How to Rig a Swimbait: 5 Awesome Methods

Updated on:

How to Rig a Swimbait: 5 Awesome Methods

Updated on:

A soft plastic swimbait is a very versatile and highly effective bait to use when bass fishing, or fishing for walleye, drum, and a wide range of other trophy fish. Many bass anglers love using swimbaits with a wide range of different rigs and other fishing gear. These soft plastic swimbaits can mimic a wide range of different prey items that more fish will go wild for.

How to Put Paddletail Swimbaits on Your Hook or Jig Head

When purchasing a swimbait from the tackle shop, it’s not uncommon for them to come already rigged with an exposed hook tip. This is great for anyone that wants to save time in getting their hollow paddle tails ready to cast into the water so you can start catching bass quick.

With a few minor adjustments, or by starting from scratch, you can easily adjust the rigging on your paddle tail swimbait tackle to be weedless. This is a great option for bass fishing in heavy cover and thick vegetation as you will have less snags and less losses of your soft plastic swimbait and hook tackle.

If you’re starting from scratch and want to rig your hook or jig to be weedless, simply poke the hook through the nose of your swimbait and slide it entirely through. From here, you will move the point of the hook against the swimbait so it is flush with the soft plastic.

Some bass anglers will also push the point back into the swimbait body so that the tip is just hidden inside the soft bait. This prevents it from getting snagged on weeds, but allows it to pull through the swimbait and into the mouth of the fish once pressure is placed on it.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when bass fishing with soft plastic swimbaits is that the size of your soft plastic swimbaits and size of your hook need to be similar. If you are using a large swimbait with a thick body or head, be sure to use a suitably large hook.

However, if you are using small soft plastic swimbaits for a finesse bass fishing setup that have a narrow or thin body or head, be sure to use a delicate and small sized hook. Matching the hooks to the body, head, or nose size will ensure the baits remain on your rigging once you catch your first fish.

Rigging a Swimbait on a Jig Head

Rigging a swimbait normally is almost identical to a weedless presentation, only you won’t worry about the tip of the hook being flush with or hidden inside the swimbait. The hook tip will be prominently exposed .

This type of rigging is best for open water, sandy bottoms, gravel bottoms, or bass fishing areas where vegetation and rock piles are not common. It can also work if you plan on keeping your treble hook and swimbait well above the bottom of the lake or waterway so it doesn’t have a chance to get snagged in the weeds.

One of the biggest benefits to a non-weedless presentation is the fish will very easily be hooked. With a weedless bass fishing presentation, you may need to put a bit more force on setting your normal or treble hook to ensure the point can push through the swimbait and the fish’s mouth as well.

Favorite Rigs for Paddle Tail Swimbaits

Carolina Rig for Swimbaits

Rigging your solid or hollow body soft plastic swimbaits on a Carolina is an excellent way to ensure even the most aggressive fish stay hooked. With other bass fishing rigs, you may have large and aggressive fish charge towards the surface of the water and throw the hook. Not so with a swimbait body on a Carolina as there will not be enough weight for that kind of leverage.

Carolina rigs are great for beginners and pros alike when it comes to bass fishing. They are very simple to rig for catching bass, and can be extremely versatile and forgiving if you are just learning proper fishing techniques. Carolinas can be used with a wide range of soft plastic swimbaits, live baits, or different lures to get a great return on every cast.

When using both straight and paddle tail soft plastic swimbaits, the Carolina will move it through the water with excellent motion and very realistic imitations. Fish in the area won’t be able to resist checking out what you are offering, even if they are heavily pressured or suspicious of different lures and swimbaits.

Pros
  • Very forgiving for beginner bass anglers to use
  • Can be rigged with any type of swimbait

     

     

Cons
  • May be better suited for straight hollow bodies
  • Realistic imitation can be somewhat lacking with paddle tails

Tokyo Rig for Swimbaits

If you’re using a Tokyo rig for your swimbaits, you will be using a very versatile and highly successful rig to catch fish. When using a Tokyo, one of the biggest benefits is that your swimbait will be able to get delivered to the bottom of the deepest lakes, helping you draw out the most timid trophy sized fish whether you are bass fishing or targeting a different species.

In addition, using a Tokyo rig for your swimbait helps eliminate the difficulty and frustration of choosing the right weight for your soft swimbaits. This rig is forgiving enough to let you adjust the weights to your liking until you find one that works for normal or pressured fish.

Fishing with the Tokyo is best done in deep water of at least 20 feet or more where big bass hide. It’s also a powerful tool when you’re fishing in heavy cover and thick vegetation as it’s easy to rig weedless to prevent snags.

Pros
  • Excellent for getting your fishing bait deep under water
  • Very easy to rig weedless with most soft plastics

Cons
  • Not really suitable for topwater fishing
  • Most swimbaits on a Tokyo will sink quickly

Texas Rig for Swimbaits

Texas rigging your swimbait is one of the most popular weedless fishing choices out there. It’s also a very beginner-friendly rig that is great for anglers of all ages and skill levels. Texas rigs are great for use in the late spring and throughout the entire summer when the water temperatures start to rise. It also does exceptionally well when fished in murky or stained water.

During the mid to late summer and early fall, it’s not uncommon to find trophy bass hiding under water lilies and other floating vegetation. Using Texas rigged soft swimbaits will allow you to get your presentation down by the fish without constantly getting snagged on every root and stalk from the plants.

Most anglers will use a Texas rigged swimbait on a 7 foot medium power rod, using fluorocarbon line around 15 pound test with a wide gap hook. This gives a great leverage for long casting and varied retrieving, as well as ensuring you can haul in even the largest and most aggressive fighter.

One of the best rigging tips when fishing with a swimbait on your Texas rig is to try different retrieval speeds and movements. If you aren’t getting much attention from one technique, switch it up with the next cast and see if you have better results.

Pros
  • Very versatile rig excellent for weedless presentations
  • Great for fishing around water lily stems and roots
Cons
  • Does it’s best during the summer months
  • May not be suitable for finesse fishing techniques

Drop Shot Rig for Swimbaits

Drop shot rigs are an excellent choice when you’re fishing for big bass using larger paddle tail swimbaits, such as those in the 6 to 7 inch range. While you can get great results with drop shotting on a finesse standpoint, this rig can put in serious work when it’s pushed to the limit with larger baits and weighted hooks.

Drop shotting with a swimbait and weighted hooks is great for both smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, but can also get excellent response from spotted bass too. One of the best ways to get the attention of nearby big fish when drop shotting swimbaits is to keep the soft plastics moving across the bottom of the lake.

The weight from the rig setup will hold the soft swimbaits low, so it’s your job to keep it moving and imitating the motions of different prey items such as baitfish, leeches, and crayfish. Since most big bass will actively be feeding at the bottom, don’t be afraid to keep your movements steady for the most part but then add in a few pops or yo-yo movements to get their attention.

Pros
  • One of the best rig choices for larger swimbaits
  • Can also do well for finesse fishing with small baits
Cons
  • Can take some practice to master the technique
  • May not be a suitable rig for beginners to try

Ned Rig for Swimbaits

If you love to focus on finesse fishing for smallmouth bass, look no further than the Ned rig. This is an excellent setup for fishing in deeper water of the north and focusing on Smallmouth bass fish. While it won’t be suitable for large swimbaits, it can do amazingly well with very short 3 inch or less swimbaits. 

Smallmouth fish are not as aggressive in striking anything that moves as their largemouth relatives, so you need to get a bit more creative if you want to entice those trophy smallmouth bass to show up. Try adding a short swimbait to your Ned rig for casting into deep lakes with high water clarity.

The Ned rig has gotten bites in many situations where other rigs and larger baits will not. It’s one of the best and most versatile finesse rigs available today, and is a great rig for intermediate and experienced anglers to experiment with if bass are not responding well to other rigs and different presentations.

Pros
  • Excellent option for small swimbaits and finesse style big bass fishing
  • Can be very suitable for intermediate and experienced anglers
Cons
  • Not always suitable for fishing with larger baits
  • Can be difficult for fishing beginners to learn

Our Five Favorite Swimbaits

Fastestever Jig Head Swimbait
Fastestever Jig Head Swimbait
Fastestever Jig Head Swimbait
Our Score

Realistic shaped swimbait that mimics a jig setup with two sharp hooks, a variety of styles, and six very eye-catching and realistic colors.

Calissa Offshore Multi-Jointed Swimbait
Calissa Offshore Multi-Jointed Swimbait
Calissa Offshore Multi-Jointed Swimbait
Our Score

Multiple jointed body with two treble hooks that produces a very realistic movement as you pull it through the water.

Rose Kuli Multi-Jointed Bass Swimbait
Rose Kuli Multi-Jointed Bass Swimbait
Rose Kuli Multi-Jointed Bass Swimbait
Our Score

Very active swimbait that not only has a very realistic shaped and colored body, but also swims in a very natural way that entices bass to strike.

Goture Minnow Big Tail Swimbaits
Goture Minnow Big Tail Swimbaits
Goture Minnow Big Tail Swimbaits
Our Score

Soft bodied swimbait with a hard shaped head and black nickel hooks to offer a great presentation no matter how you decide to fish it.

Berkley PowerBait Power Swimmer
Berkley PowerBait Power Swimmer
Berkley PowerBait Power Swimmer
Our Score

This bait has a ribbed body that makes a good amount of noise in the water, and with a natural movement, it attracts bass exceptionally well.

Final Thoughts on Rigging Swimbaits

With so many different ways to rig your swimbaits for catching bass and other fish, it may take some trial and error to find the one that works best for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a few different rigs and fishing techniques to see which work better together.

You may also decide to go with pre-rigged soft plastic swimbaits instead of setting up your own. Both have their own benefits and can get you catching fish in no time. Once you find the best swimbaits and rigging style for your fishing preference, you’ll be hauling in bass and other trophy fish left and right!

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AUTHOR
Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village.