I'm referring to the pectoral fins that can be added to virtually all swimbaits
and soft jerk/swimbait lure bodies.
- Swimbaits already are one of the hottest baits of the last few years,
exploding onto the saltwater scene as almost foolproof. Their lifelike
appearance can be improved upon with a few simple steps which include the
added pectoral fins. I did similar "wings" for soft-bodied baits
years ago which gave them a flying fish look. Resting or swimming near
the surface on the retrieve or twitching as one drifts out draws strikes...why
not go for that added realism on a swimbait? that lightbulb moment
for me was sometime last year.
- Extended pectoral fins tell you
several things about a baitfish. Pectoral fins are used primarily in slow
to low speed swimming for increased maneuverability. Finfish fold them
flat against their bodies during high speed or speed burst swimming, pecs
out says, "I'm slow and vulnerable". Extended pecs are the natural
look of a relaxed, non-excited bait; vulnerability spells an easy meal
to a predator. Extended pectoral fins appear as a casually swimming baitfish,
which gives the appearance that the baitfish, or your swimbait, is unaware
of the life threat coming from the approaching predator.
- To make these one piece
pectoral fins, use clear, pliable plastic from assorted packaging such
as those for razors, lures, etc. This plastic is thin, semi-stiff to bend
slightly but not weak enough to fold against the swimbait's body on the
- With scissors, cut your plastic pieces to the approximate sizes in
relation to your swimbait's sizes in relation to your swimbait's size,
as shown in the illustration. The two points at the center of the pectoral
fin's piece help hold its position in the body. Carefully scratch what
will be the underside of your pectoral piece using the point of your scissors
to give it the added look of soft rays that are in natural fins. Carefully
cut a level slot through the swimbait. This slot should be narrower than
the width of the pectoral fin's piece in the body. I use a small pocketknife
to cut mine. Use care, as these swimbaits are squirmy and the knife is
- Place the pec's piece in the swimbait's body in the approximate location
shown on the illustration. To position the pectoral fins piece in the swimbait
body, push one of the pointed ends into the slot, working back and forth.
When the pointed end comes out the other side a bit, quit pushing on it
so as not to bend the plastic. Grasp the exposed point and pull the pectoral
piece into position. Your end result will look like the illustration. (Notice
that the points hold the piece in position rather than let it roll out
- The piece of Gulp shrimp on the swimbait's hook is a scent generator
that's easy to come by; most of the time, I use half of a three inch Gulp
Glow Shrimp; it's long enough to be seen as sort of a moveable dorsal fin
as it contrasts with the bait's body. This length also does not interfere
with the swim motion of the swimbait. This added scent and motion just
tops it all off.
- When fishing swimbaits, always use a mono loop know connection for
virtually unrestricted swim motion. The loop of a wire leader's haywire
twist has the same effect, about 6" of wire leader is enough to get
the job done when targeting "toothy" species.
- I always recommend giving a new bait or lure use a look in the water
at boatside. These swimbait modifications certainly fall into that category.
The addition of these pectoral fins to the swimbait provides an alive/natural
look that is just short of unbelievable. In case you're wondering, castability
is very slightly affected by the added pectoral fins as they catch a bit
of air. After the sink to depth, use a slow to medium retrieve with the
standard stop, start with a twitch and repeat. This slow to moderate tempo,
then a burst of speed just before the bite is especially deadly when sight
fishing for ling, etc. the darting motion when added to the look of the
pecs and Gulp piece gives the appearance that it's unsuspecting of the
- These added pectoral fins, in particular, are a simple trick which
has an unbelievable look to it and works for all the reasons mentioned.
The glistening, transparent pecs, with their simulated soft rays, along
with the Gulp shrimp greatly add to the realism of the swimbait. Those
added flashes of realism could be the last straw, causing the predator's
"strike trigger" to be pulled.
- Find yourself some clear, pliable plastic cut'em, score'em and
slide'em into your swimbaits. Pectoral fins, the natural next step in the
evolution of swimbaits. Your results will have you, too, saying "It's
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