Westernbass Magazine - FREE Bass Fishing Tips And Techniques - Winter 2016, Page 30

Westernbass Magazine - FREE Bass Fishing Tips And Techniques - Winter 2016, Page 30

Megabass MH Jerkbait Special with 10lb Gamma fluorocarbon and high-speed baitcast reel.


As the water temperature dips below 50 degrees, the majority of the smallmouth will head to their deep winter haunts. They begin to congregate in these areas and the use of your electronics is vital. “Once they head deep, I spend a lot more time looking at my graph for baitfish and smallmouth. It’s like playing a game, you see them on the graph, drop your drop-shot and watch them move to it,” says Clausen. He believes that this is the most effective way to both locate and catch cold-water smallmouth.

His preferred setup for his drop shot is a Megabass Orochi XX 6’11” medium light drop shot rod with a 2500 size spinning reel. He spools it with 10lb TUF Line Tournament 8 braid and a 6- to 8-lb test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon leader joined by the Tony Pena knot. “I have tried all of the different knots or joining braid to fluorocarbon and that one is the best for strength and the size of the knot,” claims the 2006 Bassmaster Classic champion.

When it comes to bait selection, he varies the size, color and shape of his drop-shot baits. One of his favorites is a green pumpkin colored Z Man Finesse ShadZ, a shad-shaped soft plastic. “The ElaZtech soft plastic is really buoyant and when you are fishing vertically for smallmouth it really makes a difference,” says Clausen.


It is hard to get more finesse than a drop shot, but the Ned rig is a way to slow down and downsize even more. It has been gaining in popularity across the country and excels in the colder months.

The rig is a small 1/5- to 1/20-oz. jighead with a 2.75” soft stickbait made by Z Man called the Finesse T.R.D. and Clausen feels it is an excellent


choice for cold-water

smallmouth. “The

great thing about this

is that you can use

the exact same setup

you use for your drop

shot. It just gives

the fish a different

look as it is slowly

falling and spinning

towards the bottom.

Most of the fish will bite it on the fall and when the fish are not active, like they are during the winter, you will get bites when nothing else is working.”


Since the majority of smallmouth, both big and small spend their winter in the same place, the drop shot rig and Ned rig will catch fish of all sizes. When looking for a bigger fish, Clausen relies on a jig. “This is the way to catch a big one. You are not going to get as many bites as you will with a drop shot, but the ones that you do catch will be quality fish.”

He finds that during the winter, he has his best success dragging the jig very slowly over the bottom instead of hopping it like he does during the other seasons.

The jig he prefers is his signature series casting jig from Dirty Jigs because it has a light wire that allows him to use lighter line and also because of the fine cut skirt that has more action in cold water. “I use the 7/16- and 9/16-oz. size the majority of the time, but will switch to the ¾-oz size anytime I am fishing deeper than 30-feet of water. The Alabama Craw and Brown Craw colors with a Z Man Turbo CrawZ trailer are two of my favorites for smallmouth,” says Clausen. He fishes the jig on a Megabass Orochi XX 7’ heavy action rod called the Tour Versatile with a 6.4:1 gear ratio reel and 12-lb Gamma Edge fluorocarbon.

The winter months have a way of making smallmouth more predictable, concentrating them on steep banks and long points. Professional angler Luke Clausen focuses his time on these areas fishing slow moving baits along the bottom and pays close attention to his electronics as baitfish are the key to finding the smallmouth this time of year.