By Todd Ceisner
Gerald Swindle’s jersey is festooned with sponsor logos of all kinds. A soft drink company. A company that makes male hygiene products. An action camera company is also represented as are many household brands from across the fishing industry.
One logo you won’t find, however, is that of a hard-bait manufacturer. That’s by design.
“Still a free agent,” the two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year declared. “And I like it that way.”
For several years, Swindle was sponsored by various hard bait companies. He was affiliated with Lucky Craft for a time, then PRADCO, which has several legacy hard bait brands under its umbrella.
For the past three years, though, he’s had free reign to pick the baits he feels will work best in a certain scenario rather than something he’s obligated to use from a sponsor’s catalog.
“It’s helped me not be conscious of what I have tied on at the ramp,” he said. “I have the liberty to tie on what I want.”
It’s been a cool experience, he says, learning about the various company’s baits and under what scenarios they all perform the best.
“It’s helped me,” he said. “I love deep cranking at (Lake) Guntersville and I’ve had some great experience learning what baits they’ll bite on what days.”
Swindle's crankbait arsenal is largely a mish mash of brands and that allows him to find the right action for the situation without worrying about satisfying a sponsor-use requirement.
He doesn’t bat an eye when a reporter asks to explore his in-boat hard bait assortment. A quick inspection reveals a mix of baits from many well-known companies – Strike King, SPRO, Lucky Craft, Bomber, Norman, Rapala, Zoom WEC.
I’m a lure aficionado just like a lot of these guys, but I’m not faithful,” he said with a wry smile. “I tried to be loyal to Lucky Craft and PRADCO, but there’s a fine line between being loyal and trying to be comfortable with what they make. It can hurt you.
“Everybody makes a great bait,” he added. “You just have to figure out the best time for each bait. It’s helped me be a better fisherman. Having a boat full of baits can be tricky, though, when it comes to wobbles and wiggles.”
Regardless of brand, the key to being an effective crankbait fisherman, Swindle says, is maintaining contact with the bottom.
“If you’re not touching bottom or if you’re not deflecting off stuff, you’re not catching ‘em,” he said.
Below is a quick recap of Swindle’s starting lineup for crankbaits to cover most sections of the water column along with his preferred line:
> Zero to 6 feet: Rapala DT-6 (10-pound Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon)
> 7 to 10 feet: Rapala DT-10 (10-pound Shooter)
> 10 to 12 feet: Bomber Fat Free Shad (12-pound Shooter)
> 12 to 16 feet: Strike King 6XD (10- or 12-pound Shooter)
> 16 to 20 feet: Strike King 8XD (12-pound Shooter)
> 20 feet or deeper: Strike King 10XD (14-pound Shooter)