The Smallmouth bass is a great fighting fish and is very fun to catch. My favorite lures for the smallmouth are dropshotting robo worms, crank baits, jigs, and jerk baits. I will break down the lures I like to use and explain them.
With drop shot I like to use it on docks or structure. A also the drop shot is great on rock piles for catching smallies (smallmouth bass). But my all time favorite application for drop shot is in shallow water on bedding fish that are about to spawn, spawning, or done spawning. Its great fun sight fishing bass on their beds during the spawn and summer months. For those that don’t know what a bed is ill explain. Bass as they are in a spawning phase make a bed to lay their eggs and to protect the eggs. The male bass protects the bed once the eggs are laid and the female goes and looks for food in the form of bait fish. During the spawn many of the fish are bulking up so that they can protect the eggs. The spawn is generally in the spring (around May). But some fish will spawn in different parts of the year.
When fishing a drop shot during the spawn there are two ways to fish it, one involves a delicate/covert approach and the other is much more aggressive. My favorite is the delicate/covert approach because you will trigger more strikes when the fish is not as spooked. When you put a drop shot rigging on a bed be very gentle and flip it in very quietly so that the bass is not spooked. But once the lure is on the bed its go time. Lightly entice the bass to eat the lure with a small wiggle but if the fish does not bight then make the lure more frantic and threatening. Remember to keep the lure on the bed the whole time. Sometimes we like to double team the bass with two drop shot rigging in the same bed to make the fish think his eggs are in danger. Also use the same lure as your partner. This method also works with large mouth bass sometimes it is better with large mouth depending on the body of water.
Jigs are a great way to catch good size smallies in shallow and deep water. My fishing partner likes to use jigs on spinning tackle but I like to use a jig on bait casting rod on a minimum of 10lb mono-filament so that you can get through the weed guard and get a great hook set. Never use braid connected to the jig because many fish won’t bite if they see a line from a jig in a high pressure situation. I love to fish jigs in weed pockets and dock shade. 99% of the time I will use a jig with a weed guard because it is generally weedless and I feel more comfortable with it but it is up to you.
The way I like to fish jigs is to flip the lure quietly into a spot that I think is good. Then let the lure hit the bottom while I’m in free spool so that the jig can swim under its own weight. Most of your strikes will happen on the fall if you do this properly. Then once the jig has stopped lift the rod tip and feel for a fish. If you don’t feel a fish drag the jig on the bottom (it is imperative that you keep bottom contact to trigger a strike.
Jerk baits are also great smallmouth lures. Jerk baits have several names that you might run into (rip baits, minnow baits, etc.). There are a couple ways to fish jerk baits. My favorites are a jerking motion, dead sticking, and a slow constant retrieve. The jerking motion is the best way to catch smallies because it looks good and they can’t resist the action of this lure when used correctly. All you have to do is to jerk your rod tip (experiment with how hard you want to jerk. For a slow constant retrieve just reel in slowly. For dead sticking I like to jerk the jerk bait to the deepest it will go then just let it sit for 10-15 seconds then give it a jerk then repeat over and over. The dead sticking method is very slow but it works when fish just don’t want to bight.