Best Lures

Soft Baits

Crayfish Baits

Soft Plastic Crayfish

Soft plastic crayfish work very well for smallmouth bass. Most anglers will go with smaller crayfish than what they would use for largemouth bass, however, you can still catch some nice smallmouth bass on the larger soft plastic crayfish too.  Work these baits along the rocky bottoms that smallmouth bass love to roam and you’ll have success.

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Soft Plastic Chunk Trailers

Soft plastic chunk trailers are usually used as trailers to add to your favorite bass jig.  They work great and really make the jig look a lot more appealing to a hungry bass.

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Tubes are one of the best baits for smallmouth bass. You can hop them along the bottom, vertical jig with them and even use them on a drop shot rig. Most anglers will fish tubes by themselves for smallmouth bass, but you can also use tubes as a trailer on the back of a bass jig.

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Creature Baits

Creature Baits have become quite popular even though they don’t always mimic a natural food source for smallmouth bass. Many of the smaller creature baits in the 3 to 4 inch range will work great when rigged on a regular jighead or a drop shot rig for smallmouth bass. The bigger creature baits will also get bit by smallmouth bass, but the smaller baits tend to be get more bites.

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Curly Tail Grubs

Grubs are one of the most popular lures for catching smallmouth bass. Whether you choose to vertically jig them, hop them along or swim them, you have several options for catching bass. Most anglers prefer to use the 3″ or 4″ grubs, but the 5″ grubs will still get you a lot of bites and you will catch bigger bass on average by upsizing to the 5″ sizes.

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Soft plastic leeches will definitely work for smallmouth bass.  Give the leeches a lot of action to make them look as similar to the real thing as possible and you’ll catch some bass.

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Soft plastic lizards will work well for smallmouth bass, however, most anglers prefer to fish with the smaller lizards for smallmouth bass compared to largemouth bass.  The lizards in the 4 to 6″ range work great for smallies, but don’t rule out some of the bigger lizards because they can be effective too.

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Minnows & Jerkbaits

Soft Plastic Minnows work excellent for smallmouth bass. There are so many good ones to choose from that give anglers a chance to target bass shallow with a weightless rig, deep with a drop shot rig or around all types of cover with a shaky head jig.

Some of the best soft plastic minnows for smallmouth bass are in the 3 to 4 inch range, but don’t be afraid to go bigger.  At times, some of the soft plastic minnow baits in the 5 to 7 inch range will actually work great for targeting bigger smallmouth bass.

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Smallmouth bass will definitely eat a swimbait. You’re just going to have to down size your swimbaits to consistently catch smallmouth bass. Remember, smallmouth bass have a much smaller mouth than largemouth bass. Try using 4 to 5 inch swimbaits instead of the larger swimbaits, however, you can still catch some nice smallmouth bass on a 6 or 7 inch swimbait too, but don’t expect to get as many bites.

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Twin Tailed Grubs

Twin tail grubs work well for smallmouth bass.  You can use these baits on their own or as a trailer on the back of a bass jig, spinner bait or bladed swim jig.  Whether you hop them along slowly or swim them in with a steady retrieve, they catch bass.

Skirted twin tail grubs, also known as spider jigs, are excellent baits for targeting smallmouth bass.  Rig these on a jig, shaky head jig, Texas rig, Florida rig, swimbait hook or a weightless rig and target smallmouth bass shallow or deep and you’ll catch some fish.

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Chunk Worms

Chunk worms have gotten very popular for smallies.  The Ned rig has made them one of the most popular action baits on the market.  However, you don’t need the fancier Ned rig jighead and the more expensive Ned worms to catch smallmouth bass.  Take any of your extra soft plastic worms that you would normally use for largemouth bass and cut off a 3.5 to 4.5″ inch piece of worm.  Rig it on a jighead and you’re set to go.

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Curly Tail Worms

Curly Tail Worms are some of the most common soft plastics that are used for smallmouth bass.  The curly tail swimming action is hard for these bass to resist.  Whether you swim them or hop them along the bottom, you can catch a lot of bass with these worms.

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Finesse Worms

Finesse worms are extremely popular for smallmouth bass.  A drop shot rig and a finesse worm is the most common way to fish these baits, but you do have lots of options since finesse worms are very versatile.

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Floating Worms

Floating worms are unique since they float up off the bottom.  Most anglers fish these baits on a Carolina rig or drop shot rig and they’re probably the best 2 rigs to fish these baits, but they also look good on a variety of others as well.  Shaky head jigs, the Florida rig and even swimbait hooks make these soft plastic baits look good.  As the baits lift off the bottom and float up, they are much more visible and very appealing to a hungry bass.

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Paddle Tail Worms

Paddle Tail Worms are great baits for smallmouth bass.  Hop them along the bottom or fish them like a jerkbait and you can do really well with them.

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Ringworms are one of the better action baits you can use for smallmouth bass.  Most ringworms come in the standard 4″ size.  These smaller worms will catch lots of small bass, but they will also catch plenty of bigger smallmouth bass too.

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Swimming Worms

Swimming Worms are becoming more popular with some of the newer types of swim worms to emerge on the market.  These worms work great on a variety of rigs, but the weighted swimbait hook, shaky head jig or Florida rig are probably the best ways to rig these worms.

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Wacky Worms

Wacky worms may be the most popular types of worms to fish weightless.  The wacky style rig has swept the country and bass anglers can’t get enough of this technique.  You can use some different rigs when fishing wacky worms, but these worms were made to be fished weightless or with a light weight jighead.

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Hard Baits

Blade Baits

Blade baits can be very effective, however, they definitely aren’t the go to bait for most anglers.  Most anglers will vertical jig them, however, a steady retrieve also can be effective.


Shallow-Diving Crankbaits are made specifically for fishing shallow water.  You can fish them over deeper water, but they are much less effective.  When bass are in the shallows to feed, a shallow-diving crankbait is hard to beat.

Crankbaits that cover the medium depth ranges (6-10 feet) are some of the best crankbaits to use for smallmouth bass in the spring, fall and during low light conditions in the summer time.  At times, smallmouth bass are going to be found much deeper, but these depths do hold a lot of smallmouth bass throughout the year and smallies will usually hit a crankbait when they are hungry.  Fish these crankbaits on shorelines with good drop-offs, off of points and over reefs and you should be able to find plenty of smallmouth bass.

Deep-Diving Crankbaits excel when smallmouth bass are in deeper water.  During the early spring, summer and late fall, it is common to find smallmouth bass suspended out over deeper water.  Deep-diving crankbaits will help you get down to those depths to give you a chance to catch those bass that are much less pressured.

Lipless Crankbaits are arguably one of the best search baits for catching smallmouth bass in shallow water (8 feet or less).  These lures still can work over deeper water, but they excel in the shallows for bass that have moved in to feed on bait fish.


Smallmouth bass will definitely eat a swimbait. You’re just going to have to downsize your swimbaits to consistently catch smallmouth bass. Remember, smallmouth bass have a much smaller mouth than largemouth bass. Try using 4 to 5 inch swimbaits instead of the larger swimbaits, however, you can still catch some nice smallmouth bass on a 6 or 7 inch swimbait. Slow and fast retrieves both work well. It all depends on the mood of the fish. Faster retrieves will work better when smallmouth bass are in an aggressive mood

When smallmouth bass are schooling up on shad or other bait fish, a faster retrieve can work wonders. A slower retrieve may work better along a weed line or just above the top of submerged weeds. You may need to vary your retrieves to find out what is working best on any given day.


Jerkbaits are great lures for catching smallmouth bass. You can target suspended bass over deeper water or just jerk these lures over the shallows to look for bass moving in to feed on bait fish.  However you choose to fish them, they definitely work and will often catch some nice bass.


Bass Jigs

Bass Jigs work great for smallmouth bass, although, most bass anglers prefer to use these types of jigs for largemouth bass.  Tubes tend to be preferred over the standard bass jigs when it comes to smallmouth bass, however, the smaller jigs work well for smallmouth bass.

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Bladed Swim Jigs

Bladed swim jigs work great for smallmouth bass.  These lures are a hybrid between a bass jig and a spinnerbait. Just cast them out and wind them in with a slow and steady retrieve.  You can count them down to various depths to work different parts of the water column. Smallmouth bass anglers have a lot of options when fishing with these baits.  Fish them over the shallow rocky flats, around the wood, weed lines or out over open water for suspended fish.  However you fish them, you have a lot of options.  This lure is a big fish bait too.

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Hair Jigs

Hair Jigs work well for catching smallmouth bass. Anglers usually use hair jigs to target smallmouth bass in deeper water.  Smallmouth bass are usually found over some type of offshore structure or suspended near bait fish in open water during the summer and fall months.  If you can present a hair jig at the proper depths, you can definitely have some success catching smallmouth bass.

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In-line Spinners

In-Line Spinners work great for smallmouth bass, especially during the spring time when bass are feeding on smaller bait fish.  On good bass lakes, you can expect to catch a lot of bass with in-line spinners, although, most of the bass will usually be small to average-sized with some big ones mixed in.  Don’t be discouraged with the smaller bass.  The big bass will still bite this lure.  It is just an appealing lure to small bass as well.


Spinnerbaits are right up there with lipless crankbaits as one of the top search baits for smallmouth bass fishing. You can fish spinnerbaits in so many different areas and have a lot of success.  Spinnerbaits catch good numbers of bass and give you a great chance of landing a trophy-sized bass.  It’s just a great fishing lure for bass.


Underspins work well for smallmouth bass.  You can rig any soft plastic you want on these baits, however, most anglers report the best success by imitating bait fish such as shad, shiners and other types of minnows.


Casting Spoons

Use a casting spoon that is similar to the baitfish smallmouth bass will be feeding on.  If you can match the colors somewhat closely, you will catch more smallmouth bass.  Try to avoid all of the big, bulky spoons that so many anglers use for salmon, big trout and northern pike.

Jigging Spoons

Jigging Spoons are one of the best deep water fishing lures for smallmouth bass, although, most bass anglers rarely fish with them.  When bass move deeper (15 to 30 feet of water), it is not uncommon for some anglers to catch bass in bunches by vertical jigging over bass that are suspended near schools of bait fish.  Jigging spoons work well during the pre-spawn when bass are staging in deeper water near the shallow water spawning sites.  These lures are also very effective during the hot summer months and in the late fall when more smallmouth bass are found in deeper water.

Topwater Lures


Buzzbaits are one of the most exciting topwater lures to use because the explosions can be absolutely incredible. This is a lure that attracts aggressive bass and it works very well during the early morning and evening hours.

Chuggers – Poppers

Chuggers (Poppers) are very popular among topwater bass anglers.  These lures can be retrieved with a quick twitch and stop motion when bass are aggressive.  When bass are not as aggressive, but still willing to hit a topwater lure, a stop and go retrieve with longer pauses will do the trick to call smallmouth bass up to the surface.

Topwater Crawlers

Crawlers can be very productive during daytime hours, but this is one of the best topwater lures for night fishing. Smallmouth Bass can easily follow this lure’s steady but slow retrieve at night better than they can follow some of the other topwater lures.  When using this lure at night, expect to get some bites right next to the boat or the shoreline.

Topwater Stickbaits

Stickbaits provide an exciting walk-the-dog motion along the top of the water.  This retrieve mixed in with a pause will draw aggressive bass from far to see what is causing all of the commotion.  Bass will attack stickbaits very aggressively.


Soft Plastic Frogs work great for fishing over lily pads or a variety of different weeds.  The morning and evenings are great times to fish topwater frogs, but you can go into some heavy cover during the middle of the day and get some bass to come up for these lures.


Soft Plastic Mice work great for fishing over lily pads or a variety of different weeds.  The morning and evenings are great times to fish topwater mice, but you can go into some heavy cover during the middle of the day and get some bass to come up for these lures.  Because largemouth bass are usually more populated in the heavily weeded areas, you will probably catch more largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, but it is not uncommon to catch some smallmouth bass with a soft plastic mouse in heavily weeded areas.