Clear water makes fishing more difficult for smallmouth bass for many different reasons. The fish can see you much easier, so it’s harder to fish the shallows without spooking them. In clear water, they also go much deeper and heavier lines will usually result in less bites. Because of this, anglers will need to learn how to use finesse tactics to consistently get bites while fishing clear water.
Use Light Line
Using lighter line is key to getting more bites in clear water, especially in the middle of the day when the sun is out. Use 6 to 8 pound test line and you’ll get a lot more bites and still have enough strength to get some big smallmouth bass into the boat.
Use Fluorocarbon Line
Fluorocarbon line is close to invisible under water, so rigging your spools with fluorocarbon line or at the very least, a fluorocarbon leader will help you catch a lot more smallmouth bass in clear water.
Lighter line combined with a faster-moving lure can help you get more bites in clear water. This doesn’t mean that you need to burn a crankbait in either. Just fish with baits that stay on the move and a hungry bass won’t have time to think about whether or not they want to eat your bait. If they are hungry, they either need to eat it or stay hungry. You can swim grubs, ringworms, swimming worms or go with hard baits such as crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits or spinners.
Finesse It Up
At times, it may seem like smallmouth bass will be reluctant to eat anything moving fast in clear water. This is when finesse fishing should take priority. Drop-shotting finesse-sized soft plastics such as worms, minnows, creature baits or crayfish baits will get plenty of bites in clear water.
In very clear lakes, smallmouth will be much deeper than in most murky-water lakes.
They can often be found in the 15 to 30 foot depth range in clear water. It’s not uncommon to find them even deeper as well, so expect to be fishing some deeper water when fishing clear water lakes.
Make Longer Casts When Fishing Shallower
When fishing 10 feet or shallower, you’re going to need to make longer casts to consistently get bites. The bass will see you easily and will usually scatter from the boat, so making long casts and giving them a chance to see your bait before they see your boat is key to catch more fish.
Sight Fish the Shallows in the Spring
In the spring, when smallmouth bass move shallower, you can have some awesome fishing by sight fishing for them. Get a good pair of polarized sunglasses, wait for the sun to come up and keep the sun at your back. This will help you find the fish and keep them from seeing you first.
Use Live Bait
There will be days where you throw everything that you have in your tackle box and nothing seems to be working. These are the days to try fishing with live bait. It can be a total difference maker in you going home happy or going home totally stumped. Live nightcrawlers, leeches and minnows work great on a drop shot rig when fishing for deep water smallmouth bass in clear water.