Cermele: Caught Up in the Swimbait Craze

Last Sunday, pro bass angler Byron Velvick won the Bassmaster Elite Series Golden State Shootout on California's Clear Lake with a four-day total of 98 pounds, 6 ounces. Every fish he caught fell to a BV3D swimbait (shown below) of Velvick's design produced by lure maker Jerry Rago. "Swimbait" is a relatively new term that encompasses several types of lures. Though characteristics vary, swimbaits as a whole have started a craze.

What separates swimbaits from, say, crankbaits, is their emphasis on realistic swimming action. Hard swimbaits usually have multiple joints spaced close together to give them a snake-like whip or "S" pattern when they move. Soft swimbaits often have paddle tails and unique tapers that ramp up their wiggle. Many of these baits spawned from the designs of California lure builders trying to mimic the rainbow trout those big West Coast bucketmouths love to eat. Today, almost every lure manufacturer markets a pattern they classify as a swimbait for a plethora of species in salt- and freshwater.

Is this a fad? Ten years ago I'd have said it was, but not anymore. To be honest, I would argue that these realistic swimmers are becoming the staple lures of the new generation of anglers--kind of like what the Original Rapala Floater's design became after its introduction. If you can call a Storm Shad a swimbait, which I think you can, well then I guess I've been swept by the craze, because I rarely go fishing without them. Have you joined the swimbait revolution, or are you still stuck on the classics? -- JC