In the warm afternoons and cool nights of fall, fish will bite one bait both shallow and deep, from dawn to dusk — the Storm Smash Shad.
“I’m just drilling ‘em on Smash Shads, both trolling and casting,” says Tony Roach, a fishing guide, media personality and tournament angler in Northern Minnesota. “I start out trolling ‘em, but I’m casting ‘em by evening — especially when you get high sun and a warm-front type of day.”
As air temps rise throughout the day in the late summer and early fall, walleyes move from deep to shallow water, following baitfish. “So I’ll troll Smash Shads in deeper water earlier in the day and then just follow the fish as they move up shallow,” he says. “I’ve just been killin’ it with ‘em!”
And not just for walleyes. “I can’t tell you how many smallmouth, crappies and perch I’ve put in the boat, all year long, using Smash Shads,” Roach says. “They’re a great multi-species crankbait.”
Trolled or cast, Smash Shads run with a perfectly timed and steady top-to-bottom rolling action that mirrors a panicked minnow on the run. “They’re just a really good tool for catching walleyes,” Roach says. “They’ve got that right wobble to them. That’s really key.” A high frequency, multi-ball rattle system helps call in hungry fish from afar.
Roach has enjoyed “great success” trolling Smash Shads on both lead core line and on traditional line. His favorite way to fish them, however, is casting — “pitching” in walleye-angler vernacular — in shallow water.
“I love pitching crankbaits and the Smash Shad is quickly becoming one of my favorite crankbaits to throw,” he says. “I’ll work them over the tops of rock piles and — as the cabbage and weedbeds start to lay down — shallow-water humps. You catch a ton of fish doing that with Smash Shads.”
Although night trolling is popular in the fall, Roach keeps casting as the sun sinks below the horizon. He says trolling yields more eater ‘eyes, while casting kicks out trophies. “I’ll let everybody else troll and I’ll jut cast Smash Shads,” he says. “I’m not looking for small, dinner fish. I’m looking for those big hogs that are coming up into the shallows.”
22 Color Patterns
Big predator fish like walleyes, pike and smallmouth bass feed on big perch and ciscoes — baitfish that Smash Shads imitate well, especially the 2 3/4-inch model. With 22 color patterns to choose from, including six UV Bright finishes, there’s a Smash Shad perfect for any body of water. Because the UV colors reflect more light, making them more visible to fish, Roach throws those at dawn, dusk and after dark.
“Blue Pink Fire UV has been one of my favorites for walleyes and panfish this season,” he says. “That one, Green Fire UV and Purple Fire UV have just been killin’ it.”
In the daylight hours, Roach favors more natural colors patterns in clear water and bolder colors in stained and turbid water. In gin-clear water, try these color patterns: Black Chrome Orange, Blue Chrome Orange, Chrome Clown, Chrome Yellow Perch, Hot Blue Shad, Rainbow Smelt, Threadfin Shad and Cheap Sunglasses (silver with gold, green, blue yellow and red accents). Experiment with several colors — the fish will tell you which one they favor on any given day.
In moderately stained water, throw Smash Shads in Chrome Clown, Metallic Rainbow, Mossy Orange Fire UV, Blueberry Glitter and Wonder Bread (white with light blue, yellow and pink spots). In more turbid water, try Hot Perch, Orange Fire UV, Blue Pink Fire UV, Purple Fire UV and Fire Perch.
Featuring a deliberate, steady cadence on the swim with a tight, aggressive kicking action, the Smash Shad produces well for Roach when retrieved fast over shallow water. “When the walleyes are up in four, five, six foot of water, I pitch Smash Shads and really work them, pushing them fast, and adding a lot of action to the bait,” he explains. “I work them like you would an X-Rap — reeling and pausing, twitching and pausing.”
Smash Shads produce throughout the fall for Roach, from 70-degree water temps down to about 50 degrees. As the water cools later into the fall, he will slow his retrieve speed and add more pauses. “As those surface temps start to plummet, I’m going to add less action and I’m going to wait until later in the day to move up shallow,” he says. Throughout the fall, he targets windswept points and shorelines.
Roach casts Smash Shads with a 7-foot, 7 inch medium-light spinning rod on 8- to 10-pound-test braided line. In clear water, he’ll tie a short fluorocarbon leader between his bait and braid. In stained and muddy water, he ties directly to braid.