(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University.)
Fred Roumbanis is loyal to his West Coast roots and the presentations he worked on there. “There’s two techniques that have taken me to the top,” he said. “Throwing a frog and throwing a swimbait.”
The giant swimbaits that he favored on the California fisheries of his youth still have a place in his boat, but for everyday tournament purposes he’s realized they’re not always the best tool. Smaller 4- to 6-inch models have more general applicability. Moreover, the swimbait is almost universally applicable: “It works dynamite north, south, east and west, all species.”
However, he does distinguish even in the same lineups among weedless versions and line-through or harnessed models. When bass are in grass or he’s skipping boat docks, the former typically gets the call. He fishes them on a 7’3” medium-heavy rod with ample backbone to drive the hook through the plastic. It’s typically paired with a 7:1 baitcasting reel, but if he’s making ultra-long casts into super skinny water he knows that striking fish will often run at you faster than you can reel. Then he’ll switch to an 8:1 model, often on an 8’ rod. In either case, 17-pound straight fluorocarbon almost always gets the call.
Usually he’s using the weedless Boom Boom swimbait, which is now softer than the previous iterations to provide more vibration. He rigs it on a 7/0 Hayabusa 958 hook with a 3/16- or 1/4-ounce weight. He likes this hook because the NRD coating helps it to slide through the thick body with ease. One modification he makes is to replace the standard spring keeper with a stouter model so that the lures last longer.
The line-through model of the Boom Boom is perfect for flats or just about any place the bass are sick of other moving lures. “I love this bait pretty much anywhere I’m going to throw a lipless crankbait or something like a square-bill. I like it in that real clear water, even high in the water column.” He rigs it with a No. 2 Hayabusa round-bend treble, typically tied to 15-pound fluorocarbon, but when the water is extra-clear, or he wants the bait to get down into the 6-8 foot range, he may go down as light as 10-pound. “Utilize your LiveScope or forward-facing sonar whenever you can," he implored – see where the bass are suspended and remember that in some situations they’ll come up as much as 3-4 feet to grab the lure.
He throws the treble-hook model on his square-bill rod, utilizing it over and around ridges, shoals and shallow points. In the summertime, after the topwater bite dies down, he’ll keep it active for fish that remain in the area but won’t come up and commit. Don’t go over a 7:1 gear ratio with this model: it cannot be burned effectively like the weedless version.
If you’d like to learn more about Roumbanis' tournament-ready swimbait system, including his detailed list of color choices and his strategies for “frogging with a swimbait,”, check out his full video, filmed on the water, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.