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Top 5 Lures for Northern Ontario Smallmouth

Top 5 Smallmouth Bass Lures for Northern Ontario
Yours truly with a beautiful smallmouth caught on the Ned Rig (Green Pumpkin)

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

Top 5 Smallmouth Bass Lures for Northern Ontario
5 Inch Yum Dinger - image courtesy of Lure Net

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.

Top 5 Smallmouth Bass Lures for Northern Ontario
Orginal Floating Rapala - image courtesy of Canadian Tire

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!)

Top 5 Smallmouth Bass Lures for Northern Ontario
Bomber A - Ditch Craw. Image courtesy of Lure Net

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

Top 5 Smallmouth Bass Lures for Northern Ontario
Ned Rig. Image courtesy of Z Man

Ned Rig

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 Po R. Image Courtesy of Lure Net

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!

Top 5 Smallmouth Bass Lures for Northern Ontario
Whitey w a beauty caught on the Orange F 11 Floating Rapala

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

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Sep 27, 2023

i have used tubes, spooks, senkos, flukes are my main baits. day or evenings, topwater is the most fun and usually catch a ton early mornings and evenings.


Eugen Crisan
Eugen Crisan
Sep 19, 2022

Surprised to see no tubes...??? They are my to go lure for Algoma, caught even walleye and pike with tubes. Anything green/brown works for me

Eugen Crisan
Eugen Crisan
Sep 20, 2022
Replying to

to be fair, yeah...ned rigs look very similar to the tubes.

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