fishing techniques for smallmouth

fish rocky waters with ultra-light spinning tackle

The best Smallmouth Bass fishing is in Spring. It’s also the easiest time to land Smallmouth – especially for those anglers who hibernate during the winter.


Smallmouth Bass move from deep water into water between 2 to 10 feet deep where they’ll feed on spawning crawfish.


They actively feed around fallen debris, boat docks and rocky shorelines. Although you’ll find they are suspicious of lures at this time of the season.


Begin by trolling a well-presented crankbait on a line 60 yards long over the shallows. You may intercept fish that return from deep water to the shallows after the boat passes overhead.

  • Keep your engine off as they tend to spook the fish. The use of a small trolling propeller is recommended.


It’s possible to cast long distances with ultra-light spinning equipment. Using light lures such as a small floating-diving crankbaits are best in these conditions. If the fish are uninterested, try spinners or even small spoons.


In northern climates where the Smallmouth Bass don’t get much larger than 6 lbs, use an 8 lb test line. For southern climates, it’s best to use a 12lb test line.

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth

When fishing in rivers and streams, fly fishing has to be the most enjoyable form of fishing as well as being highly recommended.


  • Fish the shallow waters at dawn, using a weight 3 fly rod and floating deer-hair bugs
  • Experiment with a 9 1/2 foot or longer leader, tapered to a 8 pound test tippet
  • Place the bug against the shore among the fallen trees and foliage
  • The strike should be expected as the bug hits the surface

Rocky waters 5 to 15 feet deep are best fished with ultra-light spinning tackle and a 1/8 ounce yellow jig with a piece of night crawler at its tip.

  • Cast the jig over the rocky area, slowly hopping the lure along the bottom. The lure imitates the motion of a crawfish or leech, and quickly attracts the attention of smallmouths.

Feeding slows before the spring spawn. While males are in shallow water, female Smallmouth school off rocky points and can be caught with slow jigs and crankbaits.

Closed Season

Smallmouth Bass are vulnerable to over fishing during this time of year. Just before spawning and up until they’ve finished spawning. Greedy anglers can greatly harm the Smallmouth Bass population, and all fishing at this time should be limited to catch and release.


During the spawn, and a week or so after spawning occurs, knowledgeable anglers stop their Smallmouth Bass fishing. By removing the male from his lookout, crawfish, bait fish, and newts will quickly consume the unguarded eggs.


We also recommend that you check your local tackle shop to find out when they’re in season as many states and provinces close the season on smallmouth bass until late spring.