Nothing—not even the best live bait money can buy—works better to catch finicky smallmouth bass than spybaits. They feature tiny, ultra-sensitive propellors at the front and back that spin like microscopic fans under the slightest tension.
Developed in Japan to trick the most pressured bass on the planet, these sleek, ultra-realistic lures sink in a horizontal fashion while shimmying delicately from side to side. And they maintain that exceedingly subtle shimmying motion when you slowly retrieve them and the propellors twirl. Unless you watch closely, you might think the lure is static and doing nothing, but it’s the combination of the slight sway and spinning blades that attracts the fish.
Spybaits, such as Duo International’s Realis Spinbait, Storm’s Arashi Spinbait and Jackall Lures’ iProp, are best suited for clear water—the more transparent the better. It’s important to never overwork the lure with extraneous rod action, or use heavy line—four- to six-pound-test fluorocarbon is ideal. The less action you impart and the slower you retrieve a spybait, the more fish you’ll usually catch.
While bass will sometimes maul a spybait, the more typical strike will feel like you’ve snagged a bit of weed. When you do get bit, the key is to keep reeling while quickly lifting up the rod tip to apply tension to the line and pressure-set the needle-sharp hooks.
Since spybaits were developed for the toughest conditions—clear water and cautious fish—it’s no surprise that brook, brown, lake and rainbow trout anglers are now embracing them big time. If there’s a downside to these somewhat pricey lures, however, it’s that no fish relishes them more than northern pike. Because light tackle is recommended when fishing a spybait, you’ll quickly drain your bank account if hungry toothy critters are in the neighbourhood.