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Stream Smallmouths For Beginners

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

with a tapered spool for long, easy casts and fill it with a quality brand of 6-pound test monofilament.

When fishing in streams, frequent encounters with rocks, sticks and vegetation will eventually weaken the line to the point that a strong surge by even a bantamweight smallmouth will snap it. Frequently check your line by running the foot or two nearest the lure between your thumb and index finger. If you feel a nick or a kink, cut off the damaged portion and retie.

Basic Lures

Smallmouth bass eat everything from bugs and nymphs to crawdads and minnows, lizards, snakes and frogs. Your lures should mimic their natural food items. To consistently catch smallmouths, you need only a simple selection of crankbaits, topwater plugs and soft plastic baits like worms and grubs.

Floating Minnow (Jerkbaits) - For me, the best floating minnow lures are made of balsa wood.

For stream smallmouths, choose a lure about three inches long, colored silver with a black back and white belly. Gold with a black back and white belly is often more effective in stained water and on cloudy days.

Small Plastics - Nothing catches smallmouth bass as consistently as soft plastic lures. Variants include the ever-dependable worm, lizard and grub, among others. They come in many colors, but you can't go wrong with black or blue. In streams, I prefer olive green or pumpkinseed. Use small sizes, between 3 and 6 inches long.

Another consideration is that soft plastic lures bond to any foreign substance they touch, some of which contain scents which may repel fish, such as sunscreen. If you apply sunscreen while fishing, wash your hands before handling your soft plastic baits.

Topwater Lures -There are many types of topwater plugs, but they're all designed to provoke a fish to strike by disturbing the water surface. Examples include "chuggers" or "poppers," which have a concave face designed to pop and throw water, and "prop baits," which have small propellers on the front and/or back that sputter when you pull them through the water.

Another excellent topwater lure is the buzzbait. Similar to a spinnerbait, the buzzbait has a lead body with a colored skirt and a wide blade that churns the water with a chirping sound when retrieved.

Crankbaits - A crankbait is basically a tapered, teardrop-shaped lure with two treble hooks attached underneath. The lure wobbles when you retrieve it, sending vibrations through the water. Many crankbaits have rattles inside

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