“I have boxes full of lures, but I usually only have three tied on my rods,” Doug Teel said as he fired a Bullfrog-colored Baby Torpedo toward an eddy near the bank. A couple of rod snaps later, a Penobscot River smallmouth made it clear why that particular Torpedo stays atop of Teel’s lure list.

As owner and operator of Northridge Outfitters in Greenfield, Maine, Teel fishes the Penobscot from early May through September every year, and his clients catch crazy numbers of smallmouths on Bullfrog Baby Torpedoes. Many of his clients throw nothing else all day because the surface strikes are so much fun. Plus, the topwater approach tends to produce high-quality fish.

Teel’s other two primary lures, which each fill a different niche, are a wacky-rigged 5-inch YUM Dinger (usually Bumblebee Swirl) and Dark Brown Crawdad Bomber Model A (2A or 6A) or Square A. The Dinger is ever faithful and easy to fish. If it’s wet, it’s likely to be doing something to make a fish want to eat it. The crankbait allows an angler to cover water quickly and is tough to top when the fish are in ambush mode.

Tiny Torpedo

Teel knows other topwater lures and colors of Torpedo would produce decent numbers of smallmouths, but he has found nothing that consistently produces better action than a Bullfrog Baby Torpedo, so he sticks with what works. He’ll mix up twitches and pauses and let the fish show him how fast they want it moving any given day.

When the current is ripping along a bank or through some other defined feeding lane, he will sometimes use a dead drift, simply casting upstream and retrieving line just quickly enough to minimize the slack. Strong current kicks the blades, and the fish come from nowhere with absolutely vicious strikes.

YUM Dinger

Teel likes the action of a Dinger best when it is wacky-rigged, but his wacky approach differs from the traditional slow-moving target-casting approach. He adds a 3/16-ounce bullet sinker to his line so the Dinger gets down in the current and can be fished much faster.

The presentation is elementary.

“Let it sink to the bottom, and then pick it up, let it fall, and keep doing the same thing,” Teel said. If the boat is mostly stationary or moving slowly, he has anglers cast and work the Dinger back with lifts and drops. When he is drifting in more current, often the best approach is to simply make a short cast upstream, let the bait fall to the bottom, and then lift it an drop it behind the drifting boat until a fish grabs it (which usually doesn’t take long).

Teel rigs the Dinger on a 1/O wide-gap or circle hook. Either way, just a light snap of the wrist does the job, and the fish often hook themselves.

Bomber Crankbait

Teel’s crankbait presentation is the simplest of all. Cast it out, crank it back, and catch fish. He picks from the 2A, 6A and Square A based on average bottom depth and the degree to which the current is pushing down the weeds. A 2A, which runs 2-4 feet, is normal first choice. The Square A allows him to fish extra shallow, and the 6A allows him to work deeper holes. All three deflect off rocks well and have an action the smallmouths can’t resist. His color choice is always Dark Brown Crawdad

Want to Go?

The Penobscot River rises in the mountains of rural northern Maine and runs its entire 100-plus-mile course within the state of Maine. Northridge Outfitters focuses on about 20 miles of river in the heart of the best smallmouth country and offers fishing packages that include a comfortable lodge stay in the Maine woods and outstanding meals.