Karl Kalonka talks Fall Jig Tactics for Smallmouth

Karl Kalonka talks Fall Jig Tactics for Smallmouth

Karl Kalonka talks Fall Jig Tactics for Smallmouth

by October 26, 2013

With the onset of fall the temperature gets cooler and the nights get longer. Bass put on the feedbag in preparation for cold weather and change their patterns. I thought it would be a good idea to write an article on one of my favorite ways to catch Smallmouth during the fall; a football jig.

Jigs are versatile and can be fished many different ways, however the key to being successful is knowing when and how to use it.

I had the opportunity to speak with Karl Kalonka, host of Extreme Angler television show. His vast experience and time on the water gave him some valuable insight into fishing for fall smallies. He fishes cold water often and knows this pattern well. Karl shared some great tips for bass anglers looking to take advantage of the big weights that can be caught during the fall.

One of the tactics which Karl uses to catch smallmouth in colder water is to downsize his jig trailer.

Karl said, “I’ll put on a Junior KVD chunk,  Junior Denny Brauer chunk or a baby Rage Craw so it’s not an intimidating bait”.

The smaller trailer is also one of my go to tactics as well. I find that smaller trailers paired with football jigs are a lethal combination and can entice bites when bass are sluggish.

During the fall, bass will begin to move into their wintering areas. This can be a home range in deeper water for smallmouth bass. The “wolf-packs” will move in and out of feeding areas and at this time of year can be anywhere in the water column.

Rusty Crayfish - Karl Kalonka smallmouth fall jig tacticsAlthough a jerkbait may be the remedy for cold water behavior sometimes a football head jig has the edge. The key to this pattern is also knowing the forage in your lake.

Another of my key tactics for fall bass is to use a crayfish pattern. In southern Ontario and parts of the US, the rusty crayfish has become the dominant species. The rusty crayfish has distinct orange markings and matching this can pay dividends.

One of my favorite jig trailers is the Flappy Daddy from Gambler Lures in Hurricane Craw. This bait has the smaller profile Karl mentioned in combination with colors that mimic the rusty crayfish.

Rod selection is also an important piece to the puzzle. For cold water smallmouth you will need a highly sensitive rod that has backbone to penetrate their bony mouths. I recommend a medium-heavy with a fast or extra fast tip. This pairs sensitivity with power and is the perfect rod for fall smallmouth.

Key tips for Football Jig Smallmouth

  1. Make sure the bass are actively targeting crayfish; you will be successful if you match the bass’ forage.
  2. In colder water, around 50F, slow down and downsize.
  3. Use the right rod for maximum sensitivity and to penetrate the smallmouth’s bony mouth; lean into your hooksets, don’t snap.
  4. Use a flourocarbon leader or straight flourocarbon in ultra clear water; smallmouth can spook easily.

A football jig can be a potent tool for fall smallmouth; just be sure to exercise patience when trying this pattern. Smallmouth can have large home ranges, especially in large bodies of water; so finding them is sometimes the real challenge!

Karl was very enthusiastic when discussing the merits of football jigs for smallmouth and it is one of his favorite ways to catch fish during the fall. When you see some of the bruisers that he has caught it’s no wonder he swears by it for fall smallmouth fishing.

Tight Lines

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