Nothing beats the thrill of a successful catch, especially if you’ve been fishing patiently for hours. On the other hand, we all feel a special kind of pain when we spend all day fishing without a bite.
A good fishing lure can make the difference between a successful day and an unsuccessful one. They’re not magic – even the best lure in the world won’t catch a fish where there are none to be found – but they can give you the edge you need to bring in the lunker you’ve been dreaming about.
Smallmouth bass lures fall into several categories since these particular fish change their habits depending on what time of year it is, and whether they’re in lakes or rivers. As a result, the ideal tackle box will have several different baits and lures to handle all possible scenarios.
We’ve reviewed twenty of the most popular smallmouth bass lures online, making sure to choose at least a few of each variety. We’ll tell everything we learned about them: the pros, the cons, and what role each of them plays in your fishing kit.
After that, we’ll talk about some of the basics of smallmouth bass fishing, from proper technique to how large the fish get.
But first, let’s look at the best lures on the market.
Best Smallmouth Bass Lures Available Online
Dynamic Lures Fishing Jig Lure
- SLENDER, LOW PROFILE DESIGN - Vertical Jig Fishing Lure
- SINKING LURE - Evenly weighted to jig and bounce when appropriate
- BRIGHT COLORS - Consistently attracts stubborn fish at all depths under the ice
- SOLID CONSTRUCTION - Industry Standard coated ABS Plastic
- (2) - ULTRA SHARP Size #10 Fishing Hooks, Set and Never Let GO!
The Dynamic Lures HD is advertised as an ice fishing lure – and it’s certainly good for that! – but it’s really an all-purpose 2-inch blade bait that’s useful anytime you want your lure to stay in a single spot. The #10 hooks are razor-sharp and are strong enough to pull in even the largest bass. It’s available in 10 colors, including trout, perch and crawdad colors to match local baitfish populations.
The only complaint we have is that it’s made of plastic. It’s high-quality ABS plastic, but it’s still not as tough as steel. Normally, we couldn’t care less, but blade baits are small and need the extra strength. This isn’t some chintzy, lightweight lure, though. The internal metal weight keeps the nose level and gives it enough heft to cast it long distances.
- Sharp #10 hooks
- Available in 10 colors
- Internal metal weight for balance
- Made of plastic
Why it’s recommended: The Dynamic Lures HD is a solid blade bait that comes at a reasonable price.
Cotton Cordell Gay Blade
- Features a flat head that prompts a tight wiggle and plenty of baitfish flash
- Unique pulsating water disturbance that makes this blade a go-to for all species of bass and panfish
- Dual line-tie holes allow for use as a casting bait or jigging spoon
- Weight prompts long casts to distant schooling fish
- Effective on all gamefish
The Cotton Cordell Gay Blade is a blade bait that can vibrate like a crankbait. It has dual line tie holes, so you can tie it off in both spots and wiggle your rod to make it dance. It’s available in 1 ½-inch and 2-inch sizes, although you’ll really want the larger one for catching smallmouth. It’s heavy enough to cast a long distance with accuracy.
This lure is available in four colors, but pricing is very inconsistent. Some size and color combinations are inexpensive, while others are fairly pricey. The hooks are sharp and corrosion-resistant, but they aren’t very forgiving and can be hard to remove without breaking.
- Dual line tie holes
- Excellent casting
- Dual front hook and triple rear hook
- Available in 4 colors
- Available in 2 sizes
- Inconsistent pricing
- Weak hooks
Why it’s recommended: The Cotton Cordell Gay Blade is ideal for snagging a smallie right out of the middle of a school.
- Built-in Sonic rattle chamber attracts predatory fish as the thin fisher vibrates
- Three tow points: High speed Retrieve, light vibration, Medium speed Retrieve, medium vibration, Slow speed Retrieve, wide vibration
- Thin fisher Comes equipped with easy-change snap and black nickel hooks
- Offers a natural vibrating action on a retrieve and built in sonic chamber predator fish can't resist
- Jig the blade vertically allowing it to swim back down through the strikezone
The Johnson Thinfisher is a classic, stainless steel blade bait that’s as effective as they come. It has three line tie holes, so you can use more than one to shake the lure as you see fit. There’s also an internal weight, which rattles around and creates noise and vibrations. It also makes it heavy enough to cast as far as you need to.
This bait is available in eight different colors to match your local baitfish. The hooks are made of corrosion-resistant nickel, which should be standard industry-wide but isn’t. They’re a little on the small side, but have enough strength to hold up to a tough fight.
- 3 line tie holes
- Available in 8 colors
- Corrosion-resistant nickel hooks
- Internal vibrating weight
- Hooks are on the small side
Why it’s recommended: The Johnson Thinfisher is a tried and true blade bait that will get smallies biting in a hurry.
Sougayilang Spoons Hard Fishing Lures
- PRODUCE MORE FLASH: Sougayilang fishing spoons display brilliant flash in the water due to its genuine silver and gold plating, and more reflective surfaces attract fish and make them strike.
- UNIQUE 'S' SHAPE: Its unique 'S' shape allows it to move in the water like no other spoon. It looks like swimming action and rapid diving action into water.
- EXTRA NOISE: The dimpled texture on these spoons creates extra noise and reflects more light in the water to attract fish.The high quality solid brass construction is rust-resistant and durable.
- FRIENDLY: water-based environmentally friendly premium paint finishes.
- Weight: approx 0.53oz/pc, Length approx 4in including the hook and feather. Pack of 5pcs. Ideal for trout, pickerel, panfish, smallmouth bass, snapperblues etc.
The Sougayilang Spoons are a set of gold, highly reflective lures that are designed specifically to catch a fish’s attention in a school, or in wide open water. The dimples on the surface make them glisten, and the S shape causes them to oscillate from side to side with the slightest motion. They come five to a set, for the same price as some other single lures.
Of course, the low cost comes with a significant drawback; the hooks are weak and easy to bend. You shouldn’t have a problem with smallies, but if a big largemouth grabs your lure instead, be prepared to lose it.
- Very affordable
- Highly reflective
- Natural oscillating motion
- Comes 5 to a set
- Weak hooks
Why it’s recommended: The Sougayilang Spoons are a set of smallmouth bass baits that are ideal for clear, open-water fishing.
HENGJIA VIB Fishing Lures
- Length:5.5cm / 2.16''; Weight: 11g / 0.39oz
- Quantity: 8pcs / lot
- Diving: Sinking,8# High Carbon Steel Treble Hooks
- Suitable: Freshwater,Lake,River,Dam
- Special for Pike Perch Trout Bass Carp
The HENGIJA Metal Blade Baits are an inexpensive 8-pack of lures that are good enough to get the job done. They’re not top of the line by any means, but they’re some of the best budget lures we’ve seen. They have four tie holes on the top, giving them lots of versatility, and the 3D eyes catch the light like the eyes on more expensive lures.
The hooks are stainless steel, though, not nickel. This makes them unsuitable for saltwater fishing, though you really should have a bigger lure for saltwater use anyway. The glue around some of the eyes was visible, which speaks to poor quality control. Still, they’re a good value for the price.
- 4 line tie holes
- Comes 8 to a set
- Very inexpensive
- 3D eyes
- Stainless steel hooks
- Inconsistent quality control
Why it’s recommended: If you want the best smallmouth bass lures that a dollar store budget can buy, the HENGIJA blade baits are a good choice.
Strike King Jigs Bait
- The Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig was designed by our Pro-Staff to help you catch more fish.
- It includes a streamlined balanced head for better swimming action.
- This head is painted and coordinated with the awesome Perfect Skirt.
- Includes a medium wire ultra sharp hook.
- Try a Rage Tail craw or the new Baby Rage Craw as a trailer and hold on. Bass love em'!
The Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig is a beautiful, hand-painted lure that’s designed to wiggle and vibrate enticingly as you reel it past cover. It’s available in three weights and comes in ten colors. Heavier weights are good for a longer cast, but lighter weights give you a little more control.
The #10 hook is sharp enough to punch through just about anything and strong enough to hold up through a long fight with a river smallie. Unfortunately, it’s made of stainless steel, so you won’t want to use this jig in saltwater. The pricing is highly variable, with some weights and colors being very affordable while others cost almost four times as much.
- Realistic swimming action
- Available in 3 weights
- Available in 10 colors
- Sharp, strong hook
- Inconsistent pricing
- Hook is stainless steel
Why it’s recommended: The Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jig is a well-designed lure that’s great for trawling past cover.
BiCO Original Jig
- Versatile lead-free 3/8 oz bass fishing jigs
- Ideal jigs for flipping, skipping, or fished as a swim jig
- Equipped with 5/0 Owner hooks, the sharpest hooks second to none
- Exceptionally weedless lures with a durable paint finish
- Made and hand assembled in the USA
The BiCO Original Bass Jig was designed specifically for skipping across the bottom in deep water. You can swim it if you like, but you’ll be missing out on its best feature; the light weight and durable bottom make it bounce around like a bottom feeder when it’s directly on the lake bed. It’s available in 12 colors, and the weedless design means you won’t be snagging it on any grass.
The nickel hook is suitable for all water and is sharp and tough. Our only real complaint is that the jig as a whole is fairly light, and doesn’t cast very far without adding some weight to it.
- Ideal for skipping
- Available in 12 colors
- Sharp nickel hook
- Weedless design
- Too light for long-distance casting
Why it’s recommended: The BiCO Original Bass Jig is one of the best skipping lures around. It’s perfect for water that’s too deep for crankbait.
Strike King Swim'n Jig Bait
- Strike King PRP12-2 pure poison
- Unique head design
- Incredible action
- It's a jig, it's a spinnerbait, it's a…Extreme Action Swimming Jig!
- This new lure has a unique head design, blade and harness that produce incredible action and vibration.
The Strike King Extreme Action Swimming Jig does the work of both a jig and a spinner. As a jig, you can drag it across the bottom, or you can use it as a spinner. It has a large, flat blade on the head that makes it oscillate wildly when you’re swimming it, which is sure to catch a smallmouth bass’ attention.
The nickel hook is very large and strong enough to catch even a largemouth if one happens to bite. It’s available in 2 different weights and 7 colors. However, not all colors are available in both sizes.
- Works as a jig or a spinner
- Large nickel hook
- Wide blade for added vibration
- Available in 2 weights
- Available in 7 colors
- Not all colors come in all sizes
Why it’s recommended: The Strike King Extreme Action Swimming Jig is a great choice for anyone who can’t decide between a jig and a spinner.
Nichols Lures Pulsator Spinnerbait
- Hand-crafted one at a time
- High Quality, Chip Resistant Metal Flake Finish on all Blades and Heads
- Durable Stainless Steel Wire
- Extra-Sharp Mustad Needle Point Hook
- 2 3-D Molded Eyes sealed into each head
The Nichols Pulsator Double Willow Spinnerbait is a beast of a lure. To begin with, the Mustad hook is one of the best in the business. It’s nickel, it’s sharp, and it’s strong enough to handle even the beefiest lunker of a largemouth. Smallies are no problem for this lure.
The Pulsator is available in 38 colors and three different weights and has an adjustable threaded rod on one side for controlling the length of the crossbar and the rate of spin. This lure will cost you, though. Make sure to use a heavy, 14-pound line to make sure you don’t lose it.
- High-quality Mustad hook
- Comes in 38 colors
- Available in 3 weights
- 3D eyes
Why it’s recommended: A well-made spinnerbait flails around like a wounded fish. The Nichols Pulsator Double Wallow does just that.
KEENET Jig Fishing Lures
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|Item Dimensions||Weight: 35|
|Package Dimensions||Height: 120; Length: 600; Weight: 40; Width: 260|
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|Title||KEENET 3PCS Luminous Bucktail Jig Fishing Lures Baits 3D Eyes Saltwater Freshwater 1 Ounce (Mix-B)|
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The KEENET Luminous Bucktail Jig is a high-quality lure that comes three to a pack. The craftsmanship is good quality, and they’re fairly heavy at a full ounce. These lures have extremely sharp hooks that will penetrate just about any surface. Unfortunately, they’re made from carbon steel, which is prone to corrosion. Make sure to dry them out when you’re done with them.
The KEENET is equally well suited for day and night fishing. In the daytime, the 3D eyes are very realistic, and the paint is reflective. At night, these lures glow in the dark, something you won’t often find in a high-quality lure. They cost more than most jigs, but you get a lot for your money.
- Sharp hooks
- 3 to a pack
- Glow in the dark
- 3D eyes
- Well balanced
- Carbon steel hooks
Why it’s recommended: If you like night fishing, the KEENET Luminous Bucktail Jig will give you the edge you need to snag that perfect smallie.
Berkley Fishing Bait
- Suspending jerk bait with long-distance cast ability
- Versatile -- twitch, jerk, pause, rip, burn and standard retrieves
- Coffin shaped bill allows maximum darting action and side flash with Minimal rod movement
- Lunges downward when jerked for added depth
The Berkley Hard Bait Freshwater Lure isn’t just a single lure; it’s a whole family of crankbaits, from squarebills to deep divers. There are dozens of colors and sizes available in all styles, although not all combinations are available. As a result, the pricing is very inconsistent, ranging from very cheap to absurdly expensive depending on what options you choose.
The tough nickel hooks are corrosion resistant and extremely sharp. These lures come pre-weighted and pre-rigged from the factory, so you can expect them to perform well from the very first cast.
- Available in dozens of colors and sizes
- Available in several styles
- Tough nickel hooks
- Wildly inconsistent pricing
Why it’s recommended: This is a whole family of high-quality crankbaits. No matter what you need, it’s here.
Rapala Fishing Lure
- Deep Diving Lip
- Loud Rattles
- Premium VMC Black Nickel Hooks
The Rapala Deep Husky Jerk Lure is a deep diver where jerk lures are concerned, but for smallmouth bass fishing the 7 to 16-foot depth is somewhere in the middle. The internal rattle creates vibrations in the water that will get the fish’s attention, and the #5 nickel hooks are tough and sharp enough to get the rest of the job done.
This lure is available in 21 different color patterns to match common baitfish. It also comes in three sizes, although the smaller 4-inch size is more than enough for catching smallies. Not all colors come in all sizes, and as always the pricing has some variation depending on what you choose.
- Sharp nickel hooks
- Available in 21 colors
- Available in 3 sizes
- Internal rattle
- Variable pricing
Why it’s recommended: The Rapala Deep Husky is a fantastic jerk lure. The yellow pike version, in particular, can get excellent results in the northern US.
Strike King SquareBill
- Square bill design. Unique action will constantly "wander" With erratic action while still running true.
- Versatile. Perfect for shallow water power fishing dives 3 to 6 feet.
- Smaller profile cranks. Great for times when fish are keyed in on or used to small forage
- Variety. Available in a wide range of chip-proof colors
- Kvd baits. Designed with no internal rattles for a "silent" Approach.
The Strike King Square Bill Crankbait is designed for shallow-water fishing. It dives along a 3 to 6-foot arc, and the square bill causes it to flail erratically as you reel it in. Ideally, you’ll want to reel it in at a medium pace, enough to keep it moving, but also slowly enough to let it wander and bounce off the cover.
This lure is available in a whopping 58 colors. If you can’t find one that matches your local baitfish, you’re not looking hard enough. The hooks are extremely sharp, but they’re engineered from stainless steel, which makes them ill-suited for saltwater fishing.
- Razor-sharp hooks
- Square bill for erratic action
- Perfect for shallows
- Available in 58 colors
- Stainless steel hooks
Why it’s recommended: If you’re trying to catch smallies in shallow water, it’s tough to do better. The Strike King Square Bill is all you need.
Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait
- The adrenaline-pumping X-rap slashbait has Xtreme attitude with its hard-cutting, aggressive darting action
- Running depth: 3-8 feet
- Weighs .4375 Oz
- The integrated long-casting system partners with an irresistible rattle and classic rapala action
- It suspends and comes to a roll at rest to trigger the bite
The Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait is designed for depths of 3 to 8 feet. This makes it a solid choice for fishing in rivers or shallows. The square bill creates enough drag to pull it underwater but is short enough to let it wobble from side to side like an injured baitfish.
At .437 ounces, this lure is beefy enough to cast 50 yards or more. It’s available in ten different colors, and the nickel hooks are corrosion-resistant and extremely sharp. That said, they have undersized barbs that make us question their reliability in a fight with a feisty smallmouth.
- Sharp nickel hooks
- Erratic action
- Great for shallow water
- Available in 10 colors
- Small barbs
Why it’s recommended: The Rapala X-Rap is a high-quality, shallow-running jerkbait.
Dynamic Lures Trout Fishing Lure
- Slender, Low Profile Crankbait Design, Small Lipped
- Slow Sinking Top Water Lure, Optimal Depth 0-2 feet, and real-life like profile
- Multiple BB Inner Chamber design maintains balance through the water, prevents rolling and mimics real life baitfish
- Made of industry standard coated ABS
- (2) - Ultra-sharp Durable Size #10 Hooks
The Dynamic Lures Trout Fishing Lure comes in two sizes. The smaller version is sized for trout, but the larger, 3-inch J-Spec version is well-sized for smallies. It runs very shallowly, only down to about two feet, which makes it ideal for fishing extremely close to shore. Be careful in weeds and grass, though; the large bill will snag on anything it catches.
The internal rattler causes extra vibrations to attract more fish, and the hooks are both sharp and strong. They’re stainless steel, though, so you won’t want to dual-purpose this lure for saltwater use. This lure is available in 20 colors, to match most common baitfish.
- Stays at 1-2 feet of depth
- Internal rattler
- Available in 20 colors
- Comes in 2 sizes
- Tends to snag
- Stainless steel hooks
Why it’s recommended: This is a great lure for extremely shallow water. If the bass are all hiding near shore, the Dynamic Lures crankbait will get them biting.
Kachawoo Fishing Lure Spinnerbait
- Each Sky Dog lure comes with 2 sharp treble hooks with brightly colored skirts
- Propeller spinnerbait is both for Freshwater and Saltwater Buzz Bait Fishing
- Hard Plastic Spinner are designed for bass fishing and trout fishing
- This spinner baits is deadly on Bass, Trout, Walleye, Northern Pike and Salmon
- Trout Bait Popper noise wakes up any fish within hearing distance
The Kachawoo Propeller Spinnerbait isn’t the most durable bait on our list. As a matter of fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s Chinese-made junk. The skirt is flimsy, and the eyes have all the vibrancy of a corpse. So why did we put it on our list?
Simply put, this is one of the loudest baits out there. The front of the bait has a unique propeller that rotates as you pull it in, creating a loud whooshing sound to attract bass. This also creates turbulence in the water that causes the bait to twitch like a wounded fish. Kachawoo also put the quality where it counts most: these are some sharp, beefy hooks that won’t let go easily.
- Propeller for fast spinning action
- Sharp treble hooks
- Poor construction
Why it’s recommended: The Kachawoo Propeller Spinnerbait is loud! If anything will get the fish’s attention, this will.
SHUDAGE Outdoor Fishing Lures
- ♥♡♥Topwater Bass Lures Frog Kit Heddon Popper Fishing Saltwater For Shark Frogs Snakehead Bait Lure Top Water Set Blanks Small Assortment Spook Baits Topwater Lures Fishing Bass Grill Frog Rod Old Town Best Pdl For Baits Kayak San Leon Oldtown Menu
- ♥♡♥Fishing Lures For Freshwater Bass Saltwater Kit Trout Set Crappie Fish Frogs Catfish Lakes Tackle Kits Gift Topwater Rapala Frog Cheap Spinnerbaits Jigs Worms Rattle Florida Trolling Gulp Shrimp Redfish Metal Squid Ice Kids Yo-Zuri Box Panther Martin Spoons And Salmon Blue Fox Lot Sets Under Gil Crappies
- ♥♡♥Spinnerbaits Crankbaits Teasers Spoons Spinners & Spinnerbaits Plugs Hard Lures for Fishing such as Small Tuna, Kingfish,Snapper, Amberjack, Cobia, Coral Trout and a Massive Array of Other Saltwater Fish Species.
- ♥♡♥Bass Lures Kit Weedless Topwater Rapala Striped Soft Plastic Fishing Mega Frogs Crank Bait Frog Heddon Popper Saltwater Freshwater Set Trout Rainbow Blue Fox Vibrax Spoons Kastmaster Spinner Mepps Single Hook
- ♥♡♥Spinner Lures For Trout Bass Saltwater Baits Fishing Box Strike King 3/8 Pike Blades Metal 1.5G Googan Bandito Bugs Drag And Drop Slim Shake Krackin Craw Mondo Worm Hat Trench Blade Swimbaits Soft Plastic Keitech Jointed Big Huddleston Rods Baitshop Dvd Baitse Dry Shampoo Rigs Tackle Baitsanity Explorer Glide Bait Book
The SHUDAGE Hard Plastic Bass Bait is a topwater lure that’s extremely affordable. It costs less than a cup of coffee. At that price, you can cast into weeds as much as you like, or simply have the freedom to stop worrying about losing your expensive lure.
This lure is available in four different colors and has 3D eyes. The eyes are in the middle of the lure, instead of the front. Not that the fish care, but it’s an odd choice. The swimming action is realistic enough to get the job done. Although the quality leaves a lot to be desired, it’s still the best lure out there at this price.
- 3D eyes
- Realistic swimming action
- Available in 4 colors
- Flimsy construction
- The eyes are in the wrong place
Why it’s recommended: If you’ve lost too many expensive lures and would rather lose a cheap one next time the SHUDAGE lure will catch lunkers at a discount price.
White Shad Spinnerbait
- Our Spinnerbaits Extreme Flash Technology (EFT) creates a holographic light pattern which makes these the flashiest, brightest blades on the market
- Fishing lures with realistic hand-painted head with flared gill plates
- Tournament grade components make our spinner baits made to last
- Stainless steel spacer with 90 strand, 100% silicone hubbed skirt with built-in necktie trailer
- Made in the USA
The Advantage Bait Company White Shad Spinnerbait is designed to look like – what else? – a white shad, one of the smallmouth bass’ favorite foods. This spinner is hand painted, with 3D eyes that shimmer realistically. The spinner weights themselves are available in white or silver, and in either 3/8 or ½-ounce sizes. Heavier gives you better casting distance, but lighter makes for more action.
The single nickel hook is large and extremely sharp, with a nice, fat barb. It’s shrouded in a skirt that’s engineered from durable silicon that will stand up to dozens of bites. This lure is on the expensive side, but the quality is well worth it.
- Hand painted
- 3D eyes
- Large, sharp nickel hook
- Durable silicone skirt
- On the pricey side
Why it’s recommended: The White Shad Spinnerbait is a high-quality spinner for ambitious anglers. It’s excellent for fishing around cover.
Strike King Spinnerbait
- USE. On ultralight or light rods
- VERSATILE. Great for bass, crappie, and other panfish
- FEATURES. Quality components and construction with high strength stainless steel wire, high grade hooks, ball bearing swivels, and polished diamond blades, all in a great range of proven, fish attracting colors
- SIZE. 2. 1 Tennessee diamond blade
- DURABLE. Diamond dust head and seductive silicone skirt
The Strike King Mini Spinnerbait was made specifically to teach kids how to fish with a spinner. With that said, let’s temper our expectations. To begin with, this is a very small lure, so heftier smallies are more likely to break it than they are to end up on your dinner plate. It’s also very light, so it won’t cast far enough to satisfy serious anglers.
This is a well-made lure for what it is, though. It has a bright weight with a shiny, textured surface, and the hook is made from durable nickel.
- Great for kids
- Bright, shimmering spinner weight
- Nickel hook
- Won’t cast far
- Too small for larger bass
Why it’s recommended: The Strike King Mini Spinnerbait is well-designed for kids, and affordable enough that you won’t mind them losing a few.
Yakima Bait Wordens Spinner Lure
- Unique Spinning Action
- In-Line Weighted Body Design
- Pulsating Hackle Tail Attracts Fish
- Genuine Silver, Brass, or Copper Blades
- UV Finishes Available
The Yakima Original Rooster Spinner is a well-designed spinner with realistic swimming action. You really have to keep reeling constantly if you want it to perform well, though. If you relax for a second, it sinks very quickly, and the treble hook can snag weeds and grass. That said, the hook is quite sharp, and is made from high-quality nickel.
This lure is available in six sizes, as well as 111 colors. It’s safe to say that no matter where you live, it matches some of your local baitfish. Unfortunately, the paint job is cheap and starts to flake quickly, but the lure is inexpensive enough that this isn’t much of a problem.
- Nickel treble hook
- Realistic swimming action
- Available in 6 sizes
- Available in 111 colors
- Cheap paint
- Drops like a rock
Why it’s recommended: The Yakima Original Rooster Spinner has a classic, basic design that fish still love to bite.
Key Considerations For Buying a Smallmouth Bass Lure
If you’re not an experienced bass angler, you probably have a few questions about fishing for smallmouth. Entire books have been written on the subject, so it’s impossible to cover everything. Instead, we’ve chosen to focus on proper techniques and some of the most common bass fishing questions.
What is the Best Way to Catch Smallmouth Bass?
Leaving aside river fish – which we’ll talk about in a minute – there are two main populations of smallmouth bass. The first is in the great lakes region, and the second is in reservoir lakes down south. These two populations have different behaviors and need to be fished differently.
Great Lakes Smallmouth
Up north, smallmouth fishing is next to impossible in the winter. They tend to congregate near shore, and this water is frozen over in the winter. Ice fishing is one way to get at them, but that’s beyond the scope of this guide.
When spring breaks, smallmouth will be in shallow water, around 10 to 20 feet deep. They’re very aggressive at this time of year, so you can use any kind of lure you like. Surface lures can be fun if you want to see the fish jump.
Around July, they’ll move to 20 to 25-foot water, and from August until the first frost, you’ll find them in 25 to 35-foot depths. Since most of their prey stays near the bottom, a weighted jig or deep diving crankbait is the best way to get their attention at this time of year.
Reservoir lakes tend to have gravelly bottoms with different baitfish, so smallies behave differently here. During the April-June spawning season, they migrate to shallow gravel flats near shore. Medium diving crankbaits work well here, as do jigs and spinners.
In June, the fish move to shallow, 8 to 10 foot areas along gravel points. Crankbaits and jerkbaits are a good choice here, as are large plastic baits on a Texas or Carolina rig. The fish will migrate to deeper water throughout the summer, so late summer and early fall anglers will want to use their deep diving crankbaits or jigs.
Smallies will move into shore for the winter and generally won’t go any deeper than 20 feet in cold weather. Crankbaits and spinners are both effective in these waters.
What is the Difference Between Large and Smallmouth Bass?
At first glance, these two species appear remarkably similar. However, there are a few key details that set them apart.
- Size: Smallmouth bass max out at around 10 pounds. A largemouth can grow to over 20 pounds.
- Upper jaw: On a largemouth bass, their upper jaw extends above the eye. This huge mouth is what gives them their name. A smallmouth bass still has a pretty big mouth, but the upper jaw ends even with the eye, or slightly short of it.
- Coloration: Largemouth bass is light green, with dark green horizontal stripes and often spots. Smallies are a light brown, with vertical green stripes.
- The dorsal fin: The largemouth bass has two distinct dorsal fins. The smallmouth bass has a single fin with two lobes. This can be hard to spot if the fish’s spines are laid back, holding the fin against its back.
Besides their physical appearance, smallmouth bass also behaves differently than their larger cousins. Here are the most important differences.
- Location: Largemouth bass prefers to lurk in cover when they’re in a lake. In streams or rivers, they prefer current breaks, where they can lurk lazily and wait for baitfish to swim past. Smallmouth bass tends to swim next to cover, searching for smaller fish swimming in or out. In rivers, they like to swim in the current, actively seeking out prey.
- Conditions: Largemouth bass is lazy. They like to wait for prey to get close before they strike. The best days for largemouth fishing are cloudy days or days where the water is murky. Smallies are exactly the opposite. They’re active hunters, so they prefer bright, clear conditions. You can often spot them in open water on a clear day. On a cloudy day, they’re still out there, but they’re much harder to track down.
How Big Do Smallmouth Bass Get?
Bass grow continually throughout their lives and live to be around 10 to 12 years old. Lake fish grow bigger than river fish, while fish in small, stocked ponds tend to be the smallest. Generally speaking, the biggest smallmouth bass you’re going to catch is around 10 pounds. The world record-holder weight 11 pounds, 5 ounces, and was caught in 1955.
What is the Best Lure For River Fishing?
River fishing has its own unique challenges, particularly the fact that the fish are always moving around. The extra current and constant exercise give river smallmouth more strength than their lake-bound counterparts. This makes them tougher to catch, but gives you a lot more of the fight anglers crave when they’re fishing for smallies.
The best thing you can do is use the current to your advantage. Crankbait and jerkbait are good choices here since they’re designed to simulate actual fish. The current will cause them to move erratically, which is the best way to catch a bass’ attention.
At the end of the day, there’s a lot more to catching a smallmouth than throwing your line in the water and praying. To be successful, you need to understand the fish’s behavior, the local conditions, and how best to use your lure.
Smallies don’t stay put throughout the year. They have a migration pattern. Generally speaking, the warmer the weather, the deeper the water you’ll find them in. Fishing at 25 to 35 feet can be a gamble if you don’t have electronics or a detailed map. It’s simply too hard to locate cover, which is where smallmouth bass like to hang out.
The weather is also important. Hungry smallmouth often hunts in schools in the open water. On a clear day, you can spot them, and throw your bait right where they’re hunting. In cloudy conditions, it’s best to stick near cover, since they could be literally anywhere in the open water.
We hope our reviews were helpful. Since we chose a wide variety of lures, we’re confident you’ll find something you like no matter when or where you’re fishing. Even if you decided to go with a different lure, we hope we helped you make a better decision.
Best Smallmouth Bass Lures
Use our reviews of the best smallmouth bass lures to help you find the best fishing lures that are suitable to your needs.
- Dynamic Lures Fishing Jig Lure
- Cotton Cordell Gay Blade
- Johnson ThinFisher
- Sougayilang Spoons Hard Fishing Lures
- HENGJIA VIB Fishing Lures
- Strike King Jigs Bait
- BiCO Original Jig
- Strike King Swim'n Jig Bait
- Nichols Lures Pulsator Spinnerbait
- KEENET Jig Fishing Lures
- Berkley Fishing Bait
- Rapala Fishing Lure
- Strike King SquareBill
- Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait
- Dynamic Lures Trout Fishing Lure
- Kachawoo Fishing Lure Spinnerbait
- SHUDAGE Outdoor Fishing Lures
- White Shad Spinnerbait
- Strike King Spinnerbait
- Yakima Bait Wordens Spinner Lure $8.27