The Best Bait for Smallmouth Bass

The Best Bait for Smallmouth BassYou can catch smallmouth bass using a variety of baits and lures, and opinions vary about which are the best. In addition, the most advisable bait to use will vary for each fishery. Overall, however, the best baits for smallmouth bass have a high success rate throughout the fishing season, and perform in a variety of water conditions. While choosing the right bait plays an important part, your success also depends on your ability to read the water and locate smallmouth bass.

Live Bait

Live bait is effective for smallmouth bass fishing. For example, use worms and grasshoppers under a bobber or on a weighted rig. The natural movements of live bait allow the angler to focus on placing the bait in front of the fish, rather than on mimicking a natural food source. Live bait can work in streams or lakes, and can be fished at any depth. Use the bait under a weight to fish slow, deep, cold water during the spring and fall, or under a bobber during the warm summer months.



Many anglers favor crankbaits for catching large smallmouth bass. When you retrieve a crankbait, it moves erratically like a wounded bait-fish. Since crankbaits appear to be a large meal for smallmouth bass, expect aggressive strikes. The baits come in a variety of colors and sizes, and can be used to fish any depth. Silver shad crankbaits are ideal for many smallmouth fisheries, while black-and-silver and black-and-chartreuse color combinations are common as well. Orange-and-black crankbaits are effective for fishing murky water.


Spinnerbaits perform effectively for smallmouth bass in lakes and streams. The active movement of the bait attracts aggressive strikes, and can be used in clear or murky water. recommends using a "Booyah blade in a gold shiner pattern with double willow gold blades" for fishing shallow water. Spinner blades fished with a consistent retrieve have the ability to catch large smallmouth bass. Use the baits along shallow shoals and against structures like boat docks and log jams. The highly visible motion and flash of the bait can entice bass to strike even when they're not actively feeding.

Article Written By Zach Lazzari

Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.