Smallmouth Bass Fishing In Clear Water

jerkbaitSome smallmouth bass anglers think that fishing for bronzebacks in clear water is difficult. After all, when the water is clear, isn’t it hard to fool the bass into eating artificial baits?

When you fish for smallmouth bass in clear water you have to be willing to vary your strategies if you plan to be successful. In clear water, the smallmouth bass can see your lures clearly so these freshwater game fish who feed on crayfish, insects and baitfish must be tricked into hitting your offering. It might seem difficult because the water is clear but actually, there is an unexpected benefit because that means the bass can see your bait from a long distance and can come from 30 feet deep or 20 yards away to see what you have to offer.


Clear water smallies will generally be located either at the bottom of the lakes or in the weed and rock areas. The food for these bass will generally be found in these areas and it also provides them a place to hide from the sun. Smallies often travel in schools and will follow baitfish around the lake or linger in an area that is a great ambush point.

Smallmouth bass are attracted to lures which resemble small fish or crawdads so you will need to use the lures which have color and create quick movements similar to their usual meals. The two best type of lures to use are soft plastic and suspending jerkbaits and tube jigs.


Lucky Craft PointerThe great thing about jerkbaits is that when they are in the water they create the same convulsive movements of small fish eaten by smallmouth bass and can call fish from a long distance. However, just throwing your bait into the water will not be sufficient. You need to make sure that your lures have the correct colors for the day and the fishing line is the correct weight. On days in which the skies are blue and the sun is shining its best to use lure that has colors such as chrome and gold or has some green color in it. If the day is overcast, use a solid color or a lure that is made of solid colors, white or a color that is in between green and blue and chartreuse is often productive. When a bronzeback takes an interest in a jerkbait, it will attack it with a vengeance so be prepared for your fishing rod to be practically ripped out of your hand.

Line selection can improve your chances of success. Using ten pound test flourocarbon will allow the jerkbait to create better action and reducing the chances of the line scaring off wary smallies.


The second lure one can use is the tube jig or a drop shot with any variety of soft plastic minnow, worms or tubes. These are great in deep clear water. Tubes are typically hopped along the bottom mimicking crayfish or baitfish. After dragging your lure on the bottom quickly raise the line approximately five to ten feet above the lake bottom. Depending on the depth, 1/8 to 3/16th oz is often sufficient weight for your jig head. You will need to manipulate your rod with short, quick thrusts followed by short pauses to make it resemble the action of prey. Drop shotting is similar in concept but allows the bait to stay a short distance from the bottom in the strike zone of the smallmouth bass.


Spinnerbait with grubAnother great option in clear water is a white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait with willow leaf blades that is burned with a 6 or 7 to 1 gear ratio baitcaster just below the surface. This action often triggers a massive feeding instinct because it resembles a school of baitfish.

If these techniques don’t work for you, there is nothing wrong with changing things up completely and throwing a wacky rigged Senko and allow it to sink and twitch while sitting on the bottom of the lake.

Fishing for smallies in clear water doesn’t have to be frustrating. Start with these techniques but be prepared for other options as bass don’t read these articles. They can do whatever they want on any given day!

Tight lines!

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