In 1992 I bought my first Rebel Teeny Wee Crawfish to fish for bluegills in a local pond. To this day I remember my first cast with this little fish-catching magnet. I caught two bluegills on that single cast, and knew I had a winner.

In 1994 I first gave it a try for stream smallies and it’s been my “go to” ever since. I’ve fished this lure for smallmouths as much as anyone in the country, and since then I’ve caught and released more than 12,000 smallies, with more than 8,000 coming from less than 300 river trips. Conservatively, I’ve caught more than 5,000 smallmouth bass on the Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish!

On many of my wading trips all I carry in my fly vest are eight or 10 Teeny Wee- Crawfish in a variety of colors, along with a couple Deep Teeny-Wee Crawfish.

As I’ve written in numerous articles and told hundreds during my seminars, I use St. Croix rods in light and medium light actions when fishing the Teeny Wee.  I prefer longer rods to get extra distance with this small 1/10-ounce lure, so you’ll see me using rods that are 6-foot-6-inches to 7-feet. My reels of choice are Shimano 1000 series with long cast spools filled with 4- or 6-pound Silver Thread Excalibur. This line is strong, easy to work with, has a thin diameter and is very abrasion resistant, all definite plusses when working river rocks and other type of cover. With this set-up I can easily cast the Teeny Wee across a small river.

One of the great things about the Teeny Wee-Crawfish is that you don’t have to be an expert to fish it. After just a few minutes of instruction I’ve had children as young as seven using it with success. The lure was designed to mimic a fleeing crawfish, and in the river setting it scoots along the bottom or just above it and bass can’t resist.   

There is no big mystery to the best way to fish the Teeny Wee. I cast cross-current or downstream and bring it back with a steady retrieve. The deadly combination of an extremely tight wiggle along with the rattle, bouncing off the bottom, rocks or just swimming back works great. The No. 14 hooks are small and very sharp. I think the lure’s small size, smaller hooks and that it swims slightly nose down helps avoid many snags that larger crankbaits seem to find.

In clear water with skittish fish, the light weight and small profile is perfect and won’t spook them. When cast, it lands so softly smallies hardly know it’s there. Another great feature for the type of rivers and streams many of us fish is this floater/diver has a running depth of about 2- to 3-feet. In recent years I’ve been removing the back No. 14 treble and replacing it with a No. 10. This does not change the action, but simply strengthens the lure. It also facilitates more hook-ups, and a bonus is that the ever-so-slight extra weight actually makes this a suspending crankbait, which can be a benefit in some situations.  

In faster moving water the steady retrieve has worked best for me, with the current turning an already tight wiggle into an even faster call for a smallie to strike. Casting up stream also works, but because I believe the vibration and noise from the very tight wiggle enhances and triggers strikes, you have to reel fast to get all you can out of it. In slower moving water you can try a variety of retrieves. As a floater/diver, you can cast this lure, let it sit and twitch it like a top-water. It’s not a suspending lure but it floats to the surface very slowly, so you can retrieve it fast and then let it sit, then repeat this action. Many times during this stop and go retrieve you’ll get the strike as it slowly floats up or suspends with the extra weight of the larger treble. Another good technique is giving the reel a few cranks and then a twitch, then repeat. 
 
I’ve used all the available colors, but prefer the natural shades of Cajun, Ditch, Stream, Softshell and Moss. If you happen to know the color of crawfish in your river, matching color is an option that might increase the effectiveness. In muddy or stained water I also spend a lot of time with Firetiger, Chartreuse/Brown and Chartreuse. But based on my hundreds of hours with this lure, I really feel color is secondary to all the other qualities of the Rebel Teeny Wee and Deep Teeny Wee-Crawfish. These include a combination of tight wiggle, rattle, vibration, attention to detail, great profile and small size.

For deeper rivers and smaller rivers with deeper holes, the Deep Teeny Wee or the Wee Crawfish, which both run 2- to 3-feet deeper than the Teeny Wee, simply take all of the fish-catching abilities of the Teeny Wee to those deeper fish.

Interestingly, by the end of last season I was up to 16 different species of fish on this lure. And just because it’s a small lure doesn’t mean big fish won’t hit it. I think the small size enhances strikes from across the size spectrum. Some of my largest fish have come on the Teeny Wee Crawfish, notably a 5-pound-8-ounce smallie, 21.5-inch largemouth and a 6-pound Brown Trout. 

I started off with the story of catching two bluegills on my very first cast. Let me share a couple others with you. One afternoon in October of 1999 I was wading the Fox River south of Milwaukee, Wis. I was catching a bunch of smallmouths and having a great time. A guy standing near me looked like he knew what he was doing, had the right equipment, but was using a small jig with a grub, which is a classic smallie presentation. On this day he wasn’t catching many fish so I asked him if he’d like to use one of my Teeny Wee Crawfish and he politely said thanks, but no-thanks.

Fifteen minutes later after catching another six fish, I waded over and opened my small tackle container that held at least 10 Teeny Wees and gave him one. This time he took it and for the next couple of hours caught more fish than I did. On his way out of the river he thanked me again and said it was his best smallie outing ever. 

Last summer I was asked by the manager of a country club that lets me access a river from their property if I’d teach kids in their day camp how to fish. Of course I said yes, but didn’t ask how old the kids were. When the rivers conditions right, which was low and clear, I came out for an early afternoon with the kids. To my surprise, the kids were aged 3 to 6 years old and there were 14 of them.

I found out quickly that they were not interested in anything but catching fish. I told them I was going to hook the smallies and let each of them reel one in. I had an hour and I wanted every youngster to have the thrill of reeling in a little river smallie. Over the next hour the Teeny Wee-Crawfish came through. All 14 campers got to reel in a smallie and a few got a second chance. Young and not so young, I’ve been winning converts for years now. I sometimes feel like the Johnny Appleseed for Rebel’s Teeny Wee-Crawfish. 

Bill Schultz lives in New Berlin, Wis., and is a contributing writer for www.smallmouths.com, www.lake-link.com, and various outdoor magazines. He is a smallmouth bass enthusiast and since 1994 has caught and released more than 12,000. Bill is a popular seminar speaker and since 2001 has presented numerous times at the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Sports Show, Bass Pro Outdoor World Fishing Classic in Chicago, Chicagoland Sports Show, Madison Fishing Expo and many more. Bill has done segments for Fishing the Midwest with Bob Jensen and Outdoor Wisconsin.