Did you know you can fish for smallmouth bass in 47 out of 50 states across America? For instance, the only states with no record of smallmouth bass are Alaska, Florida, and Louisiana. Since smallmouth bass has a broad range, they’re just as popular and sought after as their largemouth cousins. So, if you would like to learn more about this species and how to catch smallmouth bass, please stick around.

Later on, we will share with you our five tips for landing your first smallie. Yet, for now, let’s take a look at how to identify them correctly.

How To Identify Smallmouth Bass

First, the easiest way to identify a smallmouth bass from a largemouth is by looking at their jawline and the markings on their side. For example, as their name implies, a smallie’s mouth isn’t as wide as a largemouth’s. Their jaw does not extend past the middle of their eye when closed.

Then, their markings are quite different. Typically, a smallmouth has dark, vertical barring along its sides. Also, another way to identify them is by their color. Smallies are usually bronze to brownish-green, which is how they get their other nickname, “brownie.”

What Gear You’ll Need To Target Smallies

How To Catch Smallmouth Bass: Our Five Tips

Now that you have the correct gear and understand how to identify smallmouth bass, you’re about ready to start fishing. So, here are our five tips to help you land your first smallie:

Tip #1: Keep Your Tackle Light

    The Dobyns Sierra SA700SF

The Dobyns Sierra, the best bass fishing rod for smallmouth, against a white background.
    This rod model of the Dobyns Sierra series is built for finesse fishing with its lightweight, ultra-fast action blank.

First off, when fishing for smallmouth bass, you want to keep your tackle light. These fish don’t grow as big as largemouths, with the record for smallies sitting at 11-pounds and 15-ounces. Honestly, catching a smallmouth that size is rare, which is why the record hasn’t been broken since 1955. Most anglers would even consider landing a 5 or 6-pound one as a trophy. Thus, when selecting a rod, we suggest using an ultra-light to medium-powered one.

One rod in particular that we enjoy for smallmouth fishing is the Dobyns Sierra SA700SF model. We like this Dobyns Sierra model because it features a sensitive, lightweight, and durable blank. The line rating on this rod is 2 to 8 pound-test, a perfect range for catching smallies. Plus, the Sierra is effective when throwing lure weights between 1/16 to 5/16-ounces.

Tip #2: Search for Cool, Clearwaters With Rocky Areas

Next, smallmouth bass naturally inhabits clearwater lakes, rivers, or streams with cool temperatures and rocky areas. Generally, rocky areas provide these fish with cover and shelter from predators, and they’re ideal nesting spots for spawning. Additionally, brownies also like gravel bottoms and slower current areas in rivers like flowing pools.

Tip #3: Bring the Right Bait and Lures

    Berkley PowerBait Minnow

Berkley's PowerBait Minnow against a white background.
    This two-inch Berkley PowerBait Minnow is an effective bait to use for targeting smallmouth bass.

Then, you need to select the best lures to present to smallies. Depending on the time of year, and weather and water conditions, our favorite lures to throw for smallmouth are:

  • Jerkbaits
  • Crankbaits
  • Small swimbaits
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Tube baits
  • Jigs

In my experience, when fished in the right conditions, these types of tackle seem to produce fish. Furthermore, if you would like more information on our thoughts on the best bass lures, check out our 2021 review.

Tip #4: Fish Early

Many dedicated anglers will tell you the best bass fishing occurs in the early morning. Typically, the bass activity will spike when water temperatures are around 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Mostly because bass prefers the times of day when the water is cooler; if you want to learn more, please check out this article.

Tip #5: Switch Up Your Techniques

As I stated above, some lures are better to use during specific scenarios than others. So, if you’re struggling with getting a bite, then consider switching up your lure or technique. For example, if you’re hitting heavily covered areas for smallies, try flipping or pitching your tackle against offshore rocks or timber.

Or, if you’re fishing in deeper waters with finicky bass, try your luck by finessing a drop shot rigged worm. So, whatever styles or lures you decide to use, make sure to change it up every now then. Hence, trying various techniques and lures can significantly improve your success rate for catching smallmouth bass.

Now You’re Ready To Land Your First Smallie!

To conclude, we hope these five tips will help you land your first smallie and the countless others to follow. Smallmouth bass is one of the most popular species targeted by anglers, and we hope this tutorial will help you further enjoy this wonderful sport. Do you have any questions regarding smallmouth bass? Would you mind letting us know in the comments below? Did this article benefit you in any way? Then, please share it with your friends.