What’s in your wallet? Well, maybe what’s in your tackle box? And your dad’s and his dad’s? We bet there is a swimming plug in there. From the first Rapala Original Floater that Lauri Rapala carved out of balsa to feed his family in Finland 70 years ago, no other lure style has caught more fish than a swimming plug.
Everything about it is perfect. The shape, the wobble, the versatility, and the proven effectiveness of a swimming plug is the reason why we know its in your box. Everything wants to eat a swimming plug. Saltwater or Freshwater it doesn’t matter. Big game Tuna down to half pound Crappie smoke a swimming plug. But we are all about Redfish today. Right? And guess what? America’s premiere gamefish has somehow avoided the swimming plug except for the sharpest of sharpies. Use this to your advantage.
We all love to fish that perfectly still morning, with just the right tide, at the optimal time of year, with active fish crashing bait. We hope you have had that scenario at least once, but the fact is that doesn’t happen all that often. When it does be grateful. When it doesn’t, it is time to go to work. Because Redfish are an extreme inshore fish, they are subject to all sorts of adverse coastal conditions, like weather or tides. Either of which can shut down even the most carefully planned trip. A cold front where temperatures drop and high pressure creates wind and clear skies. Offshore storms, Hurricanes, and other conditions including a tidal surge can make targeting Redfish challenging.
Captains and Guides know the fish will not be active, may not be in their normal haunts and that boat control will be just some of the issues they face. This is when a swimming plug can shine. Of course, swimming plugs work great in optimal conditions, however they come into play in tough conditions in ways other baits like topwaters and slider plugs may struggle. Depending on which type of swimmer you use you can present a lure in less than ideal conditions better than just about any lure. You can keep it motionless. On cold days or post frontal conditions, Redfish are not going to be overly active if active at all. You are going to have to put a lure quietly and stealthily right on its nose. And let it sit there and entice a strike. Some swimming plugs like a Rapala X-Rap can suspend and sit right in place. Suspending swimmers are one of the most versatile lures that exist. Nomad’s Shikari 95 also suspends, it is weighted like no other swimmer, and uses Tungsten balls for balance and to assist in a weight transfer for casting distance. It is also smaller than many saltwater swimmers which assists in being stealthy on tough days.
You can fish a Swimming Plug in several ways. For Redfish we recommend a 100 or 150 size low profile baitcaster and/or a 4000 to 5000 sized spinning reel. A 7-foot rod is the perfect size. You will need something with a strong backbone yet sensitive enough to cast lighter lures great distances. Nomad’s 20-30 lb. Inshore Spin Rod & a Daiwa Tatula Elite Baitcasting rod are perfect for this. Use braided line with monofilament leader as Reds are not that line shy in most conditions. How to present?
Here are three ways you can present swimmers to reluctant Reds. You can use a floating swimmer to sit quietly and be able to be presented in shallow skinny water. As you work it will dive down depending on bill size and then float to the top. That pause and float up is often what triggers the strike. Next, you can use a suspending lure to do the same thing, but a foot or two underwater. This is perhaps the number one way to entice lockjawed post frontal fish. Retrieve with extremely hard ‘jerks’ and feed your line back to the lure to give it slack and properly balanced swimmers will actually turn 180 degrees and sit perfectly still. Redfish that have a lure do that in front of their noses are unable to resist. Lastly, you can use a standard retrieve of varying speeds to send a consistent signal to the senses of a bull Red. The consistent wobble and steady speed can mesmerize fish and their instincts take over. Never be afraid to fish a swimmer so slow it feels like its going backwards. The Shikari 95 inshore Swimmer does the last two spectacularly. It is perfectly balanced and when you jerk super-fast and hard and then point your rod at the lure it feeds back slack and the lure will spin in place. You can do this every couple of seconds without the lure actually traveling that far, staying right in the Red’s strike window.
There are also days where for whatever reason Redfish simply have lockjaw. Your guide will always be equipped with a variety of reasons, but at the end of the day, sometimes you just can’t figure it out. This is the time to deploy something that Redfish have never seen before. Unique lures or styles most redfish don’t typically see can trigger a bite out of sheer surprise or curiosity. Z-Man makes some soft plastic swimmers that are totally unique and should be researched, however if you are looking for Hard Swimming Plugs that very few Redfish has ever seen; nothing beats the Patented Maverick from Nomad.
This lure looks like nothing else out there. It’s a combination of a popper, a swimmer, and a troller. Its cupped face and fishy humpbacked shape make it extremely versatile. However, what steals the show and makes the Maverick move like nothing else is the Patented Auto Tune System. Auto Tune is Nomad’s totally unique tow point or line tie. The tow point is not anchored or permanently fixed to the lure. It can move back and forth. This allows for Nomad’s huge Big Game Offshore DTX and MadMacs Lures able to troll at speeds over 15 knots! When retrieved in a steady manner the Maverick will track straight and true as well. Of course, it will be going much slower. The Auto Tune does another trick when retrieved like a standard swimming plug which is to give it freedom of movement which imparts an erratic darting. Lastly, since it floats and has a cupped face you can almost use it as a topwater. The Maverick takes a bit of getting used to, but once you unlock its secrets the possibilities from suspending, topwater or straight retrieve it may just become your secret weapon.
Fishing success comes in many forms. The best anglers will tell that finding lures that will do the things Redfish like, but in a unique way or different look is the golden rule. Differences in retrieves, movements, and not looking like the 5,000 other lures thrown at them are key. Check out Nomad’s swimming plugs for Redfish and stop by your local dealer to feel that awesome 20-30 lb. inshore spinner, its amazingly versatile.