Smallmouth bass are some of the scrappiest fighters in freshwater. Anyone who has hooked a smallmouth knows what fun it can be. Smallmouth feed year round though in early season they can be a little slower due to the lower water tempatures. At the same time, the earliest months of spring can be the best time to catch lots of big smallmouth bass.
Smallmouth bass are not really open water fish. Normally they stick close to cover. Early in the season especially, smallmouth bass tend to relate to large objects. That includes bolders, rock piles large tress and brush, and even walls.
Where man made objects like bridge abutments and walls protrude into the water they create a vertical structure that smallmouth bass relate to. It is not uncommon to find several smallmouth bass around such structures in months like March and April.
One of the best methods of fishing for smallmouth suspended near large structure early in the year is to use soft plastics. Tube jigs in particular can be very good. They’re easy to cast and they rarely snag up on so they can be fished in tight to cover. At the same time they have the right bulk and shape to sink slowly and tempt even slow moving bass into striking.
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Tube jigs are very easy to rig and fish. All you have to do is slide a tube jig like a Strike King Coffee Tube over a jig head with a long hook like the VMC Dominator. Next you push the eye of the hook through the tube jig. Then you tie your line to the hook eye. That’s it. To fish the tube jig setup you just cast it out as close to cover as possible and follow it as the jig slowly sinks to the bottom. A lot of times you’ll see the line go slack before the jig ever hits the bottom because smallmouth often suck it up on the drop.
Tube jigs aren’t the only soft plastic that works in this scenario of course. Creature jigs and other varieties of soft plastics also work. Some can even work better than tube jigs. A sort of hybrid soft plastic lure with two tales and a skirt up front is one of the best soft plastic lures available for early season smallmouth bass.
The Double Tail Jig sold by the Table Rock Bait company is maybe the best soft plastic lure for early season smallmouth bass available. It has a skirt in the front followed by a rigid body and ending with a double twist tail. This bait is bulky and falls extremely slowly through the water column. It is fantastic for smallmouth bass. The Skirted Twin Tail by Gary Yamamoto is another good version of this kind of soft plastic.
Double tail jigs are usually not hollow inside. So they don’t work with jig heads designed for tubes. Instead, you simply rig them on to a regular round head jig head such as the Owner Ultrahead.
A lot of soft plastics can do the trick, but some are very clearly better than others. Salted soft plastics are best for smallmouth bass early in the year. Earth tones are the most effective colors. Fish with lures in shades of green and brown for the best results.