5 Best Fall Smallmouth Bass Lures

Best Fall Smallmouth Bass Lures

Here’s a quick rundown of the five best smallmouth bass lures on the market.

Fall is an amazing time of year because fishing can be REALLY good for just about everything that swims, whether it’s smallmouth bass, walleye, muskies, crappies – you name it! They are putting on the feedbag in anticipation of winter.

Smallmouth bass will be chunky and hungry, a good combination! And you’ll need to utilized certain tactics and lures to put them in the boat.

If you prefer watching over reading, this video has all the info shared in this article:

Any links mentioned in the video can be found highlighted in this article.

For those of you looking forward to the article, let’s jump right in!


It’s tough to talk about any kind of bass fishing without talking about jigs.

When I’m thinking about jigs in fall, I’m typically thinking about anything that would imitate a crawfish – your classic “jig & pig” presentation. Darker colors that can really shine, whether it’s green pumpkin, blue/black or the classic reds and oranges you see in craw imitating baits.

Fishing football jigs is simple: Cast it towards structure, ideally in locations where the crawfish roam. These spots typically have ample rock cover.

As a general rule of thumb, this equation almost always holds true: Rock = Smallmouth Bass

Cast the jig and slowly roll it across the bottom. Maintaining bottom contact is important because smallmouth have their eyes fixed on the nooks and crannies that might be hold crayfish. It’s as simple as that.

Roll the bait across the bottom, mixing in an occasional “pop”. The pop imitates a crayfish shooting off the bottom through the water, which is something they do naturally from time to time.

Drag, pop, drag, drag, pop – SMASH!

This can be an incredibly effective technique for smallmouth bass in fall.


The next bait on the list is going to be a horizontal minnow bait – some folks in the walleye world call them glide baits or glide jigs.

A few options include Jigging Raps (the original), Puppet Minnows, Hyper Rattles, Shiver Minnows, etc.

No matter which brand you choose, you’ve got your hands on a fall smallmouth bass slayer! These baits can be particularly effective in late fall when fish are schooled-up heavily in deep water.

The method is fairly straightforward. Locate schools of smallmouth bass on your electronics and drop the bait right on top of their heads. If you have forward facing sonar (Livescope), you can make accurate casts to their location. If you only have 2D sonar, you can fish this bait vertically on top of the fish, watching the smallies AND the lure simultaneously, kind of like ice fishing.

If you are fishing vertically, work the bait a few inches above their head, ripping the bait to get their attention, then letting it settle for a few moments. Work the bait upwards and let the fish follow. It’s a lot like ice fishing.

If you’re casting the bait out away from the boat, let it crash down to the bottom, then give it a rip, letting it crash back down to the bottom again for a second or two. Rinse and repeat until a smallmouth tries to pin the bait to the bottom.

Fall smallmouth location is very similar to wintertime locations, so it’s fairly logical that you could catch them with ice fishing tactics. In the same way, jigging spoons can be effective for fall smallies, too.


Another A+ fall smallmouth tactic that can be casted or fished vertically is a dropshot.

What’s great about dropshots are how versatile they are. You can use them directly below the boat in deep water, watching the fish react on your electronics, but you can also cast it out away from the boat.

One of my favorite ways to fish a dropshot is making short pitches 40 to 70 feet away from the boat and slowly working it across the bottom. This tactic works great on vast rocky flats or over structure (main lake points or break lines).

You can feel the weight dragging across the bottom, which is key for identifying the type of bottom you’re fishing and locating transitions (rock to sand for example) that often hold big schools of fall smallmouth bass.

All you need to do is pitch it out and drag it back to the boat. The plastic itself will impart the action as it works it’s way through the water. The subtle action drives smallies crazy!  

Worm and minnow style plastics work well, but don’t sleep on the simple wacky senko. It has similar triggering capabilities to the weightless wacky senko, but you fish it a lot more precisely and efficiently.

If you’re a fan of the Bassmaster Elite Series, you probably remember Seth Feider crushing the field on Mille Lacs Lake in early fall. His tactic of choice for that tournament win was a wacky-rigged senko on a dropshot rig – it’s DYNAMITE!


You can’t talk about fall smallmouth bass without talking about swimbaits – specifically BIG swimbaits.

Leave your finesse 3.5 inch swimmers at home. Now’s the time to bust out the 5 and 6 inch baits.

Fall smallmouth bass are eating like crazy, fattening up for the winter, and they tend to prefer larger forage to gorge on. It’s also a better match-the-hatch strategy as their natural prey has grown over the course of the season, through spring and summer.

I’ll typically run a 3/4 ounce swimbait jig head, but when I want to fish faster and cover more water, I’ll upsize to a 1-ounce. This allows me to get down to the bottom quicker, and I can reel it faster while keeping the bait close to the bottom.

Fishing swimbaits is fairly simple. Cast it out, let it sink, and don’t start your retrieve until the bait hits the bottom. Once it’s down there, slowly swim it near the bottom, just fast enough to make the tail kick.

This slow-swimming technique works great in cold water. If the fish seem to be in an extra-positive mood, you might consider working the bait faster to cover more water.


Swimbaits catch them, but something you can catch them even BETTER with A-rigs.

A-rigs, Alabama rigs, umbrella rigs, “chandeliers” – whatever you want to call them, they work!

The ideal configuration is smaller swimbaits on the top with light jig heads to keep the entire system balanced correctly. 3-inch swimbait typically work great on top. You want to take a big, bulky swimbait and put it on the bottom – 5 or 6 inches is usually the key.

Some states limit the number of hooks you can run on your rigs, Minnesota for example only allows ONE total hook. That means if you’re running an A-rig with five arms, four of them need to be hookless dummy baits.

That sounds like a major issue for this technique, but it’s not.

If you rig your A-rigs like I described below, you will hook 95% of the fish that strike your rig. Smallmouth tend to key in on the bigger baitfish in the school, so by using smaller hookless lures on the top and a big one on the bottom, most fish will strike the bait with a hook.

Another tip: Make sure the big bait is a little further behind the rest of the “school”. You can also make it stick out by using a different colored swimbait.

As we mentioned earlier, the fish bites the big bait almost 95% of the time. And when they don’t, they almost always come back and bite again!

It is also worth noting, if you live in a state where you are allowed MORE than one hook. Add the extra hook and bend the arm down next to the other big swimbait, leaving two big swimbaits with hooks on the bottom and three smaller ones on the top without hooks.

How do you fish it?

A lot of people think you’re supposed to fish A-rigs suspended, but for smallmouth, you’ll be best to keep them close to bottom. Cast the rig out as far as you can, let it sink all the way down to the bottom just like the swimbait, and slowly swim it just above the bottom.

The coolest part about A-rigs is it seems to target big fish for whatever reason – a lot bigger than the other 4 techniques listed in this writeup.

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