“Don’t go patting yourself on the back too fast,” admonished my client in the rear of the boat as one of his partners flipped another keeper trout over the side.“These little lures are idiot proof!”

While the comment was intended to be mildly derisive and was taken just that way with only a hint of a knowing smile, it was both a fair and generic description of the 3-inch Swim Bait……not the fisherman on the other end of the rod. That term is most often reserved for the lipless crankbait as it is the one lure that will catch fish in spite of the angler’s lack of expertise.

The Swim bait has become to trout fishing what the Rat-L-Trap is to bass fishing. Not surprisingly, both lures work well in either venue as they are both chunk and wind lures designed to mimic bait fish. More importantly, however, they will both catch fish simply by doing just that….chunking and winding them!

The Swim bait is the new kid on the block. It is molded from soft plastic and comes with the weighted hook imbedded inside the body. Other than melting down the lead once the body finally gives way to the sharp teeth of not only trout, but redfish and flounder as well, the only down side is that there is nothing left to save or replace. That is the least of my problems, however, as I consider it to be a good thing when the fish are tearing up my baits!

Aside from the fact that the Swim bait looks so lifelike, it is the vibration produced by the small paddle tail that is the calling card for fish on the hunt. As pointed out by both Capt. Adam Jaynes and Capt. Johnny Cormier on more than one occasion, the biggest mistake you can make is retrieving it too fast. Establish the depth that is most productive and reel it just fast enough to keep it in that zone…the tail will do the rest.

I have had days when the four inch version outperformed the three inch bait and carry a bucket full of them for that very reason, but the smaller bait gets most of the playing time on my boat. I also carry four or five different color patterns, but clear mylar/black back and any pattern that includes chartreuse is hard to beat here on Sabine. My next door neighbor carries the bunker shad around in his pocket so there are obviously a lot of colors that work equally well.

I have tried virtually every Swim Shad on the market and caught fish with most of them, but now fish only the H & H Usual Suspect for several reasons. I find it a little more durable than the others yet supple enough to retain its shape even after being stuffed in a plastic tray, it tracks well on both braid and monofilament line and the color patterns are incredibly realistic.

I knew the Usual Suspect would be a winner when another well respected lure manufacturer told me that he wasn’t going to go in that direction as H & H was coming out with a Swim Bait and there was no doubt that it would be done right. We are talking about that same H & H Company that has sold thousands of pounds of the popular Sparkle Beetle and Cocahoe Minnow to Sabine and Calcasieu anglers alone over the years.

Aside from Gulp, I am starting to even hate that word, there is no one lure that will catch fish under any conditions all of the time and every angler has his or her own favorite technique, lure and color. In order to give yourself the best shot at success you have to understand the habits of your prey and be diverse in your approach. Take the time to learn how and when to fish tails, topwaters, Suspending lures and Swim baits and while you will obviously spend more money, you will also catch more fish more of the time!

The Usual Suspect, or any Swim bait for that matter, is not the end all be all, but it deserves a spot in your fishing arsenal. Don’t take it personally, but there aren’t many “idiot proof” lures out there!

We had a very good week this past week, but the bite was not particularly user friendly. The birds were still working over a few shrimp in the river and the ICW, but we caught our better trout and redfish fishing deep or in the open lake.

A roach or east Beast TTF Trout Killer, pumpkin/chartreuse Assassin DieDapper and the Swim Bait produced most of our fish. We did find the redfish schooling on two occasions, but for the most part they were way too big to keep!

The flounder bite on the ship channel is finally winding down, but not completely over. The prime spots are taking a beating with lots of folks still looking to squeeze in one more good trip, but the ones arriving first are catching limits of fish up to six pounds.

This schooling red was fun, but  much too large! RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn