Bass fishing with lures is a national pastime and seriously good fun.
But to be successful, and enjoy consistent results, you need the best bass lures.
In this article, our resident bass pro, Shawn, has broken down the key types of bass lures and suggested some top brands and models in each category.
Bass Fishing Lures: The Key Types
I am going to take you through the situations in which these lure types are most effective and what are the pros and cons of throwing them in any particular situation.
Fishing with soft baits has become probably the most popular way to catch bass, alongside fishing with jigs.
Soft plastics are some of the best bass fishing lures and come in many forms, from Senko worms to creature baits. They are great for largemouth bass and are a cheap and effective way to target America’s favorite freshwater sportfish.
Stick Baits, Finesse Worms and Senkos
These plastic worms are the go-to bait for many bass fishers.
While they might not have the action of curl tail or paddle tail plastics, the results are clear – these are one of the most effective “year-round” plastics.
There is a big range of styles, sizes, and colors of rubber worms to choose from, so you can really zero in on the conditions you’re fishing.
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Curl Tail Grubs
The best thing about curl tail grubs is the amount of action the lure creates, even when falling through the water column. Pulled slowly along the bottom, the best curl tail grubs give off a seductive shimmering action that most bass find impossible to resist. Texas rig these curl tail grubs, and they can be dragged through weed beds and other structures where bass love to lurk.
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<<<<<<<see our guide to the top five worms and grubs for bass fishing>>>>>>>
Craws and Creature Baits
Craws are an important food for both smallmouth and largemouth bass. A soft plastic bait that emulates the look and action of crawfish always bets bitten.
Crawfish are found in a variety of habitats and are active throughout the year. Crawfish baits can be fished in a variety of ways, including on a shakey head, a Ned rig, or a Carolina rig.
Other forms of creature baits include lizards (great for bass on the right day) and flukes.
Along with soft plastics, jigs are by far the most popular lures used in bass fishing today, and there are a plethora of different jig designs made by a wide array of companies. Jigs are great for fishing heavy covers such as grass, vegetation, trees, and stumps. Jigs can also be fished with a trailer attached (see here for the best trailers for bass jigs).
Silicone skirted jigs are a great way to fish for bass. You can use them to cover large amounts of water, they are fine to fish where there is a rocky bottom, and because they ride hook up (and many come with a weed guard fitted), they are OK in weed, although fishing them in dense weed beds may see you snag up.
Different bass anglers have their preference in terms of jig type (football jigs, swim jigs, and flipping jibs), but they all excel at catching bass and have helped pro anglers win numerous bass tournaments. Swim jigs, in particular, are many bass anglers’ top picks.
There are numerous colors of silicone skirts to match various prey items – green, white, and blue are among the popular shades.
Fitting a trailer is a popular way to boost the catch rate among bass fishers. This simply means putting plastic such as a craw on the jig hook. You may have to trim the plastic first to keep the dimensions realistic.
<<<<<<<<<< See our guide to the top five jigs for bass>>>>>>>>>>
These are cylindrical baits that resemble an elongated version of the monsters from the old Pac Man arcade game. These have tentacles that provide a lot of movement, and these are effective lures that can be put on a jig head and rigged a number of ways: Texas rigged, Carolina Rigged, Ned Rigged, or on drop shotting rigs. See our article on how to rig a tube for more info. And see here for ways to rig a weedless tube.
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Chatterbaits – or bladed swim jigs or vibrating jigs – are most effective when bass are shallow and active but can be fished in a variety of conditions year-round.
Since their release in 2006, they’ve transformed jig fishing and are the go-to choice for many anglers chasing bass with jigs.
Rigging chatterbaits is quite simple as they usually come pre-rigged with a strong skirt. You can add a soft plastic trailer – such as a crawfish – in order to add bulk and keep your bait moving slowly with plenty of action.
- How to Fish Chatterbaits Effectively
- Guide’s Choice: Expert Chatterbait Picks
- Best Chatterbait Fishing Rods Reviewed
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Hard Baits for Bass Fishing
A crankbait with a nice shimmying action is a great bass catcher and a fun lure to fish with. These work well in sunken timber or rocky bottom areas. Crankbaits with rattles tend to do well when the water is a bit dirty or cloudy.
Crankbaits come in various colors, sizes, shapes, weights, and running depths. The most critical thing to get right can be depth – if you aren’t in the zone where the fish are, you’re asking them to come and find the lure, which is nowhere near as effective.
So you’ll probably go through more lure changes fishing crankbaits as you target different sections of the water column. They are still a deadly lure, though.
Retrieves are mostly a slow roll as the lure design provides the action. Sometimes, though, a sharp sweep or jerk of the rod, followed by a pause for the lure to suspend or float up, proves effective.
Bouncing the bait off cover is another solid option – the motion and noise of the crankbait hitting a rock often get the attention of any fish in the area. See our thoughts on the best Rapala for bass fishing and our advice on fishing crankbaits.
Types of Crankbait:
Diving Depth: Shallow diving (0-5ft), Medium divers (6-12ft), and deep divers (13-30ft). These are usually floating crankbaits that reach their diving depth when retrieved but can also be suspending (neutral buoyancy) or sinking too.
Lip type: Square bill (usually shallow diving) and round bill (usually deeper diving)
Lipless crankbaits: These are weighted sinking crankbaits that don’t have a lip or bill. A lipless crankbait has a tight wobbly action that makes it a good bass fishing lure when fish are being timid.
A jerkbait is a long bibbed lure that can have either a hard or soft body and produces a shimmying side-to-side motion when retrieved. Jerkbaits are primarily designed to resemble an injured baitfish – something bass (like all fish) find irresistible. While they are similarly shaped to crankbaits, there are important differences between crankbaits and jerkbaits.
Jerkbaits can be an effective tool to catch bass throughout the season, from spring to winter.
They are a versatile presentation that can be utilized in a variety of methods to get the job done, but the essential part – unlike when fishing with crankbaits – is to use a jerk in your rod to impart the right action to the lure.
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<<<<<< See our guide to the top five jerkbaits for bass fishing>>>>>>>>>
Topwater Bass Lures
Most anglers know the excitement of topwater fishing, and for many, this has become a method of fishing they will employ at any opportunity. If you’re new to fishing or haven’t explored topwater fishing, give it a go.
The most common types of topwater bass lures are frogs, walk the dog style lures, and poppers. All are great options, particularly in low-light conditions such as dawn and dusk. Weedless frogs fished around lily pads are a deadly option.
Look for structures such as shoreline banks, docks, or brush piles and work your topwater lure in these types of areas for your best chance at a bite.
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<<<<<<<<<See our guide to the top five topwater bass lures>>>>>>>>>>>
Bass Fishing Swimbaits
Swimbaits can be incredibly effective at catching bass at critical periods throughout the year. they come in three main types – hard body swimbaits, soft body swim baits, and paddle tail swim baits.
Swimbaits are exceptional at mimicking baitfish such as shad in a very realistic way.
Swimbaits can also work at virtually any depth, and this makes them incredibly versatile the more areas you can fish a lure in, the more effective it will be at catching fish.
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- These lures are arguably one of the most realistic imitation hard baits ever made: triggering the natural predator instinct of these freshwater or saltwater monsters.
<<<<<<<<<<<<See our guide to the top five swimbaits for bass>>>>>>>>>>
Spinnerbaits for Bass
Spinnerbaits work great in a variety of situations. The most popular tactic to fish spinnerbaits is to use in and around heavy cover where other lures struggle, this cover fishing can also be done at virtually every depth with minimal to no fowling or snagging of the lure if used properly.
Spinnerbaits are also great lures for covering water quickly in order to find active fish due to being easy to use and quick to retrieve. Using a spinnerbait as a search bait allows anglers to find areas with multiple actively feeding fish, and when these “pods” of fish are found, they can switch tactics or lures, slow down and fish the area thoroughly.
Because they are big and annoying baits designed to trigger a reaction strike, a spinnerbait is better fished in shallow water on windy and cloudy days when fish are less likely to spook. On calmer, brighter days, spinnerbaits can still be effectively fished deeper in the water column. You can fish a spinnerbait with a trailer for extra attraction.
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<<<<<<<<<See our guide to the top five spinnerbaits for bass>>>>>>>>>
Bass Fishing Flies
Catching bass by fly fishing is growing in popularity. Smallmouth bass are a popular fly fishing target, but largemouths are a great species to fish for on the long wand too. (See here for our buyer’s guide to the best fly rods for bass.)
Fly fishing for bass offers a lot of versatility – there is a big range of deer hair and foam flies that float and fulfill the role of a frog or popper. These are usually tied with a weed guard and can be thrown into a range of structures.
Bass fishing fly tyers have also designed a wide range of baitfish patterns with bucktail, marabou, and synthetic fibers that create a very realistic baitfish profile that pulses and moves in the water.
In hard-fished areas where bass have seen the full gamut of lures, which not try casting a fly – you might be surprised by the result.
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Selecting the Best Bass Fishing Lures
Best Bass Fishing Lures for Winter
Bass tend to slow down a bit but jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, jigs, shaky heads, buzzbaits, and swimbaits all work well.
Best Bass Fishing Lures for Spring
Arguably the best season to fish for largemouth bass as they feed heavily ahead of spawning. Shallow jerkbaits, swimbaits, plastics like lizards, craws, tubes, creatures, and senkos, vibrating jigs, swim jigs, topwaters will all work well. See our guide to the best spring bass fishing lures.
Best Bass Fishing Lures for Summer
Bass remain active into the summer months. Topwaters, shallow crankbaits, spinnerbait, frogs, smaller plastics, punching baits, smaller soft swimbaits, wake bait. See our full guide to the best summertime bass lures.
Best Bass Fishing Lures for Fall
While the largemouth bass are beginning to slow down a bit ahead of winter you can still enjoy some good fishing with Jerkbait, swimbait, topwater lures, and jigs. Check out our list of top bass lures for the fall.
Style of Fishing
Shore-Based Fishing Lures
One key thing to add is you don’t need to go out and buy 10 of all these types of lures (to keep costs reasonable, you can always make your own lures or buy a bass fishing lure kit with a range of lures in it). You should consider what kind of fishing you are going to do.
Shore-based is a perfect scenario for stick worms or senkos. Rigged Carolina or Texas style, these can be seedless, so you can fish them in grass or rip rap without snagging up. These are good lures when you are fishing on a tight budget.
Swimbaits are another popular option for fishing the shallower waters close to shore as they imitate shad and other bait fish that often congregate close to the banks.
The versatility of lipless crankbaits – which vary their depth according to the angle of your rod – is another popular choice that can be used effectively even around structure if fished carefully. Their tight shimmying action is a real bass trigger.
Top water lures are essential for the shore-based angler, not just because they are – in my opinion – the most fun way to fish for bass. The areas they are most effective tend to be close to shore – grass matts, docks, lily ponds, and similar sections of cover.
And finally, a weedless chatterbait is probably the essential bait for the shore-based angler to have in their box of best bass lures for bank fishing.
Kayak and Boat Fishing Bass Lures
For a start, you can carry a far greater range of lures in your tackle box, and you can fish vertical structures such as bridge pylons, rock walls, and drop-offs in deep water.
All the lures we mentioned before for shore-based fishing should be part of your boat and kayak arsenal too.
When it comes to additional options, the first one to mention is spinnerbaits – these are great-searching lures allowing you to fish an entire bay until you find the fish, when you can stop and fish more carefully or change to a different lure type.
Similarly, crankbaits should be in any kayak or boat fisher’s tackle box.
And all the softbaits and jigs we mentioned earlier are perfect for targeting bass in the deeper water that a boat or kayak can help you to access.
These two types of lures will be the cornerstone of much of your boat-based bass fishing.
I hope this has simplified the huge array of choices there are in bass fishing lures and helped you to zone in on which type will work best for the kind of fishing you do. Pick up a couple of our favorites and give them a try in your local lake or pond. You’ll learn best by actually getting out and doing it – plus, it is great fun.