Swimbaits – tools of the trade by Simon Goldsmith

The emergence of the swimbait trends in Australia in the last 12-18 months has been an angling revolution in many ways. This bait and technique genre has bubbled away quietly under the sportfishing industry surface for many years, but its popularity has now exploded. The increased availability of overseas swimbaits, the proliferation of information via social media channels and the exponential uptake of the technique by anglers has seen it emerge as one of the most exciting developments in lure fishing for quite some time.
The arrival of swimbaiting on such a large scale has opened people's eyes to new possibilities, both in terms of the size of lures that fish will eat, but also the size of fish that are out there to be caught. The spike of XOS cod pictures across social media can be attributed to the increased number of swimbaits hanging from rod tips throughout the country.
These new baits and new frontiers have delivered a new landscape in tackle design, with big baits delivering big demands of tackle and equipment. When it comes to swimbaiting, only the right tackle will do. Anything less just doesn't cut it.
A man who has spent plenty of time with a swimbait in his hand is Australia's bass export Carl Jocumsen. Carl explains the role having the right tools for the job plays in the swimbait game.
"Throwing swimbaits is like nothing else," he said. "The lure and technique is insanely hard on tackle, and to do it correctly requires a whole new tackle system. I like to see my swimbait set-up as a complete system that includes the rod, reel, line, and of course the lure. Each piece of the system is important, and they are all as important as each other."
When Carl talks we should listen, and in this article we'll break down each piece of the swimbait system and look at the options available for Aussie anglers when it comes to choosing the tools for the swimbait trade.
When it comes to swimbaiting, not all rods are created equal. While one rod can cover many techniques and lures if you're throwing small to mid sized topwaters, crankbaits, or soft plastics, it's a different story for swimbaits. Only a rod made purposely for the job will do. Australia rod design guru Ian Miller explains.
"When it comes to swimbait rods it's important to keep in mind that it's all about the lure," he said. "The main job of the rod is to cast a potentially big, heavy lure so it can be presented in the strike zone, and because swimbaits come in many sizes and weights, the rod must match the lure weights you intend to use. Don't get too confused by line breaking strains for the rod, just check rod specifications for recommended lure weights to make sure your swimbait rod is suitable for these lure weights (what you'll likely be using). If you want to throw really 'big baits' then you'll need a more powerful rod, and that will be a completely different animal... because one rod won't do it all."
With Ian's philosophy at the centre of rod selection, the next question is what rods are available for the Aussie swimbait. One angler who has been truly bitten by the swimbaiting bug is Daniel Clancy, and he has a duo of rods that he reaches for on a regular basis.
"Millerods are my weapon of choice," he said, "and there are two that I use above anything else. For my lighter swimbaiting, lures between 170 and 230mm, I'll use a BeastFreak. It's 7'10" long and is designed for throwing lures 30-150g in weight and is one of the most versatile rods going around."
However, what really gets Clancy's casting arm twitching is XOS swimbaits. Those big, 250mm-plus baits demand a lot from both angler and tackle.
"Throwing big baits can be a real challenge, and you want a rod that will happily load up when you make a big cast and is able to control the lure in the water and through the air," he explained. "The Millerods DreamFreak is made to do this with ease, and will handle baits up to 225g in weight."
Luke Parsons is another swimbait cod addict who favours Millerods, and Luke has three in his quiver of rods that cover his swimbait needs.
"I use a SwimFreak for the lighter stuff, a BeastFreak for the mid stuff and the DreamFreak for the big stuff," Luke said. "Regardless of which one I'm using, they offer the same benefits and traits: the ability to throw a bait a long way, and do so without placing undue pressure and effort on the angler. Fatigue is a serious issue; it can be flat out exhausting launching a 6.5oz glidebait over and over for three days straight. The long butt of the Millerod swimbait rods allows for good rod leverage, and a smooth, natural two-handed casting action that greatly helps minimise angler fatigue."
When it comes to swimbaiting in Australia, one name features more than many: Adam Townsend. A committed swimbait junkie and an angler who has muscled many swimbait-eating cod to the bank or boat, Adam favours the Dusk Custom Rods for his big bait work.
"My favourite rod is a 7'0" fast, medium/light Dusk rod," he said. "It can throw lures up to 5oz, and it's a rod that I use on both the lakes and in the rivers."