits perfectly resemble minnows, shad, bluegills, and other small forage so fishermen and women can perfectly "match the hatch" as some fly anglers might like to say. Today we're looking at the most realistic swimbaits on the market today, the ones that are best going to match the forage wherever you are fishing and help you catch the big one.
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Storm WildEye Live Sunfish
Storm offers this lure in ¼ and 5/16-ounce sizes and we like this one primarily for big bass. However, it's going to be effective for pike, muskie, bowfin, and dozens of other species that often share the same waters. There's a ton of extra detail in the scales, fins, and the eye which are going to help make the difference when it comes to making wary fish strike. We also just appreciate the fact there's both a single hook from the back and a bottom treble. Sometimes it's hard to hook fish that swipe at swimbaits from below and that bottom treble is going to help increase your hook-up percentage for this one. At $14.99 for a pack of three, the price is also extremely reasonable.
13 Fishing BAMF Shad
In many southern states, big bass love to feast on shad and shiners. The BAMF shad does a good job of imitating these baitfish, which will save you the time of catching some live bait. The company offers three different color schemes, gold which will do the job of imitating shiners, silver for imitating shad, and a purple color for when all else fails. They also offer two sizes, 5.25 inches and 8 inches. We like both sizes for largemouths, but the bigger one will also catch larger gamefish. The attention to detail on this shad swimbait, especially in the eyes, is going to help convince fish this fishing lure is the real McCoy. These start at about $12.95, so they are not cheap, but you get what you pay for with the quality.
Savage Gear 3D Line Thru Gizzard
Big baits catch big fish, and you cannot get much more realistic than a bait built from a 3D scan of a real gizzard shad. This one is a hard bait, which makes it a prime option for anglers who are frustrated with soft baits that don't seem to hold their durability. At the same time, the triple segmented body gives this bait a great action for a bevy of gamefish species. Savage Gear offers this bait in three different color styles to better match whatever the most common forage is on your lake or river. Another feature that puts this one just a step above other hard body swimbaits is the ability to bury the hook up next to the body or use a swinging treble. It's nice to have options, especially for clear water fish that may be skittery about an obvious treble hook. The only big downside is the price at $14.99 to $20.99 each. Tie a good knot, because losing one of these could be an expensive mistake.
This lure has proven extremely popular for bass fishing in Japan and is starting to gain some traction here in the states too. It's a six-inch, 1 ¼-ounce paddle trail swimbait that gives off great vibration that will stimulate the lateral line of lurking fish. The company makes this lure in about a dozen different color schemes to match what fish are feeding on. We recommend the nude rainbow for big bass reservoirs in southern California and the perch for more northerly fisheries in places like Minnesota. This one has a rather interesting design in that the side fins are there to make the treble hook more weedless than a standard swimbait. We especially like the eyes of this one. There's just something about them that screams lifelike wounded baitfish. At about $16 each, they are not cheap, but they are the perfect option for when the fishing is slow and nothing else is working.
Berkley gave us a sneak peek at this bait before it debuted in 2021 and it later deservingly won best in show at ICAST. This one you need to see in action to appreciate, as it has some of the most realistic movement we've ever seen in a soft plastic swimbait. Not only does it have Berkley Powerbait baked in, but there's a bevy of ways to rig it for fishing multiple situations. You can rig it on a jighead and fish it vertically, rig it weightless and pitch it in the slop, you can even fish these Texas-style or drop shot them. It's the most versatile swimbait on the market today. We also love the printed patterns on the sides, which are often HD images of real fish for a little This one is for the anglers who want different options to fish the bait, but also for those who want more for their money. Because you get four to a pack, which isn't a bad deal for $7-$17 depending on the size you choose. Berkley also offers a bevy of colors to match the baitfish most common in your area.
Savage Gear 4D Line Thru Trout
Southern California's reservoirs are a very likely place for the next world record largemouth bass to be caught. The bass grow to huge sizes there because wildlife authorities often stock trout every year which the bass feed on extensively. This swimbait from Savage Gear will help you mimic those young trout thanks to the design which uses a 3-D scan for accurate detailing. They make a few different sizes of this fishing lure to fit all situations. At $15 to $20 depending on the retailer, the price is about what we'd expect for a bait of this type. This is the lure to consider if you are targeting a bass that weighs in the double digits.
Berkely PowerBait Grass Pig
Another soft plastic swimbait option from Berkley, but this one is a paddle tail swimbait that creates a lot of extra vibration in the water. Just like the Gilly, this is a highly versatile swimbait that can be fished via jig or weighted with an EWG hook for a slow sinking presentation for suspended fish. This is one of those lures to keep in your tackle box for when you're exploring new waters and you're not quite sure what may be hiding beneath the surface. The HD color patterns for perch, shad, and rainbow trout are all solid options and help these lures pop for fish under the surface. Again, we like this one from an affordability standpoint too. They are just $4.99, allowing you to stock up on multiple colors so you can keep switching until you find the pattern that works each day.
Jackall Gantarel Jr. Hard Body
There's a slightly larger version of this bait, but we like the "Jr." five-inch, 1 ½-ounce version a little better since it can be fished in more parts of the country for more species. This hard bait features extra buoyancy, and it gives this double-jointed bait some great action. In fact, it can make incredibly sharp 180-degree turns like a real baitfish. We like this one in the matte bluegill color for most waters within the continental United States. This scheme will work for a plethora of game fish species. We also like the fact this lure comes with an option trailer hook that can be attached to the tail. It's perfect for those situations where fish are only taking swipes at your bait. This is the most expensive lure on this list at $25 - $30 depending on the retailer, but it's a lure that can catch just about anything.
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