UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Swim-jigging winter grass lines

Swim-jigging winter grass lines
Grass-fishing swim-jig technique: Let the jig sink to the grass. Swim the jig along the grass. And rip the jig free when it touches the grass.

(Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the 2014 February issue of FLW Bass Fishing magazine. To read more compelling articles from FLW Bass Fishing magazine each month, become an FLW subscriber member.)


You can rip rattle baits through winter grass beds like everyone else, or you can offer bass something different: a swim jig. Former pro Ron Shuffield says a swim jig is one of his preferred cool-weather lures when bass set up camp on grass-line edges. It’s a lure that can be worked quickly, or dragged more slowly when conditions warrant a change-up.

Shuffield shares his most productive technique.


Hold boat in 22 to 24 feet of water and cast across the grass edge slightly less than parallel. In this illustration, the grass edge is between 15 and 18 feet deep.
Good grass location

Figure out where the grass “edges out” in the back of a creek. Typically it’s at about the same depth across the area. Areas where a creek channel swings up along the grass edge, or any place that the grass tops out along a drop-off into deeper water, are the sweet spots.

Grass line setup

Set up with the boat outside the edge of the grass and cast at a slight angle just less than parallel to the edge so that the jig falls onto the “grass side” of the edge.

“Let it sink down until it touches the top of the grass, then swim it slowly over the top,” Shuffield explains. “When it hits a clump, I’ll rip it through and let it fall back.”

Greener is better

Some grass will die off in the winter, depending on the temperature, grass species and depth. As a result, not all grass produces the same results.

“The grass might have died back some, and most of our lakes have winter drawdowns, but that doesn’t do anything but make a little more definitive edge,” Shuffield says. “The grass stays green most of winter, especially the deeper grass. I notice that if I’m pulling up dead grass I’m not catching many fish, but if it’s green grass I’m catching more fish.”

Winter swim jig

Shuffield’s favorite lure is a bluegill or crawfish pattern 1/2- or 5/8-ounce jig, but he’ll drop back to a 3/8-ouncer in shallower situations.


The backup plan: Position boat above grass, cast out off the edge and maintain bottom contact.
The backup plan

When it gets really cold, bass sometimes drop down to the bottom on the outside edge. In that case, switch positions to hold the boat over the grass and cast out off of the edge. Let the jig sink to bottom, and work it back until it hits the grass once again.

“I’m going to hop it if they’re out on the outside edge,” Shuffield says. “I’m trying to keep the bait in contact with the bottom for the majority of the retrieve.”

Megabass Vision 110
Jerkbaits too

On sunny, windy days, a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait twitched over the edge of the grass can pick up any bass that have suspended up out of the cover.

“Usually here [central Arkansas] our shad die-off starts around 47 degrees (water temperature),” Shuffield says. “If you’re on the lower end of the temperature scale, or if you can see small 1- and 2-inch shad flitting around and sinking in the water column, that’s the time you need to break out your jerkbait. Add some six- to 10-second pauses, and don’t get wild. That’s an excellent backup technique for wintertime fishing.”

Tags: curtis-niedermier  magazine-features  pro-lessons 

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

Nixon Eyeing Early June Return

You couldn’t choose just one word to describe Larry Nixon’s professional fishing career. But right now, if you had to try, the most applicable word might be “resiliency.” READ MORE »

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

10 Pro Circuit Highlights So Far

We’re almost halfway through the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit schedule, which means we’re far enough along now for a little retrospective on what’s happened thus far. READ MORE »

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Sight-Fishing with Swimbaits

Ron Nelson, the Pro Circuit Angler of the Year leader and a renowned sight-fisherman, used a Keitech Swing Impact FAT for blind-fishing and sight-fishing at Martin and earned a runner-up finish. California’s Kevin Hugo took seventh at Lake Havasu and caught some of his biggest bass sight-fishing with a Little Creeper All American Trash Fish or Sunfish. Though the reasons why they settled on swimbaits varied, both pros can offer valuable lessons for any angler tackling a spawning scenario. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Results from the Toyota Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu probably didn’t surprise any Western anglers who are familiar with the fishery. For folks in other parts of the country that might only have followed FLW’s early February events on the Colorado River reservoir, the tournament results might have opened some eyes to just how good the fishing can be on Havasu. Particularly on day one, the lake delivered, kicking out 12 limits of more than 20 pounds, including Tai Au’s limit of 26 pounds, 1 ounce. The success on day one resulted from a perfect storm of conditions for catching spawning bass on beds.  READ MORE »

Co-angler Farage Gets Win No. 5

Co-angler Farage Gets Win No. 5

If you weren’t already aware, you need to be paying attention to the name Jack Farage. This week, the Discovery Bay, Calif., co-angler won his fifth Toyota Series Western Division tournament since 2013 by catching 43 pounds, 3 ounces at Lake Havasu. For his latest win, Farage earned a Phoenix 518 Pro with a 115-hp Suzuki outboard. READ MORE »

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., weighed in a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 15 ounces today to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the Toyota Series Western Division season opener on Lake Havasu. Au’s three-day total was 61-3.  READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 3

It was another slow morning on Lake Havasu at the Toyota Series Western Division opener. Though, that was to be expected. Most of the top 10 pros have had their best luck in the middle of the day and early afternoon. Mornings have been tough. READ MORE »

Au Stays Ahead on Tougher Day Two

Au Stays Ahead on Tougher Day Two

Tournament leader Tai Au managed to stay in first place by recognizing key environmental factors and knowing when to change up his baits. Yesterday, four of the five bass that Au weighed in were bass he caught sight-fishing. Today, he didn’t look at any of the bass he brought to the scale. Au still managed to weigh in 18 pounds, 3 ounces, taking his two-day total to 44-4. He’s searching for his first FLW victory this week.  READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 2

After an afternoon and evening of intense rainfall yesterday, the Lake Havasu City area finally got a break from the precipitation today. But instead of rain, the anglers fishing the Toyota Series Western Division opener on Lake Havasu have had to deal with a stiff southerly wind that’s made it tough to sight-fish, some dirtier water in areas (particularly in the upper end) and a drop in water temperature of a couple of degrees. Not surprisingly of a post-frontal day, the fishing has been much more difficult so far on Friday.  READ MORE »

Au Clobbers 26-1 for Havasu Lead

Au Clobbers 26-1 for Havasu Lead

Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., took the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu with a five-bass limit that weighed 26 pounds, 1 ounce. Au heads up a roster of Western hammers that managed to tally 12 limits of more than 20 pounds today.  READ MORE »

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Havasu Midday Update – Day 1

The fishing is hot at Lake Havasu. By 9:30, many of the anglers we’d seen on the water for day one of the Toyota Series Western Division season opener already had limits or had kicker largemouths in the box. Most of those fish were caught off beds, with the majority being caught sight-fishing and the rest coming just by fishing through likely spawning areas. Others were caught out in front of spawning areas and around marinas. The fishing should only get better, too. Currently, there are scattered rain showers, but the sun is shining across many parts of the reservoir, making it a little easier to spot fish on beds.  READ MORE »

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

Two Species Spawning at Havasu 

The weatherman did it again. About two weeks prior to today’s kickoff for the Toyota Series Western Division season at Lake Havasu, the forecast called for highs in the mid-80s and sunshine for three straight days during the tournament. Instead, practice was rainy, and the current forecast calls for precipitation for at least the first two days and highs that likely won’t top 70 degrees.  READ MORE »

Wheeler Should Produce Mega Mixed Bags in March

Wheeler Should Produce Mega Mixed Bags in March

If you love mixed bags of big largemouth and smallmouth bass (and who doesn’t?), you’re going to want to pay close attention to the Toyota Series Southeastern Division opener on Wheeler Lake March 26-28. Local pro Sam George, who fishes the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, expects to see mid-20-pound limits cross the weigh-in stage, and predicts the winner will almost certainly weigh both green and brown fish. READ MORE »

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

College Open Prize Pool Bigger than Ever

The annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open returns to Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-March for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat, 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship and 20 spots in the all-new Major League Fishing College Faceoff presented by Wiley X in Raleigh, N.C., later this spring. READ MORE »

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Red-Hot Spawn Bite Expected at Havasu

Spawning bass and spring break will be the story lines at the Toyota Series Western Division opener at Lake Havasu in mid-March. Well, OK … the spawning bass will certainly be the main focus of the anglers. But dealing with traffic from pleasure boaters will definitely contribute to the pros’ decision-making, particularly on the weekend.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 Mississippi Division schedule at Ross Barnett Reservoir on March 7. Ross Barnett is an annual early season stop for FLW and the first crack at gaining essential points in the race to qualify for this fall’s Regional. This time around, anglers might have to navigate tricky conditions due to a wet and rainy winter. READ MORE »

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Ask Matt Becker how his practice is going for this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain, and the Pennsylvania pro has nothing to complain about. For starters, he’s in the Sunshine State, and it’s about 80 degrees. The 50-degree swing compared to what folks back home in Finleyville, Pa., are experiencing is certainly pleasant. The fishing has also been pretty good through a day and a half of practice. READ MORE »

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

Timing Right for Giant Weights at Chickamauga

If it’s big bass you want, late winter and early spring are ideal times to catch them at Lake Chickamauga, which is why the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division opener is perfectly timed to be a big-bass slugfest. The tournament, which runs Feb. 27-29, could produce some of the biggest five-bass limits FLW will see all year. Just how good the fishing will be depends on the weather, and whether the region ever sees an end to the rain that’s been falling recently.  READ MORE »

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big Bags Expected at Bama Division Kickoff on Lake Martin

Big largemouths and lots of spots are the main attractions at Alabama’s Lake Martin, where the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Bama Division kicks off its 2020 season Feb. 8. Local hammer David Gaston, who’s won the last two Bama events at Martin, expects a typical wintertime tournament this season with solid weights across the board. READ MORE »

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

Warm, Wet Winter Setting up Big Weights at Murray

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 South Carolina Division schedule at the Jewel of South Carolina, Lake Murray, which is the former host site for multiple FLW Cup events. Murray is full of big bass and can churn out weights in the upper 20s if conditions line up right. Thus far in 2020, warm, wet conditions have been great for bass fishing. Though patterns might vary slightly from a “normal” winter, competitors can expect to have a good time fishing shallow with power-fishing baits.  READ MORE »