Swim Baits for Big Pike and Muskie
Rick Lawrence, August 01, 2017
I have been fishing for many years now with a swimbait that I think every Bass, Pike and Muskie fisherman should have tied on a rod at all times. If you have never fished a swimbait before this should be your first one you ever throw. If you fish a lot of swimbaits this will be one of the best you will ever throw. It has caught every single Muskie I have ever caught, about 50% of all my Pike and that’s a lot, and many big Bass as well. I'm talking about the 168-MM and the new 200-MM S-Waver. It’s a glide swim bait made by River 2 Sea. This is a truly amazing bait with a unique action. It swims through the water in a wide S pattern that looks amazing to the angler and looks like dinner to the fish.
Here is a video of the baits swimming and one of the many fish I have caught on them. River2eas S-Waiver Swimbait
The S-waver looks very natural in the water, like a real fish swimming along. I like to throw the 168MM for Pike mostly and the 200MM for Muskie’s.
Here is the 200mm or 8" in Mr Magoo color (AKA Firetiger) with a 41” Pike attached to it.
For the 168mm or (6 3/4") I like to use a 8' or 8 1/2' MH bait caster with a Shimano E7 201 or the new Curado I reel, spooled with 30 lb Suffix 832 green braid, I tie that to 12” of 80 or 100 pound fluorocarbon leader tied on with a FG or Chinese Fool knot as I call it, here is a video where I show you guys how to tie it.FG knot
Then I just tie on a #3 Dou-lock snap with a 4 turn Uni knot. It's the only one that works well on this heavy of line when I fish for toothy critters, so the bait can swing freely on the line and get good action out of it.
I use that same basic set up on the 200MM (8") bait, just my 8 1/2 ' Heavy action rod with 65 lb Suffix braid on it. It has the Shimano E 301 and works these heavier baits really well. I Never EVER fish a steel leader when using a lure. You will get a lot more strikes with fluorocarbon and it gives the bait a more natural action as well. If you learn and use the knots I talked about here you will not lose any fish, if you check your leader and the last 2 foot of your braid after a big fish and retie as needed. If you are just Bass fishing in water that has no Pike or Muskies in it a 15 lb mono would work fine as well. If the water is super clear use a Fluorocarbon.
I'm going to talk about how, where, and when I fish this amazing bait. When to Use this Swim Bait
First I'm going to cover the when. I don't think there is any time of year the S-Waver will not catch Pike. I have slayed Pike that were sunning themselves fishing shallow soughs in the early spring and hammered them late spring. I’ve caught largemouth in shallow lakes and got some nice Muskie’s in late spring to early summer fishing weed beds and nailed mid-winter Pike fishing deep weed lines. Long story short there is no bad time to fish this bait. Where to Find the Fish
The where is a little harder to convey. Basically I have caught Pike super shallow in less than a foot of water, and got some Smallies fairly deep at 20 feet or so. Generally I like to fish these in about 3 to 10 feet of water. The bait sinks slowly at about 6" per second so you can count them down to almost any depth. If I'm fishing 10 feet of water I will give it a 10 to 12 count before I start my retrieve, if I'm fishing shallow I may start just after it hits the water. I throw it to lily pads, brush piles, docks, lay down trees, weed beds, but mostly weed lines. Weed lines hold fish whether it's Bass, Pike, or Muskie’s. Pike love weed lines like the tall cabbage weed that grow out of deeper water. Fish this bait right on the edge of where open water and cabbage weeds meet or any line that then can hide in to ambush their prey. I've had great results just trolling the bait as well over weed flats as well. Basic Retrieval Methods
There are 5 basic retrieves I like to use. The first one is the slow crawl. Cast it out and retrieve it just fast enough to keep it out of the weeds or off the bottom. I will pause it in colder water for a few seconds at a time. This is how I catch all my winter time Pike. Crawl 3 or 4 turns of the handle, pause, crawl, pause, Thump = Fish. Winter Pike hit it on the pause 99% of the time. My second retrieve is my favorite Muskie retrieve. It is what I call the spin stop. I will let it sink to the desired depth and turn the handle 5 of 6 times at a slow pace and without pausing give the rod a hard short jerk. That causes the bait to do a spin in a tight 180 turn and look back where it came from, then just wait a second and start you retrieve again. If you have a Muskie fallowing this will almost always produce a strike. I will do this 2 or 3 times on a retrieve even if I don't see a fish following, but if I do I’ll always use the spin stop technique on them. Third is the Crawl twitch, cast out the make 3 or 4 turns of the handle then a twitch, twitch so the bait will dart around on the twitches. I will vary the speed and the number of reel handle turns as well as the number of twitches on a retrieve till I find if one combination works best. Forth retrieve is the Wake. Just cast out and start reeling as soon as the bait touches the water. This is a good mid and late summer retrieve. Generally I like to reel it just fast enough to keep the bait waking on the surface at it snakes along. If I get a follower that doesn't bite, I kill the bait and let it sink a foot or so and then do the spin stop. I will very my retrieve some when waking the bait with some small pops and speed changes to see what works. 5th is what I call walk the underwater dog, let the bait sink and work the rod just like you were walking a spook bait . This takes some time to get right as the timing is just a little different than a surface bait, but when done correctly the bait will walk the dog under the water, It will kind of guild back and forth about 1 foot and a half or so. Muskie’s like this one a lot as well.
I love this bait; I have one whole container in my box with nothing but S-Wavers in it. About 25 of them total. They have some nice colors that I like and use like Blue Herring, Fire tiger (they call it Mr. Magoo) Rainbow Trout, Hitch (looks like a kokanee), Bluegill, Baby Bass, and the party crasher are some of the colors I like. By far and away my favorite color is Perch. I have caught so many fish on this color, more than twice as many as all the other colors put together. They did not make a perch color for years and I was painting my own and sending in pictures of all the fish I was getting on them with a request that they really need to add that color to their lineup. Finally they agreed and used some of my ideas on their paint job. While I like a lot of their colors, I still like to paint my own, especially my gold plated version of a Perch. Perch is the # 1 forage fish for most every fish here in the N.W. that eats other fish. I have caught Large and Small Bass, Pike, Walleye, Muskie, Squawfish, Brown trout, Kam's , and regular Rainbow trout on them.
I urge you to try the S-Waver bait. The one bad thing is this is they are hard to find in most areas, so they tend to be an Ebay or tacklewarehouse only item pretty much. Start with the 168 mm bait in a perch color or whatever color looks the most like the forage fish in your area and go from there. Hope you liked my review here and find this info useful putting more fish in your boat with this amazing bait.
Here is one more fish I have caught on them to "catch" your attention!