Original Caption: Tony Bean of Franklin holds a crawfish, which he reports to be the finest bait there is for taking black perch and smallmouth bass. The Tennessean, May 1978, no photo credit.

In keeping with the smallmouth theme, here we have a short look back at one of the country’s best smallmouth anglers. Would you have guessed this is the late smallmouth guru, Tony Bean, back in 1978? At the time he was a painting contractor, back from the Air Force after serving during Vietnam.

Bean would later become a guide on Percy Priest Reservoir, author of several books, as well as be a spokesperson for numerous fishing-related companies. He passed in 2012 at the age of 63.

Here’s a short excerpt from a 1984 article by Nick Sullivan, Tennessean Outdoors Editor, mentioning his favorite smallmouth lures, most of which are a bit of angling history in their own right.

Bean’s Five Essential Lures

  1. Stan Sloan’s Booza Fly – 1/8- to 1/4-ounce sizes in black, brown, and white with Uncle Josh U2 pork rind trailers in black and brown. His all-around favorite lure, especially effective in the prespawn.
  2. Sloan’s Zorro Plastic Worm – in black and motor oil colors, 6-inch length. He uses black early in the year and motor oil later on.
  3. Bagley Bang-O-Lure – a topwater stick bait in silver with black top. A smallmouth favorite much of the year. “I cast it close to whatever structure I want to fish it on, or over, and then twitch it.”
  4. Bagley Diving Bee II – a medium-running crankbait in white shad and crawfish colors. “They are good for early and late spring. You can work the lure slow over the shallows and when you come to a dropoff, you can retrieve it faster and it will go deeper to follow the contour of the dropoff.”
  5. Sloan’s Fuzz-n-Buzz – a buzzbait in 1/8- and 1/4-ounce sizes in white and black. “The bait is good early summer after the spawn, all during the summer and again in early fall when the fish are in shallower water. It’s a good key bait to keep tied on when you pass over some cover or structure that a topwater plug would hang up on.”