When I think of smallmouth bass lures, I always start with the jig. It's all there, really. Everything you need to catch a brown bass can be found in that hunk of lead, strands of hair, rubber or silicone and a hook. In fact, most of the best smallmouth bass lures are jigs or variations on jigs.
I don't think that because I'm in the jig business. I'm in the jig business because I think that.
I'll bet that more smallmouth bass have been caught on jigs than any other lure … maybe more than all the other lures combined. I know that I've caught more smallmouth on jigs than anything else — especially big smallmouth.
And while a crankbait (a 600 series Bomber) caught the biggest smallmouth bass of all time (David Hayes' 11-pound, 15-ounce giant from Dale Hollow in 1955), I believe the next world record will fall to a jig of some kind. After all, the second biggest smallmouth ever caught (John Gorman's 10-14 from Dale Hollow in 1969) was taken on a jig.
So what makes the jig such a great smallmouth bass bait? It's a lot of things. First of all, a jig can mimic the action of several great smallmouth foods. If you fish a dark jig on or near the bottom, you're using the best crawfish-imitating lure ever. If you take a lighter jig and swim it up off the bottom, you've got the makings of a pretty great baitfish imitation. And with the varieties in shapes, sizes and colors we have today with better molding, better materials and better skirts, there's almost nothing a jig can't be made to copy.
Second, jigs tend to be fished slowly, and like it or not that's usually the best way to tempt smallmouth bass — especially the biggest ones. You can get away with fishing fast some of the time, but when the chips are down, the fishing's tough and no one seems to be getting many bites, you can bet that most of those bites are coming to jig fishermen who are adept at really grinding it out and fishing so slowly it almost hurts.
Finally, I think jigs are so good because fishermen tend to put them in the places that bass live. Face it, you'd sooner throw a $1 jig into a tangle or rockpile than a crankbait that might cost more than 10 times as much. That might be false economy over the long run, but it's human nature, and it means that the jig is getting the lion's share of the work in the places that bass are feeding.
Yep, if you gave me just one lure type to fish for smallmouth bass for the rest of my days (and nights, too!), it would be a jig. I've got lots of tips for how you can become a better jig fisherman, but those are other topics for other days. Stay tuned!
Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.