The Big Hammer family of swimbaits has some prime real estate in my tackle boxes, boat, and ‘office’. I spend a lot of time tinkering with the various flavors of Big Hammer swimbaits on and off the water. The 3″ Big Hammer swimbait is a neat little bait, that fits into the “swimbait fishing with spinning rods” category. You can consider this a tackle review of the 3″ Big Hammer if that is what you’re after. I score this bait a 9.99 (the only .01 deduction is because at times, a more rounded paddle/boot tail seems to be a better choice of swimbait for super finicky highly pressured fish) and give it an A+. We shared how we fish bridge pilings with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait in Southern Trout Eaters…one of the things that ‘just happened’ during the filming window we had. I put together a little video clip of me fishing the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait on a spinning rod, with braided line + florocarbon leader, fishing the water intakes at the Kentucky Lake Dam. Here are the highlights:
Get the Lead Out
Swimbaits with an exposed lead head are something you need to pay particular attention to. Exposed lead, like what the Hammer Head provides in the setup and rigging does some things that baits with internal weighting cannot. Namely, the exposed lead head of the Hammer Head helps the bait fall straight down vertical, there’s no buoyancy or dampening of the weighting system by surrounding it with soft plastic. Falling straight down makes a swimbait fish really well next to steep things, for example: bridge pilings, dam walls, steep walls, man made structure, and fishing deep and straight vertical like you do in winter. Also, you can fish the bait vertically under your boat and electronics really well, so when, for example, I was on Beaver Lake in the FLW Tour Major in 2011, the fish were in 15-35 feet of water suspended over cedar trees, the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait came thru for me, because I was able to count the bait down and fish it over top of the deep trees and yank the few fish I caught suspended around the tops of the deeper standing trees. I just read about how the guy who won the BassMaster Southern Open on Smith Lake in Jasper, Alabama was using a small paddle tailed swimbait with exposed lead jig heads on 5# florocarbon…Go ahead and add the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait rigged on a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce Hammer Head ( you want both heads, same hook size, just have both for shallow to medium or medium to deep presentations), to the ‘single top hook swimbait’ conversation too. The other derivative of the exposed lead jig head, and the fact the 3/16 and 1/4 ounce Hammer Heads were designed to match up perfectly with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait tails, you get a swimbait that swims on the sink. I repeat, swims on the sink. The bait will spin and sorta meander slightly, depending how slack you give the bait on the fall, but in a controlled fall, where you keep slight pressure on bait as it’s sinking, that little square tail is twisting and recoiling and beating along on the sink. There are a lot of garbage swimbaits out there that swim like crap on the sink….they tend to do nothing at all or sorta just fall like a blob, they don’t swim, they don’t orient nose down and swim on the sink and that is a huge deal, especially when fishing the deep and steep stuff. You going to be pumping and yo-yoing your rod and bait a a lot.
How To Rig a Big Hammer Swimbait:
One of the more important developments in my fishing in the last year has been the move to braided line, almost exclusively, on all baits, all water clarity, and all rod types. Not 100% but moving that direction. The key is using floro and mono leaders at times, choosing the right knots, and matching your hooks and terminal tackle so your hooks and split rings and things don’t bend out or fail due to the power of braid. I use Power Pro. It has been really good to me. I recommend 15# Power Pro Braided line and a 3-5 foot section (5 foot allows you to re-tie a couple times without putting a new leader on) of Sugoi Florocarbon. I use 6-12# florocarbon leaders paired with 15# Power Pro braid on my spinning rods. You change your leader sizes based on conditions and baits. I’ll fish 12# floro when fishing a small 3/8 or 1/4 ounce jig but will use 8-10# pound when fishing the 3″ Big Hammer on a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce jig head. Braid has several advantages, especially on spinning gear. First and foremost, line management. I find braided line handles and fishes really nicely on spinning rods. I have 1000 and 2500 sized Shimano Spinning reels that both handle the small diameter of 15# Power Pro nicely. You can ‘top-shot’ the braid, where you spool up 50-75 yards of 6# mono ( I formerly used 6# P-Line CXX on my spinning rods) and then tie on the braid and spool yourself on a good 75-100 yards of fresh braid, and then tie your floro leader to the end of your braid. What knot do I use to connect my florocarbon leader to my braide? The Double Uni Knot. Google it, YouTube it….I use 6 wraps on each side of the knot, and it’s frickin’ excellent. However, pay attention here, the Double Uni knot is NOT a good knot for attaching 80# or 65# braid to 25-30 pound mono. The physics of bigbait fishing comes into play here. DO NOT USE THE DOUBLE UNI to connect your bigbaits to your braid. That is a separate conversation. For some reason, that knot cannot handle the repeated casting/stress of lobbing >4 ounce baits. I have 110% confidence in that knot though, in the smaller more conventional applications, like 15# braid to 10# florocarbon (my number one most common rig….3″ Big Hammers, Wacky Rigs, Shaky Heads, Jika Rigs, etc)
Braid provides you some additional advantages, especially when it comes to spinning rods and small swimbait fishing. The braid is super sensitive, and I can feel my bait, the swim, and control the bait far better on braid than on mono. When I go back to mono, my bait feels real mushy on the end of the line, and I don’t have the feel that I do with braid. I can feel the bait swim on the sink and control the sink and depth the bait swims at so much better on braid. I know when I’m fouled up (tail gets stuck in the gap between a rigged bait and the hook), and I tend to be able to unstick myself or straighten out the lighter wire hooks of the 3/16 and 1/4 Hammer Head at times to get a hung bait free. I re-bend my hook into place of course, and check the hook point to make sure all is well, and feel my floro leader to make sure it didnt’ get damaged too. The hookset and hooking fish advantages are amazingly improved with braid. I keep my drag fairly tight with the 3″ Big Hammer and braided main line setup. A little line might pull off during a hard reel down and come up hard hookset, but not much. The zero stretch of the braid gives you tremendous hook set capabilities you don’t get with 100% florocarbons or mono/copolymers.
If you haven’t seen our Alabama Rig Super Nova blog post and video, click HERE to see it. You want to have 3″ Big Hammers and Hammer Heads (3/8 recommended for the A-Rig based on hook size and strength, so you don’t bend out the 1/4 and 3/16 ounce lighter wire hooks) in your possession for your castable umbrella rig fishing. Also, carry yourself some Super Glue and get in the habit of super gluing your Big Hammer swimbait tails to the Hammer Head and letting it dry BEFORE you go fishing. You will make your baits last much longer by doing this. If you get a good properly rigged Big Hammer swimbait and glue it the Hammer Head jig head, you can get 10-20 fish per bait. You’ll get into bites where as quick as you can unhook and re-cast, you’ll just keep on catching ’em.
The 3″ Big Hammer Photo Gallery: