The Right Smallmouth Trailers

The Right Smallmouth Trailers

It could be anybody's football head, but, of course, it isn't. It's a 3/8-ounce Gamakatsu Football 24. I like to use powder paint to make them some shade of green — usually olive, army, watermelon, or green pumpkin.

The smallmouth trailers could be craws, like the 4-inch Z-Man Elaz Tech Punch CrawZ. Or a spider grub, like the Yamamoto Hula Grub. When smallmouths peck at baits like those without ever getting the package into their mouths, I slip on a twin-tail grub. If that's too much, I go to a single-tail, 5-inch Kalin's Grub.

As the water cools into the mid 40°F range, those have generally been the only choices I need to consider over the past decade. Smallmouths may come up for a deliberately worked suspending bait, but they don't seem to have the desire to chase cranks anymore. Sometimes they go crazy on cranks at 41°F. Just don't count on it.

But a football head, crawled right on bottom — that they'll eat. Generally they pounce on it with the gusto of a cat whacking a small rodent this time of year, anxious to exceed their required calorie intake by several pounds per day. But not the other day. The other day, my friend, Curtis Dumdie, and his wife Lulu were both whacking smallmouths right next to me with jig-minnow combos. And smaller shiners were outfishing redtails and suckers. And they were tipping jigs with bright, chartreuse grubs with all kinds of metal flake.

"I see it, but I don't believe it," I said. "And, even though I'm seeing it, I refuse to try that color." Stubborn, maybe. But not offended enough to reject the idea of tipping that Football 24 with a minnow. When in Rome. And I was the one that insisted bringing minnows. For the walleyes. Or just in case the smallmouths were reluctant. Whatever. Didn't want them to make a 4-hour trip for nothing.

And they were the ones in Rome. This was my back yard, after all, and they were showing me how it's done down in farm country.

Point is, a football head is always right for bronzebacks in fall. What matters is A/ How heavy, B/ How fast, C/ How Big, and D/ What you tip it with. When they won't bite, keep the football. Lose the trailer. Try another, and experiment with speed.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Pike & Muskie

Best Drive-To Pike Waters

Gord Pyzer

Some of Canada's best pike waters are within driving distance.

Fish Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...


Rigging Soft Bass Baits Correctly

Matt Straw - May 15, 2018

Balance is the goal when tipping jigs with trailers.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Optimum and Optimum TS Downriggers from Canon

From rugged reliability to smooth integration of cutting edge technology across several different platforms, OSG's Lynn Burkhead learns that there's much to like about the new Optimum and Optimum TS downriggers from Canon.

Room Full of New Gear from L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean's Jeff Miller shares a room-full of new gear for 2020 with Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

13 Fishing Pathfinder Weedless Walking Bait

Fresh off catching the biggest bass in ICAST Cup history, 13 Fishing pro Jessie Mizell shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the new Big Squirm soft plastic worm and the company's unique Pathfinder topwater walking bait that is totally weedless in design.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


The Best Catfish Rigs

In-Fisherman - January 11, 2018

Catfish are simple creatures that can be caught using the best catfish rigs. Catching them is...


Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

Other Fish

Best Carp Baits Today

Dan Johnson - June 29, 2018

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

See More Stories

More Bass


The Mystery & Mastery of Jigs for Winter Bass

Steve Quinn - March 15, 2019

There's rarely a bad time to fish a jig. Here's why they excel for big winter bass.


Topwater Lure Secrets for Bass

Jim Edlund - April 26, 2018

These secrets will put more and bigger bass in your boat!


How to Sustain a Freshwater Pelagic Bite

Bob Maindelle

Using these tactics, it's not uncommon to stay on a school for two hours or more.

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.