Why Use the Tiny Torpedo for Smallmouth?
An editor for Field & Stream magazine once asked me for information on how to catch big smallmouth, for a special “Trophy Hunters” feature story. One thing they wanted to know was what one lure I would use to catch big smallies.
That was tricky. Of course, there isn’t just one killer lure that’s always best for the big bruisers. With so many different conditions and fishing situations, sticking to just one bait would be very limiting. All that said, I finally decided to recommend a “big bronze” lure that a lot of guys wouldn’t seriously consider.
It’s the venerable Tiny Torpedo, a simple old-fashioned topwater from Heddon that has been around over half a century. But why this little propeller bait? Plenty of reasons, actually.
Big Fish and Fun
Most importantly, the Torpedo really does catch lots of big fish, plus it’s darn fun to use. Sure, hooking a fish on a bottom bait is still enjoyable, but it’s hard to find a smallie fan who doesn’t feel that getting them off the top adds a lot more excitement and enjoyment to their fishing.
Make no mistake, the Tiny Torpedo does pull a lot of big smallmouth bass up to the surface. In 25 years of guiding and decades of personal use, I’ve seen plenty of lunkers over 20 inches taken on the Torpedo. Two of my largest fish, well over 5 pounds, have fallen for the lure, and numerous clients of mine have scored their all-time biggest smallie on the bait.
Low-Light Magic and Midday Monsters
One reason for all the big fish is because this topwater is so effective during the low-light periods of the day. Especially during the last hour and first hour of the day, when big fish are on the prowl, the Tiny T is hard to beat.
But this topwater isn’t just a low-light performer. Actually, the two biggest fish I’ve ever caught on Tiny Ts were during midday in mid-summer. I’ve seen hundreds of other heavyweights come up during midday, too. This is especially true in stained or moderately turbid water. On many rivers I fish, I don’t hesitate to tie on a Torpedo on bright summer days.
Versatile and “New”
Versatility is another Tiny Torpedo attribute. It’s productive fished fast, slow or extra slow, so you can give the fish whatever retrieve they want that day. Because it is effective fished fast, you can use it as a search bait to cover large amounts of water quickly. It is also good worked slow, as a target bait, when you want to thoroughly work a single small spot. A good Torpedo man can drop the plug right next to a log, boulder or undercut bank and twitch and buzz it while barely moving the lure away from the target. Plus, since it’s a topwater, you can fish ultra-skinny water without hanging up
Another reason this lure is good is because it seems too simple and outdated for many anglers, so they don’t use it, therefore the fish seldom see it. That’s good for Torpedo users, since big (old) bass can become suspicious of certain lures if they are used heavily. The less-used Torpedo seems “new” to them
More Torpedo Tricks
I describe in more detail the various ways a Tiny Torpedo can be fished in my book: River Smallmouth Fishing and on the video: Stream Smallmouth Fishing. To really see how versatile and effective this lure is, I recommend reading the topwater chapter in the book and, better yet viewing the topwater portion in the video.
Field & Stream published the Trophy Hunters feature with my choice of the Tiny Torpedo as THE lure for monster smallmouth. Try it and see if you agree.