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Best Bass Lures for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass

Fishing Tackle / Fishing Tips / Lures / March 7, 2017

If you have not read our previous article on the Largemouth Bass or Smallmouth Bass and don’t have much experience catching these fish, then we encourage you to go give it a read real quick.

If you’re looking for exactly how to fish with these lures, check out our other articles:

Best Lures for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass


The best lures and plastics for largemouth vary. Some days largemouth want top waters and other times they want a plastic slug on the bottom of a lake bed. It’s important to keep your tacklebox stacked with a variety of lures to increase your hook up rate. If you know your gear, how to use it, know where the fish tend to be, and generally what type of food they’re chasing that time of year, it is extremely hard to go wrong.

We can help you with part of that. These are the lists of the best types of lures for Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass. We’ve picked a few of our favorites to illustrate as well. If you’re looking for the best lures for bass, Tackle Reports has you covered.

Lets get started…

Soft Plastic Lures


Soft plastics are often the most common and successful bass lures used fishermen. They look real, they feel real, many come with a thin coating which assists in helping them taste like the real thing.

Soft plastics are important to fish slow, so they are not good choices for simply casting blindingly. If you’re going to use soft plastic and the required slow retrieve, you should already know where the fish is when you cast.

Some of the best ways to retrieve a soft plastic is a simply hop action. It can be dragged slowly and crawled across the bottom of the lake bottom or it can be jigged rapidly. Some bass requires a super slow approach, especially because they can be extremely skittish or lethargic.

 

Among the best plastic lures to use when targeting Largemouth and Smallmouth bass are:

  • Slugs
  • Lizards
  • Ribbon tail worms
  • Curly-tail worms
  • Straight-tail worms
  • Crawfish
  • Paddle tail worms
  • French Fry worms
  • Reaper worms
  • Weenie worms
  • Plastic Swimbaits

Yamamoto 5 inch senko plastic worms are simple yet effective. They come in multiple colors. Bigger bass seem to like black as water gets warmer.

TR Tip: Try using two Wacky O-RIngs on each Senko worm. Separate them by 1/8 inch or so and bury the hook deep to prolong the life of each Senko

Zoom Ultra-vibe Speed Craw Plastics are Salt Impregnated to make fish hold on for that extra time to get you more hook ups.

TR Tip: Rig your craws Texas style or as a trailer on a jig. Black and blue or watermelon red rarely fail. You can use it on a swim jig also since it causes much vibration.

Crankbaits


Plugs are always great bass lures, particularly when targeting largemouth. Crankbaits, minnow baits, and vibrating plugs will catch you plenty of bass.

Crankbaits have a short wide body with a long and broad lip which gives them an underwater wobble. Some dive a few feet under the surface, while others dive 30 feet under the surface.

Normally crankbaits are only used in warm water due to their quick retrieves. Cold water produces sluggish fish who aren’t really too interested in chasing fish. However, a slow retrieve with a few second pause has been shown to entice some bites even in cold water.

 

Crankbaits like this Bluegill Rapala Crankbait are great in lakes with large Bluegill populations. This lure dives down about 6′ and will be sure to help you catch bass and pike.

 Minnowbaits


Minnowbaits are much longer and slimmer than crankbaits. Minnowbaits are not meant to dive deep like crankbaits and their narrow lip, compared to the large wide crankbait lip, is evidence of this.

Minnowbaits are often created with neutral buoyancy so they can be paused mid-retrieve in an attempt to place them directly in front of the fish you’re targeting.

You can’t go wrong fishing minnowbaits like you fish crankbaits.

The Bluenet Lazer Minnowbait‘s great darting action and flash is a great choice for most water conditions. We suggest a retrieve and pause, a slow-to-moderate retrieve, or a twitch/pause/retrieve method.

 

SwimBaits


 

Swimbaits are popular baits for most any kind of fish. They vary in shape, size, and make-up more than any other kind of lure. Swimbaits can be as simple as a non-descript white plastic fish imitation swimbait. Swimbaits can also be multijointed and hand painted hard plastic lures, like the one pictured here.

Most smaller swimbaits are perfect to catch medium to large sized bass. However, big baits catch big fish. You may not catch 10 fish using a big swimbait but you might catch 1 gigantic trophy bass.

Swimbaits might be the simplest of bass lures to use. All you have to do is cast and retrieve when fishing swimbaits. Most lures have their own action so you rarely need to impart your own, altering retrieval speed and imparting a small jig actions couldn’t hurt if you’re having a tough time producing with a swimbait though.

The Supertrip swimbait is one of the highest quality swimbaits around. The jointed fishing lure is a kind of special lure with like real fish appearance. It brilliantly replicates color and patterns of actual bait fish.  Its an incredibly versatile lure that performs great in various conditions,speeds, and water columns.

Spinnerbaits


There are two types of spinnerbaits:

  • Single bladed spinners
  • Double spinners.

Single spinners are simple and straight forward. Double spinners create extra lift which allow them to move over the tops of heavy weeds or other obstructions.

Both types of spinnerbaits are adept at avoiding hangups though as the spinner acts as a shield, preventing the single hook from getting caught.

The type of spinner on the spinnerbait matters as well. Spinnerbaits with large spinners like the Colorado spinners move slower through the water while a willow-leaf blade has less water resistance so it travels faster. Willow-leaf blades are meant to be fished at deeper depths and greater speed.

Lots of anglers have trouble hooking up on biting fish. In order to reduce the number of missed strikes they add, whats normally called, a stinger hook.  It is essentially attatch another 2nd hook, either a J-hook or treble hook, to the end of the spinner bait hook by threating the spinner J-hook through the eye of the stinger hook.

The first spinner on the right is the the Booyah Super Shad. Spinnerbaits are meant to prevent weeds and branches from fouling the hook and blade. You can cover a lot of water quickly and the flash and vibration draw strikes from the most aggressive fish.

The second spinner is a standard spinner.  Standard spinners are better designed to be steadily retrieved in open water than jigged erratically. Steady retrieves with short slows or bursts of speed will trick the fish into thinking the imitation fish is attempting to escape, provoking an attack.

You can learn more about stinger hooks and spinner type lures by checking out this article we wrote just for that purpose on How to Fish Spinner Baits.

Jigging


Jigging is one of the most effective ways to catch bass. Jigging means to work your bait up and down in a rapid motion but this isn’t exclusive.

Jigging spoons are ideal for that type of action. Their slender and heavy body are designed for jigging action, especially in deep waters of 30+ feet. Their long thin shape is designed to make them look much like an injured minnow.

Lead-headed jigs are available as well. They’re tipped with various hair, feathers, or skirts. These are the most common and most effective in less than 20 feet or so of water but can be used about anywhere you desire.

TR Tip: Plenty of snags take place in heavy cover when jigging, however all you have to do is allow the line to go slack and the weight of the jig often pulls itself free.

Jigs come in all different shaped and sized. The most common types are:

  • Weedless Jigs
  • Football-head jigs
  • Slider jigs
  • Heddon sonar spoons
  • Hopkins (or jigging) spoons.

Weedless jigs are best in tight brush to avoid hang-ups. Football jigs are great for rocky bottoms to imitate crawfish. A slider jig is great for working weed tops. Vibrating spoons or jigging spoons are best to jig vertically in deep water.

Here are some of Tackle Reports picks for the best fishing jigs and best fishing spoons.

 

The great thing about these vibrating jigs is the ability to alter how the jigs are fished simply by attaching your snap or tie to a different slot on the lure back. Similar to the casting spoon, reel these lures in relatively quickly, letting it flutter to the bottom now and again.

The Pro Jig is a universal jig for swimming, flipping, pitching and casting in and around cover. Its meant for freshwater but is certainly usable for saltwater. The weed guard is lighter than normal weed guards which allows for easier hook sets but it also means you should avoid overly heavy cover.

Dr. Fish’s Casting Spoons will catch trout, bass and walleye all day. These spoons are solid and heavy enough for a long and accurate cast on a windy day. Reel them in relatively quickly, letting it flutter to the bottom now and again.

The uniqueness of the Spro Bucktail is that it doesn’t fall or hang straight down like other bucktails, it glides. When jigged, its body stays almost parallel to the bottom maintaining a very natural appearance. Swim it along in freshwater for big bass and walleyes, or troll it for reservoir stripers.

Topwater Fishing


The single greatest rush in fishing is the sight of a giant bass chasing and engulfing your top water lure right in front of your eyes. Largemouth bass are among the most active top water strikers of all fish. If you’re looking for that rush, you’re best to target Largemouth and Tackle Reports is here to tell you how to fish topwater.

How to fish topwater is one of the most common questions asked at Tackle Reports.

Two of the most popular topwater retrieves are a twitch and pause retrieve and “walking the dog” retrieve.

A twitch and pause retrieve are simple twitches and jerks with a topwater lure followed by a pause. These work best with chuggers and propbait lures.

Walking the dog is done by holding your rod tip low and giving it a series of evenly spaced jerks to make the head swing from one side to the other.

Top waters work best on calm water days and water temperature is around 65 degrees. Early and late day is best, as the sun is not beating down directly on the eyes of fish, remember if you read our article on fish senses you’ll know fish don’t have eyelids to block out the sun. One exception is fishing topwater around heavy cover, fish will hit top water lures if they’ve been hiding under shaded cover all day.

Stick Baits


Stick baits are long thin plugs with no-built in action. If you’re going to fish stickbaits, you have to impart actinon into the lure.

Stick baits are used by slight jerks left and right. The weight in the back of the lure assists the side to side action. This is typically referred to as “walking the dog”

If you’re interested in learning more about how to walk the dog, you can check out our other article on How to Fish Topwater with Stickbaits and Other Plugs

The Heddon Spook Jr. is a classic top water lure every angler needs. Cheap, simple to use, and productive, the Spook Jr. can capitalize on that early top water bite once you learn how the proper technique.

Propbaits


 

Propbaits are similar to other plugs but posess propellers at one or both ends. They as well are fished by slight twitches and jerks followed by pauses.

Walking the dog isn’t the technique propbaits were designed for, but certain propbaits can be fishing with the walk the dog technique so long as they don’t have weight in the tail. 

Otherwise, fish the propbait with a simple cast and retrieve. 

The LiveTarget Blueback Herring Double Prop is a great bait for that early top water bite. The dual prop throws out plenty of noise and water, certain to attract trophy bass to your bait. The one possible hang up with this lure is the possibility of the front prop to fray your line. Just make sure to check it every few casts and after every catch for its integrity.

Chuggers


The A-SZCXTOP Chugger has a smooth and rapid diving action and  delivers enticing wobbling and rolling action. Its got high carbon steel triple hooks ensures fish that get hooked, stay hooked. 

Chuggers are the lures with concave faces that throw water when you twitch the lure.

Its suggested you fish chuggers with a series of rapid jerks or twitches.

Fish chuggers on days where is calm. Fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass with chugger lures in the early cool mornings or late afternoons. You’re guaranteed to hook up on a big bass if you fish chuggers in the right environments.

 

Check out our other article if you want more info on How to Fish with Lures.

Crawlers


Crawlers have a broad face plate or arms that make the bait wobble or crawl. A classic jitterbug is the perfect example. A slow, steady retrieve usually works best.

You can fish crawlers similar to how to fish chuggers, propbaits, and crawlers. Look to fish them in similar weather and water conditions as these other lures as well.

Take the surface-busting sound created by the Jitterbug Fire and Jitterbug Black‘s special lip and add the action of these tail wagging Jointed Jitterbugs and anglers have the most action packed topwater lure available today. The motion of the jointed tail creates extra flash from the frantic swinging of the lure’s bright plated treble hooks. They can be fished slowly to product the rhythmic ”plopping” sound or faster to create surface commotion.


Buzzbaits

Buzzbaits are a type of spinner baits. They have a large blade that disturbs and displaces a great deal of water.

A slow and steady retrieve the best spinner bait retrieve; its important to note they will sink if you stop reeling. Its possible to utilize the sinking spinner bait though. If you reel the spinner over gaps in cover, allow it to sink through the gaps, and then reel quickly enough to lift the lure out of cover.

These type of spinner tactics can coax big Largemouth bass out of cover and into your net.

If you want to learn more about fishing with buzzbaits, make sure to check out our article on How to Fish with Spinnerbaits.

 

TR Tip: We’ve heard of anglers adding a squeaking sound to buzzbaits for added effect. Our results have been mixed but to do this: 
Step 1: Crimp the propeller collar so it no longer moves.
Step 2: Use a pair of pliers to squeeze the end of the collar that the propeller makes contact with. Make sure to rough it up so the contact point is no longer smooth.
Step 3: Hang the end of your pole out the window of your vehicle and drive 10-15 miles at 55MPH or above so the propeller spins and rubs against the collar.

 

Booyah buzzbaits are built to last. The paint doesn’t chip, the skirt is held firmly in place and will not come loose, and the propeller will not easily bend.


Frogs and Rats

Frog and rat lures are made of soft rubber or plastic and have a weedless design. These lures are best for heavy lillypads or weeds and are always a fun choice to bring in big bass.

Sucess with these baits comes with patience and precision casting. It can be a bit hard given their size and weight.

For rats and ducks, throw these baits near but not in heavy cover.

For frogs, throw them on heavy cover and try to pull them accross. There are few things more exilerating than watching a big bass leap out of cover to take your frog lure ontop of lilly pads or other water cover.

It can be a bit intimidating to throw a big 8 inch rat lure or duck lure. Many new fisherman are hardpressed to believe that fish will target animals like ducks or rats. Most fish wont, but the fish who do typically belong in the record books……or at least in your wall.

 

Weedless spoons

Weedless spoons are perfect for sliding through and over the densest brush.

Made of metal, hard plastic, or the like, weedless spoons come with a wire or nylon brush guard to protect against hang ups.

TR Tip: Tip spoons with plastic curly tails, a plastic skirt, or a strip of fresh bait to impart a lifelike swimming action and to improve hook ups greatly.

Metal fishing spoons are heavier and great for fan-casting large areas of weedy covers. They sink rapidy and are fished beneath the surface. Hard plastic spoons are light enough to slide over matted weeds. Because they ride with the hook up, there is little chance of fouling.

 

 

The Johnson Silver Minnow is one of the most versatile and successful lure ever made. Easy to long cast, it wont catch in slop or weeds. You can troll, jig, or just twitch the Silver Minnow at the bottom.

 

 

One drawback to the weedless spoon is the tendency for fish to strike short. Many anglers make the mistake of setting the hook when they feel a bass nip at the curly tail trailer.

Make sure you hesitate before setting the hook with weedless spoon to ensure you don’t miss your chance.

TR Tip: If you’re still having trouble hooking up on a spoon, try to attach a stinger to the end of your hook. Learn more about Stinger hooks on our article How to Fish with Spinner Baits

 

The Bomber Saltwater Grade Who Dat Weedless Rattling Spoon is a spoon with the added benefit of a dual-pitch rattle. It produces both high- and low-pitches and the weed guard (that actually works!) doubles as an additional strike enhancer. 

 

Final Thought

Are you ready to get out in the water and begin catching trophy largemouth and smallmouth bass?

The lures listed above will help you in creating a tackle box with all the basic lures to begin catching largemouth bass instead of chasing them. If you have any questions about how to use these lures, make sure to check out our other articles describing how to use them littered through out this article.

If you’re not sure which one to start with, try starting with out article on How to Fish with Lures.

Now what are you waiting for, get out there and go catch some trophy bass!

Happy Fishing!


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Matthew Gallagher




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