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)
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:
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:
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:
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.
While soft plastics come in a nearly inexhaustible variety of shapes, the simple worm is the most effective choice for finesse presentations. 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:
“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:
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:
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:
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.