You’re out there on the hunt for smallies and wondering what type of lures work best.
Lucky for you, they have a knack for biting almost anything because of their ornery attitude and sharp strike that puts their largemouth counterparts to shame.
The best smallmouth bass lures are smaller, more agile, and more realistic.
If you really want to step up your game, I suggest pairing a Berkley PowerBait with a dropshot.
This is the best choice for smallies.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that I use networking with other anglers, research, and personal experience to assemble this list.
It’s all based on facts, but it’s also subjective to the individual. A lure that is the “best” for me might not work for your style of fishing.
Either way, let’s take a look at some of the top smallmouth bass lures.
- Bucktail Hair Jig
- Tube Bait
- Jerkbait and Stickbait
- Topwater Spooks
- Mini Crankbaits
- Topwater Poppers
- What bait should I use for smallmouth bass?
- What size lures for smallmouth bass?
- What colors do smallmouth bass like?
Best Lures for Smallmouth Bass
Fewer strategies are more successful than dropshotting and this typically goes for both smallmouth bass fishing and largemouth, to be honest.
The presentation allows you to keep a worm or other soft plastic suspended while maintaining the proper position in the water column, few presentations allow you to do that while not having to constantly work them.
What better pairing than Berkley PowerBait and dropshotting for smallmouth in the river?
The lure is a Bassmaster Classic favorite, it pairs perfectly with the dropshot, and it’s got a great scent and a ton of colors so you can build the perfect presentation for the conditions.
The only option I can think of that comes close is a Zoom Fluke. These offer another supernatural presentation and a wide variety of options. They’re also salt-impregnated to draw a stronger bite from the smallies.
All these factors combined easily make either one of the best lures for smallmouth bass paired with the perfect presentation.
Bucktail Hair Jig
Everyone’s looking for a hair jig smallmouth bass love, and this is the one.
This bucktail jig creates a brilliant presentation because of the way it always remains parallel, floats through the water with ease, and looks like a real baitfish.
Part of the reason why I enjoy the Spro Bucktail Jig so much is because it provides you with options. I like to fish it near the surface, but others can jig it near the bottom as well.
These are one of the best lures for smallmouth bass in clear water because it allows the bass to see them clearly and you can make the most of the presentation.
When choosing the best smallmouth bait, you always want to keep your conditions in mind.
If you know anything about me, you know that I love my PowerBait plastics. These lures are a great choice no matter what you’re fishing for because they’re scented and meant to mimic real bait.
For this, I chose the Berkley PowerBait tube because the smallies like it and I think it’s one of the easiest smallmouth bass baits.
The tentacles provide a subtle but life-like appearance and there are plenty of colors and sizes to choose from for the conditions.
Remember to fish according to the conditions and if the water is murky, you’ll want to go for something brighter.
When the water is clear, you want to fish something more subtle.
If the price of the Berkley baits sends you into a frenzy, YUM also has some great options at more affordable rates. You can get a pack of these and they pretty much do the same thing.
For those that love fishing tubes, you’ll likely either of these options.
Hooking a jig head to your tube is a great way to target big bass and make the most of the weedless presentation no matter what time of year it is.
Always remember to choose a bright color lure during the early spring when the water is murky and on days when it’s sunny because you’ll have better light refraction.
If you’re fishing in summer and fall or on overcast days, choose a natural, earthy color. Outside of that, you don’t have much to worry about because these guys will win every time.
Jerkbait and Stickbait
Smithwick is well known for putting out some incredible lures and their stickbaits and jerkbaits are top of the line. This one is great for fishing suspended water right below the surface.
It’s designed as a topwater that will float right out of the box but you’ll want to work it hard to get it to dive down a foot or so.
These baits work so well because of their natural presentation but you want to make sure to keep size in mind.
They can start running pretty large and smallmouth generally don’t go after anything over a few inches in length unless you’re deliberately targeting the big boys.
The Heddon spooks work very similar to stickbaits in that they sit suspending on or near the top and dive down like a crankbait as you work them.
With a “walk the dog” presentation, they won’t dive too deep and you’ll have the best chances of catching something.
Keep in mind that these are a triple hook hardbait so they’re best reserved for moving water because it’s very easy to get hung up and lose them.
At about $10 a piece, you don’t want to be leaving these behind.
Spinners are another option that are always good for smallmouth bass fishing. The reflective nature of the lure paired with the action of the skirt creates a presentation that no bass can resist.
The Booyah Pond Magic is far above and beyond my favorite spinnerbait and if you’ve ever read any of my other reviews, you’d know that by now!
The Pond Magic designs specific blade and skirt color combinations to work in perfect harmony with a double-bladed design.
This presentation is highly aggressive and designed for days when the fish are biting.
If you hit the water and find that they’re nibbling on a lot of what you’re throwing out, give one of these a try because it will trigger them instantly.
I suggest pairing it up with a Zoom craw or something similar and be sure to match the color.
It’s a great spring bass lure as well.
In the sport of fishing, you have two types of people.
There are some anglers who don’t mind if they don’t catch a single thing all day, as long as they’re pursuing the big fish.
On the other hand, you have people who could care less about how big the fish is, they just want to be pulling something in all day long.
If you relate more with the latter, then this is one of the best Smallmouth bass lures for you.
The Strike King Minnow Crankbait has an internal rattle that smallies love and tossing this into a river and working it into the current is unstoppable.
The smaller size and realistic design is what makes this the best crankbait for smallmouth bass.
The fact that anyone can go out and catch fish with this artificial lure also makes it a great choice for beginners and children who are trying to get into the sport.
If you’re new to the angling game, you might be looking at all these lures and thinking you should give up, but please don’t. There are many simple lures out there as well that don’t require any experience.
Mister Twister is a brand that produces a lot of these soft plastic grubs and worms that work in almost any situation.
The tail creates the presentation for you as your retrieve it, so you don’t have to worry about jigging, suspension, or any of that.
Tubes are also excellent river smallmouth bass lures.
Every smallmouth angler should have these versatile lures in their tackle box.
All you need to do is cast and reel.
When you’re fishing with these, you’ll want to pay close attention to any action in the water because the somewhat dull action of the lure will require you to go closer to the bass if you want their attention.
Poppers are fun and there are few better or more popular options than the Arbogast Hula Popper.
These are well known for their loud action and the pulsating skirt allows you to stop and start the lure further imitating a live bait fish.
The way these make noise is through the concave mouth.
When the popper hits the water, the mouth design makes a pop sound and it chugs as it moves through the first few feet of water.
This creates quite a bit of attention.
It’s a fast-moving lure that requires a lot of manipulation but it’s easily one of the best topwater lures for smallmouth bass.
What Size Lure For Smallmouth Bass
There are two factors where size is super important.
The size of your lure and the size of your line.
When choosing the right size smallmouth bass baits, it’s essential to understand that you need to downsize your lures a little compared to largemouth.
I wouldn’t suggest using a lure any larger than five inches in length for smallmouth bass.
Bass might be the ornery fish of the water, but they’re also afraid of a lot.
If they feel that the work will outweigh the benefits of chasing down your lure, they won’t bother coming after it.
This is another reason why color is super important when choosing your smallmouth bass lure.
Bass like to pick on baitfish and target fish that appear injured. They might feel more motivated to go after a larger bait if it’s colored red because it will mimic blood and appear hurt.
Speaking of color…
How to Choose The Top Smallmouth Bass Lure Color
I am a huge advocate for choosing the right color lure if you want to up your fishing game.
This strategy has changed fishing for me, and when I tell you that it will make a difference for you as well, I am not kidding.
Bass are smart, and they show patterns and habits, so you’ll want to pay attention to those.
One of the biggest patterns they show is when and how they strike specific lures based on color.
Sometimes they’re looking for a crayfish, sometimes a shad, and other times a worm.
To master the finesse style of fishing that smallies need, you need to understand how color impacts that.
Check this out:
- Spring bass lures: Bright colors
- Summer bass lures: Bright colors
- Fall bass lures: Bright and Natural colors
- Winter bass lures: Natural colors
You would choose a natural color when the water temperature starts to drop. Bass are cold-blooded, so they’re habits are directly affected by the temperature of the water.
When it’s warm out, they’re more active; thus, they’re more prepared for a fight.
So, when choosing smallmouth bass lures for fall, you would want to base your color on the amount of sun that day.
If you have cold water, they’re less active, so they will back off from something that intimidates them. Now, let’s make this even better:
- Spring Sunny: Bright colors
- Spring Overcast: Natural colors
- Summer Sunny: Bright colors
- Summer Overcast: Bright colors
- Fall Sunny: Bright colors
- Fall Overcast: Natural colors
- Winter Sunny: Natural colors
- Winter Overcast: Natural colors
Hopefully, you see the trend here. Warmth and sun go hand in hand, so you’ll want to use a brightly colored lure when it’s sunny out.
The sun will create a better reflection off the spinnerbait blade or bright colored smallmouth bass lure, and you’ll have an improved presentation as a result.
Never forget the importance of bass fishing techniques on your overall performance.
Don’t forget that water conditions are important as well. If you have clear water you may want to consider a natural lure. If the water is murky, a bright lure works better.
Frequently Asked Questions
What bait should I use for smallmouth bass?
The best bait for small mouth bass is a soft plastic worm, creature, or tube bait paired with a dropshot rig.
What size lures for smallmouth bass?
The best size lures for smallmouth bass are usually around 1/4 ounce but keep in mind, this can vary dramatically based on your unique scenario and a variety different factors.
What colors do smallmouth bass like?
Smallmouth bass prefer natural colors that mimic objects they would eat. Crawfish, bluegill, and bass bait colors work the best.
That’s all I’ve got on this one. By now, you should have no problem choosing the best smallmouth bass lure.
Dropshots and Berkley PowerBait provide the best chance of catching the most smallmouth bass.
The realistic presentation paired with the natural scent of the PowerBait is something smallies simply can’t resist.
Good luck out there!