Spinnerbaits, while commonly avoided during colder times of the year when bass tend to be lethargic, can actually be a great search lure in the fall. They can cover a lot of ground and help you locate fish quickly. If the wind is higher and creating some waves, start by toss your spinnerbait into the shallow waters near islands or shorelines to begin your search. Here, a one-ounce bait will get the job done, and I like to go with a white and chartreuse skirt with silver willow blades.
Many anglers also look to jerkbaits during the fall, as they’re able to trigger the opportunistic biological response within a smallie. Using an erratic stop-and-go retrieve imitates a solo or dying minnow, which bass can’t help but chase down. This time of year, a four or six-inch jerkbait works well, especially natural color patterns. I’d also keep both suspending and floating models on hand, so you can adjust your presentation to appeal the mood of smallies at a given moment.
Another great search lure is the square-bill crankbait, which works best just before the water temperatures get too low. During this period, smallmouth bass will spend most of the day in the shallows, actively feeding. This behavior is why a shallow, square-bill crankbait works magic at getting them to strike. Crankbaits between 2 ¾ and 3 ½ inches are ideal, and it’s smart to keep a few different depths on hand, as well.
Lastly, aside from the lures listed above, I’ve had some good luck with soft swimbaits, too. These baits offer a lifelike profile and an enticing action that have found more than a few smallies on the end of my line. One of my favorite features of soft swimbaits is that they can cover a wide range of the water column, which many other lures can’t do. You don’t have to be too complicated with them, though; a slow, methodical retrieve is just fine. Though, I’d stick with swimbaits in the four or five-inch range.
The lures outlined today are great to keep in your utility belt if you’re thinking of heading after smallmouth bass this fall. They’ve worked wonders for myself and other anglers I’ve known, and I know they’ll produce for you, too.