Paddle tail swim baits should be one of the first lures you reach for when covering water in search of bass. And what better time to imitate bait fish than the fall season? These lures have been around for decades and for good reason – they imitate forage perfectly. They cover water effectively, and their action is unrivaled. Next to live bait for bass, it’s one of the best baitfish imitators out there. Additionally, they’re easy to fish, making them great for first-time anglers. But, the versatility is what separates them from other baits. Anglers can throw them on heavy lines, spinning tackle, pause them and let them fall, burn them across the surface, and hold them deep with an under-spin.
But with the seemingly infinite number of paddle tail brands on the market, what ones work most effectively? It may seem like every brand looks similar if not identical. However, each brand comes with its own unique action and purpose. Here, I’ll highlight some of the best paddle tail swim baits on the market today. If you’re gearing up for the fall bite, check out the following imitations!
1.) Rage Swimmer
The Strike King Rage Swimmer is a ribbed swimbait that’s built for action, which places it among some of the best paddle tail swimbaits. When you pick up the swim bait and hold it upside down, you’ll notice the body is ridged as the tail flops over. This rigidity provides the bait with a fast, aggressive tail kick that engages the whole body of the bait and creates a rolling action. It’s the lure to throw when you know bass are aggressive and crushing forage around them.
A nice size to begin with is the Rage Swimmer 3.7 inch. This particular size is a great small bait fish imitator and looks great with an under-spin. From the 3.7 inch, you can move up to the 4.75 to 5.75 if you’re not receiving any thumps. The 3.75 is also fantastic for small striped bass. The wild rolling action also makes the Rage Swimmer one of the best chatterbait trailers and swim jigs.
When I think of the Keitech Fat Swing, I think of less body action and more tail. The Fat Swing Impact has a wide tail kick with a moderate body roll that presents fish with a slower meal. This is what makes it one of the best paddle tail swim baits for larger bass. It is designed to be fished slower and less aggressively and has a larger profile that is perfect for cruising along tule lines, pausing and letting it fall, hopping it slowly along the bottom, and drop-shotting it.
Whether bass are still hanging on structure or under docks, along tules, or just plain don’t feel like chasing down dinner, this is a great bait to throw if you need a slow movement that entices a slower bite. A good size to begin with is the 3.8 inch on a 3/8 oz jig head. Move up in size if no action occurs.
Some of the more effective colors are electric shad and electric baby bass. You can size up to 5.8 when you need that extra size for more aggressive fish or when you’re on the hunt for that 8 lb behemoth on your lake. Keitech loads its swimbaits with a squid scent that separates it from other brands.
3.) Keitech Easy Shiner
The easy shiner is a great lure when you want a slimmer presentation. These baits are great for multi-species fishing, especially smallmouth. The smaller profile allows for a more bite-sized presentation while maintaining a wide tail kick and body roll. You can fish it fast or slow, drop shot it, bounce it off the bottom, or burn it fast across the surface.
Having a slimmer body also allows you to fish around tighter cover like grass and wood. Across the board, anglers are reporting the easy shiner gets bit by crappie, small, and largemouth likely due to the slimmer profile as it matches smaller forages.
These swim baits work well on a tungsten super round jig head. You can also use a tungsten Live Eye jig head for added color or an underspin to separate your bait from the rest.
4.) Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper
The Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper is an underrated killing machine. The unusual body design allows you to fish it fast across and over the top of grass lines and through thick cover, while also providing you a wide body channel along the top to lay your hook into.
The weight of this swimbait allows you to cast it a mile to your target. A 1/8 oz 4 OT twist lock hook tends to work best with this bait and you can add an underspin for added depth control and flash, especially in fall.
Little Dipper vs Skinny Dipper
For fall on your water, go with the size that most resemble the bait fish. Late summer / early fall generally produces smaller bait fish as the bluegill and shad spawns will have just happened. In late fall or early winter, many anglers will go with a larger swim bait to imitate those bait fish as they’ve grown a bit. It’s also a time when bass are more likely to take advantage of and chase down a larger opportunity. Either way, the Skinny Dipper is one of the best paddle tail swimbaits for fast fall fishing.