Whether you are standing in front of a 40 foot long shelf at the store, or browsing Amazon in the thousands of lures they have, I always have the same questions. What lure should I get that will work? Okay, I found a lure I like, but what color should I get there are hundreds!? When trying to find a lure for bass, how can you know what will work, or how the heck it even does work, so you probably buy something that you might not even know how it works because it looked okay.
In this article, we are going to break down all the different lures out there for bass fishing, so you have an idea of how they work, and when to use them so next time you try to find the perfect lure, you will have a good idea of what you want to get. When it comes to lures, please remember that it is more important to know how they work and how to use them than picking a color that you know a fish will bite on. Technique can mean the difference between catching, and going home empty handed.
Spinnerbait lures look like a big V and have bait looking rubber piece with the hook on one side, and metal spoons on the other. These are good for grass, and deeper water because they will sink nicely and glide through the water. You can reel these in with a nice fluid movement, or bump them and let them sink a little bit. For winter months, you may want to grab a bigger spinnerbait lure, and reel in a bit more slowly than normal, and in the warmer months, a smaller spinnerbait with a faster retrieve will work very well.
Jigs look similar to spinner baits, but only has the rubber side with all the little tails coming off of it and the hook. These are great to use in grass and around stumps and also good around ledges because they will sink. These baits are good for “flicking” the lure out into a specific spot, and then retrieved in a slower fashion with a few tugs to make the tails wiggle. Keep your line a little on the tighter side so you dont miss the bite.
Crankbaits are the work horse of the bass lure section because they can cover a lot of water and be retrieved faster. These lures look like actual fish and when you retrieve them will dart around in the water like a fish swimming. Some crankbaits even imitate a hurt fish where they will move up and down, side to side. Some crankbaits even have clear plastic “Lips” sticking out the front of them to help with the movement, and are generally good for shallow water. These baits are good all year round and also have some that come with ball bearings in them so they rattle as you reel. This is a staple bass lure that you should have in your tackle box.
Soft plastics include things like worms and brush hogs, and craw fish. These are meant to be put on a hook and used with weights, and are normally never just reeled back in, but rather “twitched” or “jerked” and then the line tightened. These baits can be used anywhere and in any kind of water, and at any depth you want. There are many different types of setups for worms and soft plastics, and are the best bait out there in my opinion.
Jerkbaits are very popular in colder water, and are built to mimic an injured bait fish in the water. when you reel them in, they look like a dying fish swimming in the water, and the bass will just attack it. These lures are very versatile, and can be fished in very shallow water, or very deep water depending on what time of season you are fishing. These are an all around great lure for bass.
Spoon lures look the like actual curved portion of a spoon, and flutter through the water when reeling them in. They can be used for both bass and trout and are a very effective lure. I really love the Thomas Buoyant spoon lures, and they can be used at any depth to catch bigger bass.
Swimbait lures look like an actual fish, and are usually cut into three different sections so that when you are reeling your line it, it moves and “swims” like the actual movement of a fish. There are some swimbaits that are more rigid and straight bodied, as well as a one piece plastic swim bait. These lures look the most realistic when retrieving and should be a nice steady fluid retrieval.
When it comes to fishing for bass, top water lures can be some of the most fun because you actually get to see the bass come up and just attack your lure. The big problem with this is the water conditions, and the weed conditions because they can wreak havoc on your lure. Top water lures are good in nice calm water, so the bass can really see it and go after it. There are three different types of top water lures you can choose from normally, and they are:
- Torpedo: Torpedo lures, well… Look like a submarine torpedo, and they glide through the surface of the water making it look like a fish is swimming. These are best used when there is NOT a lot of algae, and the water is calm. You should reel nice and fluid to bring these lures back in.
- Poppers: Popper lures are meant to make a little bubble, or boil and make a nice sound when you jerk on them. When reeling these in, you will jerk it to make the sound and then reel in the slack. If you don’t hear a “GULP” or pop sound, change your jerking method until you can hear it. The bass will hear the popping effect, and come chasing after what it thinks to be an injured prey. These also require no algae or white caps on the water, you want a nice smooth water surface.
- Frogs And Mice: Frogs and mice are great lures for ponds and lakes that have a nice little quiet shore that might have trees and algae. These you can flick out and reel in, and should look like a mouse or frog swimming on the top of the water. These lures are perfect for algae and cat tail areas where you might see frogs or mice.
When fishing top water, remember to make it look like something is swimming through the water, and make the bass think that its something real. Don’t use heavy hooks if there is a lot of algae on the top of the water, and if the wind is blowing super hard, you may want to stick with something that sinks.
Color can be an unpredictable thing when fishing for bass. I have used a color one day and caught ten bass, and come back the next and gotten zero bites using the same color. Fish, especially bass are picky and smart, and will not always eat the same bait, or color twice, so does any color always work? The answer is NO, there is no ONE perfect color, but I have had a lot of success with Watermelon specks, and Reds and Purples.
My advice on color would be if you can afford it, buy two or three different colors if you can, and try them each for 20 or so casts, and see if you get any bites. Now, there are some different techniques you can use like using a lighter color in darker more murky water, but a bass will see the shadow of any lure you use.
If you cannot afford to buy two or more lures, don’t worry at all, just try and find one that may be multi colored that covers a nice watermelon green, and maybe some red and blues. A good idea might be to ask the locals what they think, or ask the person at the counter which is their best selling lure color. Never be afraid to ask questions!
Depending on what time of year you go can directly affect what type of fishing lure you want to use. Right before bass start to spawn, they will feed, so they might go after any sort of lure or plastic you throw at them. When the spawn starts, bass are going to hang back and protect their nest, so you want to drag something through their spawning ground to try and anger them enough to kill your bait. Top water lures might not be the best option when the spawn is on unless you actively see them jumping.
Soft plastics usually work year round, so you might want to stock up on them if you plan to fish the early to mid-spring months when they are building their nests and start spawning. Just be careful for momma fish that have eggs.
Depending on if your water is murky, or crystal clear will depend on what type of lure or color you want to use. Normally for murky or muddy water, I will use a lighter color with specks in it so any light that does get through will make the bait more noticeable. For clear water, you can go with a darker blue, or black colored bait to make it look like a craw fish or salamander.
Can You Use Any Lure For Bass?
Technically yes, you can pretty much use any lure you want to catch fish, but you want to make sure that the hook is going to be big enough to stay in their mouth, so they don’t shake it out, or you rip it out when reeling the line in.
I have caught five pound bass using a Thomas Buoyant and KastMaster lures before, so depending on what time of day it is and what they are hungry for, any lure should do the trick. You don’t always need to throw a HUGE lure to catch a big bass.
Different baits and lures are meant to be used at different depths in the water you are fishing, so knowing where you want to fish is important. If you are in a boat, and hopefully have a fish finder, you will know exactly what you need to throw because it will tell you, but if you are on the shore, try to find out the slope and the drop off’s, and how deep the lake is. Some lakes are shallow for 50 to 100 yards, while others drop off deep after only 20 yards. Crankbaits, swimbaits, jigs and soft plastics are really good for deeper water, while torpedo’s, frogs and mice are great for shallow top water, especially smaller tree covered ponds.
How Fast Should I Reel
Depending on the bait, you will want to reel in more quickly or slowly in order to make the bait look how it is supposed to while moving through the water. Here are a few tips on how to retrieve different baits and lures:
Top Water: Generally top waters especially torpedo’s can be retrieved in a nice fluid quicker retrieval. For Poppers, you will want to reel in the line tight, and then do a jerk motion to make the popper “pop”.
Jigs: You will want to reel these in at the speed where you want your depth to be. If you want the bait closer to the top of the water, reel in faster, but if you want it to be deeper, a nice slow reel will work great.
CrankBaits: These lures should be reeled in at a nice steady, and faster pace so it makes the bait look like its really swimming.
No matter what lure you use, make sure you don’t let the lure stop, or it will sink to the bottom and you will not get the effect you are looking for. Nice easy fluid movements will work best with lures.
Buying new lures can be extremely frustrating and confusing, but it really doesn’t have to be. Knowing the season, and what type of water you are going to be fishing will be a huge help, and know your fishing style. If you like to cast and reel fast, then you know you are going to want a bait that requires you to do that, and has a little more weight to it, or go for a top water torpedo.
All lures are made differently, so try a couple out and see if you like them. Some people like Jigs, while others exclusively use swim baits and that is okay. Try not to use a top water lure when it is spawn season, and watch the water and algae and you will be just fine. Ask questions in the store, and use the tips above to find a few lures you can take out and try and if you find one that works, go get a few different colors to keep up with the bass changing what they want to eat, and you will catch fish.