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Whether you found this article because you were specifically looking for Smallmouth Bass bait or because you’re simply interested in fishing, you’re here because you want to learn. Speaking from my own experience, I’ll give you a breakdown of the best ways to get your hands on these beauties.
Smallmouth Bass are tough fighters and powerful swimmers. So much so that they’re among the most sought-after fish in the freshwater angling world. With an average weight of 5 pounds, these guys can reach some nice sizes. They’re also pretty muscular despite their slim body type, and they have decent-sized fins and thick tails to quickly ambush prey or swim away from threats.
Of course, there’s plenty more to learn about the characteristics of Smallmouth Bass, but we’ve covered that in more detail in this article. Here, we’ll get into the good stuff. And, by that, I mean Smallmouth Bass baits!
Smallmouth Bass Bait Basics
When you get out there on your Smallmouth fishing journey you need to know how to get them to bite. It should come as no surprise that your choice of Smallmouth Bass bait is critical here.
The good news is that Smallies are fans of live and artificial bait. The bad news is that they like to change their feeding habits quickly. One minute they may be hungry for a crawfish, the next, they’ll be looking for a bait fish! That means you want to stock up well with a range of baits.
I’ll get into the specifics in a second but not before I give you one piece of advice. Don’t be fooled by the word “small” in the name Smallmouth Bass. These fish love to gulp on decent-sized bait, so you’ll want to present something decent. And, as usual, try and match the hatch. Any bait fish or imitation that mimics what’s swimming locally is a must!
There are plenty of popular options for live bait for Smallmouth Bass. You can get an array from most local bait shops or you can attempt to catch some on your own. Let’s take a closer look.
Shiners are a great option for live bait when Smallmouth Bass fishing. These little fish are very lively and will have no problem capturing a Bass’s attention. You can try and cast net some on your own or you can purchase some from a bait shop.
These are another lovely bait choice. Hungry Smallmouth love to slurp down on Minnows! They’re a bit on the smaller side but you’ll be surprised when you see a large Bass bite.
Other Bait Fish
There are plenty of other small fish species that are effective bait for Smallmouth Bass. You’ll probably come across a bunch as you get out there! Just be sure to look at your region’s regulations to understand the rules for using certain species for bait.
Moving away from fish, some anglers swear by crickets. The best way to present these as bait is by placing the hook through the back of the head so they can still maneuver around. You can easily walk into a pet store and purchase crickets. You can try to catch your own, too, but it may be a little difficult and take a while.
What most consider to be gross and dirty creatures, Smallmouths consider a tasty treat! Maggots are on the list of favorable baits for Smallmouth Bass, and you can find luck if you’re using them as bait. They may be pretty yucky to touch but, once you get your hands on the big Bass they bring in, you’ll understand why so many people use them.
Is there anything creepier than maggots? Well, hellgrammites sure give them a run for their money! These bugs are pretty creepy-looking and have long, spiky legs. They also have very strong jaws and can pinch you if you’re not careful.
This classic bait option has been around for many years and plenty of anglers have plenty of experience with them. You can dig these critters up yourself if you’re feeling earthy or head to a bait shop, as most have containers of worms you can buy.
One thing about Smallmouth Bass is that they love a little variety. They love crustaceans, so you can land them with a mixture of shrimp, crawfish, crabs, and more. Depending on where you’re located, you may be able to find crustaceans in nearby sand or dirt. Be sure to check with your local bait shops too!
But that’s not all. As I already said, Smallmouth Bass bite artificials too. And a lot of fishermen are big fans of lures because they can be used repeatedly. You can also whip them out quickly without having to spend time or money locating or buying some! Here are some popular Smallmouth Bass artificial lures:
- Soft plastics and jig heads are probably the most common artificial approaches to Smallmouth Bass fishing. Why? Well, first, there’s a never-ending supply of different styles, colors, and sizes to choose from. And second, you can mimic the looks and appearances of a Bass’s favorite bait without having to deal with catching it.
- Weedless baits also come in handy when Bass fishing because there are typically a bunch of plants and structures near Bass habitats. With these baits, you can cast and reel as much as you need without worrying about your hook snagging on something.
- Topwater lures are amongst my personal favorite artificial baits because you can watch all the action at the surface. When you jerk your bait along the water top and listen to that clicking sound, your heart will race once you see that wake come up behind it. Things get even more intense once the fish lunges at the bait.
- Jigs are helpful when trying to reach Smallmouth below the surface. With their flashy, loud movements and various colors, it’s sure to catch the attention of nearby Bass.
- Crankbaits. With a crankbait, you have a piece of plastic that’s meant to resemble a bait fish, with a long lip attached to the “mouth” area. It almost looks like a little duck’s mouth! Crankbaits also have the ability to wobble all around to appear more lively and entice Smallmouth to eat.
How to Use Smallmouth Bass Baits
But how to utilize the baits I’ve mentioned above? A big piece of advice I can give you is to cast near any structure such as fallen tree branches, as well as near vegetation like lily pads. You can also check for fish beds along the shorelines of the body of water, that you’re fishing. Typically, this is where most Smallmouth hang out.
For live bait, once you cast and get settled in your spot, let the bait do the work and wait for the Smallmouth to come to you. Once you feel a thump, wait a couple of seconds to ensure the hook is in its mouth before you set it.
It’s similar when artificial fishing, except you put the work in to get the bite. Whether you’re bouncing your jig on the bottom or walking your top water across the surface, it’s a rewarding feeling when the work you put in pays off.
Some days you may bring in 20 fish in under 10 minutes, while other days you may be going on 3 hours without a bite. That’s just part of the challenge! Just remember, patience and consistency are key.
Recommended Smallmouth Bass Fishing Gear
Since you’re learning about the best bait for Smallmouth Bass, it’s beneficial you learn about the most useful gear too. While Smallmouth Bass aren’t very large fish, they fight hard and are pretty darn strong. With that being said, you don’t need heavy-duty gear. But it’s a good idea to have a setup that can withstand tough fights. Using a light or medium rod with a 2000 reel is perfect for Smallmouth Bass.
When it comes to tour line, braid, and fluorocarbon leader, 8 pounds or more is a good start. For hooks, 1/0 or 2/0 is good sizing. A lot of Smallmouth Bass anglers like to use rigs such as the drop shot rig. If you’re interested in using rigs, do a quick search online and you’ll come across plenty more Smallmouth rigs, as well as instructions on how to make them.
One more thing to note about recommended gear when Smallmouth Bass fishing – you may need a fishing license. Most areas require licenses when freshwater fishing, so just check with your state’s fish and wildlife conservation to be sure.
You’re All Set to Get In on the Fun!
These feisty fish are ones to be reckoned with, but now you know how to outsmart them. Make use of the information I’ve shared on the best bait to use and you’re sure to enjoy every minute of your fishing adventure. I hope for tight lines for those who are heading out to the water soon! There’s no time like the present!
What’s your personal best Smallmouth Bass? What bait do you prefer? Leave a photo and description in the comments below!
By: Caitlyn Gatrell
Title: The Best Smallmouth Bass Bait: An Angler’s Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/best-smallmouth-bass-bait/
Published Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2024 13:34:34 +0000