Aaron Perelli is an outstanding New Jersey bass angler. Aaron loves fishing and he loves throwing big swimbaits for New Jersey largemouth bass. He shares with us what he has learned about catching big bass on big swimbaits.
Why does fishing bring you so much joy?
As a child the first fish I ever caught was a trout. I had a smile from ear to ear when I brought the fish up onto the rocks. In fact I was so excited that I kept reeling and reeling until the fish almost went through the line guides…lol. I looked forward to going to my grandparents house in Roscoe New York every chance I got to capture that moment over and over. As an adult now I still get that overwhelming sensation of accomplishment when I land a fish.
You clearly like throwing big swimbaits. When did you get hooked on throwing big swimbaits for largemouth?
Two years ago my brother Justin had the privilege to fish with Oliver Ngy of Big Bass Dreams. They fished together for a couple of days in Connecticut and New Jersey waters. Oliver showed Justin the ins and outs of big swim baits and glide baits.
Oliver is a wealth of knowledge about this style of fishing. He said something to Justin that absolutely caught his attention and mine when my brother told me what he said. “ You love Jerk baits, just think of this as a giant jerk bait.”
At this point in our years out on the water we have thrown all kinds of small soft plastic swimbaits, Basstrix, Keitech swingers, Berkeley hollow belly shad and so on. Nothing ever this big or extreme.
We took a ride up to the North end of the Hudson River. Justin pulled out a Megabass I-Slide 262T in Big Bass Dreams color Carp. Immediately I started laughing hysterically. Every time he cast it out and hit the water I would hold my ribs from laughing so hard. It sounded like somebody threw a 10 pound London broil steak out of a third floor window into the water.
It was only probably 10 casts in when I heard him say get the net. I said “No Way” It has to be a giant striper or a drum. As I’m looking down into the water with the net I see the lateral line and my jaw dropped. It was a largemouth bass pushing 8 pounds. At this point I was immediately hooked and amazed.
I picked my brother’s brain for the rest of the day about what Oliver told him. When I got home that night I watched YouTube videos until about 4 o’clock in the morning on rod and reel combos and retrieve cadences. It was all downhill from there.
What are your favorite New Jersey bodies of water to throw a swimbait for largemouth bass?
To be honest I will throw a swimbait anywhere I know there are bass in the water. It could be a small pond, giant lake, river, or tidal waters. I have that confidence to just keep throwing it. I really don’t have a favorite lake in New Jersey but anywhere I go I will use it on the body of water I’m at.
What do you consider your ideal weather and water conditions to throw the swimbait?
The Spring and Fall are definitely my favorite times of year for any reaction style of fishing. 48° to 65° water temperature with a little bit of wind chop on it has been my most productive column I will use the swim bait/glide bait in conjunction with jerk baits.
The fish always put the feedbag on when they feel the seasons are coming. If I went down the bank that usually is a high productive area and didn’t get bit then my next round is showing them something different with the swimbait. Same thing goes for my offshore structure fishing.
What are you favorite swimbaits to throw for largemouth?
I’m definitely a Megabass, Deps, River2Sea , Huddleston Deluxe Guy…lol
I’ve had success with all four companies. Megabass I use the I-Slide 185 and 262t. The 6” and 8” Megabass MagDraft is also a staple in my arsenal. Deps 175 and 250 Slide Swimmer. The River2Sea S-Waver 168 and 200. Huddleston Deluxe six and 8 inch Trout and perch color.
Depending on the body of water I’m on I always try to “Match the Hatch” with the baits I’m using. Size and color play a huge role for me to connect. If the fish are snacking on perch then that’s the color I will go with. You can never go wrong with your shad and herring colors.
Do you fish most swimbaits straight out of the box?
I always change the hardware on anything I get. It’s really a confidence thing. With that being said, whatever I take off I keep together and put it on a food scale to get the exact weight. If the bait came with it then it was tuned with it. So if I go with bigger and stronger hooks then I am making sure the weight is the same.
When I first started out I used tracking marks on the head and back of every bait just so I could see what it’s doing in the water. Once you get the feeling and cadence down then you will know what your bait is doing in the water.
If the water is dirty, clouded up, stained, or muddy then I will put the marker back on. If I know it’s going to be a bottom bite with soft plastic swimbaits then I will also add stinger hooks on the back so I can bottom bounce the bait. Sometimes I will add gills to something or detail the features with marker but other than that I pretty much just change the hardware.
What is your favorite rod/reel/line setup for throwing a big swimbait for largemouth bass?
I like to keep it very simple with the success I have seen from other anglers and their channels on YouTube. For the rods I use a G. Loomis IMX Swimbait Cast Rod 8′ MH 965 SWBR 2-6oz lure wt.
Reels I use a Daiwa Lexa 300 HSL Casting Reel, 7.1:1 Gear Ratio, and a Shimano Cardiff 301A 5.8:1 Gear Ratio. The Shimano I use for bigger size swimbaits and the Daiwa I use for smaller swimbaits.
Fishing line I use Seaguar 20Lb AbrazX Fluorocarbon when I want to keep the bait deeper and Sufix Elite Camo Green 20lb Monofilament when I want to run the bait shallow.
What do you consider 5 keys to successfully throwing a big swimbait especially in New Jersey waters?
For me the biggest key to success is to have the confidence to throw it. From the second I see it online or in the store you have to have the mindset that it’s going to work. You take it out of the package and inspect it first, Then change out the hardware tie it on the line and make a cast.
Never take your focus off of the bait. Try to visualize what it’s doing underwater and keep imagining there are bass already looking at it and follow that concept until you bring the bait all the way back to you.
You have to constantly keep your eyes on the water to look for followers or spooked bait fish. Some days when they don’t bite it I specifically use it for a search tool to follow it up with something else like a jig or Texas rigged soft plastic.
Good polarized glasses are an absolute must. From all that you can definitely find five keys to success but the main keys are definitely confidence and focus.
Are there any bodies of water in New Jersey that you also throw the big swimbait for smallmouth bass?
Anybody that knows me will tell you that I am a 100% jerkbait angler. So much of my tournament winnings have been from targeting smallmouth bass on Megabass jerkbaits.
So when I have the opportunity to go for smallmouth I use a jerk bait. However as far as glide bait/swim baits go for smallmouth bass I have had success using the Megabass I-Slide 185 and the 6 and 8 inch Magdraft. Both are in Trout pattern. Also the River2Sea S waver 168 in lite trout and warden color.
I have seen some of the biggest smallmouth come up to look at these baits and not hit them. But it’s heart pounding to see so many five and six pounders in the Tri-State area. There are so many big fish around that people have never seen and this style of fishing draws them into view on the water. It’s unreal!
Do you have any pro staff or sponsor companies that you work with?
If you saw my tackle supply You would think immediately that I was a Touring Pro representing several companies…lol.
As a younger angler I would’ve loved to have made a living traveling the country doing tournaments and representing Bassmasters. When I was 19 I started noticing that I was having trouble going places by myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but later found out to have been diagnosed with severe panic and anxiety disorder.
When I fish it’s always with my brother Justin or my wife and kids. So my fishing time is limited but I tend to make the best of every outing and learn something.
Almost 100% of my knowledge on the water comes from watching my brother, TV programs, instructional videos, and magazines. I would never have the ability to represent a company in the way they would need it to be advertised.
I am very thankful for all of the open buddy tournaments they have in the Northeast. It’s the only chance I ever get to compete and show my knowledge of the many years I have put into the sport. I’m always happy to show somebody something new or a technique they have never done. I try to keep myself relevant on the water to compete with other anglers and bring my best game whenever I’m there.
I enjoy the camaraderie and new friendships you receive in this sport. I’m definitely satisfied with the level of competition I’m able to do, and in my heart I feel like a pro but not on paper.
Thank you Aaron! Will be following on Instagram @ajpfishing.