UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Norman

Matt Lee’s Smallmouth Keys: Bright Braid, Smelly Baits

Matt Lee’s Smallmouth Keys: Bright Braid, Smelly Baits
Matt Lee

MLF pro Matt Lee may have cut his teeth fishing for largemouth and spotted bass south of the Mason-Dixon line, but the Alabama native has proven his smallmouth chops time and again throughout his professional career. Lee looks forward to the yearly northern swing, when tournament trails head north to famed bronze-bass fisheries.

Lake Erie out of Sandusky, Ohio is the playing field for the FLW Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit anglers this week, and it’s sure to come with its share of drama. Big water, big brown bass, and long runs are on the minds of all competing anglers. Lee is coming off two solid tournaments on Sturgeon Bay and the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, where smallmouth were key for both finishes.

While it sounds like the Lake Erie smallmouth have been somewhat unreliable for the Carhartt pro this week, Lee still graciously laid out two tips for catching more smallmouth that you can take to the bank.

 

Use Bright Braided Line

Finesse equipment is synonymous with northern smallies like spaghetti is with meatballs. Lee is an expert with his spinning setups and doesn’t hesitate to admit they do the lion share of his heavy lifting when catching smallmouth.

Lee’s first tip comes before he ever begins to decide what lure(s) he might throw; first, he fills his size 30 Quantum Smoke S3 Spinning Reels with highly visible 30-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid.

“Using a super high-vis line color is extremely helpful,” Lee said. “I’ve been using the ‘Flash Green’ color. Having a bright main line helps in multiple ways. It makes it easier for me to see what my bait is doing, and it helps me detect bites. You’ll be able to see if your bait is on the bottom or still sinking, and if your line jumped with a bite or if it’s swimming off to the side much, much easier.”

Lee always ties a Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon leader to his braided main line when finesse fishing. So he still gets the sneaky, subtle advantages of fluorocarbon, while also taking advantage of the visibility, sensitivity, and durability of braid.

“I’m still young but I’m not scared to admit that bright line helps me keep eyes on it,” Lee joked. “In all seriousness, seeing what your bait is doing while it’s on the bottom is a big deal in finesse fishing. It also saves me a lot of money cause I’m only going through 8-15 feet of fluorocarbon leader line at a time instead of a whole spool.”

 

Matt Lee

Add scent to your soft plastics 

A second step Lee takes when he knows he’s headed to battle with smallmouth is adding different scents to his soft-plastic finesse baits. It’s no secret smallmouth are aggressive sight feeders and locate most of their meals with their eyes. Ironically, that’s why Lee believes scents work so well on bronzebacks.

“Smallmouth might see your lure from a long way off but they don’t always just race in and eat it,” Lee explained. “I think your lure catches their attention and a lot of times they’ll come in for a closer look. That’s where adding scent is key. When that bait has natural scent flowing off of it I don’t think smallmouth can help themselves.”

While you might not think of clear water fisheries as ideal places to start boosting soft plastics with scent, Lee conceded he only takes this step when targeting northern smallmouth. He genuinely believes this process gives him a potential edge over his competition. And when you fish against the bunch Lee does, you can’t take anything for granted.

“I must have gone through two bottles of scent adding them to my 6th Sense Ned Fry Worms at Sturgeon Bay,” Lee admitted. “There isn’t any brand or particular flavor I live and die by, I’ve tried them all. Pro-Cure, Gulp, BANG – they all seem to work. As long as you have some kind of scent for those smallmouth to key in on when they cruise by your bait, you’ll catch more fish.”

Tags: luke-stoner  article 

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 »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 3

It is the final day here at the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake and another beautiful day with the top 10 pros and co-anglers trying their best to take home the title. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 2

The second day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake began with slightly cooler weather, but it has turned into a beautiful day here in the Golden State. READ MORE »

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

Clear Lake Midday Update – Day 1

The first day of the Toyota Series Western Division event on Clear Lake started with calm conditions and pleasant weather. Some of the anglers surveyed today were struggling to get bites and others seem to have the fishing dialed in. It appears to be feast or famine so far, but there will be some solid bags crossing the stage starting at 3 p.m. PT this afternoon. READ MORE »

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

TITLE Coming to the Mississippi

FLW and Explore La Crosse announced Thursday that the 2021 Tackle Warehouse TITLE, the Pro Circuit Championship, will be held Aug. 17-22, 2021, on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Although FLW’s top championship has been held on the Mississippi River once before – in Moline, Illinois in 1998 – this event marks the first time that FLW has hosted its premier event in La Crosse. READ MORE »

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

From the Mississippi River to the Peshtigo River, Wisconsin and the surrounding region has miles of flowing water chock full of smallmouth bass. In the recent Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, Matt Stefan targeted rivers flowing into Green Bay for the majority of his catch, and in doing so, he was able to tap into a skillset that he’s groomed for years on the Wisconsin River and other flowages near him. READ MORE »

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

2021 Toyota Series Championship Hits Pickwick

FLW and the Hardin County Convention & Visitors Bureau announced Wednesday that Counce, Tennessee, will host the prestigious 2021 Toyota Series Championship, Oct. 28-30, 2021, on Pickwick Lake. READ MORE »

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

Annual Bass Fishing Hall of Fame Auction Goes Digital

The Bass Fishing Hall of Fame is excited to announce its first Digital Hall of Fame Week, which will be anchored by a massive online auction offering up an incredible selection of fishing-related items not available elsewhere. READ MORE »

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

2021 All-American Heads to Douglas

FLW announced Tuesday that the 38th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held on Tennessee’s Douglas Lake in 2021. READ MORE »

2021 National Championship set for Grand

2021 National Championship set for Grand

FLW announced Monday that the 12th annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship will be held on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in 2021. The tournament, slated for March 3-5, showcases the nation’s best collegiate anglers and awards the winners a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard and automatic entry into the 2021 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete for a top prize of up to $235,000. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 3

Championship Saturday of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel followed its pattern of the week with anglers failing to capitalize on sparse opportunities. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 2

Anglers said Thursday that current didn’t matter during the first round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel at Lake Dardanelle, but apparently it matters more than they thought. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. READ MORE »

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

Tommy Skarlis, 1965-2020

FLW learned today that former FLW Walleye pro Tommy Skarlis of Denver, Iowa, passed away after a battle with brain cancer. He was 55. READ MORE »

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Originally from Wisconsin and sometimes wearing a Green Bay Packers hoodie on stage, Dustin Smith doesn’t fit the mold of Toyota Series Southeastern Division Strike King Angler of the Year. Still, Smith hammered out a pair of top 10s and a 27th-place showing en route to the title, and his style of fishing was simply perfect for this season in the Southeastern Division. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac Midday Update – Day 3

Clouds have lingered throughout the morning, which most of the top 10 were thankful for as the bite has been better than it was during practice when conditions were calm and sunny. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac Midday Update – Day 2

Clouds once again greeted the field for day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River and the fish were biting this morning. With low tide this morning around 8:40 a.m. ET – about an hour and a half later than yesterday – more anglers had time to capitalize on the strong bite revolving around that window today. READ MORE »

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac Midday Update – Day 1

It was a gloomy start to the first day of competition for the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on the Potomac River, and though it seems like a fishy day, so far the fish don’t seem to think so. READ MORE »

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Schedule

The 26th season of FLW’s top professional circuit will feature six regular-season tournaments showcasing the best 150 anglers in the world competing for as much as $135,000 in a five-biggest-fish format on top bass fisheries at peak times. The 2020 season culminates in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Toyota, where the top 50 pros will compete for as much as $235,000 in a catch, weigh, immediate-release format. READ MORE »