Gajo Baits is a really cool bait company. I am planning to fish their Spirit Shad baits as a dropshot bait this year. Steven Eldridge uses their Swim Shad quite a bit. So as someone with a tackle obsession, I needed to find out about this bait as well. Steven shares with us how he uses the Gajo Baits Swim Shad for catching smallmouth and largemouth bass.
This offseason I stocked up with a Plano box full of Gajo Spirit Shads after my interview with Brad Paradis. I thought I was content until I saw the success you have been having on the Gajo Baits Swim Shad. How long have you been fishing the Swim Shad?
I have been on the pro staff with Gajo Baits for the last 4 years from the beggining of the company. The Swim Shad is the most vesatile swim bait you can use wether its for smallies or largies. It’s a good spawn and postspawn bait when you know bass are shallow but can’t specifically see them.
What sets it a part from the many other small plastic swimbaits on the market?
The Swim Shad is very durable and solid, the tail paddles with a incredibly tight wobble that matches a live swimming baitfish to perfection. The solid body will last for hours of casts. It can be used weedles or with a open hook. It has great action, realistic look, a wide variety of colors and is made of a nice plastic material for which this bait is designed for.
How has the Swim Shad factored into your tournament success?
The Swim Shad is a major factor in my tournaments. During late summer tournaments when the fish move deeper there is potential to catch some of the biggest fish in the lake that are sitting on structure spots. I concentrate on throwing over rock piles or gravel humps in water deeper than 15 feet. I like to give the fish a different look by slowly reeling a swim shad on a 5/8-ounce jig head just off the bottom.
When the bite gets tough and I have to turn to finesse tactics, dropshotting the 3.25 on the edges of grass lines will produce highly pressured fish. I keep at least 2 swim shads tied on at all times.
Do you have a preferred size as it comes in 3.25 and 4 inch sizes?
The Swim Shad 3.25 I mostly use as a trailer on a spinnerbait, chatter bait, football jig head 1/2oz or less, or drop shot. It is small enough to attract average-size bass but also turns on the big girls.
When it comes to the bigger 4 inch i will put it on a football jig head and the A-rig. Rigged on the Football jig with the hook exsposed in those weedless areas or on a weighted swim bait hook weedles along the edge of weed lines.
What is your preferred rod/reel setup for fishing the bait?
My set up styles for the Swim Shad. For the 3.25 on spinnerbaits, football jigs, and swim jigs I use Enigma HPT 7’3″ Med/Heavy with a med/fast action (EHPT3MB-MH) with the new Ardent C-force 6.5:1 gear ratio.
When dropshotting the 3.25, my set up is Enigma HPT (EHPT69DS-ML-S) 6’9″ Drop Shot Medium with a fast tip with Ardent 2000 C-Force spinning reel.
For the 4 inch swim shad on a football jig or weighted swim bait hook in weeded areas i use the Enigma HPT 7’3″ Med/Heavy with a med/fast action with a Ardent Apex grand 7.3:1 to be able to flush the giants out of the weeds with the higher reel speed and line, with the rod having plenty of backbone to set the hook hard.
How about line choice?
All my reels are backed with K9 55 lbs braid. in my first set up for the 3.25 i use a 20lbs fluoro leader 8 to 10 feet long. With the bigger size line, I can get the Swim Shad deep if needed or farther up in the water column depending if the bass are suspended.
My second set up with the 4 inch Swim Shad I go with straight 55lb braid. The braid lets me set the hook harder to pull the bass from the weeds with no stretch. When dropshotting the 3.25 I use 12 lb braid with a 8 foot 6lb fluoro leader.
I have a 5 color philosophy to keep my choices simple. What 5 colors would you pick for the Gajo Baits Swim Shad?
My top 5 color choices would be firstly the green pumpkin with blue hilite. This color can be used for small and largemouth bass in either clear or dirty water. The flash that the blue hilite gives off is that extra edge that other baits don’t give you.
Second is the bone white. I love this color for that tough bite. It also works great for bedded bass or drop shotting.
Third is the perch. The perch color is the only color I will throw on Lake Champlain.
Fourth is the ayu. The ayu is a big color for real clear water and a great smallmouth bait.
Lastly is a tie for the bubblegum or black. Both these colors are my largemouth favorites.
What are your favorite waters for fishing the Gajo Baits Swim Shad?
Lake onieda is a great place for these baits set up on a A-rig with the Ayu. On the St. Lawrence River I can throw pretty well any color and land big fish. As I mentioned before on Lake Champlain, the perch color is definitively a bass catching machine.
Gajo Baits lineup are made for these clear water areas and on the Great Lakes. Recently, they have been very successful down south as well.
Do you use Liquid Mayhem on the Gajo Baits Swim Shad?
I use Liquid Mayhem minnow garlic on all of my Swim Shads. You yourself have a scent and the things you touch also have scents. A scent problem can be easily fixed with a good cover scent of Liquid Mayhem, something the fish like to smell and taste. I find I get more hits and the fish hold onto their baits long enough for you to get a good hookset. Liquid Mayhem stays on your bait a very long time, In fact one application will stay on your bait and doing it’s job to cover your scent for more than 30 minutes.
Overall, what are 5 pieces of advice that you have for anyone fishing the Gajo Baits Swim Shad?
My first advice would be to throw throw throw the bait. One of the simplest mistakes I see beginners make is simply not throwing it enough. I fish swimbaits just about anywhere and everywhere. Above grass, around wood, scattered pads, open water, and docks.
Glue the nose. Add a drop of super glue on the hook shank around the nose of the bait to help hold it. Once you tear up the bait and it starts to slide on the shank and around the barb, you’ll miss fish.
Don’t be afraid to drop shot the 3.25 for highly pressured fish.
In the spring you can fish it for pre-spawn fish all the way to post-spawn for fry-guarding fish. Works well around the shad spawn and bluegill beds also. Fall…it’s great for fish that have made the fall migration to the backs of creeks and are chasing shad
When choosing which size swimbait to throw on any given day, it’s best to base it on the size of the bass you are looking to catch. If you get bumped and the bass misses, speed up just a touch when you begin reeling again. The objective is to increase speed to trigger a second hit without causing the bait to abruptly rise toward the surface and out of the zone.
Who are your sponsors?
My other sponsors are Gajo Baits, Enigma Fishing, Ardent Reels, K9 fishing, Amphibia Eyewear, Power Pole, Bayou Bug Jigs, TH Marine, Braven, Liquid Mayhem, Humminbird, Woo Tungsten, Phenix Proline Lures, National Pro Staff “NPS”, Trapper Tackle, TRC Covers. Locally I am sponsored by South Side Performance and Final Touch Detailing.
All my sponsors make me excel in my fishing because I believe in their products. Personally, I think they are the best for me and fit my needs. Whether its from the rod and reel or all the way down to a bait and hook. Using what you think is the best makes you confident and an all around angler.
Thank you Steven! Great information except it may end up costing me some money. I look forward to following all of your success with the Gajo Baits Swim Shad this year.
Finally, visit GajoBaits.com to check out their fantastic lineup of lures.