Corey explains how to fish his swimbaits

I mentioned in my last post how Corey Sanden took a nice chunk of time to chat with the Salty crew recently at the Fred Hall Show.  In an industry where nice guys are the norm, he stands out as one of truly good guys.  Last year, he took time to sign Jake’s copy of Pacific Coast Sportfishing with him on the cover, and show us his favorite baits.  This year, we went to his seminar at the show, and he just sat down on the stage in front of us and chatted.  No big sales preso, just “What do you guys want to know about fishing plastic?”   He went over his allotted time and invited us to come back by the booth to continue the conversation.

Well, from last year to this year, we tried the baits, but without much success.  What it came down to, was I was unsure when to use them and how to use them.  This year, I wanted to get beyond, “What’s your favorite bait?” and try to understand when and how to actually uses them.  Corey showed us how to rig them, what sort of conditions to fish them in, and how to fish them.  He even went so far as to draw me a map of a certain spot in SD and what to use there!

This year, Corey has introduced 2 new baits into the MC Swimbait line.  Here they are and how he suggests fishing them.

The Smaller Weedless Swimbait

The big swimbait and the new smaller ones

The big swimbait and the new smaller ones

Corey's Seeker/Shimano combos

Corey’s Seeker/Shimano combos

Corey still likes to fish his big swimbait (the one on the left, a 7 incher), but he’s introduced a new smaller one that measures 5.5 inches (the other 3).  The big one he fished with 80# spectra to 80# fluoro (yes, really), but he said a lot of people couldn’t get their head around fishing that way (gee I wonder why).  So he developed this smaller bait.  He prefers to rig it with the 7/0, 3/8oz Gamakatsu Superline Spring-Lock hook, and recommends fishing it 50# spectra to a 50# fluoro leader (not less than 30#).  Corey is using the Seeker Blue Lightning II Inshore Series line of rods which have a fairly fast action tip, but shut off pretty quickly so that you have the backbone to turn fish quickly in the kelp.  He says that with using the heavy spectra, he needs a faster tip to prevent ripping the bait out of a fish’s mouth on the hook set.

One advantage to fishing this smaller bait, is that it swims correctly on the drop.  What this allows you to do is cast over the kelp, slide it over the top, and then let it drop into the “manholes” or little openings in the middle of the kelp.  In this scenario, all the action happens in the top 2 feet of water or so.  What you want to do is swim the bait…SLOWLY…allowing the fish to track it coming across the top of the kelp (remember – fish mostly look up).  When you hit that manhole and let it drop, the bite will often happen on that drop.  Just as often, he said they’ll crash the bait from the bottom up before you hit the hole.

What you don’t want to do though is drive your boat right up to the kelp’s edge and skip the kelp stringers emanating out from the main body of the kelp jungle.  If you are on the outside edge and the current is running toward the kelp, often times the bigger fish will work their way to the outer edge to get the jump on their smaller counterparts.  What you want to do is start your drift well away from the kelp and work the outer edge.  Let the current take you in and cast further in and over it as you get closer to the edge of the main body.

Corey isn’t a huge proponent of using scent.  It doesn’t hurt, but he says you are looking for a visual reaction bite.  The water needs to be fairly clear so the fish can see the bait and react to it.  Thus, in low light or dark conditions a swimbait isn’t going to be your best bet.  You can help yourself in this kind of a scenario if you use scent.  Remember though that Corey said the action is going to come top water with these baits.  When it’s darker and colder, the fish are going to hold lower, so you are probably better off fishing the leadhead and squid rig that we’re used to using riding twilight on the New Del Mar.  If you are going to use scent though, put your scent in a quart size bag with a 3 oz lead in it.  You can apply scent as needed, then reseal the bag when you’re done.  The weight keeps the bag from flying away.

To be continued…


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