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Finally making the transition to lures. Any suggestions for a good resource for learning how to use all of the essential smallmouth baits?


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Well you're already at the right place lol... I know you've looked before but just take a look at the smallmouth forum. Or use the search bar to learn about a technique, everything's fished the same no matter the species. 

 

I suggest you select 3 baits/techniques and learn them well.  You can go with one bottom contact, one for middle of the water column and a topwater. For your river smallmouth fishing, I'd choose a tube (bottom) , soft swimbait (middle but you can fish it anywhere) and a popper (topwater). Best thing is you can throw these all on the same setup which is ideal for wading/bank fishing. If that's too overwhelming, then go with 1. You'll be more productive that way compared to trying everything at once.

 

I know I'm not really helping you in regards to your original post but hey ?‍♂️. Good luck and show us your results!

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IMO, you can be far more efficient with lures than live bait. Not having to take the time to catch/buy/haul them, rebaiting, and the much slower presentations, and fish will still ignore a live bait just like a lure. I watched a nice largemouth ignore a live crawdad again and again in a small creek last Sunday. I didn't have any real bass fishing baits, but I have a feeling a tube or ned could have caught that fish. It doesn't take a lot of baits. Some small tubes, Ned rigs, a few little finesse worms and shakyheads, a couple little cranks, topwaters, jerkbaits, a couple compact spinnerbaits, some soft jerkbaits and you'd be able to fit it all into a small tote. 

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It’s going to be a big transition for you but you have the overwhelming desire to fish and that should be half the battle won for you. 
 

There is so much info here. Unlimited cyber stuff, manufacturer info. 
 

Just try not to get overwhelmed with all the baits out there. Pick some proven bait technique and fish it hard and thoroughly. Even if you only fish that one technique for that outing. 
 

Leave your live bait at home. If you bring it you will fall back on it as a crutch. Your mind will tell you to use it if artificial don’t get instant results. 
 

Personally I’d take out a couple of pop-r types you feel real good about. Fish them early. Smallies love pop-r’s. Even if you don’t get a hookup. But if they slash or short strike it on you to me that is 100% success. Throw it again the next time out and again after that. The hookup will come. 
 

On a normal time out for me I start fishing some crankbaits from that point. Rat-L-Traps, Shad Raps and DT types. Chuck and wind baits are an attention getter for Smallies and productive but these baits are easy to fish. 
 

But I think fishing soft plastics is an area that is pretty rewarding. Small Trig of 4”&5” worms, grubs, tubes, craws. Bottom contact baits fished slow. Most likely if you think you are fishing it slow your still are not fishing it slow enough. What I like about them is it’s a bait you have good control of. Hop it, slide it, drag it, swim it, drop it. I believe soft plastics is the best place to start and put most of my concentration time in at. Fish them exclusivly. Your whole outing if necessary. 
 

You are very dedicated. You’ll learn more on your own than any video. The video might be just an intro for you. 

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I like a jig and craw when there is structure/cover to throw into and it doesn't need to be much. One of my favorite spots is an abandoned chain in the canal I fish, doesn't even break the current but holds fish. Casting a jig up current on the opposing bank and letting it tumble down stream is extremely effective where I fish.

 

A blade bait/crankbait thrown parallel to rocky banks, deflection is key (got to hit the rocks). If they are cruising around in open water then the jerkbait/blade cant be beat. 

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On 6/22/2021 at 5:25 PM, Ohioguy25 said:

Book or online tutorial/vlog? Thanks!

Here's a little light reading that includes quite a bit of information that has helped me . . . 

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

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On 6/22/2021 at 11:58 PM, Bluebasser86 said:

IMO, you can be far more efficient with lures than live bait. Not having to take the time to catch/buy/haul them, rebaiting, and the much slower presentations, and fish will still ignore a live bait just like a lure. I watched a nice largemouth ignore a live crawdad again and again in a small creek last Sunday. I didn't have any real bass fishing baits, but I have a feeling a tube or ned could have caught that fish. It doesn't take a lot of baits. Some small tubes, Ned rigs, a few little finesse worms and shakyheads, a couple little cranks, topwaters, jerkbaits, a couple compact spinnerbaits, some soft jerkbaits and you'd be able to fit it all into a small tote. 

That is precisely why I’m committing myself to overcoming the learning curve, live is just a hassle across the board. No doubt significantly more effective, but like you said getting a proper presentation in a moving kayak with live bait is next to impossible, and anchoring at every spot you want to work over is impractical and inefficient. Just with what little lure fishing I’ve done so far I can already see how much more water I’m covering, it’s night and day. I can now hit every piece of fishy water I see, and most importantly I can cast turn em burn em cranks and top waters through current and breaks while zipping past them without stressing.

On 6/22/2021 at 5:50 PM, Finessegenics said:

Well you're already at the right place lol... I know you've looked before but just take a look at the smallmouth forum. Or use the search bar to learn about a technique, everything's fished the same no matter the species. 

 

I suggest you select 3 baits/techniques and learn them well.  You can go with one bottom contact, one for middle of the water column and a topwater. For your river smallmouth fishing, I'd choose a tube (bottom) , soft swimbait (middle but you can fish it anywhere) and a popper (topwater). Best thing is you can throw these all on the same setup which is ideal for wading/bank fishing. If that's too overwhelming, then go with 1. You'll be more productive that way compared to trying everything at once.

 

I know I'm not really helping you in regards to your original post but hey ?‍♂️. Good luck and show us your results!

I’ve started with cast and retrieve lures as this feels like the easiest place to start. I got some strikes on my whopper plopper yesterday, and it was an awesome feeling! Seeing the explosion is pretty exciting. Am I going to be disappointed when I get into other baits and find them more of a challenge to learn, or is whopper plopper not necessarily any easier to use than other styles?

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5 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

That is precisely why I’m committing myself to overcoming the learning curve, live is just a hassle across the board. No doubt significantly more effective, but like you said getting a proper presentation in a moving kayak with live bait is next to impossible, and anchoring at every spot you want to work over is impractical and inefficient. Just with what little lure fishing I’ve done so far I can already see how much more water I’m covering, it’s night and day. I can now hit every piece of fishy water I see, and most importantly I can cast turn em burn em cranks and top waters through current and breaks while zipping past them without stressing.

I’ve started with cast and retrieve lures as this feels like the easiest place to start. I got some strikes on my whopper plopper yesterday, and it was an awesome feeling! Seeing the explosion is pretty exciting. Am I going to be disappointed when I get into other baits and find them more of a challenge to learn, or is whopper plopper not necessarily any easier to use than other 


Some techniques are harder to learn than others. Only you’d know if you’d be disappointed with a lack of success when taking the time to learn something new. I like fishing enough that it doesn’t frustrate me too much when the fish don’t cooperate while I’m taking the time to try/learn something different 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Finessegenics said:


Some techniques are harder to learn than others. Only you’d know if you’d be disappointed with a lack of success when taking the time to learn something new. I like fishing enough that it doesn’t frustrate me too much when the fish don’t cooperate while I’m taking the time to try/learn something different 

 

 

I guess what I’m asking is, are whopper ploppers among the easier baits to use?

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The easiest and most effective presentation for smallmouth is a paddletail swimbait.

 

https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Strike_King_Rage_Swimmer_Swimbait/descpage-SKRSW.html

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1 hour ago, Ohioguy25 said:

I guess what I’m asking is, are whopper ploppers among the easier baits to use?

Never gave much thought to the topic but I suppose, yes it is. It’s just chucking and winding and bites are easy to detect since it’s a top water. 
 

 

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1 hour ago, Ohioguy25 said:

I guess what I’m asking is, are whopper ploppers among the easier baits to use?

For top water those are pretty easy. Cast and retrieve. They aren’t good around cover or weeds though because of the treble hooks though.  For that sort of stuff I would recommend a Zoom Horny Toad on an EWG hook. 

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On 6/25/2021 at 3:27 PM, roadwarrior said:

The easiest and most effective presentation for smallmouth is a paddletail swimbait.

 

https://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Strike_King_Rage_Swimmer_Swimbait/descpage-SKRSW.html

Yeah that’s what I figured based on how productive life minnows are.  I have some locally made ones called Big Joshy’s in smoke shad and chartreuse, 2.75”.  I was just trying to throw them at the dam but I’m not sure I had enough weight on them, only 1/8. What size do you use for heavy current?

On 6/25/2021 at 4:45 PM, Finessegenics said:

Never gave much thought to the topic but I suppose, yes it is. It’s just chucking and winding and bites are easy to detect since it’s a top water. 
 

 

What are a few others that are fairly easy to get the hang of? I feel like if I have 3-4 to rotate that’ll be enough to get me started.

On 6/25/2021 at 4:46 PM, moguy1973 said:

For top water those are pretty easy. Cast and retrieve. They aren’t good around cover or weeds though because of the treble hooks though.  For that sort of stuff I would recommend a Zoom Horny Toad on an EWG hook. 

For smallmouth?

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9 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

What are a few others that are fairly easy to get the hang of? I feel like if I have 3-4 to rotate that’ll be enough to get me started.


Paddletail swimbait, which has already been mentioned. A spinnerbait is pretty easy too imo and maybe even a wacky rig. I also want to add that just because these lures are “easy” to use does not mean that you cannot expand on them and fish them a little differently. 

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8 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

Am I going to be disappointed when I get into other baits and find them more of a challenge to learn, or is whopper plopper not necessarily any easier to use than other styles?

 

1 hour ago, Ohioguy25 said:

I guess what I’m asking is, are whopper ploppers among the easier baits to use?

 

18 minutes ago, Ohioguy25 said:

What are a few others that are fairly easy to get the hang of? I feel like if I have 3-4 to rotate that’ll be enough to get me started.

For smallmouth?

You'll get out of this exactly what you're willing to put into it.

It takes time on the water and a quite a bit of learning to become proficient enough to catch bass.

 Can't say if any of that is easyor not but many bassheads look at that process as fun.

Good Luck

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

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58 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

 

 

You'll get out of this exactly what you're willing to put into it.

It takes time on the water and a quite a bit of learning to become proficient enough to catch bass.

 Can't say if any of that is easyor not but many bassheads look at that process as fun.

Good Luck

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

How long are we talking, like an entire season? I don’t understand how literally everyone who bass fishes uses lures, yet there is apparently this enormous learning curve. So all of these guys spent years before they were able to catch fish? I have no problem with devoting myself to learning and putting the work in, as like you said it’s an enjoyable process, but I still want to catch fish and the season is short enough as it is. Right now with live bait I catch every time I go out, and I have a blast. I want to learn lures but I still want to catch fish. So I’ve been doing both. Hopefully I don’t have to abandon catching to overcome this curve and I can gradually wean off of the live.

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No, it won't take entire season to catch fish. You might start catching them the next trip out.

 

This video helps explain it:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ohioguy25 said:

 

For smallmouth?

Heck yeah.  Smallmouth love buzz toads.  The 4 1/2lb smallie in my avatar picture was caught on a buzz toad.

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On 6/23/2021 at 6:58 AM, Spankey said:

But I think fishing soft plastics is an area that is pretty rewarding. Small Trig of 4”&5” worms, grubs, tubes, craws. Bottom contact baits fished slow. Most likely if you think you are fishing it slow your still are not fishing it slow enough. What I like about them is it’s a bait you have good control of. Hop it, slide it, drag it, swim it, drop it. I believe soft plastics is the best place to start and put most of my concentration time in at. Fish them exclusivly. Your whole outing if necessary. 
 

You are very dedicated. You’ll learn more on your own than any video. The video might be just an intro for you. 

There ya go good advice, also stickbaits and grubs (large) will never let you down.

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On 6/23/2021 at 9:09 PM, A-Jay said:

Here's a little light reading that includes quite a bit of information that has helped me . . . 

:smiley:

A-Jay

 

I would give this a pretty good look, A-Jay is our resident brown bass pro.

 

For the most part as for lures, the same lures for largemouth work for smallmouth with few exceptions, the difference is you want to target structure instead of cover.

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How has the transition going for you? It’s been a couple of weeks, what have you been trying? They turn off and on to different baits. To keep from getting frustrated just keep it simple and basic. 
 

The minute you think you are going to make a killing on a particular bait they go after the complete opposite. Build up to that handful of confidence baits. 
 

My river home waters have been bad for a while. Multiple factors I guess. Story for another day. Have become a laker the last 4 or 5 seasons and have been doing fine but I’m a river rat and that gets in your soul. This season I turned back to it and am doing my homework again. Trying my hardest to make things happen. 
 

Fished early mornings Sunday and Monday from 6:00-9:00. Did not make a killing but I’ll take it. Caught approx. (20) under 12” and (3) respectably fish 15+ to 17”. I was doing the happy dance and the man upstairs casted a ray of sunshine on me. May pull back from the lake and fish the river hard. 
 

Top producing lures were Rapala Shad Raps, DT’s and OG Slims. Natural type patterns. Managed a few on firetiger, spring craw and orange craw, trig worms. Clearly reaction strike bites, water heavy stained w/ low flow. 
 

Let us know how you are making out. 
 

If the transition is a struggle, that’s ok. Plenty on here to help you with that. 
 

 

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On 7/6/2021 at 8:00 AM, Spankey said:

How has the transition going for you? It’s been a couple of weeks, what have you been trying? They turn off and on to different baits. To keep from getting frustrated just keep it simple and basic. 
 

The minute you think you are going to make a killing on a particular bait they go after the complete opposite. Build up to that handful of confidence baits. 
 

My river home waters have been bad for a while. Multiple factors I guess. Story for another day. Have become a laker the last 4 or 5 seasons and have been doing fine but I’m a river rat and that gets in your soul. This season I turned back to it and am doing my homework again. Trying my hardest to make things happen. 
 

Fished early mornings Sunday and Monday from 6:00-9:00. Did not make a killing but I’ll take it. Caught approx. (20) under 12” and (3) respectably fish 15+ to 17”. I was doing the happy dance and the man upstairs casted a ray of sunshine on me. May pull back from the lake and fish the river hard. 
 

Top producing lures were Rapala Shad Raps, DT’s and OG Slims. Natural type patterns. Managed a few on firetiger, spring craw and orange craw, trig worms. Clearly reaction strike bites, water heavy stained w/ low flow. 
 

Let us know how you are making out. 
 

If the transition is a struggle, that’s ok. Plenty on here to help you with that. 
 

 

Spankey back in the shallow water game!!!!

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15 minutes ago, TnRiver46 said:

Spankey back in the shallow water game!!!!

I hope I don’t get effected by the storm hitting the south. If we don’t get hit with flash floods I might be alright on the river Sunday. 
 

Not that I have any big plan that I’m putting together but gonna fish some of the deeper water down there on the backside of the island, drops off to 9, 10, 13 foot real quick, a lot of brush and logs there on the banks.  But does drop off real quick. Low flow, nothing real fast, good for a drift and just troll to keep the line I want. I’ll just rig myself up with some deeper running crankbaits to cover those depths and hope for some reaction strikes. Maybe mix in some soft plastics. Or go back through the area with all soft plastics. There has always been some green fellows back there. Been many of times on a cast you’d pick off a greenie and on the next cast Smallie would hit. 
 

I lived with a bitter taste in my mouth over the river situation for too long. Clearly not gonna run into Mother Nature herself to question her as to why she let that happen. I’m just going to try to be optimistic and try to feel it back out. Not let frustration get to me. But being out on it some this season so far, I know this is my home. Doing it knowing that I could be fishing better lake spots. So far my head is in it, no head games kicked in yet. 
 

My plan is to just break it down into sections. Fish them pretty thoroughly find holding spots and find spots they don’t want to be on anymore. There is a nice section/stretch of nice homes along there where some “real poor people” must be livinging. Some have pretty decent stone “sea walls” fronts. They were always good for a few fish, floating docks and some boat lifts. Real “poor people type stuff”. But over the years I’ve never had to take an ear full of crap for fishing tight against it. They’ve always asked me how I was making out and even offered up a cup of coffee while they were out there reading the news paper in their underwear. I’ll hit that stretch after the island. 
 

Sorry for being so long winded. 

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On 7/6/2021 at 8:00 AM, Spankey said:

How has the transition going for you? It’s been a couple of weeks, what have you been trying? They turn off and on to different baits. To keep from getting frustrated just keep it simple and basic. 
 

The minute you think you are going to make a killing on a particular bait they go after the complete opposite. Build up to that handful of confidence baits. 
 

My river home waters have been bad for a while. Multiple factors I guess. Story for another day. Have become a laker the last 4 or 5 seasons and have been doing fine but I’m a river rat and that gets in your soul. This season I turned back to it and am doing my homework again. Trying my hardest to make things happen. 
 

Fished early mornings Sunday and Monday from 6:00-9:00. Did not make a killing but I’ll take it. Caught approx. (20) under 12” and (3) respectably fish 15+ to 17”. I was doing the happy dance and the man upstairs casted a ray of sunshine on me. May pull back from the lake and fish the river hard. 
 

Top producing lures were Rapala Shad Raps, DT’s and OG Slims. Natural type patterns. Managed a few on firetiger, spring craw and orange craw, trig worms. Clearly reaction strike bites, water heavy stained w/ low flow. 
 

Let us know how you are making out. 
 

If the transition is a struggle, that’s ok. Plenty on here to help you with that. 
 

 

Tbh it’s been slow going, I like the idea of lure fishing and I really want it to work but it’s just not anywhere near as productive. There is no possible way I will be able to catch close to the quantity or quality I am catching now using lures. I’m going to continue practicing every time I’m out, but I’m not going to leave the minnows at home as my primary goal is catching fish not being challenged. Catching them with live is challenging enough some days.

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