Hey TFF! There is a lot of buzz around east Texas about big weedless swimbaits this year. I wanted to share with you all some quick specifics about what's working for me so far, as for rigging and fishing them.
There are a couple great choices as far as brand, but the brand I'm using is the Smashtech Convict. This bait was introduced at the Fun & Sun boat show this past January, and when I saw it I immediately knew this bait was going to be a very useful tool here on Lake Fork as well as other area lakes.
I'm using the 10/0 Owner Beast hook, the weightless one. Trokar also makes a similar hook, and I'm gonna try some to see if the screw lock holds longer with it, but the beast hook works very well. Durability is an issue if you don't keep some Mend-It soft bait glue on hand. With the glue, you can double or triple the life of your bait. As soon as it tears at the nose or where the hook shank goes through the back, a tiny bit of glue will repair it and dry in less than a minute. I also like to add a suspend strip or two to the hook shank, you can see it on the hook in some of the pictures below. All this does is help the bait stay down a bit. I like it shallow, but in cool water I don't want to see it right under the surface throughout the retrieve.
The hook-up ratio is phenomenal with the convict. It has a hook slot in the belly that really helps. As far as I can see there is no down side to having the slot in the bait, and it leaves a lot more gap for holding a fish. Keep in mind, fish bump big baits from the side with their mouth closed, from time to time. This will happen with line-thru and top hook baits as well. However, once a fish hits it to kill it, you'll hook up nicely.
I'm throwing these on 20lb Seaguar Invizx on a medium or highspeed reel (really force yourself to slow down on retrieve, but you'll need to take up slack quick when one smokes it!). A Dobyns SB 795 is working perfect for me right now. It's an 8' swimbait rod with plenty of backbone to set the hook with these big baits.
My favorite thing about these swimbaits is that you can put them anywhere, I mean anywhere! I'll fish it where I'd think about throwing a frog, or slow roll it where I might otherwise throw a trap or chatterbait in deeper grass. It's an all around great tool!
Oak Ridge Marina has a few Convicts left in stock (as of yesterday) and more coming soon. Barry has the weighted and weightless Beast hooks, Mend-It, and suspend strips all right there together.
Here are just a few fish taken on the convict lately. There are many more and bigger ones to come.