“I call it the ‘nervous’ bait,” YUM regional pro Donna Mullins said, speaking of the 3¾-inch YUM Warning Shot drop-shot lure, “and though I use a number of different soft plastics on the drop-shot rig, this one is my absolute favorite.”

As a competitive angler, Mullins is accustomed to fishing different types of lakes, but the clear-water impoundments surrounding her eastern Tennessee home are her resident waters. And smallmouths are tops on her hit list.

“This is my No. 1 drop-shot bait for smallies,” she explained, “because of its amazing action. The best way to describe it is ‘nervous.’ You barely have to move the rodtip to make the tail section wiggle like it’s alive.”

The YUM Warning Shot features a ribbed body and blade-like tail, and the two are connected by a narrow “hinge” that allows the tail section to move freely. “You only have to tap the rod to make it wiggle,” she said. “Even the slightest current or wave action makes it come alive.”

A subtle action is critical, the angler explained, in clear water, or any time bass are finicky. Where a big movements and erratic action tend to put these fish off, a more subdued presentation brings them in and triggers strikes.

Mullins favors targeting rocky points, starting in 12-to-14 feet of water and searching for fish from there if necessary. She ties the drop-shot hook 18-to-24 inches above the weight and barely nose hooks (from the chin out the top) the soft plastic bait for maximum lure movement.

“In clear water,” she said, “Green Pumpkin/Purple Flake is absolutely the best pattern. Smallmouths love it. If the water is a little bit stained, straight Green Pumpkin or Bold Bluegill tend to do better. Ghost Shad is another favorite and catches fish in clear or stained water.”

In clear water, or when bass are touchy, Mullins recommends getting “nervous” with the Warning Shot. It’ll put more fish into the livewell.