Swim Bait Techniques for Sand Bass

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June through September is prime time for sand bass fishing here in southern California and there’s no better way to catch large numbers of sand bass than throwing swim baits. In addition, you’ll normally catch the larger fish throwing swim baits versus fishing live or cut bait. Ask any of the consistent winners of the saltwater bass series tournaments what they fish when they are targeting large sand bass (and Calicos) and they’ll all say swim baits. The 5” size if the most common size fished by the pros for the large sand bass. Colors play a critical role as well but more on that later.
The sand bass spawn is generally sometime in July and there was some great sand bass fishing last month where limits were the rule on the open party boats fishing the TJ and Huntington flats. Private boaters had all the sand bass they wanted during this time as well. In southern California and San Diego Bay, Mission Bay and farther north, the sand bass fishery generally extends from June through September with occasional catches throughout the entire year.
Swim baits and jig heads: When it comes to what jig head to use, it is really up to the angler to use whatever brand jig heads they prefer. In most instances, sand bass are found in open water areas on flats and in the bays, in channels and on humps or changes in the bottom so you don’t need jig heads with a weed guard. As far as size and weight, you want to use a jig head that allows for maximum cast ability according to the rod, reel and line you’re using. As a general rule, jig heads in the 1/2 oz. to 1 oz. range will be needed for the 4” and 5” Rude Baits swim baits.
Rods and reels: Use your Calico rods and reels to target the sand bass.
Line: Always use quality line of the recommended test suited for the reel you’re using. If you’re fishing primarily open water, use good quality monofilament line 10 to 20 lb test. I personally prefer to use 12 lb test when fishing the bays and 15 lb test when fishing the flats only from the standpoint of potentially hooking a larger fish on the flats.
Techniques for throwing swim baits for sand bass: When it comes to fishing for sand bass, there are two tried and true methods for fishing swim baits. Unlike Calico bass that inhabit the entire water column, sand bass stay close to the bottom. The most common technique for targeting sand bass in the bays is to know the structure or area that is holding fish. This may be a channel area, a hump, etc. You need to account for the drift of the boat so make sure you have that figured out first. Position your boat well ahead of the area holding fish and drop your swim bait to the bottom letting line out as your boat drifts toward the spot holding fish. Watch your sonar as you drift over the area holding fish and when you have drifted past it, deploy your sea anchor to stall your boat drift. At this point, you should have let out most of your line on your reel, thereby maximizing the length of your retrieve. Now retrieve your swim bait by retrieving it at the proper speed to keep your swim bait swimming just off the bottom. The sand bass should be facing into the current looking for bait and your swim bait should be swimming toward them. Most likely, you’ll get a hookup! When fishing the flats in a private boat, the technique is basically the same but you can also simply anchor and target a greater area. If fishing on an open party boat, simply make as long a cast as possible, let the swim bait sink all of the way to the bottom and start your retrieve to keep the bait near the bottom. After retrieving a few feet, let the bait drop to the bottom again to maximize the time and length of retrieve at or near the bottom.
Swim bait size and color: Talk to the saltwater bass pros and they’ll all recommend fishing the 5” baits. I like to use both 4” and 5”. You’ll most likely catch bigger fish when using the 5” swim baits. When it comes to color, you definitely want to use a brown (Kelp Krusher) and green (Mean Sardine and Salty Sardine). We’ve also had great success using the Purple Passion and the new Cherry Bomb. As I say with any soft plastic bait, fish the color you have confidence in.
When it comes to swim baits, there are many manufacturers to choose from. We at Rude Baits of course believe our swim baits are the best. All of our baits are injected laminates so you’ll never have the bait split at the color transition point because both colors are injected together. Most other swim bait manufacturers use open pour techniques that allow cooling of one color before the second color is poured on top. This doesn’t always allow the two colors to fuse solidly together, thereby sometimes having the bait split, particularly when you insert the jig head hook into the bait. You’ll never have that problem with Rude Baits! Rude Baits swim baits also have extremely vivid colors and are made with a softer plastic than any other swim bait manufacturer. Rude Baits swim baits are designed to be fished slower than other swim baits. This allows the bait to remain in the fish “zone” longer, thereby increasing the number of strikes! Order some today online at www.rudebaits.com and you’ll see the incredible action they have retrieved at slower speeds.

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