UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

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 

Au Best in the West

Au Best in the West

While 2020 has been a year to forget for many people, Tai Au will cherish it forever. Though Au has dabbled in Toyota Series competition over the span of nearly a decade, this was the first year he went all-in to fish the entire division. In doing so, he won the season opener on Lake Havasu, banked a top 10 on the California Delta and closed it out with another win on Clear Lake to handily win the Western Division Strike King Angler of the Year title. READ MORE »

2021 BFL Schedule

2021 BFL Schedule

Major League Fishing announced today the schedule, rules, payouts and entry dates for the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine, offering weekend anglers the best payouts and advancement opportunities for the lowest entry fees available. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

The top finishers in the recent Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn caught the lake when the shallow bite was just picking up. Sticking shallow around hydrilla with a wake bait, Aaron Johnson stayed consistent and won the event. Behind Johnson, there was a lot of room for pros to fish to their strengths, though there’s no doubt that shallow eventually won out. READ MORE »

Three Generations of Chapmans Take on Lake of the Ozarks

Three Generations of Chapmans Take on Lake of the Ozarks

Three generations of the Chapman family competed on Lake of the Ozarks – Brent, his son Mason, and his father Ron. Although they’ve all fished professional tournaments before, it was the first time all three were competing in the same event. Brent fished as a pro, while Mason and Ron fished in the co-angler field. READ MORE »

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Weighing five fish for 12 pounds, 4 ounces, co-angler Anthony Templeton of Beckville, Texas, rocketed up from fifth place to win the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. With a total of 28-3, Templeton takes home a new Phoenix bass boat worth $33,500 and his first winner’s trophy with FLW. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Our crew on the water hasn’t had very good luck tracking the top pros down in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, but the fishing has still been pretty good. With the entire top 10 within striking distance, it’s still anyone’s game, and the good fishing today could help someone run into a mega-bag. READ MORE »

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Going into the final day, Blake Schroeder was just 3 ounces ahead of Aaron Johnson in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Tight to the end, both anglers brought more than 18 pounds to the scale, but Johnson’s 18-14 bag boosted his total to 54-14 and earned him the win. For the victory, Johnson takes home $31,751 and the second FLW win of his career. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition, it’s looking like the shallow grass bite is the deal in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Leading the way, Blake Schroeder had tallied a pair of 18-pound bags from shallow grass, and the pros behind him aren’t slacking on the grass game either. Heading into the final day, it’s going to be a true shootout for the win, with a Texas-sized kicker a bite away for everyone in the field. READ MORE »

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Climbing from fourth to first, Blake Schroeder took over the lead in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn with his second-consecutive 18-pound bag. Weighing 18-3 on day one, the Texas pro put an even 18 pounds on the scale on day two for a 36-3 total. Behind him, the weights are stacked, and five other pros are within 5 pounds going into the final day on the big Texas lake. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn has been exactly as forecast. Somewhat chilly, with scattered rain and wind in the morning, it’s starting to brighten up now. Though most fished with jackets and bibs on in the morning, it’s now very comfortable and the sun is out pretty steadily. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn offered pretty good fishing and a lot of options. Anglers in the top 10 fished deep, shallow and in between to catch their fish, and no one pattern dominated the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Taking the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, Cole Moore weighed an even 21 pounds to kick things off. Though the fishing was not really up to the massive heights it can reach on Rayburn, it was far from bad, and plenty of pros put together limits in the teens both shallow and deep. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event has been beautiful so far, with mild weather and apparently decent fishing. Though Rayburn isn’t kicking them out like it can, there seem to be plenty of ways to catch fish and at least one pro has seen some success. READ MORE »

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Takeoff for day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn was about as perfect as it gets. Light wind paired with crisp, comfortable temperatures and plenty of sun provided an auspicious beginning to the Toyota Series event on the sprawling Texas reservoir. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Tapped for Wild Card

Lake of the Ozarks Tapped for Wild Card

FLW announced Sunday that the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Wild Card tournament will take place on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri, Nov. 20-21. The two-day event, hosted by Fish-Intel, will launch from Public Beach No. 2 in Osage Beach. READ MORE »

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

Bradley Dortch, who grew up on the Tensaw River and the Mobile Delta, says throwing shrimp for bass is a winner, and a viable tournament technique if you use plastic ones. It all has to do with the seasonal movement of the forage. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

The Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman was a fall grinder. With the lake in fall transition and turnover occurring throughout the lake, some of the popular lure choices included shaky heads, jigs, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. Here is a closer look at the best baits of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Bass seemed to be a bit more cooperative on day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman, especially in the largemouth department. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series on Lake Norman dawned bright and sunny this morning with a morning low of about 52 degrees. A light breeze had the schooling fish popping early and anglers were taking advantage of the fall feed. A lot of topwaters, swimbaits, jerkbaits and spy baits were being offered to the schoolers on main lake points. READ MORE »

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF.   READ MORE »