Swim Shiner Swim

How to use this soft plastic bait when fishing cold water temperatures

Every once in a while, the fishing manufacturers come out with a new design or re-designed lure that takes the entire industry by storm. Then, every manufacturer has to either copy the design or create a similar lure due to the incredible response from consumers who never have enough fish-catching lures and soft baits in their tackle boxes.

The Strike King KVD Swim-N-Shiner is one of those baits.

Many companies have similar-looking baits that shimmy and shake and attract the attention of big bass and, trust me, I have tried them all for good measure as comparisons to this soft minnow bait. But the swim-n-shiner simply outshines them all in terms of the overall strikes I get when I'm throwing this bait.

Is it the subtle kicking action of the tail?
Is it the soft slender design of this bait that inspires strikes?
Is it the natural-looking profile and colours of these baits that convince bass to eat it?

I say yes to all of the above.

strike king swim-n-shiner

But most of all this new little soft bait gives me a level of confidence that makes me fish harder, and with more focus and determination that results in more strikes and more big fish in my boat each season.

We shot a show in early May in Northern Ontario during the bass pre-spawn stage with extreme conditions with strong northeast winds, cold air temperatures, and water temps in the high 40s to low 50s in mid-afternoon—not your ideal early season bass fishing conditions by any stretch of the imagination.

We fished with jerkbaits, crankbaits, tube jigs, and curly tail grubs and caught a few small fish.

I decided to try the search-and-destroy method (cover lots of water and look for bigger fish) with the Swim-N-Shiner. Its subtle, wobbling tail action is rigged onto a 16-ounce screw lock jig head by threading the nose of the bait onto the screw lock, then inserting the hook through the middle portion of the lure's body with the hook point just peaking through the soft plastic. This way, I could fish the bait around areas with rock and boulders which held slightly warmer water temperatures, and not get snagged up as easily if the hook was totally exposed through the back of the bait.

screw hook jighead

I fished the slender minnow bait on a 7-foot St.Croix spinning rod, rigged with 8-pound Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line, and tied directly to the jig head. I made long casts in water depths between 4 to 8 feet of water, where I looked out for pre-spawn roaming fish in front of spawning bays with sand and gravel.

angler with bass

On the longer casts, I let the bait fall on a three to four-second count before my slow, steady retrieve—just enough speed to make the baits tail wobble. I wanted these bigger roaming bass to locate the Swim-N-Shiner without exerting much effort into chasing it down into cold water conditions.

My decision to change to the Swim-N-Shiner saved our day.

Did I still miss short striking bass due to the cooler temps? You bet I did. But the ones that did eat the bait were big, fat, chunky bass in the 4-to-high-5-pound range.

Most of the bites were similar to soft spongy sensations, not the usual shoulder jerking style of summertime or autumn smallmouth, and hook placement just on the edge of the lip on most of the bigger bass. They didn't put a lot of effort into eating the Swim-N-Shiner, but they couldn't ignore this minnow-like bait swimming past their nose without taking a shot at it.

Is the KVD Swim-N-Shiner the be-all-end-all of lures that you should be using every time you go fishing?

Certainly, that's not our intended message.

However, the Swim-N-Shiner is a soft plastic bait you may want to consider this year when you're faced with undesirable conditions or heavily fished lakes with lots of angling pressure. You want the fish to see a bait they probably have not seen yet, right? 

The Swim-N-Shiner is that exact bait.

angler with bass

And this little lure is as deadly on walleyes, northern pike, and lake trout as it is on bass.

Tie one on and see how much confidence this little minnow bait gives you on your next Ontario fishing excursion.

(All photo credits: Karl Kalonka)
About Karl Kalonka

It's possible Karl's love for fishing began as early as the age of five. His parents took the kids on weekend trips across Ontario fishing for panfish, catfish, and bass. "I started with a bobber and worm from the time I was five years old," says Karl. These days, he has the enviable task of doing what he loves for a living, travelling across Ontario fishing, filming and producing two outdoor series, Extreme Angler and Crappie Angler TV.

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