Derrek Sigler 02.13.21
Is there one perfect bait that will catch fish every time? No, of course not. And if there was, we’d never tell because then our wives would finally be able to say we don’t “need” all those tackle boxes – and why on earth would we do that? There are, however, several baits that have been proven over time, to catch fish on a regular basis. These are baits that should be in EVERY angler’s tackle box, every time you go fishing. That’s what makes them the best bass fishing baits in our eyes.
There’s one important caveat to this list; it’s not quite complete yet, because there are plenty more bass baits – depending on a wide range of factors – you will want to have in your arsenal. No, correct that. That you’ll need.
Stay tuned for more tips on which bait to toss as the season goes on!
Cover image: Shutterstock/Botha
Table of Contents
1. Terminator Super Stainless Spinnerbait – Editor’s Pick
We’ve caught countless bass on Terminator spinnerbaits. In fact, we’ve replaced the chartreuse skirts on our Terminators so many times, we can’t even remember. That color seems to be a go-to spinner for so many conditions, although our box carries other colors, too. We’ve also brought in a LOT of big northern pike with it, too. It’s a go-to for those toothy fish, too. The head on the Terminator cuts through the water well and the wire frame resists bending extremely well. These baist vibrate more than many other baits and have super-sharp VMC hooks. Our current favorite is the gold-plated Colorado blade version. These spinnerbaits catch fish. Period.
Pros/Extremely versatile, covers a lot of water and produces fish
Cons/Be sure to carry spare rubber skirts
Bottom Line/Probably the number one, go-to bait for many bass anglers
2. Rapala Ripstop
Rapalas are lures that EVERY angler has in the tackle box. The original balsa wood lures are what most of us think about when it comes to crank-style baits, and the company has developed all kinds of variations that catch fish. One of our current favorites is the Ripstop. These ripping stick baits tear up the water and stop quickly, imitating injured baitfish. These are a shallow-running bait that we like to work over weed beds, especially later in the day. Bass can’t seem to resist chomping up injured fish. The boot tail gives this bait some crazy action, too.
Pros/Crazy action with a lot of flash and splash
Cons/Not quite as versatile as a traditional stick bait
Bottom Line/Super crazy action from a stick bait.
3. Berkley Powerbait Power Worm
There are a lot of “rubber” worms on the market. The Powerbait Power Worm from Berkley flat works. Impregnated with a powerful scent attractant, these worms bring in the fish. We get a kick out of it when tiny fish come and smack them while at the dock or as we’re sitting in the boat with it dangling in the water. That’s all due to the scent. One of our favorite and very productive techniques is to wind drift over weed beds while slowly bounce-trolling a weedless-rigged 10-inch worm. This tactic has brought fish into the boat when nothing else is working on those hot summer days.
Pros/Amazing scent keeps fish on the bait
Cons/None that we can see
Bottom Line/When we reach for a rubber worm, we reach for these
4. Booyah Boo Jig
There are a lot of skirted, weedless jigs for bass fishing. The Booyah Boo Jig is a very good one. Rigged weedless, these jigs are designed to get dropped into brush and other thick cover that would normally be pretty hard to work. You can work it right down onto fish that are holding tight to cover and get right in their faces. We like the ⅜-ounce jig. It has built in rattles and weighs enough to cast well and get out there, without being too heavy for feeling every twitch. This is the perfect pitching and flipping bait that every bass angler needs.
Pros/Great for pitching and flipping into heavy cover
Cons/While it’s weedless, it can still be a bugger in the weeds
Bottom Line/Great jig for bruch and wooded cover
5. Arbogast Hula Popper
When the water is calm and the bass are surfacing, you’ll never have more fun catching bass than when you’re running a popper or other surface bait. The hits are sweet and explosive. There are a lot of different surface baits, but the one to have in your tackle box is the tried and true Arbogast Hula Popper. These skirted popper baits make a big splash and get lunkers to scream up to rip them. The classic Fred Arbogast design is widely considered as one of the best bass baits of all time. These have been a must-have bass bait for the past 60 years.
Pros/Classic topwater bait
Cons/Best used on calm water
Bottom Line/Time-tested and proven topwater bait
Bass aren’t always a shallow water fish. When there are massive temperature changes and lake turnover, the bass can head for deeper waters. Deep-running crank baits are a good call, and one of the classic ways to get the job done is with a lipless crankbait. The classic choice and still one of the best bass baits going, is the Rat-L-Trap. These baits run deep and carry a lot of rattle, making them very noisy. The design of the bait gives it a perfect wiggle as it runs deep, making it look like a seriously wounded baitfish. There’s lot of colors, but one that really hammers the bass early season is red. Many pro anglers work red baits early in the season to great success. Fire tiger is another great color. It is highly visible and great for working murky water.
Pros/Classic bait for deeper water fishing
Cons/Not a suspending bait, so it has to be kept in motion
Bottom Line/Versatile deep-water bass bait, good for largemouth and smallmouth bass
7. Storm Live Kickin’ Shad Swimbait
Jointed, body swimbaits are proving themselves to be some of the more versatile body baits for busting monster bass. These baits can be run hard and fast over a weed bed, jerked and flipped like a wounded baitfish, jigged off the bottom or trolled. With a basic shape and colored like a wide range of bass forage, these baits are a popular choice for anglers hitting new waters. The Storm Kickin’ Shad comes in several sizes, up to 6-inches long, which is good because as we all know, big fish need big baits.
Pros/Versatile bait that can be fished multiple ways
Cons/Not as loud as a hardbody bait
Bottom Line/Great bait for fishing multiple ways
Change baits often
One of the pitfalls bass anglers can find themselves in is sticking too long with a bait that isn’t working. If you’ve ever watched professional bass anglers at work, you’ve no doubt seen that they have multiple rods pre-rigged and ready to go. If a bait isn’t working after a few cats, they’ll switch it up and try something else. Bass can be easy to catch, and they can be the toughest fish in the lake. It all depends on a combination of water temperature, barometric pressure, water clarity, time of year and, of course, if the bass is hungry. That last one can be tricky because you can get a bass to bite even after it has just fed. They are wired to eat all the time, after all. These factors can affect when and how they will bite, so you need to be ready to present multiple baits to just about every fish in the lake if need be.
We all know the basics of how a fish works, but there are a couple of things that bear repeating, and something you may not know, too. Bass rely on three key elements to trigger a strike. Visually speaking, if the fish sees something that looks like food, it can and will try to eat it. So your bait has to look like something a bass will eat. You’re in luck, though, as they’ll eat just about anything.
Bass also hear and feel vibrations, which also attracts a strike. Noisy baits with vibration causes sound waves to thunder across the water, and it literally rings the dinner bell for a bass. They also rely on smell, although usually for a slower and more finicky bite. Bass aren’t as attuned to scent as say a catfish, but they do use the olfactory sense, too.
One little known trick about bass and most all fish is that the two sides of a fish’s brain aren’t connected in the traditional sense. The fish’s right eye is connected to the right side and vice versa. If a fish sees a lure with its right eye, and it strikes, the memory of the fight is only stored in the right side of the brain, and then only for a few seconds. I have been sight fishing in the shallows and cast to a fish, had it strike and get off, and then I’ve cast to the opposite side of the fish and caught it.
What’s the best bass lure?
There are different variants that come into play, but most agree that the spinnerbait is the most versatile bass bait.
How do I catch a bass?
As long as you can get a bait in front of a bass, you stand a good chance to catch one. There are always factors that change, but bass like to eat. Keep fishing and you’ll catch one.
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