Smallmouth bass love leeches. As the water warms above 50 degrees, leeches tend to swim much better and they become one of the best live baits for smallmouth bass.
Go to our Leeches for Smallmouth Bass page to learn about the different techniques that anglers use to catch more bass on leeches.
Nightcrawlers are one of the best baits for smallmouth bass once water temperatures are above 60 degrees.
Go to our Nightcrawlers for Smallmouth Bass page to learn about the different techniques that anglers use to catch more bass on leeches.
Minnows work great for smallmouth bass from spring through fall. Many anglers use fathead minnows and shiner minnows and these minnows work great for smallmouth bass. Go with the largest fathead minnows you can and use shiners in the 4 to 5 inch range and you’ll catch better quality fish. Chubs and suckers also work great for targeting bigger smallmouth bass.
Go to our Minnows for Smallmouth Bass page to learn about the different types of minnows and techniques that anglers use for smallmouth bass.
Popular Live Bait Techniques
Casting to Cover
A lively leech, nightcrawler or minnow can be super effective when casting to cover such as docks, wood, rocks and weeds with a variety of rigs. The drop shot rig, split shot rig and bobbers work great for casting to cover.
When the wind starts to blow, you can drift a lively nightcrawler, leech or minnow and have a lot of success. Some popular rigs for drifting are drop shot rigs and Carolina rigs. This is one of the best ways for targeting smallmouth bass in deeper water.
Slow trolling with live baits is a great smallmouth bass fishing technique, especially when you need to cover some water to find some active bass. Anglers have good success by slow trolling while fishing vertical over deeper water with a drop shot rig or Carolina rig. Leeches, nightcrawlers and minnows will all work well with this technique.
Still fishing is popular among many anglers who like to use live bait. Most anglers that still fish will use a bobber or float, but you can also anchor along a drop-off while dropping a leech, nightcrawler or minnow down on a drop shot rig, Carolina rig or even just a regular jighead.