How to Fish Shad Tail Swimbaits

Shad tail swimbaits are one of the most versatile lures you can fish. You can use them in almost all situations. Shad tail swimbaits are nothing new, but they have recently made a big splash in the bass fishing world. Saltwater fishermen have used them for years. Shad tail swimbaits are great for fishermen that are new to lures because you can cover alot of ground quickly and they are pretty easy to fish in comparison to other lures. Although they are easy to fish, they are one of the most effective lures you will use inshore. They are a must have lure for every tacklebox on every fishing trip. I don’t leave home without them.



Shad Tail Swimbaits were designed to be used on a jighead. Recently many fishermen have adopted screw lock hooks, but I always try to rig my shad plastics on jigheads if there isn’t heavy weeds or a ton of structure. There are so many brands of jigheads, but as long as they have a strong hook it really doesn’t matter much. Water depth will be the determining factor for picking the weight of the jighead. As a general rule of thumb, you want to use the lightest weight you can get away with. Here in east Central Florida, I like to use 1/16oz for most conditions. This works well in water 1-4ft. deep and decreases your chances of grabbing grass.

Screw Lock Hooks

Screw lock hooks work very well in heavy grass or when fishing structure like docks or mangroves. They are designed to bury the hook in the plastic making your setup relatively weedless. I like to go one size lighter with than I would with a jighead. For example I like to use 1/32oz when fishing water 1-3 feet with heavy grass. This allows the bait to sit in the strike zone a little bit longer and reduces your chance of getting weeds. 1/16oz works well when fishing areas with spotty grass.



Many fishermen overlook this technique due to it’s simplicity, but let’s take a minute to look at the design of the swimbait. The paddle tail on the back is meant to create vibrations in the water. Simple physics tell us that the faster and straighter the lure moves, the more vibrations it will make. I use this method to search new areas as you can cover the most amount of water this way. I also at least try this method almost every time I fish shads. I have found that sometimes fish want a faster moving lure.
Caught Swimming a DOA Cal on a jighead


This is probably the most common method used to fish shad plastics. The twitch moves the shad forward and gets the tail kickin’. The fall will generally generate the strikes. The speed and length that you twitch really depends on what the fish are looking for on that particular day. Always be prepared to slightly adjust your retrieve throughout the day.
Caught twitching a Slayer swimbait on a screw lock hook


Another effective way to fish a shad is by jigging it off the bottom. With this method, you want the jig head on your shad to come to straight down to the bottom and bounce straight up.  Instead of twitching your rod sideways, you will bring your rod straight up. Reel in you slack as you lure falls, because  just like with the twitching method most strikes will occur on the fall or when the lure is sitting on the bottom.
Caught by Jigging a DOA Cal on a jighead
I am an avid fisherman, tech guy, founder, and president of BCIF. I try to be out on the water as much as possible, but when I can't be on the water I am still doing something fishing related. Fishing is always on my brain whether I am pouring my own plastics, organizing my tackle, or building websites.

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