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. Take a look below at the different types of minnows you can use for smallmouth bass.
Fathead minnows are the most common smaller minnow that anglers use for smallmouth bass. Use the biggest fatheads you can buy to give you a better chance of catching better quality bass. These smaller minnows will catch big smallmouth, but they will usually attract lots of small bass too.
The medium-sized minnows would be the extra large fathead minnows and the smaller shiners, chubs and suckers. Minnows in the 4 to 4.5″ range are perfect for targeting bigger bass.
If you want to go real big, your best bet will be with shiners, chubs and suckers. Stay in the 5″ range and you’ll have a better chance of running into a giant. However, if you go too big, you won’t get nearly as many bites.
Best Live Bait Rigs for Smallmouth Bass
A well placed minnow under a bobber or slip bobber is one of the better ways to target smallmouth bass that are suspended in the water column.
This rig is a great live bait rig. Most anglers use the Carolina rig when fishing deeper water.
The drop shot rig is an awesome way to fish a lively minnow. Fish it shallow, deep, in open water or around cover and you can have a lot of success.
A simple jighead and minnow is one of the easiest ways to target smallmouth bass. Fish it around the rocky cover that smallmouth bass love and you will catch some bass.
The split shot rig is a great rig when you just need a little extra weight to get your minnow down farther through the water column. Most anglers use this rig when the bass are shallow and it can be super effective.
Popular Types of Minnows
Creek Chubs & Redtail Chubs are some of the best live baits to use for smallmouth bass, especially big smallmouth bass. Chubs aren’t real common among bass anglers, but they should be. Bass absolutely love them and chubs tend to catch much bigger bass on average than nightcrawlers, leeches or minnows. For smallmouth bass, the smaller chubs work well for bass 14 inches and up.
Suckers will work well for smallmouth bass, but most bass anglers do not use them as bait. Suckers are used more for walleye and pike, but suckers will catch some big smallmouth bass. The key is to use the smaller suckers in the 4 to 5 inch range for smallmouth bass because smallmouths have smaller mouths, which makes it difficult for them to go after a sucker in the 7 to 8 inch range.
Fathead minnows are one of the most popular minnows for smallmouth bass. The large fatheads are perfect sized for catching good numbers of bass as well as catching some big bass too. Most of the bait shops will carry fathead minnows as well so they are usually easy to get when you need bait.
Golden shiners work well too. When you want to upsize a little bit, a bigger shiner will do the trick.
Emerald shiners will also work. Some bait shops carry them, so if you can get them, go ahead and use them. They are a good size for catching lots of bass with some big ones too.