If you are fishing clear-water lakes in the hot weather we have been having, when the sun is high and smallies move to deeper water as deep as 40′, one of the best ways to catch them is to use a “drop-shot” rig right off the bottom.
I find that fishing a 4′ plastic worm either hooked through the head, or in the middle “wacky-worm-style”, works really well. You don’t need to move the rod much, just keep the rig close to the bottom. Most smallies don’t strike hard, they just swim up to the soft-plastic, inhale it and slowly move off. Best hook-set is just reel and lift your line. Most drop-shot hooks are a finer steel, they are very sharp, and they have a small barb, which makes for really good hook-ups!