Jim says brown fish are his first love and much because of their nomadic spirit. They can be very hard to find, Jim says, but if you do find them it makes for fantastic fishing. Smallmouths are a pack oriented species of fish, he notes, so it's common to run into big wolf pack schools of 20 to 50 fish. For that reason, when you snag one smallmouth it increases your odds of hooking into several. There are a lot of great smallmouth fisheries across the country. However, Jim talks about a couple of his favorites. After fishing Lake Mille Lacs for 5 days straight where he didn't catch a single smallmouth under 4 pounds, Jim says he thought it was probably the greatest smallmouth fishery ever and he still recommends it to everyone. However, he found one body of water that could best Mille Lacs and he calls it "Lake X". He talks about it in his book and to this day he hasn't revealed the true name of this body of water. What makes this lake so great is its size, it's incredibly small, he says. It's small enough that you could fish it in a kayak and fish the lake in a single day, plus it's loaded with big smallies. Jim says his best five fish on this lake totaled 31-pounds with a couple in the 7 pound range and all of them were caught power fishing with swimbaits and A-rigs.
Jim says that swimbaits are his favorite way to target smallmouths. Working with SteelShad Fishing Company, Jim designed his own swimbait that took the parts that he liked best about all the different swimbaits available today, as well as the hook and then combined them into one super performing swimbait. The magic in this swimbait, Jim says, is rigging it up to achieve the rolling action that produces bites. What he found is that what really makes the swimbait get bit more than anything else is not the tail wagging back and forth, rather the bait rolling from side to side. To achieve that action, you need to tie a Palomar knot. If you've ever tried to rig a spinner bait with a Palomar knot, Jim says, you'll notice that as you reel it in, it will lean to one side or the other. Using that same principle, if you rig up the swimbait with a Palomar knot, the lean will increase the amount of side to side wobble and attract more bites. While smallmouths will eat a swimbait year round, Jim says that May is one of his favorite months to use them almost exclusively. May, October and November are great months for swimbaits and during those times he says he throws them 99% of the time, occasionally putting the swimbait down for a SteelShad blade bait. Jim says it is amazing how far out of their way a smallmouth will go to eat a bait like this. Fish can be 30 feet down in the water column and he'll work a swimbait in the top 5 feet of water and they'll come up 15 to 20 feet to get it. It's easier to get a fish to come up than it is to get them to go down.
Outside of his passion for smallmouths, Jim says he has developed a sort of big fish syndrome from dabbling in saltwater fishing. "I do love saltwater," Jim says. Tarpon, giant trevally, bonefish, tuna and more, Jim showcases a wide variety of both fresh and saltwater fishing on his show. One of his favorite species to pursue is redfish and he heads to Venice, Louisiana several times of year to do so. "Redfish are psycho. They are like smallmouths on steroids, especially the bulls. Anytime they are 40-inches and up, that's a world class fish."
Listen in to this interesting talk with smallie pro, Jim Root. Be sure to catch "Reel Bragging Rights" on Sportsman Channel, Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. ET.