Smallmouth: Catch ’em two at a time

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

A couple of groups of guys have been coming in the store the past few weeks talking about a new technique they’ve been using to catch the bigger smallmouth, two at a time. I’ve never heard of it before, and it sounds crazy, but they claim it works. Here’s the deal:

We all know jerkbaits are dynamite smallmouth baits. But the really good ones run shallow. When the fish are deep, these lures won’t get down where they need to be to catch the bigger fish. My friends say they’ve solved that problem by combining deeper diving crankbaits with jerkbaits.

They do it by taking a high-quality crankbait that runs about 8 or 10 feet deep and running it in front of the jerkbait. The rig is easy to make. Tie a three-way swivel to the end of your line. On one of the remaining rings, tie a crankbait. To the other, tie a jerkbait. The crankbait should be on about a 2-foot leader and the jerkbait on a 31/2-foot leader.

Crank the crankbait down as deep as it’ll go. Then reel and stop all the way back to the boat. What happens is that the jerkbait with a short bill and a shallow depth is now running in the 8-foot range. That’s the perfect depth for this time of the year.

The reel and stop retrieve is important. That keeps the crankbait working but at the same time takes advantage of the jerkbait’s stop and go design. Casting this rig takes a little practice because the lines will tangle if you aren’t careful. The trick is to throw it hard, but not too hard. That’ll keep the jerkbait behind the crankbait. An overhead cast probably works best.

To be perfectly honest, I haven’t fished with this setup yet. And I’ve only heard about it from two groups of guys. I don’t know anyone in one group but I know everyone in the other. They tell me it works, and I know they tell the truth.

They say the first bite is almost always on the crankbait. But here’s the thing — they also say that after that happens, and the smallie starts fighting, they catch a second one on the jerkbait over half the time. I know that’s hard to believe. I wouldn’t believe it myself if I didn’t know them. But I do know them so I know they’re telling the truth.

I almost didn’t write about this because I don’t like to talk about things I haven’t done myself. If it works, though, I think everyone should be entitled to know about it and maybe give it a try. We’re all in the same game. We want to catch as many smallmouth as we can.

If it works on your lake, you’re going to catch a ton of smallies this spring. That’s a good thing. If it doesn’t, we’ll chalk it up to something we tried that didn’t fool them. It won’t be the first time the fish won.

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