I won a BASS tournament last year fishing a swimbait on a Buckeye leadhead jig, but I was fishing it deep, six to 10 feet, working it like a crankbait or slow-rolling a spinnerbait.

The way I really like to fish a swimbait is up closer to the surface, around grass and lily pads, and that's usually a great pattern in November. I've fished a floating worm a lot in the fall for years, and I still do it some, but fishing a swimbait has pretty much taken the place of a floating worm for me.

November is a great month for that kind of bait, because although you still have some topwater action, a lot of the time you'll have fish that don't want to chase all the way to the surface. That's why a floating worm is so effective, and that's why a swimbait is so effective.

The swimbait I'm using the most now is a Trigger-X Slop Hopper. I can reel the bait fast and hold my rod tip up and make it wake coming right under the surface, but I can also slow it down and fish it 12 to 18 inches under the surface, where it's still visual and where they'll hit it just like a floating worm.

One thing that makes a swimbait so effective in November that bass tend to suspend a lot in all of our lakes. They usually aren't as aggressive to the surface, but they will bite a bait under the surface. The other thing is, we've got some grass in pretty much all of our lakes. We've got some hydrilla along the bank at Clark Hill, gator grass at Murray, water willow at Wateree and pads at Santee. You can fish a swimbait around all of them and be really effective.

I fish a swimbait on a medium-action All-Star baitcasting rod and a Pfleuger Patriarch reel with a 6.3:1 retrieve ration spooled with 15-pound Trilene 100 Percent Fluorocarbon. You need a high-speed reel to fish this bait, and the bait doesn't provide a lot of resistance that will tire your arms out. If I'm fishing very heavy vegetation, I may go to a heavy-action rod.

I'll rig the bait two different ways, depending on how I'm going to fish it. If I'm fishing around matted grass, I'll fish it on a 4/0 to 5/0 VMC swimbait hook with no weight. If I want to fish it deeper, I'll fish it on a 4/0 to 5/0 VMC weighted hook.

I don't think you can fish Slop Hopper or any other swimbait with just a consistent, steady retrieve. That might draw an occasional strike, but it will usually take a little something different. In the fall, fish have seen so many lures and so much pressure in spring and summer, sometimes you have to do something to trigger a strike. Bass will tend to follow a bait more and not strike it. What I'll do to is change my retrieve; I'll stop and go, just make a short pause with the reel, then start reeling it again. If I see a fish following it, I'll slow the bait down or stop it.

In the fall, I'm partial to three different colors. I really like the color that Trigger-X calls "money." It's sort of herring or shad-colored with an olive-green back. I also like to green pumpkin, but I'll dye the tail chartreuse so it will look more like a bluegill. Trigger-X has a color called "muck" that is a bluegill color.