I can remember as a
boy wading creeks and streams in search of smallmouth bass. There is
no better fighter on the end of your line than the acrobatic
smallmouth bass. I have often referred to the smallmouth bass as the
poor mans trout and the beauty of a bronzeback is unmatched to me.
There are many ways to catch smallmouth and listed here are just
three of my favorites.
Small crankbaits are great for probing creeks and small streams for prowling smallmouth.
SMALL CRANKBAITS:There is nothing
more fun than to put on an old pair of sneakers and shorts and wade
one of the many creeks or small streams scattered all over the
tri-state area. One of the best lures to catch smallmouth bass in
these small waters is the small crankbait. There are many crankbaits
to choose from but my favorite is the new DT series by Rapala. The
DT-4 is the perfect size for small streams and creeks and with the
sure-set style hooks can handle those occasional four pounders you
might run into. Crawdad patterns seem to work really well in creeks
and streams but sometimes a sunfish pattern is the ticket.
When fishing creeks and streams I like
to throw my small crankbaits with a spinning outfit. A small spinning
reel with 6-8 pound test line works great. Another good line choice
is 10 pound braid because with 4 pound test diameter and less memory
you can cast your crankbait a mile. Braid also stands up well to all
the trees and rocks where the smallmouth bass love to hang out. I
like a six-foot rod, or even shorter when the creek or stream has a
lot of trees along its bank. The shorter rod allows for precise
placement of your bait underneath those trees and that is where the
bass like to hang.
Slip floats are great for fishing jigs over deep structure for smallmouth bass
FLOAT-N-FLY:Many bass anglers target largemouth Bass because there are more of them and they tend to be a little easier to catch as they stick to the more visible cover. However, when one of these anglers hook into a smallmouth they vow to catch more of them someday. Very few bass anglers can truly be labeled strictly a smallmouth bass angler. However, there are some who have taken the practice of catching these ghosts of the deep to a whole new level.
A technique created to catch big smallmouth bass is the float-n-fly technique. The fly used in this technique is actually a lead-head jig tied like a fly. The longtime traditional materials for the smallmouth fly or hair jig is deer hair or squirrel hair. Today there are many synthetic materials that make great flies for the float-n-fly rig. Colors range from natural to bright depending on the clarity of water and whether it is sunny or overcast. Natural colors in clear water and bright colors in dingy or muddy water.
The fly is attached to the line beneath a float. The slip-bobber has become more popular in recent years and makes it easier to cast. The float-n-fly rig is usually used when the water is cold and the smallmouth bass are a little sluggish and deep. The float should be between 9 to 12 feet above the fly and worked super slow. The hair on the fly will pulsate with very little current and pauses of 30 seconds or more are not uncommon. A quick twitch with the rod tip after the pause is all that is needed before another long pause. The strike often come just after the twitch but the pause is important to getting the smallmouth to commit to your presentation.
The original floating rapala has brought many smallmouths to hand.
FLOATING RAPALA: The original
floating Rapala has been bringing smallmouths to the boat for many
years. Probably the most over-looked presentation, and arguably the
most fun, has to be twitching an original floating Rapala over deep
clear water. The smallmouth just cannot hardly resist this
presentation and when they refuse to hit anything else you can
usually coax some up this way. I have caught smallmouth bass with the
floating Rapala on top when the water temperature is in the 40's. The
trick is to convince the smallmouth below that there is a dying shad
struggling to swim. Shad cannot tolerate cold water and weaker shad
will begin to die when the water temps reach the low 40's. Smallmouth
bass are cold-blooded and will not expend the energy needed to chase
baitfish but when it just sits there, motionless, it will trigger the
smallmouth to move up and take the easy meal. Sometimes a smallmouth
will come from 40 or more feet below to smack your bait.
The way to fool these smallmouth is to
cast your floating Rapala close to shore along deep bluff banks. Let
the Rapala sit initially for several seconds before the first twitch.
When you twitch the Rapala just a couple quick snaps with a slightly
slack line will be enough to entice a bite. Let the Rapala sit
several more seconds and repeat. This technique allows the bait to
stay over the fish longer and convinces them that the dying shad
isn't going anywhere fast and this will trigger a strike. Oftentimes
it is an explosive strike and it will surprise you, be prepared and
don't set the hook too quick and pull the lure out of the
smallmouth's mouth. Give the fish a second to get the bait into its
mouth and your hook-up success will go up.