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Scott Brands
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Other recent blogs by Scott:
Should You Add Scent To Lures?
4/30/2024 11:29:00 AM
CKFC Boyd Lake Tournament Recap
4/22/2024 12:46:00 PM
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Smallmouth Strategies

Blog by: Scott Brands 6/24/2024
The last couple months has sure gone by fast! For me one of the reasons for this is that tournament season was in full swing. I competed in six different kayak tournaments since April, and now the schedule dies down a bit over the summer months. So, I thought Iíd take this opportunity to share some of the strategies that have consistently been putting smallmouth bass in the boat. 
A few of the places that Iíve been targeting the smallies are Boyd Lake, Horsetooth, and Trinidad. There are plenty of other bodies of water that hold good smallmouth fishing as well (i.e. Pueblo) and these strategies will work in all of these places.

The first bait I want to talk about is a finesse football jig. Specifically, there are two brands that I go to: Keitech and Beast Coast. These two brands make their finesse football jigs out of tungsten which in my opinion is a key component of this strategy. Tungsten is denser than lead so you can pack more weight in a smaller package (something that I find beneficial with smallmouth bass). Speaking of weight my favorite size is a 3/8oz jig. Tungsten is also more sensitive than lead so you can feel the bottom better. I like to drag this jig along rocky bottoms, points, humps, etc. My favorite trailer is a twin tail grub. If itís a tough day then the smallmouth might want less action out of your trailer, so in that case replace the trailer with a Zman TRD. That combo paired together is known as a ďned jigĒ and can really do some damage on lethargic smallies!

Secondly, Iíd like to talk about a similar technique but one that has a key difference. If you go to a lake like Trinidad or Chatfield you will notice that the bottom has rock but it also has a lot of grass mixed in. This can make fishing a finesse football jig difficult since it will constantly get hung up in those weeds. In that case I reach for a texas rigged craw. I tend to reach for a 3/8oz tungsten weight 95% of the time since I can fish it both shallow and deep. My favorite craw for this technique is a Zoom Speed Craw because I love its size and action for smallmouth. For the hook I like either a 2/0 Trokar EWG or a 2/0 Trokar Pro-V Worm hook. This setup landed me a second place finish at a recent tournament and also the two biggest bass that were measured that day. Rig it all up weedless and it will allow you to work through both rock and grass and catch you a pile of smallies along the way! I use the same rod, reel, and line as with the football jig setup.

As we enter into the dog days of summer there are a few more techniques that I will rely on over these previous two suggestions. Summer means hot days and heavy boat traffic, so I prefer to wake up early to take advantage of the morning bite before calling it a day by noon. Early summer mornings for me means topwater time! When it comes to smallmouth there are three topwater baits that do my heavy lifting in the summer months: a whopper plopper, walking bait, and popper. To make things simple this is when I generally reach for each one. If there is a chop on the water then I go for the whopper plopper. It allows you to cover a lot of water and help the fish hone in on your lure when thereís a little breeze. When itís glass calm out then I reach for a walking bait. The smooth surface of the water makes walking these guys a breeze and still allows you to cover a lot of water. Bonus tip: try working your walking baits as fast as you possibly can. The bait wonít look super pretty gliding from one side to another but if you work it super fast and throw in a pause here and there, I think youíll be surprised by the results. Finally, I reach for a popper when Iím targeting small specific areas. That could be a bush sticking out of the water where I want to keep that bait in the strike zone for a longer period of time. That could also be when a school of smallies start to blow up on bait in a small area in open water.

The last two techniques I utilize throughout the summer are the dropshot and the ned rig. Of course these lures can do damage on smallmouth year round, this is the time when things can really get tough out there and require some slower finesse presentations. My dropshot setup consists of six pound line, a Trokar Helix dropshot hook, and a 3/8 oz tungsten teardrop weight. I might bump the weight up if Iím consistently fishing deeper water, but once again I find that the 3/8oz weight will allow me to be versatile and fish both shallow and deep water. My favorite bait to dropshot with is the Berkley Maxscent Flat Worm in the smelt pattern. A few other favorites are gulp minnows, roboworms, and flatnose minnows.

Goingback to the ned rig. It seems like every bass tournament I compete in, there is someone who gets on a ned rig bite. A Zman mushroom head paired with a TRD is a smallie killer and can get you bites when nothing else will! A few colors to try are coppertreuse, green pumpkin, and the deal. However, you can use other baits on a ned head as well. The same baits I mentioned for dropshotting also work quite well on a ned head. Especially if the smallies are eating up smelt or shad, it isnít a bad idea to rig up a gulp minnow or maxscent flatnose minnow on that ned head, cast it deep, and slowly drag it back to the boat.
Line: Power Pro Braid 10lb to Seaguar Tatsu 6lb leader

Thatís it for todayís blog! I hope you all got a little something out of it! I wanted to let you know that if you use any of the links in this blog to make a purchase, youíll be supporting a local angler with a small commission! Thanks for reading and tight lines!

Blog content © Scott Brands
Blog Comments
jibber, 6/30/2024 7:59:24 AM
Great article on smallmouth techniques! My take away is get my lures to the bottom, closer to the rocks.
Scott Brands (Skookshunter), 7/3/2024 8:15:48 PM
Smallmouth and rocks are a good combination!
crappie-slayer, 7/4/2024 1:53:24 PM
Very well written article on one of my favorite species. I also love targeting smallmouth bass on a fly rod. Especially on leftyís deceivers(chartreuse, white, red, and black), leech patterns, and clouser minnows.
kottob, 7/17/2024 1:53:13 PM
I'm interested in the texas rigged craw. How do you suggest the retrieval? Especially over rocky bottom and rocky shelving.
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