Best Swimbaits for Bass: Soft- and Hard-Body Options Reviewed

Written by: Pete D
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Ask tournament winners anywhere in the country, and they’ll tell you that swimbaits are nothing short of deadly.

Nearly every bass angler I know loves a soft plastic swimbait, but despite that, hard-bodied swimbaits don’t get the love they deserve, even when summer gives way to fall.

The reasons are pretty clear: soft-plastic swimbaits work well, are easy to fish, and don’t cost an arm and a leg. By contrast, hard-bodied swimbaits are difficult to master and can bring tears to your eyes when you lose one.

If you’re new to swimbaits, just want a refresher, or are looking to experiment, we’ve got you covered. Below, we’ll review some of the best swimbaits of the market and explore how to fish them to their maximum advantage:

Soft-plastic Swimbaits

Hard-bodied Swimbaits

Premium Hard-bodied Swimbaits

Related:

Best Swimbaits for Bass Reviewed

Soft-plastic Swimbaits

Keitech Fat Swing Impact - Best Ribbed Soft-Plastic Swimbait

Keitech FS68482 Fat Swing Impact Ghost Rainbow Trout, 6.8'

Amazon 

Keitech’s Fat Swing Impact is as close to perfect as ribbed paddle-tail soft-plastic swimbait can come. In our view, it outfishes rivals like Googan Baits Saucy Swimmer, running straighter and producing more strikes.

The ribs trap tiny air bubbles, creating a wriggling action, and the paddle tails create vibrations that help trigger even wary bass to hit this swimbait.

Available in 2.8”, 3.3”, 3.8”, 4.8”, and 6.8” lengths, as well as a variety of enticing colors, Keitech’s Fat Swing Impact has the right size, whatever you need. 

I like to throw the 4.8” model in most conditions, but I’ll step up to the 6.8” when the bass are hitting hard. When the bite is slow or the water’s cold, I’ll downsize.

Rigging the Fat Swing Impact weightlessly and then darting it erratically along live weed beds is nothing short of murder. Sweetening a skirted jig with one really ups the ante when you bounce it off stumps, rocks, sticks, and other cover. 

And when the bite is slow, I like to use a light jig head and creep these swimbaits along the bottom. I prefer a ¼-ounce jig head for this technique, and you want to keep contact with the bottom - not lift the swimbait into the water column.

Here’s Nathan Quince demonstrating this technique:

Pros:

  • Runs true and is easy to fish effectively
  • Great sizes and colors
  • Awesome tail action!

Cons:

  • Pretty fragile - be careful with hard casts!

6th Sense Divine Swimbait - Best Overall Soft-Plastic Swimbait

6th Sense Divine Swimbait Soft Plastic (Pro Shad, 3.2 in)

Amazon 

6th Sense’s Divine Swimbait gets nothing but love from me. Their packaging ensures that the tails arrive laser-straight, and they run beautifully no matter how they’re rigged. Add to that an awesome choice of colors and sizes, and a paddle tail that thumps perfectly, and you’ve got a tournament winner on your hands!

The Divine is available in 2.7”, 3.3”, 3.8”, and 4.4” lengths. As you’d expect, I like the larger sizes when bass are at their most aggressive, but I switch to the smaller sizes when the water cools, the bass are pressured by heat, or when the bite slows down.

There’s no bad way to rig a 6th Sense Divine. I like to use a 2/0 hook and no weight, darting, starting, and stopping my swimbait with jerks of my rod tip. Small- and largemouth can’t resist this technique!

When paired with a darterhead or a swimbait jig, the Divine calls in bass like nothing else, and you’ll notice just how true-running these baits are. And whether you blaze them back toward your boat, hitting everything you can, or slowly work them in short hops off the bottom, that tail will flutter a dinner bell to every bass in the lake.

Pros:

  • Runs true and is easy to fish effectively
  • Great sizes and colors
  • Awesome tail action!

Cons:

  • Pretty fragile - be careful with hard casts!

Megabass Magdraft - Best Pre-Rigged Soft-Plastic Swimbait

Bass Pro

Megabass’s Magdraft is a massive soft plastic, pre-rigged with a treble hook that sticks tight to its underside thanks to an internal magnet. Ideal for trophy-size bass, the Magdraft has a reputation for delivering real monsters - if you know how to fish it!

Available in 6” and 8” sizes, as well as a range of colors that match the hatch or stand out in muddy or stained water, the Magdraft isn’t for the faint of heart. 

Awesome for when you’re at your livewell limit and are looking for a really big fish, the Magdraft can quickly change how you'll place in a tournament. The tail action and swimming of this soft plastic are the best I’ve ever seen from a soft plastic, and there’s no question that monster bass are going to be excited.

One technique that’s super effective is to find a good point and position your boat as close to the bank as you can. Then cast the Magdraft into deeper water, swimming it up the contour into shallower and shallower water. 

Pros:

  • Runs true and is easy to fish effectively
  • Great colors
  • Unbeatable action!

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not as durable as I’d like for the price

Hard-bodied Swimbaits

6th Sense Flow Glider 130 - Best Glide Swimbait to Modify

6th Sense Flow Glider 130 Swimbait (Bluegill Spawn)

Amazon 

Anglers familiar with glide baits will no doubt recognize the 6th Sense Flow Glider. This 130mm (5.15”) glide bait isn’t the most impressive offering out of the box, as the joint only allows a tiny bit of movement. That restriction results in a glider that looks ok unless you're in the know, but really doesn’t fish very well.

Out of the box, it’ll swim languidly with a bit of side to side movement. Nothing to see here, unfortunately.

Then why in the world are we recommending it?

Hard-chopping, tight-turning swimbaits cost hundreds of dollars, when you can find them. If you don’t believe me, try searching for the legendary Hinkle Shad - and get back to me when you find one!

That’s because they can be made to turn in tight patterns, moving enticingly while effectively staying put in the strike zone. Just imagine being able to twitch this glide bait into 5 or 6 tight turns, all within just a foot of a waiting bass, just like the Hinkle Shad.

About 10 minutes with a rotary tool can turn the 6th Sense Flow Glider into a near copy of that impossible-to-find lure - in size, color, and action.

Now how does that sound?

What you need to do is cut the rear section of the front half until it’s flat, allowing the tail section to move back and forth over a nearly 180-degree arc.

Take a look at this video to see how this is done:

That simple, easy-to-make DIY modification turns the inexpensive Flow Glider into a monster chopper that turns on a dime, allowing you to twitch and turn like a $500 lure.

And while I wouldn't normally recommend a lure you need to modify, for my money, this is a true winner!

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • World-class action when modified properly

Cons:

  • Not ready to fish out of the box

Catch Co Mike Bucca Baby Bull Shad - Best Micro Hard-Bodied Swimbait

Catch Co Mike Bucca's Baby Bull Shad Swimbait 3.75' 1/2 oz Pearl Bone

Amazon 

Just 3 ¾ inches long, the Baby Bull Shad is the micro swimbait of choice for legions of bass anglers. This little bait is big on action, and when kept high in the water column - just inches below the surface - it generates hits like Led Zeppelin in their prime.

You’ll quickly see why: the segmented body wriggles in tight undulations, acting like a meal that’s been pressured to the surface.

The Baby Bull Shad’s color and pattern options are excellent, and there’s the right option for you, guaranteed.

For a quick tutorial from Mike Bucca himself check out this video:

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Great action when worked medium-fast, high in the water column
  • Excellent color and pattern options

Cons:

  • ???

Storm Arashi Glide - Best Budget Hard-bodied Swimbait\

Arashi Glide 19 Black Silver Shad

Amazon 

Storm’s Arashi Glide has plenty of rivals, and options like the River2Sea S-Waver that won’t empty your wallet are really popular among anglers experimenting with gliding swimbaits.

For my money, the Arashi is the best budget glide out there, offering relatively long, delicate turns as well as the ability to work effectively in tighter spots than long glides can.

At 7 ½ inches, the Arashi glide will garner plenty of attention, and with some practice, you can get it to make relatively tight turns (I might even try modifying this glider in the same way as I recommend for the 6th Sense Flow).

You’ll only need a few minutes of practice to get the Arashi turning quickly, and for the money, it’s very hard to beat.

Pros:

  • Reasonable price
  • Good action when worked medium-slow
  • Excellent color and pattern options

Cons:

  • Can’t compete with the action of more expensive glide baits (unless you modify it)

Premium Hard-bodied Swimbaits

KGB Chad Shad - Best Hand-Made Chop Glide Swimbait

The KGB Chad Shad is legendary for its perfect short gliding turns and effortless darting. In the hands of a master, there may be no deadlier lure in the world - and we don’t say that lightly.

Hand made by KGB Swimbaits, these bad boys sell out in seconds.

But if you can find one, these 2.4-ounce 7-inch wonders will set your world on fire. Whether you want to wake up sluggish bass by running the Chad Shad down a bank or across a point, or need to work a stump or blowdown to tease a tournament winner into your livewell, this is the lure you dream of.

Yeah, it’s that good.

For those who can’t wait, a SPRO knock-off is available.

Pros:

  • Possibly the deadliest lure ever produced
  • Legendary action with tight turns
  • Ultra-realistic appearance

Cons:

  • Expensive!
  • Almost impossible to find

Deps Slide Swimmer 250 - Best Bomber Cast Glide Swimbait

Deps’s Slide Swimmer 250 is almost 10 inches of wide-gliding perfection. On long casts, it will effortlessly swim through the water in imitation of a real fish, making slow, wide turns to right and left.

Nothing you’ve fished has the action the Deps Slide Swimmer offers, and when you need a glide lure that can cast a country mile and cover water, there’s nothing better to be had.

Available in 40 color patterns, there’s just nothing bad to say about the Slide Swimmer.

Pros:

  • Among the best lures ever made, hands-down
  • Legendary action with wide turns
  • Ultra-realistic appearance

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t shown swimbaits the love they deserve, we hope this article changes your mind and gets you to try one (or more).

And whether you need a trailer for a swim or ball jig, or you’re looking for a hard-bodied lure that can catch a monster, there’s something for everyone on today’s list.

But obviously, we couldn’t cover every swimbait on the market, or really even canvas every style. 

Do you have a favorite we were forced to leave off our list?

If you learned something new today, or have any questions, we’d love to hear from you!

Please leave a comment below.

About The Author
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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