UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To
Casey Smith

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead.

 

Casey Smith

The lowdown on the bait

Smith’s go-to winter swimbait is the 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT. Though the Keitech swimbait is probably the most popular in this size class, it isn’t alone anymore in the market. The Jackall Rhythm Wave, Berkley PowerBait Power Swimmer and a few others also come in a tiny size. 

Smith typically mounts his swimbait on a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce tungsten football head from Keitech. His current favorite is an unreleased version of the Keitech Super Tungsten Football Head, usually with the weed guard clipped off. He particularly likes the hook because it’s stouter than some other finesse-style swimbait heads.

“I used to use just a ball head and little grubs, but the 2.8 is a much better swimmer and has more of a baitfish profile, and the football head can get in the rock and doesn’t hang up,” says Smith. “And, if you’re in a situation where you’re swimming it, that football head doesn’t impede it at all.”

For swimbait colors, he sticks with baitfish standards such as bluegill flash or alewife most of the time, but on Erie or somewhere with gobies or lots of perch he often turns to green pumpkin or a perch color.

The tackle is a pretty straightforward. Smith uses a 7-foot, 2-inch spinning rod in a medium-heavy power, 10- or 15-pound-test braid and an 8-pound-test flourocarbon leader.

“I want that backbone,” Smith says of his preference for a bit more rod than usual. “When you launch it way out there and it’s deep, you want to get a hook in them and make sure you’ve got ’em.”

 

Casey Smith

Why and how

You can catch plenty of fish on bigger stuff when the water is warm (not that the 2.8 doesn’t do work then, too), but come winter, the little 2.8 can shine.

“No. 1 is that they eat it really well,” says Smith. “It’s just a little snack. Big baits on Ontario are a little bit of an exception. Everywhere else in the fall you want to downsize a little bit as the water gets super cold. For me it comes out super late, after the umbrella rig bite dies off, when they won’t come up as high in the water column to bite something. That’s when I put that on, and it gets to a point really late, when the water gets to about 42 degrees or under, that you’ve gotta put something right on the bottom and right in their face. That’s where that thing is perfect, too.”

One of the keys to the small swimmer is how efficient it is compared to other baits. With the proper size jighead, Smith can keep it right at the desired depth and cover quite a bit of water. 

“I use it instead of a Ned or a drop-shot because you can cover more water,” says Smith. “The good thing about it is that you can cover the water, and if you see a fish on your graph beneath the boat you can drop it down and they’ll bite it just like they bite a drop-shot.”

The places he targets are pretty broad – deep flats, points, humps and really any place in 10 to 35 feet that might have a smallmouth or two.

“There are times when I want it swimming, when I don’t want it on the bottom,” says Smith. “That’s usually when I use the 1/4-ounce head, and I’ll just adjust my speed. There are a lot of times when I use the 1/4; if you’re fishing a deep flat with rock, or on a really steep point, you might throw across the end and really not be fishing the bottom. The heavy ones are more for when I want it closer or on the bottom.”

Wherever he’s fishing it, Smith says finding the right cadence is important.

“Like any swimbait, the key is the right speed. You can’t go too fast,” says Smith. “The way I judge it is to watch my line. When I’m going too fast my line is tight. When I’m reeling it just right it’s got a little bit of a sag. That’s an indicator you’ve got the right weight. If you’re really at the right speed and your line doesn’t have the right sag then you’ve got the wrong weight.”

 

Casey Smith

Keep plugging

When the water gets cold and the weather gets bad it’s easy to head to the woods or the couch, but staying with it can have tremendous rewards. On the Great Lakes and most other Northern fisheries the smallmouth keep biting until ice makes it impossible to reach them. If you’ve got the right baits and know where to put them, you can really make some hay.

Tags: keitech  -new-york  -smallmouth  -winter  jody-white  article 

ICAST Cup Winners Announced

ICAST Cup Winners Announced

The ICAST Cup presented by FLW, a popular part of the ICAST tradeshow for the last five years, kicked off ICAST Online as a fish, photograph and release tournament Saturday and Sunday with 50 anglers across the country fishing their local waters to raise money for Keep America Fishing. READ MORE »

BFL Winning Patterns – July 11-12

BFL Winning Patterns – July 11-12

The weekend of July 11 featured seven Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events spread across six different divisions. With a pair of double-headers mixed in, it was an action-packed weekend on the water. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Lee Rogers mixed smallmouths from the nearby islands with a good largemouth day near Sandusky to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Outside of Rogers, the top 10 was filled with folks making substantial runs eastward or to Michigan. It also proved helpful to actually get something going around Sandusky, both during days one and two and on the wind-hampered final day. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie featured pretty tough fishing overall. On the first two days, many of the top pros ran to the Detroit River or St. Clair for their fish, and others plied the waters nearer Sandusky. On the final day, the entire field was confined to the waters in and around Sandusky Bay due to wind, and everyone switched to targeting largemouths. READ MORE »

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Despite weighing in just 9 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day, it was still enough to move Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., from second to first for the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With a total of 38-12, Mundy takes home a new Phoenix boat package valued at over $33,000. READ MORE »

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Starting the final day in eighth place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With the field confined to the area around Sandusky Bay due to wind, Rodgers brought 15 pounds, 10 ounces to the scale for a total of 48-12 to earn his first win with FLW. For his win, Rogers gets the trophy and a $32,439 paycheck. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

With big winds present even before putting boats in the water, it was obvious that day three of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was going to throw the anglers a curveball. After a short delay, the new boundaries were set from Marblehead Lighthouse to Cedar Point, and the pros blasted off in search of bass. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

The final day of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie is likely to change things up quite a bit. With many of the top pros making long runs, there’s a chance much of what happened on days one and two will be physically impossible on day three. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event has been pretty slow across the board, and particularly for the leaders. Though the weather isn’t too bad and the wind is fairly manageable, the fishing in Erie is slower than it was yesterday. READ MORE »

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

One of a number of pros who elected to make the run from Sandusky to the Detroit River, Troy Stokes pulled into the lead on day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was not dominated by St. Clair as some expected. Though St. Clair did produce the lead for Scott Dobson, a hodgepodge of techniques and locations got it done for the other top pros on Erie. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

From a weather standpoint, day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has been almost too perfect. Slick and hot from the start, anglers have been able to go wherever they want and fish however they want. READ MORE »

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

The weights on day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie were about what folks expected: plenty of quality fish, but a lack of the plump 4- and 5-pounders that Erie is so known for. Weighing one of only two bags over 20 pounds, Scott Dobson put 20-12 on the scale after a day of fishing that took him as far from Sandusky as the mouth of the St. Clair River. READ MORE »

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

FLW Classics – Week 5

FLW Classics – Week 5

Even though tournament action is back in full swing, we decided to keep dipping into the archives for some tournament highlights from yesteryear. Below is a batch of classic FLW TV shows from 2008 to 2010, with more on the way.  READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

The frog world is pretty stacked with good options these days, but the Strike King Popping Perch still manages to stand out. READ MORE »

Virtual FLW Tournament to Benefit Keep America Fishing

Virtual FLW Tournament to Benefit Keep America Fishing

As part of the American Sportfishing Association’s first-ever ICAST Online fishing tackle tradeshow later this month, FLW is partnering with Keep America Fishing to host a special virtual ICAST Cup fishing tournament.  READ MORE »

A Dream Come True

A Dream Come True

On June 27, 16-year-old Noah Crogan’s big wish came to fruition at the Apple Island Marina on Lake Champlain when he became the owner of a brand-new Tracker aluminum bass boat. Thanks to Make-A-Wish Vermont, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and local anglers – including Phoenix Bass Fishing League and Toyota Series angler Cole Harris – Crogan was surprised at the marina with the boat, along with plenty of rods and tackle to get him on the water. READ MORE »

BFL Winning Patterns – June 27-28

BFL Winning Patterns – June 27-28

Wrapping up competition for the month of June, the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine saw four divisions compete this past weekend, which included a pair of double-headers. Due to the heat and a desire for the best fish care possible, one of the tournaments took place with a three-bass limit instead of the usual five-bass limit. READ MORE »