Pound for pound the smallmouth bass might be the hardest fighting freshwater fish in the world and would give a good run to most saltwater species as well. These fish are mean and can snap the line and break rod tips like it’s their job.
This is why so many people are drawn to this fish. They are incredibly fun to catch and even the smallest of them put up a good fight. They may not be as prevalent as largemouth bass, but in terms of sheer fighting power and fun, the competition is not even close.
So, below we’re going to go over some of the best lures for smallmouth bass. These are going to be your bread and butter and should be the five lures that each smallmouth angler keeps in their tackle box. Check them out and see if you have any already!
Before we dive into what lures work best, let’s quickly cover how to catch these fish and where they can be found. Check out the list below and see if any of these techniques will work for you, or if any of the habitats we mention is nearby.
How To Find Smallmouth Bass
Finding smallmouth in your area will all depend on where you live. They will not normally be in warm lakes and rivers the same way largemouth bass will be.
Instead, they prefer cooler waters. Such as deep lakes and rivers. So, areas of the southwest and deep south may be out of luck for finding fish locally. However, they could just be a few hours, drive away.
Once you’ve found a lake or a river smallmouth then you need to figure where exactly they like to hangout.
Smallmouth will begin to spawn sometime between April and June. What month will depend on the water temperature and where you are located. If you are further south then they may spawn earlier. If you’re further north then they may spawn later. During this time they will be in 10-15 feet of water.
Once they have finished spawning they will move back deep to somewhere in the 20-25 foot range. Starting around the dog days of summer these fish will move even deeper water. Look for them to be 30 feet of water or deeper. Come fall you will find them shallow again. They will be in a similar depth as they were in the spring.
In order to find them, you will most likely be relying on your electronics. This will show you different structures and humps that these fish may be hanging out on. Most of the time smallmouth will be eating fish right off of the bottom. So keep your lures down low.
Rivers are a great spot to get out and catch some smallmouth when the weather is hot and it pushes the fish down deep at your local lakes. The cooler waters allow for the fish to be more active, and the current keeps the water highly oxygenated.
So, always be on the lookout for a good current. The fish will like to hang out on the edge of the current. This allows them to expend as little energy as possible, while also watching the water in front of them for any food that may be swept down.
Eddies are also a popular spot to find smallies. Most of these eddies are caused by large boulders sitting in the rivers that break up the current. Oftentimes fish will lay in these and wait for prey to float past.
Also, any sort of structure dropoff or ledge could be a potential spot for a smallmouth. So, don’t be afraid to cast to anything you may see below, or above the water surface. There just might be a fish sitting in the shadow that lay down.
There are many different lures out there that you can use to catch smallmouth bass. Most are going to be very effective but the list below will be the best lures you could possibly have for catching these fish. Check it out and see which ones you like best.
The most popular bass fishing lures across the globe has to be soft plastics. They make them into just about any shape and can be fished in a number of different ways to attract fish. This is why these are the most effective lures for catching smallmouth.
Crawfish that are hooked up Weightless, Texas or Carolina style can be deadly and can catch smallmouth twelve months out of the year. They are best used on rivers, however, you can find a lot of success with these on lakes as well.
These often imitate different baitfish. Crankbait and jerk baits are the most popular and can be a great way to catch smallmouth when they are targeting in on baitfish. Jerk baits are probably the most popular. These are ideal in cooler waters and can trigger vicious strikes from these fish.
Hardbody lures can also be topwater. Some whopper ploppers, spooks, or other sticks baits work well in rivers during the summer when the fish are looking up. Also, don’t count these out when fishing lakes either. If you’re having trouble catching them on soft plastics or other hard bodies then try throwing a topwater.
You’ll be fishing these blade baits year-round. They are very effective and can be a great alternative if you don’t have any jerk baits or crankbaits in your tackle box. You’ll be fishing these by lifting the rod tip up and then lowering it down and reeling in the slack. The up and down motion will trigger fish to bite. Loko for the bite on the lure falling down.
Heddon blade baits are a great option but really it’s up to you and what you find work best on your home waters.
Best Smallmouth Bass Lures Reviewed
Below, we’re going to cover five different smallmouth lures. Each one of these should find a spot in your tackle box. However, you may find that only a few work best. So, check them out and see which ones are going to work best for you!
Coming in with over 25 colors, the Zoom Crayfish gives you the ability to choose the perfect color for your fishing environment. Don’t worry about having the right lure but the wrong color anymore. Have a whole selection in your tackle box and figure out what color they’re hitting on.
You can rig this up in a number of different ways. Weedless would be best and then you could attach a weight to get it down deeper. Or let it float down nice and low to try and entice a bite. The weightless set up could work well in a river and just let the current carry it down.
This model comes in a 3.5 inch size. However, there are smaller and larger sizes as well. Do your best to match the size of your lure to the size of the crawfish in the river. It will lead to a much more successful day out on the water.
These are also surprisingly durable. Depending on how violent the fight is with the fish you could continue using it for a few more catches before you would have to eventually replace it with a fresh lure.
There are tons of different colors and sizes of tube baits. Making them perfect if you’re going after finicky fish who need something in a very specific color in a very specific size. Tubes happen to also be incredibly effective and can be fished in a number of different ways.
You can fish this very similarly to the crawfish lure we mentioned above. Often the tube can be used as a crawfish imitation, making it one of the most versatile lures out there. Bounce it along the bottom with a weightless rig or weighted.
The Berkley power bait also is injected with power bait flavor and scent. Causing fish to hold onto your lure for 8 times longer than normal soft plastics. Because of this, you will ensure more hookups and also more fish landed.
The most successful way to use this would be to either use a Texas or Carolina rig. Then you can either drag it across the bottom, or you could bounce it. The smallmouth will think it’s a crawfish and will pick it up when it stops moving or in the fall.
This lure almost feels like cheating because it works so well. On rivers this can be used in spring, fall, and summer almost all day with success. Look for fall and spring on lakes though. This is because the fish are up shallower. However, if you find yourself having a slow day don’t be afraid to throw this over thirty feet of water.
You can alter the speeds on this lure. Reel it in fast when you know that the fish want something moving quickly bove them. Or, on slow days you can reel it in slower. As long as the propeller tail is churning up water then it is going to work.
Make sure you use a mono or braid with this lure. Since fluoro sinks then it will make it more difficult to keep this on top of the water and work properly. Also, reeling this lure in with your tip-up in the air will ensure that the fish sets the hook on itself.
With the perfect combination of roll, wiggle, and flash. The KVD jerk bait is ideal for not targeting smallmouth bass. However, you could also use this to go after largemouth or other freshwater species. It would not be great for bluegill, or crappie.
Reel down to the desired depth and then began twitching the rod tip on a slackline. This gives the lure its irresistible action. Reel in a little bit of a slack each time and then twitch the tip. Most of the strikes are going to come when the lure is at rest. Twitching the rod tip will help set the hook.
There are many different colors and sizes. Allowing you to pick and choose exactly what you need for your home waters. The sexy shad is a great all-around color. Use this in shallow or deep clear water depending on where the smallmouth is located.
The buoyancy of this is suspending. So, once you get it down to the depth you want then it will stay there. It will not float up or down in the water column. Perfect for when you know exactly where the game fish are.
One of the oldest lures out there. The Heddon blade bait has been used forever and for good reason. The blade bait is used to imitate an injured baitfish. Making it perfect to throw to smallmouth bass, who are ambush predators.
You can throw this all year round. In the summer you can throw this in the middle of the water column, or in the winter, or can throw it and let it sink to the bottom. In the winter you’ll want to slowly raise it off the bottom and allow it to fall. Similar to jigging. Do the same in the summer except in 15-25 feet deep.
It comes in a couple of different colors so you can match what type of bait fish live in your river or lake. However, the classic silver is a great catch-all and can be used when you’re not sure what you should be throwing.
It can come in several different weights but the ½ oz is one of the most popular. The heavier the lure the quicker it will fall and sink to the bottom. Which is great for deep water, or when the fish are looking for a fast-moving lure.
Smallmouth bass is some of the hardest fighting fish out there. Which makes them great fun to fish for. However, they are not in every body of water similar to a largemouth. So, it may take some work to find them.
You can use these lures to help you catch them as well. Jigs, or Jig Heads, Spinnerbaits, finesse grub or minnow, chartreuse swimbaits, lifelike hair jig, drop shot, flukes, poppers, or Senkos. All of these can be found on Amazon.
Hopefully, the list above will help you get out onto the water and chase these great fish. They are truly one of a kind and can make for a great day on the water. Use the lures and techniques above to help you catch more.