The technique is not the lure you choose, but how you use the lure you choose. Let's start with my favorite lure…. the tube! Tube baits are the most versatile lure I know. They can be fished as a swim bait, as a dead-stick bait, weedless bait, jigged, or even a top water bait. These are all techniques. For river smallmouth bass in central Minnesota, I have come up with a few techniques that are tried and true and guaranteed to put lots of bronze backs in your boat.
In very early spring, the tube can be one of the deadliest lures I know. And the way I fish it is to cast out next to rocks or rip rap in fast moving water. Reeling it in at a very fast pace while pumping the rod slightly. This imitates a young baitfish swimming at the surface, and the smallies go nuts for it. I have found that if the rip rap is close to a jetty and you position your boat in the jetty, casting out next to the rip rap and bringing it back to the boat, you will almost every cast catch a smallie.
As the seasons change, I will change techniques as well. When early summer arrives, I switch things around and use the tube to imitate the main forage for the Mississippi smallmouth, crayfish. Cast your tube as far as you can around big boulders or just inside the change of fast water to slow water, let it sink to the bottom and snap your wrist quickly, this creates an imitation of the crayfish swimming up into the water column. As you let it settle back down to the bottom, slowly reel in line, then repeat the snap, and so on and so forth. Be ready for the fall, that is usually when you get a hit. Either you can feel the tick of the bait as its inhaled by the smallie or watch your line and you can see it twitch on the surface.
As late fall approaches, its time to slow way down and just literaly drag the tube along the bottom, just popping it over logs or rocks. The hit at this time is very subtle, but its still there, and this is where the best rods pick that hit up. Original article here
No matter where you go, tubes are going to be your most consistent bait for finding smallmouth bass. It is rare they won’t at least bite a tube some time in a given day.
There are times smallmouths won’t go for anything but tubes, but when you are having a hard time catching smallmouth bass, try to throw a tube.
If you are lucky enough to do some Mississippi River smallmouth fishing, try it for sure!