Weightless Rig

Smallmouth bass anglers typically use the weightless rig in the spring and fall when bass can be found in the shallows.  It can be super effective for live baits and soft plastics.

Weightless Texas Rig

The weightless Texas rig is a very popular way to rig baits weightless.  When you are going a little bigger with your soft plastics for smallies, try this rig when fishing weightless.  It works great with all types of soft plastics, but anglers will use it mostly with a soft jerkbait or soft plastic worm.

Single, Smaller Hooks

For a lot of the soft plastics, you can use a single, smaller hook and either nose hook the bait or just go in through the head of the worm for a little bit and then back out.  By using these smaller hooks, your bait will have better action when fishing it weightless and it will be easier to get the entire bait in its mouth once it bites the bait.

Best Baits on a Weightless Rig for Smallmouth Bass

Wacky Worms

Wacky worms are one of the most popular baits for targeting smallmouth bass when they are in the shallows.  Fish it wacky style and have fun.

Soft Plastic Minnows

Jerkbait minnows also work great and they are right up there with wacky worms as one of the best baits to fish weightless for smallmouth bass.  Use a jerkbait retrieve around shallow water cover and hold on.

Creature Baits

Some creature baits look great on a weightless rig.  The bigger baits tend to be better so you can cast them further.  A slight twitch and pause will be effective for targeting smallmouth bass.

Finesse Worms

Finesse worms look good fished weightless, especially if you wacky rig them.  The biggest challenge with finesse worms on a weightless rig is that they don’t weigh enough to fish with heavier tackle.  So, this is usually a clear water presentation for most anglers or a small fish presentation where you downsize your rod, reel and line to allow you to cast these worms further.

Paddle Tail Worms

Paddle tail worms look great with more of a jerkbait type retrieve on a weightless rig.  The bigger worms will allow you to cast them further, which is key to presenting your bait to more bass.


A bigger lizard bait can be flat out awesome on a weightless rig.


Tubes can be very effective fished on a weightless rig.  Try using bigger tubes that are baitfish colored and you can usually do well with more of a jerkbait retrieve like you are imitating a minnow as opposed to a crayfish.

Using the weightless rig can be super effective with live baits, but you have to use light enough line to be able to cast these baits out.  Nightcrawlers cast pretty good.  Leeches are difficult to cast weightless, so you may need ot get the medium-sized leeches.  The small leeches are very difficult to cast and the bigger leeches will work, but may be a little big if you’re looking for a lot of action.  Smaller minnows are difficult to cast weightless, so you’re going to want to use an extra large fathead, shiner minnow, creek chub or sucker.  The 3.5 to 4″ minnows are perfect for casting and you can catch some very nice smallmouth bass this way.  Whether you fish with nightcrawlers, leeches or minnows, you will be able to catch a lot of smallmouth bass when they are in the shallows.