Crooked Creek is one of those legendary smallmouth-bass rivers in the northern Arkansas Ozarks. A couple of years ago, Bob Perino and I had the pleasure of floating and fishing here with local expert “Crazy” Mike Neher. The river has lots of fishy-looking holes like this one, where Neher is briefly holding the jonboat on a log so Perino can fish.

We caught numerous bass, of course, and you can read my full report in our archives here. The rig that produced the most fish was a mustard-color soft- plastic tube on a one-eighth-ounce leadhead, fished on 6-pound-test mono and bounced on the bottom of deep, fast runs.

John Merwin

Over many seasons, soft tubes have become my go-to lure for smallies. In my local northern lakes, they seem to like green-pumpkin tubes best, with sparkle-flake white a close second. There are lots of ways to catch smallmouths, of course, from live crayfish or frogs to crankbaits to flyfishing with topwater bugs. But what’s your favorite?