There’s no one lure or technique that can catch largemouth day-in and day-out. That’s a simple fact.
Instead, seasoned anglers know that they need a variety of lures to consistently fill their livewells, and you’ll find that their tackle boxes and bags are packed with any number of options, each geared to a different situation, challenge, or technique.
But assembling an effective largemouth arsenal isn’t as complicated as it might seem, and with just a few well-selected lures, you can cover pretty much all your bases.
We’d like to help, so below, you’ll find our in-depth guide to the lures you need.
Table of Contents (clickable)
Best Lures for Bass Fishing
Spinnerbaits are a staple in any largemouth angler’s tacklebox, the bread and butter of pretty much all four seasons. We’ve written about spinnerbaits before, and if you’d like to read more, check out our full article.
Effective in clear or cloudy water, rain or shine, cold or hot, it’s hard to go wrong with a spinnerbait if you keep a few tips in mind:
- Spinnerbaits are at their best when fished erratically. By bumping cover like pilings, rocks, and stumps, you give the spinner a strike-enticing zig-zag. More often than not, that’ll draw a hit! In open water, stop and start and jerk your spinner from time to time to create a similarly excited, non-linear path.
- Spinnerbaits are best fished shallow, and while that can mean everything from a few inches to a few feet, there are better options for deeper water.
- The clearer the water, the faster the retrieve! Don’t give hungry bass the chance for a good, close look. But in murky, stained, or muddy water, slow down a touch and allow the vibrating blades to do their thing.
- Use skirt and blade colors to match the hatch. Willow blades provide less vibration but look more like the flash of baitfish. Colorado blades, on the other hand, thump like crazy but are less attractive to the bass’s eye.
Switching skirt colors can fill a livewell on a day that started poorly.
For clear water, where finesse is critical, I don’t think there’s a better spinner than the Strike King Finesse KVD. Available in ⅜- and ½-ounce sizes, it offers great blade combos as well as awesome skirt options.
The Strike King Finesse KVD is a tournament winner, no doubt about it.
When visibility is low, I switch to the Strike King Bleeding Spinnerbait, offered in 3/16-, ⅜-, and ½- ounce sizes. Featuring flashier color combos and more vibration, this spinnerbait can’t be beaten in muddy water.
Muddy water? No problem!
Spinnerbaits even have you covered at night, and the awesome Booyah Moontalker calls big largemouth from the other side of the pond! Available in ⅜-, ½-, and ¾-ounce sizes, it has the subdued hues and loud vibration you’re looking for in the dark.
I’m not even sure this spinnerbait should be legal!
We’ve talked about chatterbaits before, and you should check out our complete guide to this awesome option.
While perhaps not the spinnerbait killer they were billed to be, chatterbaits are darn near an ideal bass lure. By combining high vibration with a strike-attracting skirt and soft bait, they’re effectively a triple-threat.
If I had to put my finger on the reason that chatterbaits aren’t the most dominant bass lure, it’d be low-information anglers. Unless you really know how to work a chatterbait, it may not produce, leading to more time in the box than in the water.
As you’d expect from a loud lure, chatterbaits are at their best when visibility is low or the water’s cool. And with a few tips firmly in mind, a good chatterbait may just become your new favorite:
- Slow down! Chatterbaits are best fished slowly, hopping them off the bottom and letting them settle again. Bass will often take them as they descend, so ripping them through the water like a spinner just won’t work!
- Match the hatch! The versatility of chatterbaits is unrivaled, and by really zooming in on the current menu, you can get bass biting when no one else can.
Technique is critical with chatterbaits, and too many anglers never learned how to use them successfully. Try all of these and see which works best for you:
- Pop and reel. Start by letting your lure sink to the bottom. Next, pop it with a quick pump of your rod, and retrieve for a few seconds. Then, let it fall again and repeat. I find this is especially good with craw trailers.
- A slow, steady retrieve is something to try, especially with flukes and craws. Between the skirt, the blade, and those trailing bits of soft plastic, this can be murder when you zip your chatterbait just over the tops of weed beds.
- Hopping along the bottom. Working your chatterbait like a jig, making it rise and fall to the bottom in short hops or jumps, is often money. Especially in cooler water, when the bass are holding deeper, low, slow presentations are king. But don’t shy away from this technique in any season.
When the bass are feeding on shad, I reach for the ⅜ Ounce Z-Man Original ChatterBait with a Lake Fork Trophy Lures Live Magic Shad trailer. This combo is simply deadly when matching the hatch, especially when the blade forces an erratic turn as you rip it up for a hop.
When shad are on the bass buffet, it’s hard to beat this combo.
When the crawfish are running and bass are gobbling them off the bottom, the ⅜ Ounce Z-Man Original ChatterBait with a Zoom Z-Craw trailer are magical. Matching the color and movement of a crawfish to a tee, popping this combo and letting it settle is as deadly as you’ll ever get.
When crawfish are the primary prey item, this combo is simply unbeatable.
Check out more of our recommended trailers: Best Chatterbait Trailers
While soft plastics come in a nearly inexhaustible variety of shapes, the simple worm is the most effective choice for finesse presentations. We've talked about the best worms for bass before, and whether you prefer to rig them Carolina- or Texas-style, or run them on a drop shot rig, they’re as good as it gets for bringing big bass in for a close look.
Why? I think it’s because a good worm offers action that nothing else can touch, and when rigged properly, it sets off every bell and whistle in a bass’s brain.
Worms work in every type of weather, every kind of water, and nearly every situation. The “why” is something of a mystery. Worms are not a normal prey item for bass, but as legions of anglers can attest, they catch more big bass, more often, than anything else.
Worms can be challenging for beginners, but just keep these tips in mind:
- Nine times out of ten, you’re better off with a free-sliding sinker on a Texas rig. After the cast, that sinker will settle, letting the worm do its thing as it flutters to the bottom. That’s when the magic happens!
- Bigger worms sink faster, and lighter worms take their time. Choose your worm for the depth you’re working.
- Slow down! After the cast, wait. And when you do feel your worm settle, wait again. Then, give your worm a few small hops, and let it flutter and settle. You’re waiting to feel the suck of a big bass engulfing your worm, and that can lead to over-reaction. But patience, finesse, and time are the keys to unlocking the worm’s magic.
- Try different approaches on the drop shot: rigging in the middle of the worm rather than at the end can turn your luck on a hard day.
“Plain” worms are ideal out in the open away from thick cover, and Yamamoto Senkos are among my favorites, especially for a drop shot rig. Available in a rainbow of hues, you’ll generally find that colors like the various shades of pumpkin and watermelon are great all-arounders.
These Senkos are legendary for a reason!
But active tails are ideal when you’re working the green stuff. For instance, when I’m working thick lily pads, I like to throw a big Zoom Magnum II rigged Texas-style, slipping it across and off the lilies. That size and fluttering tail can work wonders on big fish looking for a snake. And trust me, they do look!
Curly-tailed worms are great for working heavy cover and vegetation.
I like fine-wire hooks with my worms like those by Gamakatsu and Mustad. Whether offset or straight, the trick is to size the hook smaller than you might think. You want almost no gap between the worm and hook before you bury the point to make it weedless, and having too much of a gap is a sure-fire recipe for a thrown hook!
Finally, though nothing new, the pre-rigged tandem-hooked worms from Kelly’s Bass Worms really do work like a charm. They prevent short strikes and tail bites, and I’ve had nothing but success with these.
Topwater frogs mean heart-stopping action, and when worked properly, they can be amazingly productive on ponds and rivers where the weeds and vegetation are thick.
We’ve talked about them before, and for the full run-down, check out our article for the best topwater frogs
Picking a frog isn’t high science: a good frog needs to float well, look right, avoid snagging its two up-turned hooks, and run straight.
The rest is up to you:
- Throw frogs in the thick stuff. Essentially weedless, they’re designed to be used in vegetation like grass and lily pads.
- Work your frogs slowly, using a start and stop cadence. Go slow! Real frogs don’t race across the water.
- After you cast--stop! Plenty of bass will hit the frog right after it lands, so don’t start your retrieve for a second or two.
- And don’t try to set the hook immediately. Wait a full second to let the bass really get the frog in its mouth before you drive those hooks home.
More so than with other lures, topwater frogs need to look the part. Hyper-realistic shapes and patterns are critical, and you need to match the hatch where you fish.
That’s why my hands-down favorite is the Lunkerhunt Lunker Frog. Designed in hyper-realistic patterns with life-like legs, these topwater frogs track well and float all morning. They’re also available in a range of styles to match the frogs in your area.
Lunkerhunt’s photo-realistic patterns can’t be beat.
But if there’s a flaw in the Lunkerhunt, it’s that the legs can’t take a beating. If you find this to be true for you, give Booyah Bait Company’s Pad Crasher a try. Nicely patterned, Booyah builds this topwater frog with tasseled legs that can take strike after strike after strike.
If you get too many strikes back on the legs, carefully trim them down, starting with very small changes.
I can’t tell you how many times a clear Heddon Tiny Torpedo has brought me an explosive strike, and if you’re not carrying a few prop baits with you, you’re really missing out!
The clear Tiny Torpedo is a bass slayer, no question about it!
Designed to stay put while providing erratic action, these excellent topwater options result in typically violent strikes, and the special magic they work on bass get and keep them biting!
Some things to keep in mind to get the best performance from these lures include:
- Using a light snap or loop knot to give your popper or prop room to work. You want to be able to turn the lure as you walk the dog, minimizing the distance it moves back toward you.
- Don’t start to work it immediately. Much like a topwater frog, many bass will jump at the chance to hit a prop bait as it comes to rest on the water. Give it at least a slow three count before you jerk it to life.
- Vary your cadence. If a constant pop-pop-pop doesn’t deliver, try pauses interspaced with twitches and pops until you find something that drives the bass crazy.
Near vegetation, the 2 ½-inch Baby Torpedo in “Bullfrog” is as deadly as they come. Both of these Heddon lures are ideal for dog walking, and I like to work them close to cover. Whether I throw them into a clearing in the lily pads, work them down the edge of grass, or run them around a stump or deadfall, bass find them very hard to resist.
I don’t know any bass anglers who would even consider hitting the water without a crankbait or two, and even the most dedicated worm fishermen know that a good crankbait, worked properly, can be just the ticket to a great day’s fishing.
And whether you choose a lipless rattler or a crankbait with a bill for deep diving, a little know-how will help you get the most from your choice:
- Crankbaits aren’t designed for a steady retrieve. The idea instead is to run them so they scalp a weedbed or other cover, and when you feel them bump or catch, give them a rip. This is especially effective with lipless crankbaits.
- Get to know your crankbaits really well. As Mike Iaconelli explains, “Each crank bait has it[s] strengths and weaknesses. Wide wobble baits, tight wobble, wood baits, plastic baits, floater and suspenders. Get comfortable with a crankbait or a family of crankbaits. Learn what depth a particular bait will run on a mean line size. You can then use the general line conversion to add or take away depth. Example: Under the same casting distances a Norman Deep Little N on 12 lb. line will run approximately 10.5 feet. On 10 it will run 12, on 8 it will run 13.5, on 6 in the 15 range. On 14 it will run in the 9 range on 17 it will run about 7.5 feet and so on and so on. On an average expect about a foot and a half depth change with every line size change.”
- Tighter wobbling crankbaits are better in cooler water. By contrast, choose wide wobbling lures when the heat’s on.
- Much like spinnerbaits, crankbaits are at their best when deflected by an impact with cover. That erratic change in direction triggers bass to strike, and if you’re not running your cranks into the nasty stuff, you’re missing much of what they can deliver.
- If you’re getting hung up too much, try removing the lowest of the three hooks from your treble. That’ll still give you plenty of points to hold a bass, but should cut down on the snags.
One of my favorite crankbaits is the Strike King Red Eye Shad. Offered in ¼-, ½-, and ¾-ounce sizes, this little guy can be a miracle worker if you match the hatch and fish it by bumping it against cover.
You’ll see these in the hands of tournament anglers for a reason.
The Rattlin’ Rapala is also a perennial favorite of anglers everywhere, and whether you run the 1 ½-, 2-, 2 ¾-, or 3 ⅛- inch model, they provide awesome action and killer vibration. Photo-realistic mimicry of common prey species just ices this cake! Check out our guide for the best Rapala lures for bass.
How’s that for matching the hatch?
When crawfish are a major prey item, I’ll reach for Strike King’s Square Bill in “Chili Craw,” running this deep diver across the bottom, over submerged logs and along weed beds.
And it pretty much goes without saying that no angler’s tackle box is ready for the water without at least one Rapala Shad Rap.
Check out our full guide on the best crankbaits for bass!
Last, but certainly not least, I always carry a few jerkbaits with me. With a combination of erratic motion and life-like design, these lures work pretty much year ‘round and in all weather conditions.
Jerkbaits are at their best in clear water, placing a premium on subdued colors and natural patterns. And though they look a lot like crankbaits, you don’t fish them in the same way at all.
Rather than running them into cover, jerkbaits are usually fished shallow--as though they’re a badly injured prey item that’s having trouble maintaining depth. Many are made to be neutrally buoyant to reflect that.
And as their name suggests, they’re worked with an erratic twitch and pause technique.
But what some novice anglers fail to realize is that the pause is the moment that really matters. The twitch is there to attract attention, but the strike will usually happen after that!
Jerkbaits are pretty easy to fish. Just keep the following things in mind:
- You should always twitch your jerkbait with a slack line. A tight line won’t create the same erratic action.
- Cadence matters. Twitch-twitch-rest is a good place to start, but if that doesn’t deliver, try something else.
- In cooler water or on windy days, let your jerkbait rest a bit longer between twitches. More often than not, bass will hit your lure when it’s sitting still, and you want to give them the chance to make that strike.
- Windy days are excellent conditions for jerkbaits, as chop and dispersed light make the lure look more life-like.
I have to admit to being a big fan of jerkbaits, and among my favorites is the Rapala X-Rap. It offers crazy action, a great, natural design, and just enough red to get bass thinking the dinner bell is ringing.
The X-Rap is very effective on aggressive bass.
Strike King’s KVD Jerkbait is no slouch either, and from nose to tail, it’s been designed to draw in hard strikes. Offered in a huge range of patterns to mimic active prey items, this is the lure I reach for when I need to match bluegill or shad.
I also have a Yo-Zuri 3DS in my tackle box that’s probably my most successful jerkbait. Whether it’s the action or the paint-job, this little guy is amazingly effective, pretty much all the time.
And I know more than a few anglers who swear by the Bomber Long A. That extra treble never hurts, and the action on these long-bodied jerk baits is something special.
Check out our full guide for the best jerkbaits for bass
Rat lures don’t get the love they deserve these days, but those who know take advantage of their ability to catch big fish. However popular or unpopular they are, rat lures should not be slept on.
From handcrafted speciality lures to those sold by big manufacturers, there's no shortage of choices when it comes to selecting the best rat lure for bass.
When it comes to picking just one, however, you can’t beat the Spro BBZ-1 Rat. From its realistic appearance and movement to the multiple ways this lure can be fished, the BBZ-1 Rat is just slightly better than the rest at accomplishing everything you need from a rat lure.
Of course, every lure on this list is a good option, and may even work better than the BBZ-1 depending on the scenario, but as far as an all around rat lure for catching bass, this one has it all.
While there’s no one “best” bass lure for every pond and every situation, most anglers would agree that these are the basics you need to fill a tackle box. From winter’s sluggish strikes to the excitement of summer’s topwater frogs, these lures should cover your bases in every season, whatever challenge you face.
We hope that this article has helped you pick a few new lures, and we’d love to hear from you if it has!
Please leave a comment below.