Best Smallmouth Bass Lures and Bait: Unveiling the Best Lures for Trophy Catches

Unlocking the secrets to consistently catching trophy smallmouth bass is a prized achievement for many avid anglers.

This guide explores the best smallmouth bass lures and baits, empowering anglers to make informed choices for landing that elusive trophy catch.

Whether you’re a seasoned smallmouth angler or just starting your journey in pursuit of these powerful fighters,

This article will provide you with a wealth of insights from expert anglers, proven techniques, and a deep understanding of which lures and baits truly excel on the market in the quest for trophy smallmouth bass.

Get ready to elevate your game and unlock the full potential of your smallmouth fishing adventures.

Smallmouth Bass Feeding Habits

When it comes to smallmouth fishing, understanding the basics is key to a successful angling experience. One crucial aspect of this pursuit is selecting the right bait.

Habitat Preferences

By choosing the appropriate bait, anglers can significantly enhance their chances of landing these prized fish. Let’s explore why bait selection is so vital in the world of targeting smallmouth bass.

Smallmouth bass live exhibit diverse feeding habits influenced by their habitat and the changing seasons. Their diet varies depending on where they reside, with preferences shifting throughout the year. 

In different habitats, river smallmouth anglers adapt their diet to what is available.

For instance, in cool great lakes, streams, and rivers, they feed heavily on crayfish, small fish, aquatic insects, and other invertebrates.

Seasonal Diet Changes 

Their diet can change seasonally, with a preference for crayfish for most of the season but shifting to more fish consumption in late summer and early fall.

Understanding these variations in diet based on habitat and the seasonal changes in feeding preferences is crucial for anglers looking to find an effective way to catch smallmouths.

By recognizing these patterns, anglers can tailor their bait selection and fishing techniques to maximize their chances of success throughout the year.

Best Smallmouth Lures for Rivers and Creeks

The best smallmouth lures and baits for successful smallmouth fishing include:

The Ned Rig

This finesse stickbait is one of the best smallmouth bass lures, ideal for tough bites, offering a subtle presentation that can entice smallmouth bass in various conditions.

Hair Jigs Bucktail and Marabou

options are effective for mimicking natural prey like crayfish, making them a versatile choice for enticing smallmouth bass. These popular smallmouth lures are a go-to for many anglers on their smallmouth trip.

Swim Baits

These baits provide versatility for different covers, allowing anglers to target smallmouth bass in a variety of environments with realistic swimming actions. Swim baits are a popular and effective smallmouth lure, especially when you’re fishing deeper water.


Known for their effectiveness, jerkbaits can trigger aggressive strikes from smallmouth bass, especially in extremely cold water temps or when fish are less active.

The best jerkbait can be a big bass producer for trophy smallmouth.


Ideal for reaching specific depths and covering water efficiently, crankbaits are go-to lures for targeting smallmouth bass holding at different levels in the water column.

These power fishing lures are effective and known as the best baits on the market because they perform well in cooler water temperatures.

Best Topwater Smallmouth Baits 

Exciting options for various seasons, but they are especially well-known for summer fishing. topwater baits like walk the dog lures or poppers can create thrilling surface strikes from smallmouth bass, especially during low light conditions or when fish are actively feeding near the surface.

The topwater bite can be excellent in the spring and fall when bass are feeding aggressively.

Prime Spots and Preferred Habitats for Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Smallmouth bass prefer habitats characterized by rocky and sandy bottoms, clear water environments, and distinct differences from those favored by largemouth bass.

Rocky and Sandy Bottoms

Smallmouth bass thrive in areas with rocky and boulder-strewn bottoms, where they can find cover and forage for food like crayfish.

These habitats provide the structure and shelter that smallmouth bass prefer. Smallmouth river fishing is often found in these types of environments.

Clear Water Preferences

Smallmouth bass have a preference for clear water over stained water. They are more likely to be found in better numbers in clear water environments, where they can utilize their keen vision to hunt for prey effectively. Water clarity is important when targeting smallmouth bass.

Differences from Largemouth Bass Habitats

Unlike largemouth bass, which are often found in weedy areas with heavy vegetation,

smallmouth bass typically inhabit areas with rocky and sandy bottoms. This distinction in habitat preferences highlights the unique environmental requirements of smallmouth bass compared to largemouth bass and how largemouth bass look like they prefer different environments.

Your Guide to Choosing The Right Bait

When choosing the right bait for fishing, several key factors should be considered to increase the chances of success and get you on the best lures for smallmouth bass:

Size and Color Matching

Choosing the right size and optimal best colors for the bait according to the fish’s prey is crucial. Bait that is too large can scare off fish, while small bait might be ignored.

Mimicking the natural color of the prey is essential, as most fish prey have a natural color that fish are accustomed to.

Following these guidelines can help you catch more fish, possibly even landing a special trophy smallmouth bass.


The location of the fishing spot plays a significant role in bait selection. Freshwater fish are more likely to respond to artificial bait, while saltwater fish tend to prefer live bait.

Additionally, the depth of the water is a critical factor, as fish can be attracted to bait on the surface or underwater.


Fish behavior is influenced by weather patterns. Fish are sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure, making the days leading up to a cold front ideal for fishing. Cold, cloudy days call for darker bait to stand out in the water, while warm, sunny days require lighter-colored bait for clearer water conditions.
These are often the best times to fish topwater.


Adjusting bait selection based on the season is essential. Water temperatures vary with the seasons, impacting fish behavior. While a moving bait can work in any temperature, colder water may require specific bait choices.
Adapting to seasonal changes ensures that the bait is appealing to fish under different conditions. The best seasonal lures can make a big difference.

Pro Tips and Expert Recommendations

Specific Lures

Expert recommendations for smallmouth fishing include: Consider using lures like the Heddon Spook and Rapala X Rap Pop, which are known for their effectiveness in enticing smallmouth bass to strike. These are some of the best lures for catching smallmouth bass.

Tips for Jigs and Soft Plastics

When fishing for smallmouth bass, employing jigs and soft plastics can be highly effective.
Ensure proper presentation and technique to maximize your chances of success.
Tube baits and other finesse fishing lures are great options.

Top Spots for Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Search for smallmouth bass in spots with rocky or sandy bottoms, clear water conditions, and features such as humps, points, and channels.

These locations are typically prime for . Smallmouth streams are ideal for landing trophy-sized smallmouth.

Live Bait to catch Smallmouth Bass

When it comes to live bait options for smallmouth fishing, anglers within the fishing community have a range of choices to consider for enticing these prized fish.

Shiners, Minnows, and Bait Fish 

Live shiners, minnows, and other small bait fish are popular choices for targeting and finding smallmouth bass.

These lively baits can mimic natural prey and attract the attention of hungry bass, especially in clear water environments where their realistic movements can trigger strikes.

Crickets, Maggots, and Hellgrammites 

Insects like crickets, maggots, and hellgrammites are effective live baits for smallmouth bass. These natural offerings can be particularly successful in streams and rivers where smallmouth bass feed on a variety of aquatic insects.
Their presence can entice bass to strike, especially in areas with moderate current and rocky bottoms

Worms and Crustaceans 

Worms and crustaceans provide anglers with versatile live bait options for smallmouth fishing. Nightcrawlers, red worms, and crayfish can all be effective in enticing smallmouth bass to bite. These baits can be presented in different ways, such as Carolina rigs or drop-shot rigs, to target bass in various habitats and depths.

By incorporating a variety of live bait options into their fishing arsenal, anglers can adapt to different conditions, preferences, and feeding behaviors of smallmouth bass, increasing their chances of a successful and rewarding fishing experience.

Artificial Bait

Matching the Local Hatch 

Matching the local hatch is crucial when using artificial bait to attract fish effectively.

By considering the size, color, and type of bait that mimics the natural prey in the area, anglers can increase their chances of success.

Understanding the fish species present and their feeding habits is essential for selecting the right artificial bait that closely resembles the local hatch.
This attention to detail can significantly improve the effectiveness of artificial bait fishing.

Best Smallmouth Bass Lures to use

When targeting smallmouth bass, anglers have a variety of lure options to choose from based on the fish’s behavior and habitat preferences. Some of the best and most popular smallmouth lures include:

  • The Ned Rig: A finesse stickbait that works well for tough bites. It’s best to use when the fish are exhibiting finicky behavior or when a more subtle presentation is needed to entice strikes.

  • Hair Jigs: Bucktail and Marabou options that mimic natural prey like crayfish.

  • Swim Baits: Versatile options suitable for different covers and environments.

  • Jerkbaits: Effective lures for triggering strikes, making them big bass producers for trophy smallmouth.

  • Crankbaits: Ideal for specific depths and water coverage, offering versatility when fishing deeper water.

  • Topwater Baits: Exciting options like walking baits for the topwater bite, especially during low light conditions or active feeding periods.

  • Blade Baits: These vibrating lures can be extremely effective for smallmouth, especially in cooler water temperatures.

The lures that work best can vary based on the fishing style of different bass anglers and the specific situations you’re fishing in. It’s best to have a diverse selection of lures in your fishing tackle to increase your chances of success.


Key Points for Smallmouth Success 

In the pursuit of smallmouth bass fishing success, several key points emerge, highlighting the importance of lure versatility and adaptability:

  • Understanding Habitat: Smallmouth bass thrive in lakes, streams and rivers with cool, clear, deeper water and rocky bottoms. They prefer areas with abundant cover and forage like crayfish.

  • Matching the Hatch: Mimicking what smallmouth typically eat is crucial. Match lure size, color and action to their common prey for the season.

  • Lure Recommendations: Topwater lures, jerkbaits, crankbaits and soft plastics on jig heads are some of the best options for catching smallmouths in many situations.

  • Adaptability: Be willing to try different lures and fishing techniques based on changing conditions like weather, water clarity and seasonal periods when bass move locations and adjust feeding behaviors.

  • Timing: The best times to fish topwater are often low-light periods like dawn/dusk. The best spring and fall can be prime for the topwater bite when bass are aggressively feeding.

  • Location: Look for smallmouth relating to bathymetric features like points, humps and boat docks in lakes or current breaks and rocky areas in rivers.

By considering these key factors and having an array of proven lures in your bass fishing arsenal, you’ll be better prepared to successfully catch more smallmouth bass, including trophy-sized fish, on your next fishing trip.

FAQs About:
Best Smallmouth Bass Lures and Bait: Unveiling the Best Lures for Trophy Catches

Finally, we'll address some of the most frequently asked questions about Pro Cure bait that may come to mind.
  • What are the preferred habitats for smallmouth bass?

    Smallmouth bass prefer cool, clear waters with rocky or sandy substrates, submerged structures like logs and rocks, and aquatic vegetation. They thrive in rivers, streams, and lakes with moderate flow and depths, often positioning themselves near points, humps, and channels for ambush opportunities

  • What are the best lures for smallmouth bass fishing?

    Effective lures for smallmouth bass include ned rigs, tubes, small soft plastic craws, swimbaits on light jigheads, drop shot plastics, topwaters, poppers, curl tail grubs, and small swimbaits. These lures mimic the natural prey of smallmouth bass, such as crawfish, small baitfish, and insects, providing anglers with versatile options to cover different water depths and fish moods

  • How can I locate smallmouth bass in new fishing waters?

    Look for current breaks near deep holes, bends, or channels in rivers, as these are smallmouth hotspots. Focus on areas with rocky or sandy points stretching from shallow to deep water, where smallmouth bass often position themselves to ambush prey. Sandbars, submerged structures, and areas with quick access to deeper water are productive spots to target smallmouth bass

  • What are the key differences between largemouth and smallmouth bass habitats?

    Smallmouth bass prefer cooler, clear waters with temperatures between 67-71°F, while largemouth bass thrive in slightly warmer waters. Smallmouth bass are more structure-oriented, favoring areas like humps, points, and channels, while largemouth bass are cover-oriented, seeking submerged aquatic vegetation and structures like fallen trees. Both species can be found in various water bodies, from lakes to streams and ponds

  • What are the best tactics for fishing smallmouth bass in rivers and streams?

    In rivers and streams, effective tactics for smallmouth bass fishing include using a simple spinning rod with 4-pound mono line, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2-inch plastics, 1/8-ounce jigheads, and hard baits. Lures like tubes, ned rigs, poppers, and small swimbaits are hard to beat for smallmouth streams and rivers. Positioning the boat strategically near rocky points and using techniques like vertical jigging and casting crankbaits up current can yield successful catches