Smallmouth Bass Fishing Tips from Matt Straw (In-Fisherman)

aj hauser matt straw smallmouth bass fishing tips

I’ve met a lot of really cool dudes since I started working on this website. Guys will reach out and let me know what they think about something they read, or something they’re working on. We’ll talk about fishing. Life. Sometimes personal stuff.

It’s really cool.

This morning I got an email from my buddy Ron Richards, who let me know he was heading to Texas until April.



I had to laugh. “Brother I am stuck here in Illinois sharpening hooks and organizing tackle. Very jealous – let me know how it goes and have a safe trip!

To say that I’m envious would be an understatement. When you don’t ice fish, this is the cold reality of living in a state like Illinois through the winter months. We shut down.

Hell, it was -30° with the wind chill the other day.



Ah well… thankfully, life goes on, and we would be foolish to sit about feeling sorry for ourselves instead of being productive. Let’s take a look at some really good tips that I had earmarked a few months back in an In-Fisherman article by Matt Straw simply titled: “Smallmouths My Way“.

(Matt Straw is one of my favorite writers / authors, and over the years I have found myself seeking his material out more and more. I never skip one of his articles, and hopefully one day I’ll get to shake his hand and thank him.)

1. You’ll Catch More Smallmouth Bass Using Lighter Line

Seems like common sense, right?

It ain’t… and let me tell you, it takes some steel cojones to go back to light line after you’ve had your heart broken into tiny pieces by a trophy bass.

Yes, I’m speaking from experience.

No, I do not use light line often.

Yes… I just insulted my own cojones…

Cerrano marbles cojones gif

Matt makes the case for light line and longer rods, culminating with a story about a 17-pound steelhead he landed on – get this – 3-pound monofilament.

Unreal. If 3-pound test can bring in a 17-pound beast of a river fish, then 4-pound test is worth revisiting for touchy smallmouth in my skinny water. Make sure to go with a high-quality line though, like Seaguar InvizX. That’s a fluorocarbon, which is my preference. Matt suggests monofilament. Just be aware of the stretch if you go this route (something those longer poles can offset).

Either way, as more and more bass are caught and angling pressure continues to increase, lighter, less-visible fishing line is going to become even more important.

Mule Jig Donkey Tail Largemouth Bass
I’ve landed some really nice bass on 4-pound test, including this largemouth on a Mule Jig. I’ve broke a few off as well…

2. Turn Off All Electronics

Talons. Spot-Locks. Side-Imaging. Down-Imaging. Image-Imaging.

All of these toys that we want to play with make noise. Pings. Dings. Noise that lets bass know we’re encroaching on their territory.

Gives ’em lockjaw.

I’ll have to remember this, because I’m eyeing up a new trolling motor that can follow a path to cart me around in the jon boat this summer when I’m fishing alone…

Minn Kota Powerdrive Trolling Motor
Hubba Hubba

Not to mention, my Garmin is usually on so I can map the bottom.

garmin striker fishfinder sonar vivid 9sv

Better get my new battery first so I don’t get stranded anymore… but then, if the bass are spooky – we’ll go mega-stealth mode!

3. Always Have A Pole In The Water

This one can be challenging, especially if it’s windy or you’re fishing alone. However, if you are in a boat, floating a stickbait underneath a bobber on a secondary pole can be a great way to pick up a few extra bass. This worked really well for me last summer while I was trying to learn as much as possible about a new Illinois Rock Quarry.

pit quarry fishing largemouth bass clear jon boat
Illinois Rock Quarry Fishing

Matt mentioned that he always has at least one pole in the water at all times. So, if he needs to retie, or if he’s eating a sandwich or fixing something that takes two hands – floating a stickbait can pick up a few extra fish in the area.


I like to do this with Dingers and Ochos – which reminds me – if you clicked on the big blue button at the bottom of this page to support this website by pitching in for a pack of Dingers – thank you!

4. Stop Stinkin’

We all smell.

Some worse than others… especially after ingesting cabbage, or undercooked burgers… but I digress.

Matt mentioned that smallmouth bass don’t have the olfactory abilities of steelhead, but as a salmon fisherman, he got into the habit of hiding the smell of L-serine. That’s an amino acid that’s on all of our hands. It’s on racoons and bears, too.

Salmon avoid it.

Smallmouth bass might not care about L-serine, but there might be something else on our hands that they reject. It’s in our best interest to mask any offending odors.

I’m in.

Matt suggests “juicing all of your baits“, so that’s what I’m going with – even though there are a ton of scents on the market.

dr juice bass attractant scent

If it lives in a bag, it’s gettin’ juiced!

Now go, my friend, and prosper – you’re armed with the knowledge necessary to defeat the mighty smallmouth bass.

Keep learning. Keep prepping.

Sharpen them hooks & organize your gear, because spring will be here before we know it…

Thank God.

Monster Wisconsin Smallmouth Bass on a Tube AJ Hauser
Absolute unit. Can’t wait.

Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.

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Thank you Readers!

Thanks for visiting! I’m going to keep doing everything possible to keep the helpful content coming, and FREE FOR EVERYONE… but I need your help. Please chip in by making a small monthly contribution to keep this site alive & growing. $4.96 will buy a sweet Pack ‘o Dingers, and with it, I promise to catch many bass in your honor. Thanks. You are a gentleman & a scholar! -AJ

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