5 pros share their secret swimbait tricks for slamming summer walleye, bass & trout


Great Lakes fishing guide Frank DiMarcantonio



Calm, clear water and high skies during summer see Great Lakes guide Frank DiMarcantonio heading shallow for smallmouth bass. For him, that means depths ranging from a couple of feet all the way down to 20, where the bass relate to transitions, points and reefs.

DiMarcantonio, who operates Niagara Sportfishing in Welland, Ontario, usually starts fishing with what he calls “a finesse search bait,” a four-inch curly-tail grub on a ⅛-ounce jig head. Sometimes, however, the wiggling action of the big grub is too much for the fish, and that’s when he turns to the understated action of a small swimbait.


DiMarcantonio’s swimbait of choice is a three-inch Keitech Easy Shiner, which swims straight and has a much more subtle action than a grub. He likes white, green pumpkin, watermelon and black for colours, and typically puts the swimbait on a ⅛-ounce Nishine Lure Works Smelthead jig; he’ll even go as light as a 3/32-ounce jig in less than three feet of water. “The biggest mistake guys make is fishing too heavy of a head,” he says.

DiMarcantonio targets Great Lakes smallmouth using a Keitech Easy Shiner (above) on a Nishine Lure Works Smelthead jig

DiMarcantonio fishes his rig on a 7′ 4″ G-Loomis IMX-Pro Swimbait rod, which has an extra-fast tip and parabolic action. He pairs it with a 2500 series Shimano Stradic FL spinning reel spooled with 10-pound braid and a 15-foot leader of six-pound fluorocarbon. Along with allowing him to cast the light bait a country mile, the long rod also absorbs the powerful hit of husky Great Lakes smallies, preventing lost fish, straightened hooks and broken line.

During the retrieve, DiMarcantonio says to point the rod at the swimbait. Once a smallmouth strikes, reel until the rod begins to load, then sweep it across your body to bury the hook; the drag should be set light enough that it slips as you perform this reel-set. And be ready for more bass to emerge, he says, since smallmouths will often follow their hooked friends to the boat.