I find they usually have no problem hitting large inline spinners and spoons while trout fishing in April. By May, they will hit most anything, especially baits fished on the bottom. Tubes, grubs and flukes will work year round. You have to find the spawning areas and they will usually not be far.
I am by no means a smallie expert, but my 4" Rapala Original Floating Bleeding Copper Flash seems to be a smallie magnet early in the season. They hit it on top (right on surface to about 6" down) while trolling slowly, right along the banks right until around mid to the end of May,They equally seem to like my spinnebaits, especially with the yellow skirt, but they seem to like this one in slightly deeper water (8-12 feet).