Tackle & Technique – Ike on Swim Jigs

Tackle & Technique – Ike on Swim Jigs

Sep 1, 2012

Swimmin’ a jig with Ike

By Mike Pehanich

His garb was as grey as the day, but, heck, this was Mike Iaconelli! His colorful character would shine through even if you wrapped him in a Hefty bag!

“This (swim jig) is something that’s not talked about for a reason,” he said, inspecting rod and bait.  “Because it’s an awesome fish catcher when fish get under and around cover!”

Why don’t pros talk much about swim jigs? Mike Iaconelli tells why in this exclusive Small Waters Fishing video.


Mike Iaconelli lured this largemouth from a VIP Adventures lake with a swim jig trailed with a Berkley Havoc Devil's Spear.

We were back on the sand pit lakes of VIP Adventures in Summerville, South Carolina, and we hadn’t gone a hundred yards from the dock when the swim jig rod came out.

Ike’s credentials include a Bassmaster Classic win and Angler of the Year award. But it was the timing of this swim jig talk that had me so intent on hearing what he had to say.

Several big bass from a small pond had demonstrated the year before that the  swim jig was no mere novelty but a serious search-bait for shallow-to-mid-depth bass.

Within a few casts, an aggressive three-pound largemouth had proved Ike’s point.

Swim Jig background

Swimming a jig is not new, but the tools and technique itself have experienced serious refinement in recent years.

Some say it’s a hybrid bait that fills a niche between a spinnerbait and standard skirted jig with trailer.

I regard it as a kind of “stealth” spinnerbait that gets a little closer to a silent lipless crankbait in function.

But add a swimbait as a trailer, and it fishes more like, well, a swimbait!

Ike wreaks Havoc

A “swimbait” is, more or less, what Mike Iaconelli added – at least if a halibut’s stroke qualifies as swimming.

His trailer of choice that day was the Devil’s Spear, a bait he designed for the Berkley Havoc line. (See SWF video with Ike “Five Ways to Fish the Devil’s Spear” at the end of the  Post Spawn Sand Pit post)

Swim jigs are deadly when fish are in and around cover, notes Bassmaster star Mike Iaconelli, but they can be equally deadly when bass are schooling baitfish in open water.

Threaded so it rides a plane parallel to the bottom, as Ike rigged it that afternoon, the Devil’s Spear has an undulating action that works well with the writhing, pulsating action of the jig skirt.

As trailers, paddletail swimbaits have tremendous appeal, too, but that’s a topic for another day.

Swim jigs, in general, have thinner skirts and weed guards and lighter hooks than standard pitching/flipping jigs. The line tie/hook eye is positioned to enable the bait to hold on a horizontal plane during the retrieve. Their “streamlined” design enables the good ones to move easily through vegetation and light cover.

“Swim jigs are great for skipping under overhangs and docks, too,” added Ike.

One feature that stood out on Iaconelli’s jig was the rounded, integrated line tie, which prevents debris from collecting on the head.

Ike’s color selection in skirt, head and trailer is, in general, an attempt to “match the hatch.”  He will opt for bluegill/sunfish colors where sunfish comprise the primary forage; shad colors where threadfin and gizzard shad predominate.

The hyperactive Bassmaster star became "Mellow Mike" after a successful day on the water, which included nice bass taken on his swim jig/Devil's Spear combination.

As for the retrieve…A straight, steady retrieve often is all you need. But little pops and pauses along the way, do the trick, too, as Ike demonstrates on our video from that day.

Sometimes it’s the stop-and-go that drives bass crazy!

See more videos with Mike Iaconelli in the Small Waters Fishing Video Gallery!


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