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Bassmaster3616

Best bait for river fishing for bass?

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Okay so I am fishing a river that is anywhere from 1-6 feet deep with fairly clear water. I caught a spot yesterday on a popper but it took a pretty good while. I was wondering what was the best bait? There's smallmouth, largemouth, and spots. I would really like to catch smallmouth but not sure what to use. Recommendations? I also wanna catch largies and spots. Best baits for each? I already tried senkos and it didn't work. If it helps I am fishing southern Arkansas at the little Missouri River. 

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I use lots of different baits. I'm in Tennessee but fish a couple rivers that sound very similar to yours. On top I like poppers, small walkers like Sammy 85's, small 1/8 oz buzzbaits (usually black).

I like hard jerkbaits a lot too. All kinds of brands but usually in the 3"-4 1/2" range in shallow rivers depending on the size of the forage fish I see. This time of year I catch more on floaters like original rapalas, rogues, bomber long a,  and lucky crafts.

Other hard baits I really like are square bills and medium depth cranks. I use all kinds from shad raps to wiggle warts. Shad raps, rapala dts, wiggle warts, bagleys, bomber a, Normans are what I use most I usually use ones that are designed to run deeper than the bottom where I am fishing and use craw colors and grind them in the bottom.

I use inlines like rooster tails and small underspins like the fish head spin with super fluke jr trailer in bait fish colors, and some spinnerbaits, but I only seem to do well with spinnerbaits after a rain when there is color in the water. Then I like the war eagle finesse spinnerbaits in 3/16 and 5/16 in spot remover and pond scum perch.

Soft jerkbaits, senkos, and trick worms weightless. I like the zoom super fluke jr, 4" senko or dinger, and white or chartreuse trick worms weightless.

I catch a lot on soft swimbaits. My favorite river bait is are the 3 inch keitech easy shiners and fat impacts, but I've used others with success.

On the bottom I like finesse jigs, usually 1/16-3/16, but sometimes I use 1/4-3/8 if it has rained or there is a lot of current. I want the bait to barely stay in place and maybe drift a little down stream like a natural crawfish if lifted off the bottom. Most of the time I drag or shake it though. Favorite colors are mixtures of greens and browns with some orange highlights like my local craws.  I fish tube jigs from small bitsy tube up to 3 1/2" tubes the same way. I use these and grubs on jig heads and drag on bottom,  but sometimes they like them swimmer and only scraping bottom every few feet. I use the same colors with tube jigs and grubs as with regular skirted jigs. Natural craw colors.

I Texas rig small craws, finesse worms, and small creatures also. Usually 1/8-3/16 weight and small ewg hook. Work them like the jigs and other plastics.

Colors are simple. In clear water anywhere I like to match the hatch as a fly fisherman would say. All my local craws are brown or green with orange highlights, so anything that color is what I use for craw imitating baits. I use black blue if the water is muddy though. In baits that imitate baitfish, shad, chubs, Creek minnows, panfish, and trout are what the bass in my local rivers feed on. Look around while fishing your local rivers at baitfish and turn over a few rocks to find craws. See what the main colors are and imitate that. Smallmouth and spots also like some chartreuse at times, so I always try something like sexy shad on my reaction baits, and I also dip a lot of my jig trailers and soft plastics in chartreuse and orange dye because smallies and spots seem to like it.

Other tips I can give is to walk or wade very quietly almost like hunting while fishing if the water is clear and keep movement to a minimum before you at least make a few casts in a new area. Also smallmouth and spots seem to like current better than largemouth, but all three species seem to use rocks and downed wood as ambush spots and current breaks quite a bit. I always catch more while retrieving my bait downstream with the current than upstream.

As far as equipment I usually use shorter spinning rods for everything because of overhanging trees but also because they are versatile and can fish a wide range of baits. I sometimes take a lighter baitcast outfit though because I prefer it with cranks and spinnerbaits. Line is usually 8-10lb mono or copolymer because of water clarity.

Sorry I wrote such a long post but one bait would never work for me and I've been fishing rivers for bass over 20 years. I actually fish rivers and ponds more than local larger lakes. I don't think I'm an expert by any means and I'm constantly learning new stuff like the ned rig most recently off sites like this. I just wanted to help out some of my fellow bassresource members that may not fish rivers as much.

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Texas rigged craws and Tubes for the smallmouths . Of course any lure will work but I found smallies love crawdads .

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Rooster tails and Snagless Sally's for inline spinners. Square Bill crankbaits are always good too. For plastics I use a lot of craws rigged either Texas or a small dia weedless hook.

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28 minutes ago, timsford said:

I use lots of different baits. I'm in Tennessee but fish a couple rivers that sound very similar to yours. On top I like poppers, small walkers like Sammy 85's, small 1/8 oz buzzbaits (usually black).

I like hard jerkbaits a lot too. All kinds of brands but usually in the 3"-4 1/2" range in shallow rivers depending on the size of the forage fish I see. This time of year I catch more on floaters like original rapalas, rogues, bomber long a,  and lucky crafts.

Other hard baits I really like are square bills and medium depth cranks. I use all kinds from shad raps to wiggle warts. Shad raps, rapala dts, wiggle warts, bagleys, bomber a, Normans are what I use most I usually use ones that are designed to run deeper than the bottom where I am fishing and use craw colors and grind them in the bottom.

I use inlines like rooster tails and small underspins like the fish head spin with super fluke jr trailer in bait fish colors, and some spinnerbaits, but I only seem to do well with spinnerbaits after a rain when there is color in the water. Then I like the war eagle finesse spinnerbaits in 3/16 and 5/16 in spot remover and pond scum perch.

Soft jerkbaits, senkos, and trick worms weightless. I like the zoom super fluke jr, 4" senko or dinger, and white or chartreuse trick worms weightless.

I catch a lot on soft swimbaits. My favorite river bait is are the 3 inch keitech easy shiners and fat impacts, but I've used others with success.

On the bottom I like finesse jigs, usually 1/16-3/16, but sometimes I use 1/4-3/8 if it has rained or there is a lot of current. I want the bait to barely stay in place and maybe drift a little down stream like a natural crawfish if lifted off the bottom. Most of the time I drag or shake it though. Favorite colors are mixtures of greens and browns with some orange highlights like my local craws.  I fish tube jigs from small bitsy tube up to 3 1/2" tubes the same way. I use these and grubs on jig heads and drag on bottom,  but sometimes they like them swimmer and only scraping bottom every few feet. I use the same colors with tube jigs and grubs as with regular skirted jigs. Natural craw colors.

I Texas rig small craws, finesse worms, and small creatures also. Usually 1/8-3/16 weight and small ewg hook. Work them like the jigs and other plastics.

Colors are simple. In clear water anywhere I like to match the hatch as a fly fisherman would say. All my local craws are brown or green with orange highlights, so anything that color is what I use for craw imitating baits. I use black blue if the water is muddy though. In baits that imitate baitfish, shad, chubs, Creek minnows, panfish, and trout are what the bass in my local rivers feed on. Look around while fishing your local rivers at baitfish and turn over a few rocks to find craws. See what the main colors are and imitate that. Smallmouth and spots also like some chartreuse at times, so I always try something like sexy shad on my reaction baits, and I also dip a lot of my jig trailers and soft plastics in chartreuse and orange dye because smallies and spots seem to like it.

Other tips I can give is to walk or wade very quietly almost like hunting while fishing if the water is clear and keep movement to a minimum before you at least make a few casts in a new area. Also smallmouth and spots seem to like current better than largemouth, but all three species seem to use rocks and downed wood as ambush spots and current breaks quite a bit. I always catch more while retrieving my bait downstream with the current than upstream.

As far as equipment I usually use shorter spinning rods for everything because of overhanging trees but also because they are versatile and can fish a wide range of baits. I sometimes take a lighter baitcast outfit though because I prefer it with cranks and spinnerbaits. Line is usually 8-10lb mono or copolymer because of water clarity.

Sorry I wrote such a long post but one bait would never work for me and I've been fishing rivers for bass over 20 years. I actually fish rivers and ponds more than local larger lakes. I don't think I'm an expert by any means and I'm constantly learning new stuff like the ned rig most recently off sites like this. I just wanted to help out some of my fellow bassresource members that may not fish rivers as much.

As you can see from the post I quoted, there are a lot of baits that will work. There is no one "best" bait.  I choose what to throw based on what the river looks like where I'm at. In shallow, fast, rocky, riffles, I would not choose anything weighted that would sink to the bottom and get snagged on every cast. I would take an inline spinner that I can reel quickly and stay out of the rocks or a Texas rigged, unweighted senko that will move with the current, or any kind of top water like a popper or a buzz bait.  Actually, I throw one those 3 baits most of the time. During warm water seasons, I skip over any water that doesn't have some kind of current. 

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Even in fast current/riffles, light weighted tubes, grubs, and if the bottom allows, football jigs can be money.  In short, you can fish virtually anything you would normally fish so long as you mind current and the depth range you'll be fishing.  If the conditions dictate it, I'll even throw light C rigs.   Approach it as you would a lake with current, remember fish are going to be 95% facing into the current and staged around seams, eddies, and grass.  

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C rigs work too. I like using flukes and zoom centipedes and swimbaits. I saw an article about that online a few years back and have used it with success. They use a regular Carolina rig with egg sinker and choose a sinker that drifts and catches on rocks now and then. By Carolina rigging the swimbaits it drifts straight downstream from the weight. When the weight is bouncing along the swimbaits flutters in the current like a dying bait fish and when the sinker stops on anything the current pulls the swimbaits up and makes it swim. Looks like a shad dying in current and when it stops or swings through current breaks be ready to set the hook.  The trick is to use it an ewg hook or spring keeper hook without weight I've used this with 3.3 inch fat impacts for smallies, spots and walleyes, 4.8 inches for largemouth and hybrids, and big hammers for stripers. Definitely worth a try

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I been fishing some rivers and creeks mainly for smallies recently with a lot of success and my top choices would be senkos, buzzbaits, inline spinners, and grubs. You really can't go wrong with those. I also carry some tubes and poppers with me 

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I have been fishing a shallow rocky stretch for years, 1-4 fow, and have kept a log since 2007. The two baits that have separated themselves from the field are the smaller yum Crawbug and the Bandit 100. There really aren't any lures with close to the numbers of those two. The Ned rig with a Zinkerz can also be a good option, I find the TRD to snag up more.

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For river bass, smallies will be in current more or less. I fish structure (weedlines,  wood, boulders, etc) that is in current with either an 1/8oz jig head and 3.5" craw or a shallow crankbait. Spots are not in heavy current, rather they are in the slower water, along wood or rock just out of the current and they eat what smallies eat. Largemouth are unlikely to be in any current. Find them in the backwaters, holed up under or against cover and again, they eat everything. 

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3/16 lead head with a green pumpkin zoom fat Albert is 100% my favorite bait for your condition. You can hop it on the bottom of smooth surfaces, or swim it threw the swift waters to catch plenty.

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Rebel crawfish cranks

Mister twister mini craws, mini shad cranks.

Online spinners. Small panther Martin. Joesfly. Mepps

Phebe spoon.

Wooden white color, silver blade spinner.

Joesfly black gnat bass size.

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Rage craws,Swim jigs with swim bait trailer,Flukes and spinnerbaits is a good start.Shallow crank baits and the good old rebel crawdad crankbait.

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I am really partial to cranks. Rapala Glass Shad Raps, Strike King KVD 1.5s, Bandit 100s or 200s, Rebel Craws/Wee Frogs. Aside from that Senkos from 3in to 5inches will catch anything that's out there.

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