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 It's Pectacular!
by Patrick Lemire


lunar phases

It's "Pectacular". 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 retrieve.
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 sharp.
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 of position.)
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 predator's presence.
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 Pectacular".

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