Grae Buck’s Top 3 Lures for Fall Smallmouth Bass

While still in high school, professional bass angler Grae Buck cut his teeth by catching giant smallmouth bass, and by all accounts, is now a master bronzeback angler. The past decade has proven to him that now is the time to catch a personal best. He explains, “The biggest smallmouth bite is in the fall because they are gorging for the winter!”

Grae Buck with Smallmouth bass at a tournament

Where to Find Fall Smallmouth Bass

As stated earlier, smallmouth are going to be around bait. “On reservoirs, my search begins around main river channels that swing up against the bank. These are perfect places for smallmouth to pin the bait for easy pickings.”

According to Buck, fall begins when water is between 50-60 degrees. “When the water drops below 50, the fish begin moving into their deep winter haunts.” While in the magic depth range, Buck claims shallow is the way to go. “Most of the time I am in water less than 5 feet deep.”

 On natural lakes, he will target water only 1-3 feet deep! He claims, “If you pay attention, fancy electronics are not necessary. Bait will flicker on the surface, especially as you get close to them, and that’s all I need to see to know smallmouth bass are around.”

Grae Buck smallmouth bass selfie

Buck's 3 Lures for Fall Smallmouth

Buck did not randomly select three lures; rather, smallmouth behavior dictates his choices. “Smallmouths are not blindly roaming. They are following baitfish,” he asserts. “Bait is relative to a fishery: it could be shad, perch, or even gobies. Big schools of bait form this time of year, and whatever it is, rest assured, smallmouth are with them.” For the biggest fall smallmouth bass of your life, don your warm weather gear, and tie on these three proven lures.

“No matter where I’m at in the fall, this is my first choice.” This is no light manner, “I use a ¾ ounce model. This gives a couple of advantages: it allows me to make very long casts, and it keeps me lower in the water column. I am burning this thing with a fast reel. Even a ½ ounce will rise too much.”

Buck exclaims, “Like I said, I’m looking to cover as much water as possible, but this also creates fun, violent strikes!” He reels it quickly, but also routinely “snaps and pauses the bait” to generate reaction bites.

He uses an ultra-fast 8.1 gear ratio Favorite Soleus reel with a 731 Favorite Rush Rod. “Fast cranking a slower reel wears me out quickly, but this reel allows me to work less and spend more time focused. The rod has a heavy action, but with a fast tip.” He spools it with 17-pound test Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon line.

“If I’m getting short strikes on the spinnerbait,” Buck says, “I switch to a more subtle approach with a swimbait. This is also a better option on calm, sunny days.”

His favorite color is Smoky Shad, “No matter where in the country, this color works. It’s a great all around color.”

If the vegetation is thick, he attaches a 4/0 Hayabusa WRN 958 screw lock hook. This is a Texas Rig application; however, whenever he can get away with it, he opts for an exposed jig head. “I like a 3/0 Red Fish Eye by ZMan. No matter which hook I almost always use a ¼ ounce.”

The same rod used for the spinnerbait works for the swimbait, but he grabs a slower 7.3 gear ratio Favorite Soleus reel spooled with 15-pound Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon line. “It’s important not to overwork the swimbait – let the tail do the action for you. Too fast of a retrieve will kill the action: just a steady retrieve.”

Commonly known as a Ned Rig, this is ZMan’s big version – a 4 inch model. “This time of year,” claims Buck, “Smallmouth bass are greedy and want a big meal!”

“While the other two baits are my first two choices, I never leave fish without first throwing this: it’s just a great ‘clean up’ bait.”

However, Buck will not use this bait as a search bait. “The other lures are better search baits, because this is a slow presentation. The Big TRD will get me bonus bites from a school after they stop eating the spinner bait and swimbait.”

If Buck is fishing water less than 5 feet deep, he opts for a 1/10 ounce Brush Easy Jig Head by Hayabusa. When deeper, he matches the Big TRD with a ⅕ ounce ZMan Ned Lockz painted black.

“I have two favorite colors: Yoga Pants (black) and The Deal. Black is a great contrast in almost every water color; however, if the smallmouth bass are focusing on shad and gobies, The Deal does a great job of imitating those.”

Like his other lure choices, Buck throws it on Favorite rods and reels, but prefers spinning gear. He selects a medium-heavy Favorite Hex 721 rod with a Rush 2500 Reel. He uses 15-pound Seaguar Flash Green braid as a main line and attaches 8-pound Seaguar Invizx fluorocarbon for a leader with an Alberto Knot.

Grae Buck fishes for smallmouth bass

This is the season of big smallmouth bass! Look for the baitfish and try one of Buck’s lures. You just might catch a new PB!

For more great information from Grae, check out these blogs: Choosing the Right Hook to Catch Bass, and Catching Cold Water Reservoir Bass with Grae Buck and don’t forget to follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube! 

Picture of Andrew Buss

Andrew Buss

Andrew Buss resides with his family in the great state of Indiana. When he’s not fishing, creating YouTube videos or running the Hunter of Fish Bass Circuit, he poses as a school teacher. If you’d like to see more from the #hunteroffish check out his social media channels.


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