When I was a teenager and first started driving, I felt like an adventurer when I would drive to a smallmouth river some 30 miles away from home. My bait of choice back then in the 1960s and 1970s was a Rapala
Original Minnow and it produced quality smallmouth after smallmouth for me.
As the years went by, I used the Original less and less until during a fit of nostalgia about a decade ago, tied one on. And just like those salad days of yore, I caught good-sized bass with this classic lure: it still works. Since "rediscovering" Rapala's signature bait, it has been the first hard stickbait out of my tackle box.
Of course, the Rapala Original excels as a jerkbait, but it also does exceptionally well as a finesse topwater. Cast this lure parallel to any form of cover, let it rest for some 10 seconds, then pick up just the tiniest bit of line with your fingers and impart some subtle twitches. If that tactic doesn't work, retrieve this it slowly across the surface, creating a small wake. With both retrieves, strikes are just as likely to be subtle as explosive.
: This is a great bait to use when river or lake smallies, especially the latter, are schooling. Rip it across the surface and hang on.