UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To

Make a Tiny Swimbait Your Winter Go-To
Casey Smith

Wintertime and late fall fishing can be super fun, especially up north, when smallmouths are often fat and fairly grouped up. However, it’s not the time of year when you want a ton of rods on deck, and having a confidence bait or two is a must. For Casey Smith, the go-to winter weapon is super simple: a little bitty swimbait on a jighead.

 

Casey Smith

The lowdown on the bait

Smith’s go-to winter swimbait is the 2.8-inch Keitech Swing Impact FAT. Though the Keitech swimbait is probably the most popular in this size class, it isn’t alone anymore in the market. The Jackall Rhythm Wave, Berkley PowerBait Power Swimmer and a few others also come in a tiny size. 

Smith typically mounts his swimbait on a 1/4- to 1/2-ounce tungsten football head from Keitech. His current favorite is an unreleased version of the Keitech Super Tungsten Football Head, usually with the weed guard clipped off. He particularly likes the hook because it’s stouter than some other finesse-style swimbait heads.

“I used to use just a ball head and little grubs, but the 2.8 is a much better swimmer and has more of a baitfish profile, and the football head can get in the rock and doesn’t hang up,” says Smith. “And, if you’re in a situation where you’re swimming it, that football head doesn’t impede it at all.”

For swimbait colors, he sticks with baitfish standards such as bluegill flash or alewife most of the time, but on Erie or somewhere with gobies or lots of perch he often turns to green pumpkin or a perch color.

The tackle is a pretty straightforward. Smith uses a 7-foot, 2-inch spinning rod in a medium-heavy power, 10- or 15-pound-test braid and an 8-pound-test flourocarbon leader.

“I want that backbone,” Smith says of his preference for a bit more rod than usual. “When you launch it way out there and it’s deep, you want to get a hook in them and make sure you’ve got ’em.”

 

Casey Smith

Why and how

You can catch plenty of fish on bigger stuff when the water is warm (not that the 2.8 doesn’t do work then, too), but come winter, the little 2.8 can shine.

“No. 1 is that they eat it really well,” says Smith. “It’s just a little snack. Big baits on Ontario are a little bit of an exception. Everywhere else in the fall you want to downsize a little bit as the water gets super cold. For me it comes out super late, after the umbrella rig bite dies off, when they won’t come up as high in the water column to bite something. That’s when I put that on, and it gets to a point really late, when the water gets to about 42 degrees or under, that you’ve gotta put something right on the bottom and right in their face. That’s where that thing is perfect, too.”

One of the keys to the small swimmer is how efficient it is compared to other baits. With the proper size jighead, Smith can keep it right at the desired depth and cover quite a bit of water. 

“I use it instead of a Ned or a drop-shot because you can cover more water,” says Smith. “The good thing about it is that you can cover the water, and if you see a fish on your graph beneath the boat you can drop it down and they’ll bite it just like they bite a drop-shot.”

The places he targets are pretty broad – deep flats, points, humps and really any place in 10 to 35 feet that might have a smallmouth or two.

“There are times when I want it swimming, when I don’t want it on the bottom,” says Smith. “That’s usually when I use the 1/4-ounce head, and I’ll just adjust my speed. There are a lot of times when I use the 1/4; if you’re fishing a deep flat with rock, or on a really steep point, you might throw across the end and really not be fishing the bottom. The heavy ones are more for when I want it closer or on the bottom.”

Wherever he’s fishing it, Smith says finding the right cadence is important.

“Like any swimbait, the key is the right speed. You can’t go too fast,” says Smith. “The way I judge it is to watch my line. When I’m going too fast my line is tight. When I’m reeling it just right it’s got a little bit of a sag. That’s an indicator you’ve got the right weight. If you’re really at the right speed and your line doesn’t have the right sag then you’ve got the wrong weight.”

 

Casey Smith

Keep plugging

When the water gets cold and the weather gets bad it’s easy to head to the woods or the couch, but staying with it can have tremendous rewards. On the Great Lakes and most other Northern fisheries the smallmouth keep biting until ice makes it impossible to reach them. If you’ve got the right baits and know where to put them, you can really make some hay.

Tags: keitech  -new-york  -smallmouth  -winter  jody-white  article 

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Fishing tournaments in general is obviously a blast, but we like to think that fishing the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine is especially fun. READ MORE »

BFL Registration Now Open

BFL Registration Now Open

Boaters and co-anglers interested in fishing the Hoosier, Michigan, Music City and Volunteer divisions of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine can begin registering today, Dec. 9. READ MORE »

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

In recent years, fishing a lipless bait, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig in offshore grass in Florida has lit up the leaderboard in many tournaments. Tyler Woolcott, a second-year pro from Port Orange, Fla., has plenty of experience tracking the bass in offshore grass throughout the seasons, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from him. READ MORE »

Registration Starts Monday 

Registration Starts Monday 

This year, things are better than ever for anglers looking to get in on the action of the Bass Fishing League, which is the premier grassroots tournament circuit. MLF and FLW are rolling back entry fees – now just $200 per boater and $100 per co-angler for one-day qualifiers and $300 per boater and $150 per co-angler for two-day Super Tournaments. Those are the lowest entry fees since 2014.  READ MORE »

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and The Bass Federation (TBF) announced today a new strategic partnership. This agreement extends bass fishing’s longest-running alliance between two pioneering organizations in service to grassroots anglers from coast to coast and around the world. READ MORE »

2020 High School Fishing Details

2020 High School Fishing Details

Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series Championship to compete as co-anglers and fish for the top prize of $30,000, in addition to each receiving a $5,000 scholarship to a school of their choice. READ MORE »

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

FLW has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective immediately, Phoenix will assume title sponsorship of the FLW Bass Fishing League, which recently announced decreased entry fees to offer grassroots anglers the best payouts at the lowest cost available. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. READ MORE »

Wall Back to Building Baits

Wall Back to Building Baits

The offseason for many professional anglers is a time to hang out with family and take a step away from a bass boat, while some even swap time on the water for time in a deer stand or duck blind. Not so for Jacob Wall, who just wrapped his first year as a professional angler. READ MORE »

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Bryan Thrift and David Dudley will be joining the 2020 Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour. READ MORE »

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – especially those we might not get to see that often. And, of course, it’s time to indulge in some delicious food while giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For professional anglers, the holiday is even more special because it lands during that small portion of the year when they’re not on the road and can spend a little extra time relaxing at home. READ MORE »

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

Jacob Yelton and Richard Thornburg, both of whom fished as co-anglers in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League this season, are each proud recipients of a brand new Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS ATV as winners of the Polaris Sportsman Giveaway. READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” Slegona says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.” READ MORE »

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Growing up on Lake Okeechobee, Jared McMillan loves to flip for big fish when the opportunity presents itself, but he’ll be the first to tell you that mid-November can be one of the best times to be on the water. READ MORE »

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

The most exciting thing I have going on currently is that I just picked up my 2020 Ranger 520L, and the prepping and rigging happens on the weekends. I’m hoping to get out on the water sometime after Thanksgiving to test it out. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 5 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

The schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI season are now available, highlighted by the FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla., and advancement opportunities for anglers to compete in the Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American and the FLW Series Championship. All teams also now have the freedom to add as many nonconference tournaments to their schedule as they like.  READ MORE »

Less Stress and More Fun

Less Stress and More Fun

After qualifying for the FLW Tour out of the FLW Series Northern Division for the second time in 2018, Slegona finally had the money lined up and hit the big leagues. So, he pointed his Tundra and Skeeter toward Texas in December to start an adventure that was a lifetime in the making. READ MORE »

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with South Carolina pro Bradford Beavers.  READ MORE »

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

Why You Should Crank Current Breaks Now

“It’s almost like a wintertime pattern already,” Salzman says. “It’s kind of interesting. Because it’s been so hot and then so cold, the fish kind of got into the mouths of the creeks this year and never fully pushed into them. The majority of the bait is on the main lake on every lake in Alabama. The water temp was falling so quickly that the back bays were too cold, so the most stable water is on the main lake.” READ MORE »