My webinar on Smallmouth Strategies covers my favorite fish, the smallmouth bass, throughout the different seasons. The following is a list of what I mentioned in the webinar to fish for smallmouth.
The prespawn time period is a great way to catch big smallmouth. I look for rocky banks and rely on crankbaits, jerkbaits and tubes for the majority of my fishing.
Crankbait – I like to fish shallow water with a crankbait and a Rapala DT-6 in any of the red crawfish patterns is my first choice. I’ll throw it on a 7’6” MH Abu Garcia Veritas 2.0 Winch with a matching Abu Garcia Winch reel to get a long cast and will use 10lb Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon to get the best diving depth possible out of this shallow runner.
Jerkbait – I use several different jerkbaits in the pre-spawn period, but the Megabass Vision 110 FX Tour Premium in the perch color is by far my favorite. The color pattern and great Megabass action is the biggest reason I use it so much. I’ll fish it on 10lb Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon to get the best action and casting distance. For rods, a shorter 6’6” rod works great and I use both an Abu Garcia Veritas and Denali Michael Murphy Jerkbait rod. Since the rods are lighter and shorter, I like a smaller reel like a Shimano Chronarch in the 50 size.
Tubes – This one’s pretty easy. A natural color tube with a 1/4oz tube head inside and then rigged on a spinning rod with 15lb SeaguarSmackdown braid with a 8lb Tatsu leader. Any good spinning rod will work here.
Dropshot rigs and tubes in bright colors work great for bedding smallmouth. They are so aggressive usually I don’t think it matters what you are throwing. One of my best baits is a chartreuse Z-Man ToobZ, its very bright and this helps for the fish and yourself to see it well. This thing drives them crazy. Remember to quickly release any bass you catch on beds.
While the post-spawn is pretty tough, I actually like it. The fish are still relatively shallow and often group up and begin to school in search of food. I like a dropshot, topwater and a wacky-rig senko to catch these post-spawn bass.
Dropshotting is my favorite technique for smallies and I will use two baits almost all of the year. A 4.5” straight tail Roboworm inAaron’s Magic and the Berkley Twitchtail Minnow in Clear Bluegill color. My ideal dropshot rod is a 7’ ML action rod and lately I have been using a St.Croix Avid X paired with a Shimano Sustain reel. I’ll always use braid to fluoro for better casts, sensitivity and less line twist. 15 or 20lb Seaguar Smackdown braid in the yellow color, with a 8lb Tatsu leader is the best combo I have found. The yellow color helps detecting light bites and keeping track of where your line is at all times.
For the topwater, I prefer a walking bait like a Lucky CraftSammy or DUO Pencil 110. Both of these I will fish on 15lb Seaguar Senshi mono, a 7’ medium action rod and high speed reel like the Revo MGX.
Wacky-rigging is a fun way to catch them and I’ll use either a 4” or 5” Yamamoto Senko in any color, as long as it is watermelon. The Owner Weedless Wacky hook is perfect and adding an O-ring is a great way to save your baits from getting torn up too quickly. I like to skip this under docks with a 6’6” medium heavy rod, either casting or spinning. I’ll use 20lb Seaguar Smackdown braid and a 12lb leader since I am usually fishing heavier cover.
In the summer I’ll use the same topwater and dropshot baits and setup. For deep cranking, I like a 7’5” MH Powell Max 3D fiberglass composite rod. It launches the bait and the fiberglass/graphite combo is the best of both worlds with sensitivity and action. I like a Shimano Curado I here, with 12lb InvizX fluorocarbon. There are many baits that work well, but the Lucky CraftCB DR is one of my favorites in any natural color.
I’ll use the same dropshot setup here. For football jigs I will use a baitcast setup with a 7’5” Powell Max 3D rod and Curado I combo. I like 12 or 15lb Seaguar AbrazX here since I am normally fishing around rocks. A ½ skirted football head or Yamamoto Hula Grub in any watermelon or green pumpkin color works great.
For swimbaits, I am a big fan of the Keitech Swing Impact Fat 4.3”. I use this three ways, on a football head, swing jig like an Eco Pro TungstenFree Ball jighead, or a standard swimbait head for swimming. The football head and swingjig are great for dragging slowly on the bottom. I like 15lb line here and use the same rod as I do for a football head.
Dropshot is king here and I’ll use the same baits, rod, reel and line. I’ll also use the same setup and baits for football jigs and swimbaits I use in early fall. The only difference is I will often use heavier dropshot weights and bigger jigheads since I am normally fishing deeper.
In the winter, I like to use a blade bait and hair jigs likethe ones made by Punisher Lures. Both of these are fished on the same setup I use for dropshotting.
The Super Spook, Lucky Craft Pointer 128 and 6" Triple Trout are other great baits for BIG smallmouth.
Hope that helps! Feel free to comment below with any additional questions.