Keitech Model III Swim Jig Review: You Really CAN Power Fish The Slop!
To kick off the Bass Nasty Fishing blog (hereby referred to as BNF), I decided to discuss one of the baits I enjoyed a fair amount of success with this past season; the Keitech Model III Swim Jig. In short, I became interested in swim jigs due to an episode of The Bass Pros where KVD discussed the ins and outs of swim jigs. After watching that show, a few things really excited me about swim jigs and how I could apply them to enhance my slop fishing approach. I could fish them in heavy cover and slop and they’d be fairly weedless. I could rig them with a whole variety of trailer types from paddletail swimbaits to craw type trailers and everything in between. I felt like they could be applied like spinner baits as search tools and reaction style fishing in the BNF zone. This was right in the strike zone as I had decided to really focus on and perfect my slop fishing techniques for 2011. What better than to have a moving, reaction type power fishing lure to entice those active bass that hang out in the thick and nasty stuff?
I picked up a few different brands, like Revenge, Omega, and Strike King, but those who know me know I enjoy the quality and ingenuity of Japanese Domestic Market bass tackle (or JDM), so I picked up some Keitech Model III Jigs as well because they looked a little different and I thought the design was pretty cool and two steps beyond your typical ‘lets slightly modify a regular casting/flipping jig a bit and call it a swim jig’ attitude. Designed as a system to be used with a Keitech paddletail style swimbait instead of the usual craw style trailer, it was love at first sight, offering a variety of presentations in size, weight, and color that I couldn’t pass up. To keep true to the Keitech system, I used Keitech’s Swing Impact Fat 4.8, 3.8, and 2.8 and regular Swing Impact 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0 size paddletail swimbaits with the Model III pretty much exclusively.
The Keitech Model III Swim Jig is a Daiichi tungsten jig head mated to a custom Daiichi 5/0 wide gap style hook with cool plastic screw in bait keeper that also double as the skirt holder. The bait keeper pivots on the hook just below the eyelet and above the jig head, giving the SR-40 silicone skirt an amazing amount of life when swimming. The skirt itself is made of high quality silicone strands that are really durable and have some really awesome color patterns that match perfectly with the Keitech paddletail swimbait colors.
Rigging the Model III is pretty easy, just screw your preferred bait onto the keeper until it hits the stop, adjust the bait so that its axis is in line with the hook, then proceed to insert the hook into the bait, skin hook it if you are using a non Keitech brand soft plastic, or if you are using a Swing Impact or Swing Impact Fat, there is a recessed hook slot on the top to leave the hook point exposed but weedless.
Casting the Model III is great in any size, I could really chunk a 3/8oz/4.8 combo a long way. The durability is pretty good in normal slop fishing conditions and the jig held up well to repeated use and abuse. All the Model III’s I purchased in the spring of 2011 and that I used regularly throughout the 2011 season I would have no reservations about using this season as they would be as reliable as when they came out of the package. I did break two of the screwlock keepers off though when they hit a solid object (ie: the side of my aluminum boat) at considerable speed. However I never broke one while a fish was on, or had a hook bend out on fish up to 8 lbs, and the screwlock keeper design did an excellent job of holding the trailers to the jig no matter the beating it took while fighting fish.
There were however a few issues with the Model III that I found over the course of the season. The first was that though it excelled in sparse to medium weeds and cover, anything over medium cover it would collect a lot of weeds and detritus on the eyelet/keeper portion of the bait. I did catch fish on the Model III when it had collected weeds, but it was pretty nigh impossible to fish in the heavy slop unlike the standard/slightly modified type swim jigs. To qualify what I mean by medium cover, I would say that sparse weed beds would be what a spinnerbait might be able to make it through if I used a lot of rod finesse and worked it around the clumps, and medium weed beds would be impossible for a spinnerbait to even attempt without the blades getting fouled almost immediately. Surprisingly, the hook recess on the Swing Impact paddletails worked as designed and I never once fouled the hook point with weeds.
This brings me to a major issue that I discovered with the Model III combined with the Swing Impact Fat paddletails, but was solved by a little modification of the Swing Impact Fat itself. What was happening was that bass would absolutely hammer the Model III with a 4.8 Swing Impact Fat attached and when I set the hook, the body of the paddletail was so thick that it the hook point never got exposed enough to get a good bite on the fish and it would get off. This happened regardless if I set the hook immediately or did the 3 second frog fishing count before setting the hook. The same result would occur, the lack of hookup. The Model III with the 4.8 is a fish attracting machine, so I wasn’t about to give up on the combination. I contacted Mr. K of the Keitech User’s Site (http://keitech-u.net/index.html), and he filled me in on a modification that anglers in Japan had been doing to improve the hookup ratio of the Model III/4.8 combination which was to simply cut a deeper slot in the bottom of the body of the 4.8 where the hook enters to give more gap for the body to compress onto the hook when setting the hook or getting bit. This modification really made the difference and I never had any further issues hooking up.
Using the Model III jig with the different sizes of Swing Impacts and Swing Impact Fats resulted in subtle but noticeable changes in hunting, roll, side to side movement, tail action and thump, and I always had a variety of sizes on hand to fine tune my presentation.
Strikes are vicious and I found that waiting a full second before setting the hook got the best hookup ratio. I used at least 40lb braid when fishing the Model III for two reasons. Firstly to make sure I could set the hook through a bunch of slop, and secondly to be able extract the fish as quickly as possible so it wouldn’t get bogged down in the weeds and come unbuttoned.
After a season of fishing the Keitech Model III swimjig system in every BNF fishing situation I came across, I can say that although it has a few minor flaws such as the durability of the screwlock keeper and the issue with the hook/paddletail body gap, the Model III caught me at least three times as many fish as any other swim jig I used, and the fish were on the whole bigger, especially when using the 4.8 Swing Impact Fat as the trailer. Retrieved slowly, burned, stroked, pitched, flipped, hopped, it caught fish and was as versatile a lure as I could have asked for. My experience with this swim jig has shown me that it can and should be used as a search bait in the weeds and slop where a spinnerbait would be useless. I consider this lure to be a truly essential weapon in the BNF arsenal, and fishing a swim jig one of the only power fishing techniques that I can use to cover water effectively and efficiently when fishing the BNF zone.
Stay tuned for a ‘Part 2′ review of the Keitech Swim Jig system, the Swing Impact and Swing Impact Fat paddletail swimbaits!
Keitech Model III Swim Jig Ratings:
An ingenious design, really outside the box thinking in swimjigs that works extremely well. The only weakness is in really heavy cover, however thats what punching rigs are made for anyways.
The build quality of these jigs is typically JDM, of the highest order, with top shelf components and fit and finish.
In normal BNF conditions, I saw typical wear and chipping of the black paint on the tungsten jig head. The skirts are bulletproof and last forever, the hook is strong and stays straight under heavy duress. The screwlock keeper however will break off if it hits a solid object at high velocity.
The Model III Jig/4.8 Swing Impact Fat combination is unmatched in swimjigs and really gets hammered. It has a nice little hunting action especially when rigged with a 4.8.
The bad news is that there’s only 6 colors: Black, Gold Flash Minnow, Blue Flash, Silver Flash Minnow, Green Pumpkin Tiger, and Smoke Blue Crystal. The good news is that each of these colors are executed to perfection and are really unmatched by any US market skirt. The great news is that when paired with the corresponding color Swing Impact or Swing Impact Fat they are flawless matched.
$5.95 per jig is a touch steep, but they do last a long, long time, and the combination of top quality components like tungsten jig heads, Daiichi hooks and SR-40 silicone skirts really makes it worth every penny. Add approximately $1.50 for a 4.8 Swing Impact Fat paddletail swimbait trailer (7.49 for a package of 5) and for about $7.25 you have a durable, premium fish catching system that can be used in many BNF situations. You definitely get what you pay for. If the exchange rate was in our favor, this would be a steal.
Heavy Slop: no
Not streamlined enough to swim through truly thick cover.
Grass Mats: no
Doesn’t come in weights heavy enough to punch through mats, but I have used the 3.8 and 4.8 Swing Impact Fat on punch rigs with success.
Slides nicely through pads and doesn’t hang up too badly on the stems.
Swims very well until the weeds get thick.
It’s not streamlined enough and gets hung up no matter what I try.
I have used this in place of a spinnerbait, a jig, a square billed crankbait, and a t-rigged worm and it performed admirably.
The Keitech Model III jig is available in 1/8, 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2 oz. All sizes come with a 5/0 hook and retail for around $5.99. The cheapest price I could find was $5.95 at Tackle Warehouse (http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Keitech_Model_III_Swim_Jig/descpage-KEISWJG.html) They come in 6 colors: Black (001), Gold Flash Minnow(417), Blue Flash (418), Silver Flash Minnow (416), Green Pumpkin Tiger 107), Smoke Blue Crystal (325).
The Keitech Model III Swim Jig was tested on the following setup:
Rod: Powell/Tackle Warehouse Swim Jig Special 723 MH Ex-Fast
Reel: Quantum Smoke 100HPT 7.0:1
Line: Daiwa Samurai Braid 40lb, Berkley Fireline 40lb, Sufix 832 50lb.
Trailers: Keitech Swing Impact 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, Swing Impact Fat 2.8, 3.8, 4.8
Here’s a couple of videos showing the swimming action of the Model III:
Keitech USA: http://stores.ebay.com/Keitech-USA
Keitech site: http://www.keitech.co.jp/english/index.php