A Very Hard Choice
More so than for any other species of fish, the number of different bass lures available is unfathomable. Much of this is due to the competitive nature of bass fishing. While many fisheries have remained mostly noncompetitive, bass fishing is driven by bass tours and tournaments, which regularly make sports networks. With so much money on the line, lure companies have incentive to put more more into research and development, and try to have the top lure for the next year's professional as well as recreational bass angler.
This all makes my job rather hard. If bass fishing could be made as easy as five lures, the lure market would collapse. Even I have far more then five options in my bass fishing tackle trays. So inevitably, with tens of thousands of choices available, many lures will be left out of this list.
So what it came down to is, "If I was left with only 5 bass lures for the rest of my left, what would they be?" In order to maintain diversity, I chose no more than one lure from any particular class. This ensures that in most situations, you have a viable lure on hand.
So with that, let us begin.
5. Jigs: Booyah Boo Jig
The Booyah jig has proven itself as a fish catching winner. Durable, full bodied silicon skirts, rattles, weed guard, high quality hooks, and a variety of colors and sizes all at a very affordable price make this a go to jig for many bass anglers.
One advantage of bass jigs, like the Booyah jig, is that you can control the retrieve rate. Jigs can be especially effective in colder water, as bass are less prone to feeding, and a slow presentation is often necessary. The jig can be slowly hopped, with long pauses in between, or even dragged across the bottom. The jig is not only effective in cold water though. Bass can be targeted with jigs all season long, by simply adjusting your retrieve rate and action. Jigs are particularly effective when fished with a very sensitive rod and line, as this will allow you to feel he contour of the lake bottom, as well as any structure you are fishing over.
Bass strikes on jigs are often subtle, so chances are you will miss a couple strikes before you start to learn what you are feeling for. Again, a sensitive rod and line will help greatly with this.
As far as color selection goes, the general rule I stick to is bright colors on sunny clear water, very dark colors on cloudy dark water, and a range of natural colors bridging the gap in mid-light conditions.
4. Spinnerbaits: Strike King Premier Plus
Spinner baits are as versatile as any when is comes to bass lures. Their action and effectiveness is only limited by your imagination. They can be used to cover water and locate fish, or simply used to target those very fish. Their weight lends them to very long casts, but then can be quickly retrieved to cover the most water possible in the shortest amount of time. Either burn them quickly across the surface, or retrieve them slowly at depth. Additionally they can be dragged across the bottom, letting them kick up a cloud of dirt and bump across structure, or even jigged along the bottom.
When retrieving, vary your speed to cause the jig to rise and lower in the water column on each cast. Try twitching the rod tip towards the lure to create slack in the line, whereby causing the lure to hesitate momentarily, often triggering a strike.
Spinner baits are often fished with an additional trailer, however the Strike King Premier Plus has additional longer skirt strands that give the appearance of a trailer, so the extra plastic is not always necessary. This particular spinnerbait has a long reputation for catching fish, is durable, affordable, and you guessed it, available in every color under the sun. My favorite is the model with one Colorado blade (shorter rounder blade) and one Willow blade (longer skinnier blade). This set up gives off two different frequencies of sound, attracting more fish (at least it seems like it in my experience.)
3. Topwaters: Zara Spook by Heddon
Hooking fish since before the turn of the twentieth century, Heddon has a long tradition of making fine fish catching products. The Zara Spook has been one of, if not the best, topwater bass lure for around 75 years. It is now available in a wide variety of colors, with rattle options available, however it is the distinct action that brings bass to the surface.The Spook is traditionally fished with a method called "Walk the Dog," which refers to a back and forth zig-zag across the surface. To get the presentation and cadence correct, some practice is necessary, however before long you will be catching fish left and right. When retrieving, try pausing in between a series of twitches, as the bass will often strike when the lure is sitting motionless on the surface. The Spook is imitating species such as frogs and snakes, so target lily pad edges, docks, overhanging vegetation, and anywhere else such prey might be found.
Part of the allure of this lure, is the excitement of top water strikes. Unlike the case with jigs or plastics, there is no doubt when a bass makes a run at a Zara Spook. There are few things in fishing that get my heart beating faster than a missed top water strike, and the ensuing moments, wondering if he will com back around for a second pass (and often they do just that.)
Generally, top water fishing is a strategy for the warmer months, so go ahead and try in the early season if you wish, but don't be surprised if you have to switch sub-surface to catch bass.
2. Crankbait: Rapala Clackin' Minnow
After such a dinosaur in the number three spot, I thought I could switch it up to a relatively new lure on the bass market. The Clackin' Minnow is a fine example of what almost 80 years of lure making experience can do. For many years, the Rattlin' Rap has been proving the advantage of sound in bass lures, but had not been reinvented until fairly recently with the "clackin" system.
One of the disadvantages of the "rattlin" system was that the BB's sound was damped by the polymer case which enclosed them. The new "rattlin" system uses instead a single large BB with a metal drum that sits flush with the sides of the lure, providing the maximum amount of undamped sound. This system was first introduced on the Clackin' Rap, which is a fine lure in its own right, however I have had the best fish catching success on the Clackin' Minnow.
Be aware-- fish love this lure. All fish. I have caught many bass, both large mouth and small mouth, as well as trout, perch, crappie, pike, and walleye (walleye especially seem to like it.) So if you are trying to target bass in particular, you might get a few surprises throughout the day. If you are just targeting fish, there are few better lures. Fish it as you would a traditional crankbait, retrieving as a steady pace, or crank it down and fish with a jerk-pause rhythm back to the boat.
The finishes are outstanding, the color options numerous, they come with quality fully dressed hooks, and are durable enough to catch fish after fish. Even the details down to the eye are impressive. Of course, such a lure doesn't come particularly cheap, however in the world of bass lures 14 dollars is a bargain for such a productive lure.
1. Soft Plastics: Gary Yamamoto Senko
I personally know plenty of anglers that don't like them, and whether its because they have become so mainstream in the plastics world, or maybe because they really take very little experience to use, it doesn't take away from the facts-- these worms catch bass. In fact the bass at the top of this article was caught on a 5" Senko worm, fitting, I know.
Gary Yamamota baits makes a wide range of styles, sizes, and colors of soft plastics, more that enough to fill many rows in any retail store, however the Senko is arguably their most effective all around model. To look at the Senko, it does not appear very special: it's a chunky plastic worm. No frills. What makes the Senko so effective though is its weight and unique stiffness. This stiffness is what gives the Senko its particular action in the water. It is this vary action that makes this bait so easy to use, even for the inexperienced angler.
Senkos can be rigged a variety of ways, all which have proven effective:
- Wacky rig one (hooked through the middle rather than the end) on a dropshot rig. The worm will flex in a U, then rebound on each hop.
- Texas rig one weedless with a brass and glass set up and crawl the bottom
- My favorite, weedless rig one weightless and just let the worm do all the work for you. Cast it out, let it drop, raise it up, drop it, repeat. As the Senko sinks, it move erratically, triggering strikes from bass in the area.
As with most plastics, takes on Senkos will usually be subtle, so watch your line for signs of a take before you actually feel a pull.
I Want to Hear from You!
I would love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section below, I'd be glad to help! If you found this article helpful, do me a huge favor and Share using the Facebook or Pinterest links at the top of the page. Best yet, if this helped you catch some fish recently, send me a picture using the 'Contact the Author' link at the top of the page and I'll feature you and your catch on an upcoming post! Thank you!
Pete on July 22, 2018:
Bought a strike king spinnerbait..hit a stump with it..brought back the blades only..and rhis was a titanium model..I'll never buy one again..terminator is much better product
Dean on March 24, 2018:
Still using the classic light brown creme wacky worm .. fish it top or mid — I’ve a 1000 bass on that worm
Copper Man on May 24, 2013:
Plastic worms! The more beat up they get the better they work. Your article brought back memories of bass skyrocketing out of the water to take a popping frog surface lure. The tension builds up while waiting for it to happen. A great article; you know your fish and your lures.
Mr Archer from Missouri on July 27, 2012:
My hands down favorite is a black spinnerbait with a single willow leaf blade, preferably about a #6 blade. Clear water, dingy water, summer, winter, makes no difference to me. If I'm not having any luck with that, next up is a 6" straight tail red with black core worm, weedless rigged, no weight (I guess you can tell I like fishing in shallow water). After that, the only other lure I use with any frequency is a Zara Spook. There's something about "Walkin'the Dog" with that spook, having a bass blow up on it, that sets my heart all aflutter! Thanks for a great hub. Hope those who read it get out and do it!
xcubist on July 13, 2012:
Maybe it's just the way I fish but I've never had the luck with jigs and spinners the way I do with top water and sticks. Plus I like the action and blow ups you get on a top water. Good hub though!
who10 from Midwest on July 11, 2012:
Although I use all from time to time, I seem to always want to pick up the spinnerbaits. Hope your fishing is going well this year!
huntnfish (author) from Washington on July 09, 2012:
Thanks! Best of luck to you on the water!
Lee Stevenson from Portsmouth, uk on July 09, 2012:
Great Hub pal, im going weekend and will be using some of these types of lures ;)