Finding bass can sometimes be the easiest part of the fishing equation. When getting them to eat becomes an effort in futility, keep these bronzeback bon bons in mind. Here’s my lineup for the best smallmouth bass fishing lures ever made. Let us know in the comments section below if we left out your favorite smallie bait.
Noisy rattles and a classic side-to-side walking action taunt smallmouth into vicious strikes – often from surprisingly deep haunts. The Spook's super-sharp Excalibur Rotating Treble Hooks lessen the chance of shake-offs. Work the Spook aggressively and lots of splashing emulates schooling activity. Fish it slowly with long pulls and it glides back and forth like a snake swimming across the surface.
Cotton Cordell's advanced plastic version of Fred Young's 1973 hand-carved wooden plug, today's Big O has a tougher lip, but still retains its original fish-catching action, buoyant body and cover-deflecting ability. Crank this plug over the rock and gravel where smallmouth feed.
Flashy and effective, the blades are plated with corrosion-resistant jewelers grade gold and nickel, and the top willow leaf is secured by a ball bearing swivel. The bait's head offers a realistic target with its 3D eyes and bright red flaring gills. Light, .035 gauge wire is tuned for maximum vibration and easily retuned after each bite.
Smallmouths never turn down a crayfish meal and the limber, flapping motion of this bait's large, thin claws create a convincing display. Rig the Craw Papi on a plain weedless jighead, use it as a bass jig trailer or fish it on light terminal tackle in dropshot, Texas- or Carolina-rigging.
This deep runner's flat-sided profile helps it dig down and reaches 14-18 feet (with No. 2 hooks). The Fat Free Shad has a tight, enticing action that tempts hard-to-reach smallmouths, while the Excalibur Tx3 Rotating treble hooks keep fish buttoned up.
When bass locate shad splashing and waking at the surface, the results are predictably violent. The X Rap Pop's thin, cupped mouth delivers the kind of disturbance that imitates shad activity, while its sleek design promotes long casts. A tail-down posture improves hook ups, while rattles and a VMC teaser hook enhance the appeal.
A wacky-rigged 5-inch Yamamoto Senko has become one of the most consistent producers for finicky bass. The tactic takes patience and a tolerance for boredom, but when the wiggle at both ends attracts attention, it's game-on.
Use a 60-degree tube jig head for dragging and drifting so the tube plows forward to kick up the bottom, or rig it with a 90-degree head for vertical jigging or exaggerated "cracking" presentations. Wiggling tentacles entice smallies into biting and the soft body makes them hold on longer.
A Great Lakes standard, the leech is a can't-miss on the dropshot, as the Gulp! formula fools the fish with a natural scent, feel and taste. Nose-hooking is standard, but if the fish are short striking, try a Texas-rigged position or even wacky style.
A great tactic for searching out active areas, the Carolina-rig enables anglers to cover more water than with a dropshot. Try dipping the tail tips in chartreuse dye with garlic scent. If the bite slows on a 6-inch lizard, upsize to an 8-incher and you'll often irritate a couple of reluctant fish into attacking the larger profile bait.
When smallies play hard-to-get, downsizing to a finesse jig may be just the thing. The Bitsy Bug's weedless, snagless head design comes through rocky bottom easily, while the inverted line tie keeps your line safe from abrasions. Pair this with a Strike King Baby Rage Craw trailer for a small profile bait that smallmouth can't resist.
Luck "E" Strike Smallmouth Hair Jig
Balanced for swimming, this jig emits a lifelike presence with a bucktail skirt accented by glitter strands. The skirt contracts and flares with a stop-and-go swimming action or erratic hopping motion. The detailed head sports enticing 3-D eyes.
Enhancing the consistently productive Aglia design with a second blade boosts the visuals, while maximizing sound and vibration. Whether it's flashing metallic blades or contrasting colors, the dual blades provide added lift for fishing over weeds or other structure. Hand-tied bucktails dyed in vivid colors help make this bait easier for fish to spot.
The soft plastic minnow's erratic swimming motion and hand-painted finish imitate an injured baitfish, while the flash and vibration of a Mepps spinner call attention to the presentation. A good bet for running across weed beds to tempt prowling smallmouth.
Storm WildEye Live Goby
The non-native round goby has invaded the Great Lakes region, much to the delight of smallmouth bass. Even in lakes devoid of the bottom-hugging forage species, Storm's head-weighted goby imitator is a true brown fish charmer.