Declassified: Banks Lake Prespawn – Part 2

I want to take a minute and talk about and effective 1-2 punch that we have been using a Banks Lake the past several years.  I don’t know how earth-shaking this approach will be, but maybe it will be of some use to someone out there who is looking for things to try in a prespawn situation.

Swim Jig

I’m using the jig as a means to deliver the trailer.  The jig itself is not the main component.  It is the vehicle that the trailer is using to hitch a ride.

For emergent (stuff sticking out of the water) vegetation like bulrushes or tules, one of the best things to use is a swim jig.  It will swim through that type of cover exceptionally well and its versatility means that you can use any type of retrieve, rod position and cadence under the sun.

Bulrushes or “tules” are a prevalent form of emergent vegetation at Banks Lake and a good place to work a swim jig

There is a bunch to cover when it comes to swim jigs, but at the very core, I’m using the jig as a means to deliver the trailer.  The jig itself is not the main component.  It is the host that the trailer is using to hitch a ride.  The jigs job is to make the trailer more castable, make the trailer come through cover more easily and to add some bulk or profile to the trailer in a stained environment or when the cover is a little thicker.  The jig must also do a good job in hooking the fish.  As a rule of thumb, I want the least amount of jig I can get away with and still do the job.  I will trim out material (skirt, weed guard) until I find that sweet spot where it does its job of delivery the trailer effectively and hooking fish effectively without taking away any action that the trailer is meant to provide.  It is possible to use too much jig for the trailer you are using and the jig overpowers the action of the trailer.

A Nichols Saber swim jig (3/8 oz.) 5/0 hook. Weed guard trimmed to 13-15 strands and bottom level of skirt trimmed off. Gambler EZ Swimmer (4.5″) trailer. Combinations of Blue/Brown/Black seem to work best for jig and trailer.
Dirty Jigs “No-Jack” swim jig (3/8 oz) with a 4.8 Keitech trailer. Color on this jig is “Hematoma”. This swim jig also offers a 5/0 hook but is a heavier duty hook than most other swim jigs on the market.


The range of trailers is endless of course.  A simple single tail grub is often the most used and is very effective.  This is the original “northern” swim jig trailer made famous in the upper Mississippi River (Wisconsin) region.  I used this type of trailer for several years exclusively, and as I said, it works well.

However, in general, I feel the quality of the fish that are caught on a boot-tail trailer (really, more of a swimbait) is better.  Most of our biggest bass in the spring have come off of a boot-style trailer over the past 6-7 years.  We have tended to increase our trailer size from 3 1/2″ to over 5″.  As a consequence, we have needed to increase the hook size we use in our jigs to a 5/0.

The Optimum Double Diamond. Not the most durable and it is expensive, but a VERY effective trailer.

Billed Jigs

The “chatterbait” style jig as been an effective producer of bigger than average bass at Banks.  It especially shines when used to fish submerged vegetation, that pond weed or milfoil combinations that are prevalent at Banks.  Locating these areas can be tricky in March and April and this is where a combination of Google Earth and a side imaging/side scan sonar unit will come in handy.  The areas of submerged vegetation will vary every year and you cannot rely on what worked last year.  A significant portion of your “prefish” time needs to be spent locating these offshore weeds if you want to develop the confidence necessary to fish them during the event.  See Part 1

The Pond Weed won’t look like this in April, but it will remain down below the surface of the water. Job #1 is to locate where these patches are and where they intersect with important pieces of structure
Areas that hold milfoil are often prime. These will often border or even slightly mix with the Pond Weed and these cover intersections are also key.

These areas tend to range in the 3-8 ft depths in the early spring and it helps to use a heavier than “normal” billed jig in these scenarios.

A D&M 3/4 oz. Pirahna is an excellent choice for swimming through offshore submerged grass beds. The heavier weight helps it not ride up in those deeper areas 3ft or more.


I’ve relied on two main trailers over the years.  A Swim Senko and a Lake Fork Magic Shad. My reliance on these two is that these are the only two I’ve tried!  No doubt, there are many other trailers that will work just as well.

A Swim Senko (no necessarily this color) is a good option on the billed jig. I typically take a 3/4-1″ off the 5 or 5.5 inch Swim Senko.
Lake Fork Live Magic Shad (4.5″)

I’ll tend to use the bulkier Lake Fork Magic Shad in dingier water or if I’m wanting more bulk to float the bait more.  If I’m targeting deeper cover, then the Swim Senko gets the call.

Summary (and Video)

Though certainly not the only things to use, and maybe not even the best, this 1-2 punch has helped us in the past several years.  Maybe you can use it to help you or use some of these ideas and expand on other baits that can be just as if not more effective.

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