If you fished for both types of bass for any length of time you are probably aware that there is not a major difference between smallmouth bass lures and lures you use for largemouth.
Where the two fish do depart in a major way is where you will find them and how to target them.
The best smallmouth bass lures are all the usual suspects that you probably already have in your tacklebox, some will need to be downsized however.
You can find both large and smallmouth bass in the same river or lake but where you find them exactly will differ significantly.
When comparing smallmouth vs largemouth bass fishing location is the major difference between the two species.
Smallmouth will tend to congregate in gravel beds or sandy/rocky bottoms. In contrast to where you will find largemouth, which will mostly be in large weed-beds or other such aquatic vegetation like lilies.
Smallmouth will also prefer clearer water versus more stagnant or brackish water. These are not hard and fast rules of course as you can find each species in either types of locations.
As mentioned above smallmouth have a preference for sandy or rocky bottoms and when it comes to lures for smallmouth bass you will rarely if ever need a weedless bait.
That being said running a smallmouth bass lure along the sides of a weed bed or over the top of a bed of grass can be a killer tactic.
Largemouth however will generally be fished for using weedless lures or baits as you will be targeting them in these kinds of places.
Given the size difference between them smallmouth bass lures will generally be a little smaller than what you might use for largemouth.
Best Smallmouth Bass Lures
Jigs are an all time favorite lure for smallmouth as they can produce pretty much year round.
There are two main types that are used the most, the traditional hair or bucktail jig and the more modern rubber skirted jig.
The rubber skirted jigs are great for working along rocky bottoms as they usually have some kind of hook protector meaning less snags.
If you are looking to imitate something a bit more natural like a leech when using a jig then I would opt for the bucktail jig as they tend to move with a somewhat more natural action than the rubber jig.
Spinnerbaits just like jigs can catch either smallmouth or largemouth bass all year round.
Whether it is deeper down and retrieved slower during cold water fishing or higher up in the water column in the summer months a good spinnerbaits will force a smallmouth bass to strike from quite a distance.
Spinnerbaits can be also worked along the edges of large weeds beds as most designs have weedless hooks on them.
A great technique is to find a weed bed beside a drop off that has a slightly rocky or gravel bottom.
Cast along the edge of the weed bed and you can draw in bass from either the flatter, deeper water or those that are lying in the weeds ready to ambush small bait fish.
3. Soft Plastics
Soft plastics can be used to imitate small insects and other freshwater prey that smallmouth love to feed on particularly crayfish.
Crayfish love a rocky bottom where they can hide under small rocks, smallmouth love to cruise around theses types of areas on the look out for any crayfish that might break it's cover.
You can use a crayfish/craydad type soft plastic using a standard type of cast and retrieve where you aim to bounce the plastic lure off of the bottom making them look as realistic as possible.
A weighted jig head can help to keep the head of the lure down. This method can be a little risky though as you run the risk of snagging on larger rocks and any submerged logs.
I would also include the good old reliable Senko worm or plastic worm into this category of smallmouth bass lures.
You can fish them and rig them just like you would for largemouth bass however, I tend to run them in slightly smaller sizes.
Crankbaits just like soft plastics can be fished in a way that bounces them off the bottom.
This type of action will really grab the attention of a smallmouth. Even if you are fishing a sandy or gravel like bottom the affect is just as good as the lip of the cranbait can throw up small little clouds of silt leaving a very pronounced trail for the bass to follow.
Cranbaits allow you to really cover a huge amount of open water.
Smallmouth to tend to hunt in open water and the range that they will actually follow a lure in from is much further than a largemouth.
Cast in a large over-lapping fan pattern to make sure you have covered every possible bit of water.
You can also run a crankbait along the top of a flat weed bed. It there is a grassy like wed bed that covers a large area then running the lure just on the top of the weeds can be a killer when fishing for smallmouth.
5. Topwater Lures
Although there are a lot of different types of topwater lures for smallmouth bass they have a few common factors that make them very effective, splash, color and sometimes noise.
Buzzbaits, poppers, chuggers, walk the dog lures and frogs are all about splash and making the bass attack them.
They are great in shallow waters especially in summer time at either early morning or late evening.
Most topwaters lures work best when there is little or no wind as a heavy chop on the surface will reduce how visible the splash that the lures create.
Frogs of course are best worked in and around weed beds or large beds of lily pads.
Smallmouth bass absolutley love them and will hit them from below in a very dramatic and aggressive manner.