By Alton Jones

It’s no secret that I like the YUM Dinger. I never tried to hide that. In fact, I’ve enjoyed enough success with a Dinger that on those tournament days when I catch fish really well, other anglers just assume there must be a good Dinger bite happening. Often that’s the case, but not always. Sometimes I caught my fish on something completely different, but I may not correct that mistaken assumption.

I’ve caught fish all across North America on the Dinger, plenty of them in tournaments. I often even bring a pack on stage with me during the final weigh-in. Check out the photo below. That was back in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La., when I finished in fourth place in part by fishing a YUM Dinger. That’s Dave Mercer, the host of the show, realizing the mistake he made when he snatched the bait from my hand, popped it in his mouth and started chewing.

(LEFT: Mercer eyes the bait like a fat spawner protecting the nest.)

Mercer spit out that Dinger and quickly grabbed his bottle of water to wash out his mouth, but the same scent/taste that caused him to gag is one of the characteristics that make bass hold onto this bait. As long as you’re a bass and not a host, there’s just nothing to it to tip that a Dinger is not something good to eat.

Whether or not I’ve used a Dinger any given day, the undeniable fact is that this bait has been hugely important to me ever since it came out. Therefore, it’s fun for me to get some variations of a bait I like so much and figure out the best ways fish them.

I’m talking about the new Thump’N Dinger and Swim’N Dinger. Both are excellent baits with multiple uses. This blog will focus on the Thump’N Dinger and the primary way I like to use it. We’ll look at the Swim’N Dinger next time.

The Thump’N Dinger looks like a slightly smaller-diameter YUM Dinger with a U-shaped swimming tail. It’s 6 inches long, but that includes the tail section, so the body size is closest to a slimmer 5-inch YUM Dinger.

(LEFT: He's got it!)

I’m going to grab this bait when something about the conditions tell me that bass are in shallow cover but not relating to the bottom, or when they want a horizontal presentation rather than a bait bumping bottom. I’m especially apt to pick it up if there are big fish in an area.

Texas rig the Thump’N Dinger using a 3/0 offset worm hook and a small bullet weight, and fish it like a spinnerbait, swimming it close or through cover. I will slow my retrieve if I need too. I prefer to fish it on 30-lb braid and with a 20-lb fluorocarbon leader.

Since I’m fishing the bait like a spinnerbait, you might wonder, “Why not just fish a spinnerbait?” If the fish were aggressive enough to take a spinnerbait, I would do just that because a more aggressive presentation generally allows you to cover more water. However, when the fish are in an in-between mode – too active for a regular Dinger but not quite aggressive enough for a spinnerbait, buzzbait or squarebill crankbait – swimming a Thump’N Dinger fills that niche perfectly. I encounter lots of fish in this in-between mood during late spring and early summer.
I can swim the Thump’N Dinger, but I also can kill the retrieve at any point and let it fall like a regular YUM Dinger. I’ve also caught fish that I saw breaking the surface with this bait. I just cast toward the fish and let the bait drop.

This cast-and-drop tactic also works when a fish hits and misses the bait. I’ll aim my next cast to the very spot where the fish hit and just let the bait fall, and often the fish will attack it immediately. I also kill the bait if I see a follower that won’t commit.

Similarly, if I’m swimming a Thump'N Dinger through shallow cover and I see a high percentage spot, I might cast past that spot, swim the bait to it and then kill it. That gives me the benefits of swimming worm and a traditional Dinger in a single bait.

Color choice is mostly a matter of confidence, but when I’m in Florida I always start with Junebug. In other areas of the country I might start with Green Pumpkin or Watermelon Red, but I keep an open mind to regional preferences.

Swimming a worm has been a popular approach in the Sunshine State for some time, but this fabulous bass-catching tactic is underutilized in many areas of the country. If you’ve got bass in shallow cover and they’re not hitting a jig bounced on bottom or a spinnerbait flashing through, your go-to should be swimming a Thump’N Dinger.