3 Successful Strategies Bank Fishing For Smallmouth Bass

Bank fishing for smallmouth bass

Here’s a list of 3 key elements to help you be more successful while bank fishing for smallmouth bass. It is absolutely possible to catch good numbers of smallmouth bass without a boat–I have done it plenty of times. In this article, you will learn what I have discovered to be the best practices to help you catch more while bank fishing for smallmouth bass. This article includes the best baits, how to find the right places to fish from, and how to fish effectively from the shore.

Despite popular opinion, I have found shore fishing to be better, at times, than fishing off a boat. The one major benefit is you don’t drift off your spots. This allows you to fish a productive area more thoroughly than your boating counterparts. Also, bass spend a lot of time in shallow water along the bank, which makes shore fishing especially effective because you are sitting right on them. For those two reasons, I’m excited to share with you my formula for better success while bank fishing for smallmouth bass.

4 Good Baits for Bank Fishing for Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth are very aggressive and will eat many different kinds of lures, but shore fishing is different. You need to use baits that will help you fish effectively. I have found heavier baits that you can cast a far distance is best practice while bank fishing for smallmouth bass. The further you can cast, the further out to the deep you can get your lure. You will also spook less fish when making long parallel casts along the bank. This list of baits fit the description of effective and productive methods to catch those bronze back bass.

Topwater Spook

I find a Topwater Spook works incredibly well bank fishing for smallmouth bass. The key is to use it when the water temperatures are warmer, and during low light conditions. This article on knowing hen to fish topwater will help you out a ton – Topwater Times. Make parallel casts along the bank and work it in along by slowly reeling it back in. The key is to get it walking back and forth in a steady cadence. It takes some practice, but it can really pay off in a big way when bank fishing for smallmouth bass–you’ll get some big ones!

One of the best spooks I like is the Evergreen Shower Blows. It walks easily and with minimal effort. Plus, you can fish it with 100% fluorocarbon line and it doesn’t affect the action. Smallmouth are extremely line shy, so having a topwater bait that works well with the invisible fluorocarbon is crucial for getting more bites.

Wacky Rig Senko

Nothing beats a Wacky Rig Senko when bank fishing for smallmouth bass and walking that shoreline. I find it pretty hard to find anything else that universally will catch fish anywhere you go. What’s so great about this bait for shore fishing–especially bank fishing for smallmouth bass–is it can get heavily pressured fish to bite when they cam otherwise be tough to catch. A Wacky Rig Senko can also be easily fished deep or shallow so you can cover all areas of the water column to get on bass.

I have found that color makes a big difference for when you fish a senko. Typically, smallmouth are found in more clear water lakes. They are much more visual feeders. I like to use colors like green pumpkin, watermelon, baby bass, and natural shad while bank fishing for smallmouth bass. Smallmouth have smaller mouths (imagine that!), so I tend to use 4″ senko’s instead of the long 5″ senko’s. Smaller profile baits get more bites and catch more fish. You can still cast the 4″ far along the shoreline because of their strongly packed density. I like to use a spinning rod set up to give you the most distance in your cast for a lighter bait like this.

Finesse Swimbait

You will find great success bank fishing for smallmouth bass with a Finesse Swimbait for smallmouth. Smallmouth are wired to prey on small baitfish and have a hard time resisting a 3″ or 4″ bait swimming by. Swimbaits are great from the bank. You can cast them really far. Plus, you can fish them at any depth–shallow or deep–by varying your retrieve speed. I like a swimbait too because you can move and fish a lot of places faster than other slow moving soft plastics.

I like to use a 4″ Keitech Easy Shiner for bank fishing. After experimenting with so many different jig heads the one I use the most is a 1/8 or 3/16 round ball jig head. A round ball head is great because you can color it easily to match the color of your swimbait. Remember smallmouth are more visual feeders, so even the color of your swimbait head matters. You will get a lot more strikes if you can make your swimbait as natural as possible by matching it to the color of your jig head.

Texas Rig Craw

A Texas Rigged Craw is a phenomenal way to catch smallmouth bass from the shore. I like Texas Rigged Craws for bank fishing for smallmouth bass for a couple of reasons. Number one is they prevent you from snagging. The other reason is bass bite them. The key to bank fishing for smallmouth bass effectively with a Texas rig is to use a really light weight. 1/8oz. is ideal because it falls more naturally and it snags less.

I like smaller 3″ craws in really natural colors. Green pumpkin, brown, and grey seem to produce the best results. Switch to using darker colors when the water is dirty or stained, like black or June bug. This will help your bait get noticed and eaten. For best results when bank fishing for smallmouth bass with a Texas rig, cast it out, let it sink to the bottom, and very subtly crawl it back. Pay attention to your line and really set the hook when they eat it.

4 baits bank fishing for smallmouth bass

How To Find Good Places Bank Fishing for Smallmouth Bass

One of the biggest challenges I hear from others is, “Where can I go bank fishing for smallmouth bass?” Finding a good place to begin bank fishing for smallmouth bass can be intimidating. Often, it appears only boats have good access to all the spots on the lake. What I have found is the opposite. It’s easy to find good shore fishing because there often aren’t as many places; you can quickly see what spots will be the best. Here is my formula to help you find those glory holes from the shore when bank fishing for smallmouth bass.


The first thing you want to consider is the accessibility of the spot. Accessibility consists of two things when bank fishing for smallmouth bass. First, ask yourself if you can walk there or get to that place on the lake. Sometimes making the extra effort to walk a little further can pay off big. Second, determine if you can easily cast from those places on the lake. I have had times where the cover is so thick, I couldn’t even make a cast. Once you identify you can access the area and easily case, you already have the makings of a great area for bank fishing for smallmouth bass.


Smallmouth bass prefer certain types of cover over others. Smallmouth are predominately brown and, because of this, they love to hide and live around rock. Whereas their counterparts, the largemouth bass, are green and prefer to live in vegetation like grass or brush. When you are bank fishing for smallmouth bass, look for chunk rock banks. Usually you can find rocky places along damns on reservoirs.


Smallmouth prefer certain lake contours to live around because they make for easy feeding grounds. The easiest contour to utilize while bank fishing for smallmouth bass are the points. A point is an easy ambush spot for a smallmouth to see a meal go by when swimming along the bank. Take extra notice of these points especially in the summer months, as the main lake area points host the best places when bank fishing for smallmouth bass–finding big fish and large numbers of fish.

finding bass fishing spots

Still Struggling To Find Good Bass Fishing Spots?

Crucial Shore Fishing Tips For Bank Fishing For Smallmouth Bass

You absolutely have to have different techniques while bank fishing for smallmouth bass than than you would have from out on the water. I have guided a lot of people shore fishing, and these are the fundamental items they don’t recognize. You will be way more successful from the shore if you are always moving, fishing the conditions, and fishing shallow first.

Always Be Moving

First off, always moving is key because bass aren’t always in one spot. Smallmouth bass move frequently and often. You need to do the same–especially if you aren’t getting many bites. I like to make no more than 2 casts in a spot, then walk, and cast in a place I haven’t yet. If you do this one technique, you will transform your bank fishing for smallmouth bass from catching one or two fish to catching four to six fish.

Fish The Conditions

Recognizing when your are fishing and what the conditions are telling you about the bass behavior will help you catch more smallmouth bass from shore. Bass behave differently and position themselves at different places on the lake at different times of the year. For example, in the spring, they are usually in shallow pockets spawning. In the summer, they are usually out on points in the main lake. Also, water temperature plays a role in how active the fish are and what they will prefer to eat. Learn to read the conditions and you will catch a lot more big bass.

Cast Shallow First

Bass love the shallows and feed right off the banks. Bugs and baitfish are often found along the bank. What this means is you should always be casting parallel to the bank. When you are bank fishing for smallmouth bass, the most bites happen 2 or 3 feet from the bank. I see too many want to cast out deep because that’s where all the boats are and “boat fishermen know what they are doing, right?” Wrong. Make a cast along the bank shallow first and then make a cast out deep to see if there is anything out there.

bank fishing for smallmouth bass
I like to bank fish with my kids for smallmouth bass. We can move around easier and they are easy to catch from the bank. Check out this one my boy caught walking while bank fishing for smallmouth bass with me.

Video Illustration Of Catching Smallmouth From Land

This video from my YouTube Channel is a perfect demonstration on how to catch more smallmouth bass from the bank. I went shore fishing on a lake I haven’t been to much and I use a lot of the baits highlighted in this article; I had some great success! You will also see how I put these principles into practice to catch some tanks on a fast morning of fishing.

Additional Bank Fishing Bass Thoughts

Bank fishing for smallmouth bass can be a lot of fun. It’s nice to get out and walk the banks and see what you discover. I find kids especially like shore fishing. They like to wander around and play, whereas when they are stuck in a boat, they often get bored. The other cool part about bank fishing for smallmouth bass it is very predictable. You can always find fish while using the same techniques at the same time of year as long as the fishery remains healthy.

Lastly, the links above and below in this post are affiliate links where you can pick up baits, rods, reels, line, and anything else I use to “Krak” some bass while bank fishing for smallmouth bass. KrakenBass receives a small percentage of the sales through these links. I only use links to baits and gear I personally trust and know work. These links are supposed to be helpful for you, not for the small amount I make on the sale of the products. I hope these products can help you “Krak” some bass like they have for me. Thank you for your support!

As Always,

Stay Stoked!!!

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One Response

  1. thanks for another great article JB!! Always appreciate how thorough you are in explaining stuff and not just assuming that everyone knows

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