Can You Troll Swimbaits: Expert Techniques Explained

swimbait lures PIC scaled

Swimbaits have become increasingly popular among anglers in recent years, primarily due to their lifelike appearance and ability to attract a variety of fish species. As a versatile lure, they can be used in various fishing techniques, including casting and retrieving. But can swimbaits be effectively used for trolling as well?

The answer is yes, swimbaits can be trolled, and this approach can be highly effective for reaching fish in deeper water. When trolled at slower speeds, swimbaits imitate the natural swimming motion of baitfish and can entice fish that may not respond to other lures. This technique can be particularly productive when targeting species like walleye, which often feed on baitfish swimming in deeper water.

Key Takeaways

  • Swimbaits can be effectively trolled for various fish species, including walleye
  • Trolling swimbaits allows for slower speeds and lifelike swimming action, attracting fish in deeper water
  • Incorporating swimbaits into your trolling strategy can offer versatility and increase your chances of a successful catch

What Are Swimbaits?

Definition Of Swimbaits And Their Different Types

Swimbaits are fishing lures designed to resemble the appearance and movement of fish, usually made of plastic or metal. They come in various sizes and styles, typically featuring a paddle tail that moves back and forth, producing a realistic fish motion when placed in the water1. There are several types of swimbaits, including hard-bodied, soft-bodied, and hybrid swimbaits, each offering unique advantages and suited for different fishing conditions.

Benefits Of Using Swimbaits For Trolling

Trolling with swimbaits can be an effective technique for targeting various fish species, including walleye. One of the main benefits of using swimbaits for trolling is their lifelike appearance and movement, which can entice predatory fish to strike2. In particular, slow-trolling or dragging swimbaits at a 45- to 80-degree angle behind the boat can be especially effective in reaching fish at depths of around 25 feet3.

Moreover, swimbaits allow anglers to fish at slower speeds than traditional spinner harnesses and crankbaits, which can be advantageous in certain situations4. Additionally, swimbaits come in various sizes, making it possible to target both small and large fish, depending on the angler’s preferences5.

In summary, swimbaits offer a versatile and effective tool for trolling, with their realistic appearance and movement, ability to fish at various depths and speeds, and suitability for targeting a range of fish species.



Can You Troll Swimbaits?

Explanation Of Whether Or Not Swimbaits Are Suitable For Trolling

Yes, you can troll swimbaits effectively. Swimbaits are versatile lures that can be used in various fishing techniques, including trolling. Trolling with swimbaits allows anglers to cover large areas of water efficiently and target fish at varying depths. These baits work well when dragged or slow-trolled behind a boat, particularly in deeper waters of around 8 to 10 feet or more1. In fact, trolling swimbaits can be deadly for reaching fish in depths up to 25 feet1.

Swimbaits are suitable for trolling as they mimic the swimming action of natural prey, attracting fish like bass, walleye, and other predator species. The slow, steady movement of the lure triggers a predatory instinct in fish, resulting in more bites and successful catches.

Factors To Consider When Trolling With Swimbaits

There are a few factors to consider when trolling with swimbaits:

  1. Depth: Choose the appropriate swimbait size and weight based on the target depth. Larger and heavier baits may be needed for deep water trolling, while smaller, lighter baits work best when targeting shallow areas.
  2. Speed: The trolling speed will affect the swimbait’s action. Slow down the boat speed for a more subtle and natural presentation, or increase the speed to create more aggressive swimming action, which might entice a strike.
  3. Rigging: Various rigs can be used with swimbaits for trolling, such as leadcore lines or snap weights. The right rig for your fishing situation will depend on factors like water depth, target species, and trolling speed1.
  4. Line Angle: Dragging swimbaits at a 45- to 80-degree angle behind the boat can produce optimal results1. This angling of the line keeps the swimbait swimming close to the bottom, mimicking the natural movements of baitfish.

By taking these factors into account, anglers can successfully troll swimbaits and improve their chances of catching their target fish.


  1. Midwest Outdoors – Dragging and Slow-trolling Swimbaits 2 3 4

Tips For Trolling Swimbaits

Techniques For Trolling With Swimbaits

Trolling with swimbaits can be a highly effective way to catch fish. One technique to try is slow-trolling, which involves dragging or trolling the swimbait behind the boat at a slow speed. This method can be particularly useful for reaching fish in deeper water, such as 25 feet or more1. Remember to position the swimbait at a 45- to 80-degree angle behind the boat for optimal results.

Another technique is to target the edges of weedlines, especially when fishing for early-fall transition walleyes2. This can help intercept wandering fish and improve your chances of catching them. When trolling, keep in mind that the speed can vary, but artificial trolling lures and swimbaits can generally be trolled at speeds of around 7-9 knots3.

Best Types Of Swimbaits To Use For Trolling

When it comes to the best swimbaits for trolling, choosing the right type for the fish species you are targeting is crucial. For example, the Rapala Scatter Rap Glass Shad has proven to be an excellent choice for targeting walleyes during the early-fall transition2. It’s important to research which swimbaits work best for the specific fish species you are trying to catch to increase your chances of success.

How To Choose The Right Size And Color Of Swimbaits For Trolling

Selecting the appropriate size and color of swimbaits for trolling can make a significant difference in your fishing experience. Factors like water clarity, prey species, and fish behavior should all be taken into account when making your decision.

As a general rule, larger swimbaits tend to work better in murky water, while smaller swimbaits are preferred in clearer water. Meanwhile, natural colors that closely resemble the local baitfish will typically be more enticing to predatory fish.

In conclusion, to make the most out of your trolling efforts with swimbaits, it’s essential to understand the proper techniques, choose the right type of swimbait for your target species, and select the appropriate size and color based on the fishing conditions. With the right preparation and knowledge, trolling swimbaits can greatly enhance your fishing experience.


  1. Dragging and Slow-trolling Swimbaits – MidWest Outdoors
  2. New swimbait trolling technique, Fall transition tips, Bigguns of the week – Target Walleye 2
  3. How to Rig Trolling Lures Basics – Take Me Fishing

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Trolling Swimbaits

Benefits Of Using Swimbaits For Trolling

Swimbaits are a versatile lure choice that can be very effective when trolled for various fish species, especially in depths of around 8 to 10 feet or more1. They are designed to mimic the natural swimming action of prey, which makes them enticing to predatory fish. One significant advantage of trolling swimbaits is that they allow for slower speeds compared to traditional spinner harnesses and crankbait speeds1. This can be highly beneficial in targeting fish that are less active or situated at greater depths.

Using swimbaits for trolling can result in higher catch rates due to their realistic movement and appearance, giving them a better chance of enticing fish to bite. Additionally, rigging and trolling swimbaits is a straightforward process, making them approachable for both beginners and experienced anglers.

Drawbacks Of Trolling With Swimbaits

Despite the many benefits offered by trolling with swimbaits, there are a few drawbacks to consider. One potential issue is that they might not be as effective in very shallow water, since their optimal depth range is typically 8 to 10 feet or more1. Anglers targeting fish in shallower areas may need to adjust their setup by using lighter weights or leadcore lines2.

Swimbaits may also demand more attention from the angler during the trolling process, as they can sometimes get caught on submerged structures or debris if not carefully monitored. Moreover, there is always a chance that the lure may become damaged upon catching a fish or snagging an obstacle. In such cases, replacement swimbaits may be required, which can add to the cost of fishing with this particular type of lure.

In summary, trolling swimbaits offers several advantages in terms of versatility and lifelike presentation, making them an attractive option for many anglers. However, it’s essential to take note of the potential drawbacks, especially when fishing in shallow waters or areas with abundant submerged structures.


  1. Dragging and Slow-trolling Swimbaits – MidWest Outdoors 2 3
  2. New swimbait trolling technique, Fall transition tips, Bigguns of the …


Trolling swimbaits can be an effective technique for targeting various fish species, including walleye. By employing this method, anglers can cover a large area of water and present their lures to the fish in a natural and enticing manner.

There are several ways to rig and troll swimbaits effectively. Anglers can choose to slowly drag or troll the swimbait behind the boat at a 45- to 80-degree angle, particularly when fishing in depths of 8 to 10 feet or more. This approach can reach fish located in depths of 25 feet, allowing the swimbait to be presented slower than traditional spinner harnesses and crankbait speeds 1.

When targeting walleye in deeper waters, such as 20 to 30 feet, using a weighted setup or a crankbait with a deeper diving lip can be advantageous. This will enable the swimbait to maintain the appropriate depth throughout the trolling process 2. Rigging swimbaits properly is crucial for achieving desired results, and anglers should pay attention to factors such as lure size, weight, and leader material.

It is important to note that trolling swimbaits is not the only method for catching fish like walleye. Anglers should also keep their options open and remain familiar with alternative techniques, such as using jerkbaits 3. However, when done correctly, trolling swimbaits can lead to impressive catches for even the most experienced anglers.

In summary, trolling swimbaits is a versatile and effective technique that can produce great results for a variety of fish species. By following best practices for rigging, trolling speeds, and lure selection, anglers can maximize their chances of catching fish like walleye using swimbaits.



Frequently Asked Questions

What type of swimbaits are best for trolling?

There are many swimbaits available in the market, but for trolling, it’s recommended to use those designed for slow dragging and deeper water. Swimbaits around 8 to 10 feet in size are ideal for trolling over deeper water and are effective in reaching fish at depths of around 25 feet or more source.

How fast should you troll swimbaits?

The trolling speed for swimbaits varies depending on the species you are targeting and the specific lure being used. However, swimbaits can be effectively dragged behind the boat at a 45- to 80-degree angle, allowing you to fish at slower speeds than traditional spinner harnesses and crankbait speeds source.

Which species can you target with trolled swimbaits?

Trolling swimbaits can target various species of fish, including walleye, muskie, and crappie. Successful anglers have even reported catching walleyes accidentally when targeting muskies by trolling large swimbaits at faster speeds source.

Can you use weighted swimbaits for trolling?

Yes, weighted swimbaits can be used for trolling. The added weight helps the swimbait maintain its swimming action and reach deeper depths, which can be effective for targeting larger fish or fish that are holding in deeper water.

What rod and reel setup is ideal for trolling swimbaits?

The ideal rod and reel setup for trolling swimbaits depends on the size of the swimbait being used. For standard-sized swimbaits, a 7’3″ to 7’6″ casting rod with medium power and moderate fast action is recommended. For large swimbaits, a 7’5″ to 7’8″ casting rod with heavy power and a lure rating of 1 to 4 oz is suitable. For extra-large swimbaits or glide baits, an 8′ extra-heavy casting rod may be necessary source.

Do you need to use a leader when trolling swimbaits?

It is advisable to use a leader when trolling swimbaits, especially if you are targeting species with sharp teeth, such as walleye or muskie. A leader will help protect your mainline from being cut or damaged by the fish’s teeth, and it can also help prevent tangles when trolling multiple lines. Nylon-coated wire or fluorocarbon leaders are typically used for trolling applications.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

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