Smallmouth bass have a hardcore following of anglers who will fish in freezing temperatures to have a chance at the catch of a lifetime. You can be sure that anglers willing to go out in very cold weather just to fish for the smallmouth are going to want everything they can have in their favor.
One way to do this is to use lures that are known to be top producers for coldwater smallmouth — jigs, crank baits, big spinner baits, rattle trap-style baits and the tube bait. The tube bait shares a lot of the positive factors of the jig in that it can be fished 12 months of the year. Simply by making small changes like line size, speed of retrieve, color of bait and area fished, you can make the tube bait a great way to catch cold water smallies.
Most anglers like to stick to two color patterns. One has the shad colors like silver with black fished in clearer water, and other is the crawdad-colored bait in the more off colored or slightly stained water. Colors like brown, orange, red, blue, green, and black are great color choices.
Most smallmouth anglers will use the shad-colored baits in the more open water areas and around light cover. Fish the darker crawdad-colored baits in darker water and around heavier cover. Just about anywhere you can or will fish a jig this time of year, you can fish a tube bait.
Use a long rod with a fairly stiff tip and with a good backbone like a medium heavy action rod. I like to fish the tube bait this time of year on around a 10- to 12-pound test line. The clear fluorocarbon line works very well as the line is practically invisible under the water.
Fish this bait on a weedless jig head setup. Around a 3/8-ounce is a good all around size.
Look for banks with large broken scattered rocks or with shale or small gravel size rocks. Smallmouth love these types of banks in the cooler weather. Make your casts close to the bank and work the bait back slowly to the boat and feel for any type of pull or tug. This is just like jig fishing but you can fish this bait a little faster at times.
When planning your next smallmouth trip, stock up on tube baits and give them a try.
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