When I scroll through my blog its easy to pick out two of my most popular posts - Top 5 Walleye Lures and Top 5 Lures for Pike . Knowing that I want to be popular (I am quite vain) I decided to put another one together – my Top 5 lures for Smallmouth Bass. Smallies are my favorite species of fish to target. I think its because I grew up fishing for them and have a lot of confidence locating and catching smallmouth in any body of water. I am not always successful, but I am confident. When I say Northern Ontario, I would say I am talking about traditional Canadian shield lakes – deep, rocky, and not overly weedy. Without further adieu here is the list
Wacky Rigged Stick Worm
You may think Senko or Dinger or whatever stick worm catches your fancy. Basically I am talking about a 5 inch worm rigged on a wide gap finesse hook. For the most part I will always have a wacky rig tied to one of my rods. Not only is it a solid main lure but it is a great throwback if you have a smallie that will follow another presentation but not commit. I will throw these around any cover – rocky shoals, lily pad beds, fallen timber, boat docks or even sight fish on a sandy flat. This is a top five list but for me the wacky rigged Senko has been my most productive lure over the last 20 years by far. I do find this is a very colour specific tactic – some days the fish want something bright and other days nothing beats a green pumpkin or black. If pressed to choose three colours I would go Green Pumpkin with Red Flake, Red Shad and Orange Pumpkin with Black flake.
Original Floating Rapala F11 – Gold Fluorescent Red
This may be my most old school lure but it also the most versatile in my opinion. I have caught small mouth fishing this as a top water, as a jerk bait or trolling it along a rocky flat. Some of my personal best fish and best fishing days have been using this lure. I remember one memorable trolling run Mark and I got into at Brennan Harbour Brennan Harbour Troll We absolutely slayed the bass as long as you were trolling this lure. I remember when I lost mine on a snag – I had other jerk baits and while I caught some fish the size and frequency dropped (especially compared to Mark who still had his – jerk!)
Bomber Model A
Not the newest crankbait out there but one that I have come to love and trust. I prefer the model that dives 3 – 6 feet in ditch craw colour. I could have made this more generic and just said a crayfish-coloured crankbait but hey you guys pay me for specifics. I love this lure when searching for active fish. It shines on rocky shorelines or drop offs. I like to feel it pounding off the cover so depending on your depth you may go to a deeper model. On one of my favorite spots in the Kawarthas this lure was deadly – especially opening weekend when fish were still relating to the shorelines where the spawned
I realize this is another “finesse” bait but if the wacky rig is the lure, I have caught the most bass on in the last 20 years the Ned Rig is the one I have caught the most fish on in the last 5. I have caught bass fishing this like a traditional jig, dragging it over rocks, flipping it to cover and simply casting and letting fish take it on the fall. What I find so interesting about the wacky rig is I have caught so many species on it – bass, walleye, pike, panfish and even a small muskie. Similar to the wacky rig I find this can be a colour play but if I had to pick 3 colours it would be Green Pumpkin, Bubble Gut (Green Pumpkin w Pink) and June Bug. I am partial to the Finesse TRD from Zman rigged on a 1/15 ounce or 1/10-ounce mushroom head jig, my favourite is the Z Man Finesse Shroomz.
Rebel Pop R
I had to put one true top water on here. Personally catching small mouth on the surface may be the most exciting way to catch a fish. Honestly, you could sub in any popper or walking style topwater here – I have just had the most success on the Pop R. I am not sure colour really matters but my go to is a blue/silver with a red tail. Again this bait can catch them anywhere – over deep water, near cover like docks and pad beds or flipping it to shorelines. Nothing beats the excitement and subsequent heart attack when a big smallie blows up on the Pop R at dusk!
So those are my top five baits for smallies. Drop me into any body of water with old bronze back lurking and I am confident I can catch with this selection. I can go deep, shallow, into cover, over cover or pull baits for active fish. I keep a small box packed for kayak and canoe trips and you can bet if there are bass swimming, these five lures dominate my gear.
PS - I am NOT sponsored or affiliated with any of these products - but I am SO open to it