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Stream Smallmouths For Beginners

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2002

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

to help attract fish.

Small crankbaits most closely resemble the size of a smallmouth's preferred prey in streams. Choose lures that dive to mid-range depths, as well as a few deep divers to reach deeper structure. A deep-diving crankbait has a long, straight bill on the front, and a medium-diver has a short, steep-pitched bill.

In the summer and fall, brown and red can be very effective. White, blue/white, chartreuse and firetiger patterns work well in the winter and spring.

Time to Fish!

This selection of lure types enables you to fish every layer of water in any stream. Topwaters cover the surface, and soft plastics probe the bottom. Floating minnows allow you to work up to a foot or two below the surface, and crankbaits cover deeper depths.

Fish slowly, and break down every pool into sections. Notice every rock, every eddy and current break, every log and every bush or plant. Use your lures to isolate or eliminate productive and non-productive water. When you finally hit the right spot, the shock of a smallmouth strike will jangle every nerve in your body.

Gettin' Cranky

Because it relies entirely on motion, the crankbait is the easiest lure to use.

Instead of using a constant, steady retrieve, vary the speeds of return. Reel one cast slowly, and then rip the next one. Also, alternate between fast and slow on the same retrieve. Jerk your rod tip up, down and to the sides as you crank. This will make the lure dart, dive and roll.

You can also provoke strikes by bouncing crankbaits off rocks and logs. The crankbait's big lip usually hits the object and bounces free before the hooks can make contact. When the lure hits something, it makes a loud click underwater. Stop your retrieve immediately. This makes it appear that the lure is stunned and vulnerable, and a smallmouth will often try to eat it.

(Soft) Plastic Makes Perfect!

Soft plastic lures are designed to invade tight places where fish hide, so they're most effective when presented to a specific target.

In streams, the standard way to rig a worm is Texas style. For Texas rigging, slip a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce bullet weight to your line, and then tie on a size 1/0 or 2/0 worm hook. Insert the hook into the head of the worm and thread it through the body about one-half inch. Exit the hook point through the body and thread the head of the worm

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