Top 3 Prespawn Lures for Smallmouth Bass

Lake St. Clair and other smallmouth fisheries in the North are currently under attack by bass anglers. But you can’t blame anglers. Arguably the hardest pound for pound, fighting freshwater fish is hungry, aggressive, and vulnerable: this is the time to catch monster smallie. Their aggressive nature makes them a favorite of bass anglers, but their nonstop fighting and battles are legendary. When smallmouth are actively feeding, a piece of metal will coax bites, but the prespawn phase can find them finicky because they will get focused on a single baitfish; thus, pickiness on lure selection. Here are the top 3 prespawn lures for smallmouth bass.

While depths as shallow as 2 feet can yield some fish, normally a depth between 5-10 feet is best. Since smallmouth are largely baitfish oriented, this depth allows the baitfish to swim freely without feeling trapped against the shoreline. This is different of the prey for largemouth. Also different from their aquatic cousins, smallmouth relate to rocks more heavily than weeds. The following baits can be worked effectively in rocks and gravel.

Top 3 Prespawn Lures for Smallmouth Bass:Jerkbaits

Andy Buss at Lake St. Clair

Whenever in clear water, a jerkbait will attract smallmouth. The erratic action attracts them from a distance. Experiment with retrieve. Some days a “twitch, twitch, pause” cadence works best, but the very next day “twitch, twitch, twitch, pause” might be best.

Smallmouth are largely sight feeders, so bright colors often excel. Any combination of white with chartreuse catch them nationwide. Jerkbaits also come in many sizes. Consider the aggressiveness of the smallmouth and go big – they do not fear much. Three-inch baits can stay in the tackle box. Use 4-inch models and larger. If the wind is blowing, use jerkbaits with rattles inside them. When the water is glassy calm, use one without rattles. Unless fishing in shallow water, use a suspending model.

There is a great debate if spinning or bait casting rods are best for jerkbaits, so it comes down to personal preference, but consider tying them to fluorocarbon line. Monofilament and braid line float, but an advantage of a suspending jerkbait is it keeps it in the strike zone. Floating lines resist this. If fishing deeper than 5 feet, 10-pound test line is optimal. If shallower, a heavier 14-17-pound line gives better control of the fish and withstands contact with structure better.

Top 3 Prespawn Lures for Smallmouth Bass: Swimbaits

Jerkbaits are a power approach to fishing, while swimbaits offer a power-finesse approach. It takes a finesse retrieve while using power equipment. Different ways to rig up a swimbait exist, but if staying in the depth range of 5-10 feet, threading a standard leadhead through the bait is easy and effective.


Baitcasting gear and heavy 12-15-pound test line is a perfect compliment to the single hook of the swimbait. Color selection is like the jerkbait: bright is better. The exception to this may be on a cloudy day. Low light conditions may make a darker bait a better selection.

Only one cadence is required: a steady, slow retrieve with the rod held at an 11 o’clock position. Work it slow enough that the line “bows” between the rod tip and where the line enters the water.

Top 3 Prespawn Lures for Smallmouth Bass:Tube

Andy Buss

The aggressiveness of the smallmouth makes the horizontal baits ideal selections, but on some days, a vertical presentation is still best. When it is, a tube is difficult to beat.

In the same area, drag tubes in and around rocks and gravel. Weight selection is critical: use too heavy of a weight, and the tube will snag in the rocks. Use too light, and it will not stay in contact with the bottom. Begin with ¼ ounce weight and adjust accordingly. Keep slack in the line when twitching the bait. This will prevent movements from being too abrupt.

If your favorite waterways have smallmouth bass, there is no better time to catch a big one. They’ll put a hurtin’ on our shoulder, so take care of your body and put a FlexStepPro on your boat.

Check out more from Andy Buss on his YouTube Channel.