Nightcrawlers are a very common live bait to use for smallmouth bass.  Anglers will typically use hooks in the #2 and #4 sizes when they are using nightcrawlers for smallmouth bass.  Whether you are fishing for bass in the shallows, near cover or in deep water, the nightcrawler will consistently put smallmouth bass in the boat.  Many anglers prefer to use a half nightcrawler when fishing for smallmouth bass.  Whether it is because their mouths are smaller than largemouth bass or they just prefer a smaller worm, many fishing guides swear by half nightcrawlers.  Some fishing guides also think the wacky style rig gets many more bites as well when fishing for smallmouth bass.  Whatever rig you choose to use, it’s tough to beat a live nightcrawler as bait for smallmouth bass.

Best Nightcrawler Tips for Smallmouth Bass

Half Nightcrawlers Will Often Times Outfish Whole Nightcrawlers

The half nightcrawler trick is a great way to put more numbers of smallmouth bass into your boat.  It will catch plenty of smaller bass, but the big bass eat these downsized worms as well.

Drifting Live Nightcrawlers

Cover some water when the wind is blowing by drifting a lively nightcrawler in the summer time.  You will catch a lot of smallmouth bass with this technique.  Late spring through early fall can also be effective, but summer is almost always best for this technique.  Find the smallies on a deep water piece of structure and drift a lively nightcrawler to get plenty of bites.

Slow Trolling a Live Nightcrawler is Tough to Beat

Using your trolling motor, you can cover some water slowly by slow trolling a lively nightcrawler.  Get your bait down to the desired depth and slowly move that bait along and you will catch a lot of bass.

Best Nightcrawler Rigs for Smallies

Bobber / Slip Bobber

Carolina Rig

Drop Shot Rig


Split Shot Rig

Wacky Rig

Nightcrawlers are awesome with any popular fishing rig, but when you rig these worms wacky style, the action is really good.  Fish them under a bobber, on a split shot rig or drop shot rig.  They all work and will all get bit.