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I get asked all the time what my favorite swimbait color is, and you might think it would be Rainbow Trout because of where I live, but it’s not. It’s a bass color. Since I was a little kid, I have witnessed largemouth bass eating each other. I grew up in an area where there were creeks and small ponds to fish and the majority of what was in these creeks and ponds were bass. I watched numerous times where small bass were being chased and sometimes caught by larger bass.

Bass Swimbaits

Bass Colored Swimbaits

So it was a no brainer to try to match the hatch, but when I was young we did not have the choices of swimbaits and colors that we do today.  It was not until  Castaic, and Optimum Lures came along that we had soft plastic realistic imitations in the 4″-6″ length. These days, we have a plethora of choices and it is easy to find a favorite swimbait color that matches the forage in your local waters.

Optimum Swimbait

5″ Optimum Swimbait

The lure in the picture above is one of the first Optimum swimbaits to be made in the bass color. This is a 5″ bait that opened up a whole new world for me when using swimbaits. The color, along with the body shape and size, were close enough to some of the smaller bass that were getting eaten by some of the larger bass in the waters I fished. When I first used this new color it was unbelievable how aggressive the larger bass were when they  chased and bit the swimbait.

I believe that a large bass living in a creek, pond, or lake will try to eat almost anything that moves. So if a smaller bass is in the larger bass’ strike zone, look out! He now is the target meal.

I have always wondered, “If a large bass had a choice of a crawdad, minnow, or a small bass, right in front of him, what would he choose?” Well after years of pondering this, I truly believe if a bass is hungry it will go after whatever is around it. I have also closely watched smaller bass seem to have their guard down around larger bass and especially around structure where they must feel they can escape if needed. I have seen large bass grab another fish and when it does, scales and sometimes small parts of the fish come free around the larger bass and the small bass move in and eat the small scraps. Another thing I have witnessed during spring is small males guarding their nest get eaten by some of the monster females that come up into the shallows from their deep water spots. This could be because a small male may not mature enough to emit any pheromones that drug out the big monster female, so she feeds instead of spawning.

During the colder months of the year when most of the smaller bass have pulled off the bank and have moved to deeper water, I have watched through an Aqua View camera groups of small bass hiding around and under rocks. Meanwhile, large bass are on vigilant patrol waiting for a crawdad, small panfish, or small bass to come out of these rock sanctuaries. Once out in the open, the larger bass can hunt them down and pin them against the bottom, or one of the rocks.

These few examples are a key reason to use a bass-colored swimbait once in awhile to see if that is what’s on the big bass’ menu. In this day and age of incredible paint jobs on soft plastic swimbaits, we now have a huge list of tools to choose from to make sure we always have access to their dinner choices.

Some of the Latest Swimbaits

Decoy Swimbait(Top) MattLures(Middle) Huddleston(Bottom)

Above are a few of the latest swimbaits made over over the last few years, with sizes ranging from the Decoy at 5″, the MattLures at 4 1/2″, and the Huddleston Deluxe at 6″. If you notice one theme besides the color in the pictures, it’s the size. I’m a firm believer that an effective bass-colored swimbait needs to be 6″ or smaller.

MattLures 4 1/2" Bass Swimbait

MattLures 4 1/2″ Bass Swimbait

MattLures makes one of my favorite small bass-colored swimbaits with his 4 1/2″ version. Matt paid close attention, making the body shape look as natural as possible as well as matching the color almost perfectly.

Decoy Swimbait

Decoy Swimbait

Jason Scott, former owner of Castaic Lures, a company known for realistic looking swimbaits, now runs Decoy Baits, another company that pays close attention to making realistic looking swimbaits. The 5″ Decoy in a bass color is on the top of my list as one of the best looking soft-plastic paint jobs on a small swimbait.

The Decoy bass, and the MattLures bass have both become my go to lures when I need a small bass-colored swimbait. So next time you’re heading to your favorite pond, or fishing hole, pick up a few small bass-colored swimbaits and start having fun while catching some of the larger bass in your zip code.

Mike Long

Mike Long, is well known for monster bass, like the 20.12 oz largemouth bass taken from Dixon Lake in 2001. That fish put him at number ten on the world record list, but it wasn’t his only large fish. He is among a handful of bass fisherman with hundreds of fish over 10 lbs to his credit.

5 comments on “My Favorite Swimbait Color and Why

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Greg Glogow on December 17, 2012 10:08 am

I agree, Im glad to see that you do as well. Many lakes only have trout for 3-5 months out of the year. My FAVORITE bait is the Matt’s baby bass tournament series 7″.. in the old days the 7″ stocker trout baby bass landed me dozens over 10 and proved to be the best post spawn thru Oct bait… Many people over look baby bass colored baits, however I can not agree more. If I had to pick one color ONLY it would be baby bass, my one tip would be this: Bass Co exist with the KEY is you just cant reel in a baby bass lure and expect great results… you need to think outside the box…give the bass a reason to eat the bass.

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Mike Long on December 17, 2012 6:57 pm

Very well said Greg.

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Brendon Gorman on December 21, 2012 2:48 pm

Hey Mike, if a baby bass lure needs to be 6 inches or smaller in order to be effective then where do the baby bass lures such as the matt lures hard bait bass or the 3:16 lure company rising son baits that range from 7-9 inches in length come into play?

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Mike Long on December 22, 2012 7:44 am

Great question Brendon, I don’t have all the answers just notice in my time on the water that the bass in the 4-8lb size eat smaller baits a little better . I guess it would really depend on the size of the bass to say what is a small bass, a 12″ bass could be a small bass to a 20″ 12lb+ bass. Great question and lets keep it going, keep in mind what I share is from my experience it is by far the way it is, so if we all compare notes from our experiences we can really learn a lot.

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greg on December 21, 2012 7:04 pm

@ Brendon, fishing baby bass patterned baits really depends on three things,

1- the lake
2- time of year
3- technique

many lakes are filled with other fish or forage that bass key in on rather than eating themselves once they grow past a certain size, they eat the fry and fish up to 4-6″ without hesitation post spawn, april thru june.. so if you have a lake that has an abundance of forage other than baby bass you wont see them be overly aggressive with bas that are larger than that 6″ mark…

now in the summer when the trout are gone, the fish are active and weeds are starting to grow, you can be successful simply fishing a 6″ or even larger (8-9″ bait) with a slow retrieve over the top of weed beds or through shallow water and get good results as the fish are much more mobile and looking for rouge or injured fish; this is one scenario where a larger baby bass bait is a good choice

lastly I mention the technique, this is the true key to fishing bass colored lures, especially larger ones 7-10″, in some bodies of water BIG bass look for angles who are either fighting a bass or releasing them and they wait for the right opportunity for a big easy meal… I have had my greatest success when I have a back boater fighting in a 1lb bass on a drop shot and either right before the fish is pulled from the water or right after the release, throwing a bass patterned lure at the BIG bass and taking advantage of their aggression. If you can find this pattern, you can have multiple double digit bass in the same day with minimal effort… sadly a rat or two may get hit, eaten… or beat up at the least.. but the sacrifice is worth the reward. Matts slow sink 7″ or 7″ tournament soft bait is great for this technique

Good Luck


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