Introduction To Glide Bait Fishing (Explained For Beginners)

UPDATED 31 JULY 2022

by Robert Ceran

Are you thinking about using glide baits to catch monster bass? If yes, then you’re on the right track.

Glide baits are relatively new to the arsenal of bass fishing lures, but they have caught more trophy size bass in the last 10 years than any other type of lure. 

But the problem with glide baits is that they are harder to fish than other lures, as they are among the biggest bass fishing lures, and need to be fished with the right gear and the right technique in order to produce fish consistently.

Image of a glide bait lure

In this article we’ll cover the basics of glide bait fishing, will answer the most common questions about it, and give you our best tips on how to use glide baits to catch big bass.

What is a glide bait, and how does it work?

A glide bait is a hard bodied swimbait with a single joint in the middle, which glides from side to side in a wide S-shaped curve during retrieval. The S-motion of a glide bait is generated by its body bending at the joint when pulled through the water, causing it to slide sideways. 

Many anglers like to exaggerate the S-shaped gliding action of a glide bait by adjusting the retrieval cadence of their fishing reel. A great way to do this is by pausing the rotation of the reel handle for a split second at every turn or half turn. 

This short pause in lure retrieval gives the glide bait a little bit of slack at the end of each glide, thus allowing it to slide further to one side before gliding back to the other side. The resulting very wide S-curves tend to draw out bass like a magnet.

Glide bait vs swimbait – what’s the difference?

The main difference between a glide bait and a swimbait is that a glide bait has a single joint and slowly glides from side to side during retrieval, while swimbaits are either unjointed or multi-jointed, and wiggle or vibrate more rapidly during retrieval. 

In other words, a glide bait has a different retrieval action than a swimbait. While a swimbait moves in a straight line with a wiggling action, a glide bait moves from side to side in an S-shaped line during retrieval.

And while this difference in action between glide baits and swimbaits may seem subtle at first, it can make a huge difference in terms of being able to draw out fish and trigger bites.

Are glide baits good?

Glide baits consistently produce the biggest fish compared to other lures, though they tend to catch fewer fish overall. In other words, you should use glide baits if you want to target the biggest fish in your lake.

This makes sense, since glide baits are significantly bigger than most other lure types (with the exception of large swimbaits). However, the downside of attracting larger fish is that you won’t get as many bites from smaller fish, which are more common in most lakes. 

Some bass professionals like to switch to using glide baits towards the end of a tournament day, when they’ve already got a full bag of keeper fish, but have a chance of winning a top placement by catching a trophy size fish with glide bait fishing.

What is the best glide bait?

Many bass anglers agree that the Deps 250 Slide Swimmer is the best glide bait, all things considered. When it was released in late 2011, it was the first glide bait lure on the market, and has consistently been improved by Deps since then.

Legendary bass angler Butch Brown started using the Deps 250 very early on, and has since caugth more than 1500 trophy bass weighing over 10 pounds with glide baits. 

One of the really nice things about the Deps 250 is that you can easily adjust its weight to make it sink faster or slower. You can also adjust its balance to make sure it behaves perfectly in the water.

Finally, the Deps 250 comes with a spring that vibrates inside the body of the lure, which helps to attract fish in murky water. With that being said, there are definitely other glide baits that don’t cost as much as the Deps 250, and that also catch a lot of fish.

Savage Gear and Bassdashmake some of the more affordable glide baits on the market. So, especially if you’re a beginner, it’s usually better to start your glide bait fishing journey with cheaper glide baits, and then upgrade to more expensive ones once you’re fully committed to fishing with glide baits.

What is the best color glide bait?

In clear water, the best color glide baits are natural colors that resemble the forage fish that bass (or other predators) are feeding on. This could be shiners in some lakes, bluegill in others, or hatchery trout in lakes that are regularly stocked with trout.

However, if you’re fishing in stained water, it’s often better to switch to brighter colored glide baits, and one of the top performing glide bait colors in murky water is bone color.

When to throw glide baits

Glide baits generally work best in spring and in fall. In spring they can catch bass during all phases of spawn, and during pre-spawn they often produce trophy size females filled with roe. So if you’re interested in improving your PB, then fishing a glide bait during pre-spawn is a great way to achieve this.

In fall, glide bait fishing works extremely well when bass are hunting schools of baitfish in open water. The best way to find the bass at this time is to find the forage, and then throw a glide bait around the edges of the baitfish schools. 

Where do you use glide baits?

The best place to use glide baits is close to structure and transitions parallel to the shoreline. For example, you can target channels and drop offs in larger flats. When bass are hunting in shallow water in spring and fall, you can fish glide baits in water as shallow as 3 feet, while it’s generally better to fish them at depths between 6 and 15 feet.  

Many anglers think you can only use glide baits in large reservoirs with bass populations that hunt in open water, but this is far from the truth. You can use glide baits anywhere that you can find big bass, which includes the majority of fisheries across the country.

What kind of rod do you use for glide baits?

The ideal rod for glide baits is an 8 foot swimbait rod with extra heavy power and fast action. It’s essential to use a sufficiently heavy rod for glide baits, since they are much larger than most other lure types, and you should look for a rod with a fishing lure weight rating around 6 ounces.

And while it can be tempting to use a softer moderate action rod when targeting big bass, a softer rod doesn’t perform very well for throwing heavy glide baits, which tend to tangle up during the cast if you use a rod that’s too soft.

A good rod for glide bait fishing also shouldn’t be shorter than 8 feet, since that also doesn’t work well for throwing heavy glide baits.

What is the best gear ratio for glide baits?

The best gear ratio for glide baits is 5.0:1 to 6.0:1. This low speed baitcaster gear ratio helps to retrieve your glide bait slowly, which is essential to give it the characteristic S-wave action that attracts bass so effectively. 

If you use a gear ratio that’s significantly faster than this, that will make it hard to slow down the retrieval speed enough to allow the glide bait to veer off from side to side, which defeats the purpose of using a glide bait in the first place.

Also, the ideal baitcaster reel size to use for glide bait fishing is size 400, which is bigger than for most other bass fishing applications. You can choose either a low profile or a round spool baitcaster, depending on your preference.

How deep do glide baits go?

Glide baits can go as deep as 30 feet, but this usually requires adding weights to the glide bait in order to reach that depth fast enough. Most glide baits tend to sink slowly in the water, and so are best for fishing at depths between 3 and 15 feet.

High end glide baits (such as the Deps 250) usually come with several ways of adding more weight to the lure, which is very helpful for targeting deeper water fish.

How do you fish glide baits for bass?

When fishing for bass with glide baits, one of the best strategies is to fish parallel to structure transitions that often attracts big bass. Remember to keep the retrieval speed slow, allowing the glide bait to move slowly from side to side in its characteristic S-shaped pattern.

The nice thing about glide baits is that they are really effective at drawing out bass, and if the water is clear enough, you’ll quickly notice a bass following your glide bait during retrieval.

When that happens, you’ll know there are bass worth targeting in that area, which makes glide baits one of the best search baits for exploring new spots. 

If you notice bass following your glide bait, but without committing to eating it, try to add some twitches and pauses during your retrieve, as that can sometimes trigger a reaction strike even when the bass are not actively feeding.

Final remarks

This wraps up our beginner’s guide to glide bait fishing. Hopefully you were able to get some useful insights and tips to help you catch trophy bass with glide baits. Tight lines and see you on the water!