Spring Smallmouth Bass Location and Jerk Bait Presentation

When the snow melts and lake and river temperatures start to rise, it’s time to prepare for smallmouth bass before spawning. Hard-bodied or articulated jerk baits designed to be suspended in water are an excellent choice at this time of year, especially on cloudy and windy days when the small mouth appears to be more aggressive. On the contrary, it seems that slower moving weightless plastics seem to work better on calm, sunny days.

Tackle and tackle: I normally use 3 sticks mounted to fish with a jerk bait.

  1. Medium fast action 7 ‘rod with a reel of 5: 1 or more, Abu Garcia makes a great pair of reels for jerk bait fishing. Line it up with a 15 pound braid with a fluorocarbon leader and you have a great setup for your larger hard baits and larger spinning lures.

  2. I love this setup on sunny mornings. 6’3 “Medium Lightweight Quantum MXP Rod, 4: 1 Spinning Reel, 10lb Braid w / 18-Inch 8lb Fluorocarbon Guide. This is my soft plastic pull and pull bail setup., Offset hooks # 3 1 / 64-1 / 32oz weighted (optional).

  3. Daiwa Medium 7 ‘spinning rod with a spinning reel of 4: 1 or higher with 6 pound fluorocarbon line. This is a wild rod, in the past I have had success with this using weightless fins and smaller hard bodied baits. What I have found is that since the fluorocarbon line sags it has a tendency to take the hard and soft plastic baits a little deeper and the 6 pound line feels a little better with the lighter baits than the 10 pound baitcasting launch configuration. If I could only take one, I would take this one because I think it is the most versatile, but the other settings are specific to the task.


  1. Hard Baits: Husky Jerk # 10, Floating Raps # 7, Berkley Cutter 90 are great options. Natural colors in clear waters and heavily fished areas, white, pearl, perch and Chartreuse are the winners in spring in spotted water.

  2. Soft Body Baits – Zoom super fluke 5 “, these simply have great movement and seem to outperform any other soft plastic baits that I use. In recent years, Berkley Gulp Alive, KVD and others have also featured good quality products. Texas rigged without weeds, these baits are dynamite in the spring.


Spring is such a good time for smallmouth because at no other time of year are its patterns more predictable and there are so many large females “stacked” in the same place. Focusing on areas of deep water falls and inland spawning areas 10 feet deep with gravel bottom and soil structure is a great place to start. Large egg-laden females will actively feed and may have multiple trophies in the same small cleft or around the same stump. The smallmouth will spend most of the winter in 30-40 feet of water and then move to shallow plains just after the ice is removed and until spawning, which usually begins when the water temperature reaches 50 ° C. Any large floor in 8-15 feet of water along with 30-40 shelves is a good place to start. Look for a gravel bottom, often a good pile of rocks or stump could contain 10 large females during this time of year.

Largemouths often need to see baits a couple of times before deciding to attack if they are not actively feeding, so if you see an attractive spot, make 3-4 casts before moving. When they are feeding and you catch one, be sure to cast back to the same spot because large females are rarely alone at this time of year. This can be one of the funniest and fastest fishing of the year. When they are feeding, it is not out of the question to land five four-pound fish in ten sets.

When it’s cloudy and windy, it seems to shake its small mouth and have the best bite. Whenever I use a jerk bait in the wind, I always use larger and heavier hard body baits. I also work the bait faster than with soft plastics. Rapala Husky Jerk 10 is a favorite bait in these conditions, with white, chartreuse and pearl white being the hot colors. I always check with a bait shop or online for hot colors in a particular body of water.

Soft plastics are an art form, and I like to install them on calm, sunny days. I work the bait about 3-5 feet deep with longer pulls mixed with short ticks. One key tip is to keep a constant slack on the line, especially when using the braided line setting, it will give the bait a more erratic dart movement and the contractions will look more realistic. Also use the line as your hit indicator, when you see the slack tighten set that hook. I remember once a friend and I were in the same boat using the same colors and the same bait. The only difference was that he added miniscule weight and was working the bait at a rate that averaged 3 sets on each of my casts. At the end of the 75 minutes it was 14 fish and he had 1 and I averaged 16 “per fish with a four pound pair, nineteen inches smaller. The only difference was that he had no added weight and was working the bait very slow, sometimes as slow as 4-6 seconds between actions. This method is especially deadly on a calm sunny morning, smallmouths are not as nervous as they will be when the wind picks up, but they are always ready for an easy meal. This is usually the first lure I start with and the last one I finish with.

For the people who fish them, spring bass fishing is one of a kind. Using jerk and twitch baits is one of the most fun ways to catch them. Tight lines!

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