Smallmouth Bass Lures
Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass both feed on baitfish and crustaceans, but since they live in different habitats, it's essential to know how to correctly fish for each species. We discuss the best smallmouth bass lures and when to fish each bait.
A smallmouth bass' habitat consists of areas with many rocks and sand, while largemouth bass prefers areas with aquatic plants and weeds. Because of this, there are different ways to target each fish correctly.
This article will discuss how to catch smallmouth bass and what lures you should be using to catch the most fish.
Where to Fish for Smallies
Smallmouth bass are found in many water bodies; however, you will find the most smallies in clear water. Looking for clear water should be one of your main criteria, and you should try to avoid murky or muddy water as much as possible.
Smallmouth bass fishing is also best in rocky areas and places with a sandy bottom. You can also look for submerged logs and cover that smallmouth bass will likely be clustering around.
Since smallmouth bass prefer these types of areas, we recommend using lightweight lures that don't have a weedless design. You won't have to worry about getting snagged if you're fishing a sandy bottom, and you'll want to be using low profile and smaller lures.
It is best to use a thinner line when targeting smallmouth bass since you'll likely be fishing in clear water. It's a lot easier for the bass to see your line when you're not fishing in murky waters.
Table of Contents
Soft Plastics (Strike King Coffee Tube Bait)
Topwater Frogs (Booyah Pad Crasher)
Jigs (Croch Silicon Jig Skirt)
Jerkbaits (wLure Minnow Crankbait)
Blade Baits (Heddon Sonar Flash)
Diving Crankbaits (Strike King Square Bill Crankbait)
Spinner Baits (Mepps Double Blade Aglia)
Rubber Worm (Berkeley Gulp Soft Plastic Leach)
Plastic Lizards (Zoom Lizard)
Crankbait (Bomber Crankbait Model A)
Strike King Coffee- Best Smallmouth Tube Bait
4.7 Stars | 170+ Amazon Reviews
Soft plastic baits are a favorite of many smallmouth bass anglers. These lures have a finesse or low profile presentation, and they are great at mimicking crayfish. The best type of soft plastic to use is called a tube bait. These baits are the same size as a crawdad, and they have great action that attracts smallmouth bass.
Our favorite tube bait is the Strike King Coffee Tube. This lure can be purchased directly off Amazon and has a strong scent that bass love. The appeal is enhanced with coffee bean oil and gives off a powerful odor. You probably think what we thought before we first tried it, "why in the world would a bass like the smell of coffee?"
For whatever reason, smallmouth bass can't get enough of these, and they're the best tube bait out there to put fish in the boat. If you don't believe me, you can check out their Amazon reviews, where they have an average rating of 4.7 Stars.
Booyah Pad Crasher - Best Smallmouth Topwater Frog
4.6 Stars | 1200+ Amazon Reviews
Topwater lures can be an excellent choice for smallmouth bass. Smallies can be extremely aggressive fish, mainly near sunrise and sunset. When choosing a topwater lure for smallmouth, you want to find something that looks as realistic as possible.
Since smallmouth live in clear water, they can be pickier about the artificial bait you use. Try to use something that has lifelike action and good detail. Topwater frog lures are wildly popular among smallmouth anglers.
Our favorite frog for smallmouth is the Booyah Pad Crasher. This topwater lure has exceptional detailing, and it also has a cupped mouth, so it will double as a good pooper or chugger if you're fishing in open water. This frog weighs 1.1oz, so it works well with a clear and thin fluorocarbon line.
Since this bait is on the heavier side, it makes longer casts possible, which allows you to cover more water. We recommend avoiding fishing this lure in choppy water. If there's a high wind or current, save the frog for later and stick to your typical sinking lures. Otherwise, this bait destroys smallmouth on calm days.
Croch Silicon Jig Skirt - Best Jig Trailer
4.6 Stars | 300+ Amazon Reviews
Jigs are one of the most well-rounded smallmouth bass fish lures. Anglers love to use jigs because they're successful year-round, and they're a dependable lure for catching fish. There are two types of jig skirt designs, plastic skirts and hair skirts.
While they're both common, we prefer rubber skirts. Rubber skirts hold their volume better in the water, and we find that bass hold onto them longer, giving you more time for your hook set.
When it comes to rubber jig skirts, we strongly recommend that you buy a set of inexpensive skirts and attach them to jig heads yourself. Croch Silicon Jig Skirts are the best option for this method. With this bundle, you get a fantastic price for 24 individual skirts, and each skirt has 50 rubber strands built into it.
Not only is this a more cost-effective option, but it means you have more options for customizing your baits. You can do anything from merely sliding a jig skirt on a jig head to creating a setup with swimbaits and flashers. The DIY fishing style will also help you build your lure awareness, and in the end, will only make you a better angler.
W-Lure Minnow - Best Smallmouth Bass Crankbait
4.3 Stars | 700+ Amazon Reviews
It's essential to consider the water temperature when you're fishing for smallmouth bass. When the water is colder during the winter, a fantastic lure option is a jerkbait. You want to fish slower when the water's cold, and high-quality jerkbaits keep their action even when fished slower.
As with the other lures on this list, your goal for picking the best smallmouth lure is to find something that looks realistic. wLure Minnow Crankbaits are a great choice as they have distinctive patterning, and they come in a variety of colors.
Each jerkbait does a great job at mimicking baitfish that smallies regularly eat. You can see patterns of baby striped bass, perch, sunfish, crappie, and standard minnows in the image above. If you want to catch more smallmouth, the wLure Company's Minnow Crankbaits are the way to go.
Heddon Sonar Flash - Best Smallmouth Bladebait
4.8 Stars | 10+ Amazon Reviews
Bladebaits have a much smaller profile than other lures on this list. While little, they are an excellent lure for targeting sluggish fish, and you can fish them in many different ways. We think the best way to use a bladebait is to fish it on the bottom, slowly drifting it over sandy or rocky areas.
You want to make it seem like your bladebait is really "struggling," like how an injured baitfish or crustacean would. Smallmouth can either be the most aggressive fish in the lake or be the most boring. The large fish can be incredibly timid, which is why you want to use this bait as slow as possible.
If you're a passionate angler, you probably know about the lure manufacturer Heddon. They're one of the most popular lure brands, and they're known for their well-designed products and excellent build quality.
The Heddon Sonar Flash is a lure that we strongly recommend, as would many other professional anglers. It's listed as an Amazon's Choice product because Amazon states it's a "highly rated, and well-priced product" compared to the competition. Many of you are probably already using this bait, so we won't spend too much time discussing it. If you don't have it feel free to it check out.
Strike King Square Bill - Best Deep Diving Crankbait
4.8 Stars | 30+ Amazon Reviews
Crankbaits are the best lures on this list for targeting smallmouth bass in deeper waters. With this lure review, we will pair it with our favorite strategy for fishing crankbaits.
You want to twitch your rod aggressively so that the lure bangs against the rocks or sandy bottom. If you do this correctly, you will be mimicking a disoriented baitfish well and causing enough vibration to get the attention of even the largest smallmouth bass. There's a reason why so many trophy-sized smallmouth bass are caught on these baits.
You'll want to get yourself a crankbait like the Strike King Square Bill Crankbait with a square bill for deep diving action. A common place where you'll find many smallmouth is along ledges in deeper waters, somewhere between 10 and 30 feet deep. Crankbaits do an excellent job of getting down to the shelves and causing a lot of commotion.
Mepps Double Blade Aglia - Best Spinnerbait
4.6 Stars | 65+ Amazon Reviews
The Mepps Double Blade Aglia is a bright, vibrant spinning blade-bait that you must have. Its two rotating blades give off a tremendous amount of vibration and displace a ton of water. Besides, smallmouth will frequently be willing to strike smaller baits like the Mepps Aglia. The chartreuse bucktails trailing the spinner are hand-tied and of the highest quality.
For more information on spinnerbaits, check out our guide to the best spinnerbaits for bass. You can't go wrong with this presentation style.
Berkeley Gulp Leach - Best Smallmouth Rubber Worm
4.6 Stars | 130+ Amazon Reviews
The Berkeley Gulp Leach bait is an incredibly effective finesse style lure. It's common to use this on a Carolina Rig, but pairing this up with a Drop Shot rig is a deadly combo. Berkeley Gulp has the best multi-sense baits on the market. With the natural scent and taste enhancements, you'll see a much better hook up ratio.
Zoom Lizard - Best Creature Bait for Smallmouth Bass
4.8 Stars | 130+ Amazon Reviews
Sometimes it's hard to find smallmouth in poor conditions. The Zoom Lizard is a perfect option for slower fishing days because the bait style allows you to cover water much faster. While Drop Shot or Texas Rigs require slow, finesse retrievals, the Carolina Rig does not. The Zoom Lizard is best fished with a Carolina Rig setup. It's important to fish this bait quickly to get the best action out of the many appendages.
Bomber Model A - Best Smallmouth Crankbait
4.5 Stars | 25+ Amazon Reviews
Bomber is a widely known lure manufacturer in the fishing community. They specialize in traditional-style crankbaits with high versatility. It's not every day that the same crankbait can be productive in cold and warm water environments.
This variance is because all retrieval speeds with the Bomber Model A will give you the same quality of action. Remember, this is a contact lure, so collide it with as many rocks, trees, and stumps as possible. This will almost always trigger an impulse strike.