One of the most enjoyable aspects that comes with bass fishing isn’t the time spent out on the water or even the fishing itself; it’s finding and collecting lures. Countless options are available to any angler, ranging from the simple and minimalistic to the bold and intricate. Each is a work of art, but deciding on which masterpiece to cast out there can be a tough decision.
While experimenting with new lure styles and mixing to match the conditions is always fun, there are a few lure selections that should always be in your tackle box. These options can be your go-to presentations when you’re looking to land your next great fishing story. DICK’S Sporting Goods Associate and tournament bass fisherman Brendan Conlon breaks down the five lures he suggests are must-haves for any angler looking to lip their next big bass this season.
A classic option that has proven its worth, the spinnerbait is a versatile lure for bass fishermen. These angling mainstays are shaped like an open safety pin and come in a variety of colors. Spinnerbaits can vary by the type of blade used. There are three popular options:
- Willow leaf blade – slender and flashy
- Colorado blade – rounded and vibration-producing
- Indiana blade – a middle-of-the-road style that offers both flash and movement
Remember that you’ll want more noise (vibration) in murkier water and more flash in clearer conditions, so deciding on the blade type can add a boost to your lure presentation.
Conlon says that spinnerbaits, “are a great all-around bait to throw in any type of situation, around weeds, cover, anything like that.” This is due to the lure’s design and profile that keeps it relatively weedless.
Spinnerbaits are also generally easy to use, can be thrown year-round and the straight retrieve nature of spinnerbaits can be simple to master. By adding a few jerks or flutters (letting the lure fall naturally in the water to resemble a dying baitfish), you can really present this lure as an irresistible bite.
Another versatile bass fishing lure that every fisherman should consider is the basic jig. This sinking-style bait can also be used year-round, but requires some extra finesse. Jigs can be hopped, dragged and swam through varying water depths, but ultimately perform best when flipped or pitched rather than cast, hence the advanced skills needed. When flipping or pitching for bass, there is a heightened emphasis on cast accuracy and entry angle, so keeping it close can better benefit your lure presentations than a long, arcing cast.
Jigs can feature an assortment of color combinations and have been generally regarded as the go-to lure for landing larger bass. You can also add on a worm trailer to give your presentation more action. There are a few head styles to choose from when deciding on jigs. For more information on which jig head will suit your fishing needs, check out our How to Choose the Right Jig Head Style guide.
Crankbaits differ from spinnerbaits and jigs in that instead of wiring or a hook-centric design, these lures feature a hard-body profile meant to look like a baitfish. These bait options come in lipped and lipless styles and can be useful in multiple conditions. Crankbaits might not be as effective in weeds, however, because of the different hook setup. While spinnerbaits and jigs typically use one hook, many crankbaits employ treble hooks, leaving more points to potentially snag on underwater debris.
Another differing factor for crankbaits is the bill in the front of the lure. This piece helps the bait dive rapidly to reach bass-holding depths. The longer the bill, the deeper the bait will run. With lipless models, running depth is determined by the lure’s weight. Unlike lipped designs, lipless crankbaits are typically meant to sink to their desired depths. Conlon adds that crankbaits have a lot of what he calls, “drawing power.”
“They push a lot of water and the fish really can feel them when they’re moving through the water column and really draw a lot of attention.”
There are also options with small internal beads, which are designed to rattle and make additional noise to garner more attention. There are a broad number of styles available in this lure category to cater to various fishing conditions.
The name speaks for itself. Designed to be drawn along the top of the water, topwaters can create some exciting bass fishing moments. Because the fish attack from the bottom, they typically grab the lure with more aggression, even sometimes breaching the surface. There are a number of topwater bait styles available for anglers to choose from, such as buzzbaits that feature a water-churning blade, popping-style baits that push a lot of water, or topwater frogs, mice and other designs.
Topwater lures can be the most effective in low-light fishing conditions, like early mornings or late evenings. Anglers should also consider trying topwater lures in warmer months when bass are typically more active. If you’re looking to ramp up the action on the water, try throwing topwaters for a bit and feel the intensity rise.
The final lure style that every fisherman should have in their tackle box is some form of a soft plastic bait. This category is very large and gives anglers an extensive variety of color and shape choices. From worms to crawfish to lizards to stick baits, there’s a soft plastic style for every hungry fish.
One of the major benefits of using soft plastic lures is that they are the most lifelike of the five lures listed above. The silicone material is great at imitating worms or other baitfish. Soft plastics are also usually some of the most economical bait options, but will need to be replaced after extended use.
Anglers have a few options when it comes to rigging soft plastics for that perfect hook presentation. Follow these tips for more information on how soft plastics can help you have a successful experience on the water.
Bass fishing can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Feel free to experiment with any lure you’d like, but to safe guard against fruitless fishing adventures in the future, Conlon carrying one or more of these five trusty lure setups. So follow these tips for a well-stocked tackle box that will have keep you setting the hook all season long.