Top 6 Essential Bass Fishing Lures

How-To Fishing Videos
Unlock the secrets to successful bass fishing with our expert guide on the top six lures for every situation. Whether you're targeting the top, middle, or bottom of the water column, we've got you covered. Get insights on how to choose and use these lures to maximize your catch rate. Tailored for both beginners and seasoned anglers, this guide is your key to mastering bass fishing techniques.

So, what are the best lures you can use for bass fishing? I get asked that all the time. One of the things you got to think about when it comes to lures is that they are tools. They are tools to be used to catch fish according to the different situations that you come across. So really, no one lure is going to work for everything, but if you have a short list of lures that can cover the majority of what you are fishing for, then that's what you need.

So I've narrowed it down to six lures. What are the six lures, if you can only take six lures with you fishing, what are they going to be? So these target is basically, you look at the water column, top, middle, and bottom of the water column. If you've got an arsenal that covers that, you're good to go. 

So let's start off with topwater, poppers specifically. Popwater baits, they...popwater? Pop, popping baits, they are little bait fish size lures with a little cup in the front of them. And what you do is you give them a little pop, and hence the word popping, you just give them a little tug, a little pop, and they'll spit out water. And depending on how hard of a pop you give it, you can get more splash, more gurgling, more noise.

It's designed to look like a bait fish that's struggling on the surface of the water, and that triggers the instinctive, predatory instincts of bass. And they can't stand it, they've got to bite it. 

They're best used in the warmer months when there's a lot more activity on the surface, and they work really well, especially during the fall when the bass are up schooling and you've got bass that are hitting the baitfish that are up on top. You'll see them all, you know, bait fish flying all over the place. Well, that's the bass underneath it chasing them. And so you throw a popper in the middle of that, and it looks like a bait fish that's struggling and it's easy money, man. It's easy prey for the bass. So they work really well, plus just explosive bites.

You throw on a popper alongside docks, alongside weed edges, over the top of submerged weeds. There's a lot of different places you can fish them. And when these bass come up and smash it, boy, it scares you. It's exciting. And that's a fun way to fish. So you've got to have poppers. They're very productive lures.

The second type are jerkbaits. Now, jerkbaits can be broken down into four categories or four classes of jerkbaits. You have the floating kind, you have the suspending kind, the deep diving, and then the sinking kind. And of those four, really, two of them are in every bass fisherman's arsenal, and that's the floating and the suspending kind. 

Let's break that down a little bit further. The floating kind are better to use during the warmer months, from spring to fall, really. So the large chunk of the year, they are up on the surface and, again, mimic injured baitfish. They have a slender profile, looks like a baitfish. And you just pop, pop, pop, pop, and they dive down a little bit under the water, pause and then they slowly rise back up to the surface. And you give them a little pop pop.

So you cast it out, let the rings dissipate, and then give them a little jerk, jerk, jerk, and then let it sit and let it slowly rise back up. Put it on, you know, attach it with a snap swivel so it gives it the mobility so it can go side to side as well as with that snap in front it can go side to side this way too. It can roll and go side to side. And that gives it the most amount of activity, makes it look alive. 

How hard you pop it and how long the pauses are in between really depends on the fish that particular day. They could be aggressive biting so sometimes you can just pop, pop, pop, pop, pop all the way back to you and not even stop.

Other times you have to give it a little subtle twitch and let it sit on the surface for a minute or so. And sometimes while it's sitting there, they'll blast it. And then there's all kinds of different variations of cadences and pauses in between that you can use. 

You have to experiment each day because the bass typically, well, their moods change, if you will, depending on the day, the season, the weather, water temperature and those other environmental conditions. So just practice with them and play with them and you will catch fish with them, I promise.

The other kind of jerkbait is the suspending kind. And typically those are diving and suspending. They go down sometimes to 10 feet. Some of them go deeper than that. Those are best used primarily in the colder months during the wintertime. You can get it down to where the bass are at and then just let it hang out with them. It just sits there and doesn't move. It may slowly rise, it might slowly sink one or the other, depending on the kind you get. But just let it sit there and then just give it a little subtle twitch, just enough to make it look alive. And what it looks like is a bait fish that's struggling to stay alive under those cold conditions because baitfish really are affected by that cold water. And that's an easy prey. That's an easy meal for the bass and they'll nail it.

Another time to use them is in the summertime for a similar reason. Summer, a lot of bass are out deep, they may be suspended or over a hump or a ridge or a ledge. And that's a good time to use a suspending jerkbait to get it down there. And again, with the same kind of presentation. And a lot of times you can get bites sometimes when there's no other way to get a bite. And suspending jerkbait can work really well under those conditions. So make sure you have those two kinds of jerkbaits with you for year-round fishing.

The next kind is a jig. Now, jigs, man, I'm telling you what. Jigs have been around for decades and they continually produce fish and for good reason. Bass just don't become accustomed to them. They continue to fall victim to these jigs all the time. So always have some jigs in your arsenal. 

You don't have to have all the different kinds, but just to break it down, there's basically four categories of jigs basically centered in around the design of the jig. So you've got the round ball jig, you've got the football head jig, there's the swim jig, and then there's a flipping jig. All four could be in your arsenal. You don't have to collect them all at the same time. But brief descriptions of each of them. 

The ball head jig is used primarily either as a finesse jig or as an empty jig just to jig it with a hook on it. You can put a skirt on it, put a trailer on it, use it for a variety of situations. It is used best in rocky or open conditions. Because of its design of the round head, it doesn't get hung up in the rocks as much like if you're fishing riprap or gravel. And also because the eye sticks straight up, it's easier to get out of the rocks if it happens to get stuck in there. So round head jigs work really well in that condition and also open water. You can also thread grubs onto them. You can put them inside of tubes. So there's a variety of different uses you can have for them just depending on the situation. But they're excellent jig heads and jigs to use.

The next kind would be the swim jig. The swim jig is's got an eye in the front and it's designed for you to actually fish it kind of like a spinnerbait. You just reel it in and you can bring it right to you. Now it gives a little bit of a wobble when you do that. A lot of anglers will impart extra action by shaking the rod tip as they bring it in. It gives a lot more action, makes it more lively. Put like a boot tail trailer on it or a Keitech, something like that on the end of it to give it a bait fish type provol. It's designed to look like a bait fish swimming through the water.

Again, you can fish this at any depth of the water column. Most of the time it's done shallow, but you can do it even down deep, which means you can use it basically year-round, although it's most productive in the summer months and in the fall when the bass are feeding heavily on bait fish. But you can use it year-round with success. Just the colors on that, stick to your shad colors, your bait colors, so it's going to be white, white and chartreuse. That's basically it. You don't really need to go fancy on it.

The next kind is the football jig. Now the football jig, it's designed to be crawled on the bottom, literally dragged on the bottom. And it kind of wobbles side to side as it crawls on the bottom. So that resembles a crawfish. So put a crawfish trailer on it and just slowly drag it on the bottom and you can catch a lot of fish that way. 

You can use natural colors if the water is somewhat clear to clear. You know, browns and new greens, stick with that. If your water is real dingy and stained, then go with a black and blue skirt. That works really well.

Football jigs also can be used in rocks. They're pretty good at coming through the rocks without getting hung up. So that's, a lot of anglers like to use them in a riprap and gravel and rocky canyons and things like that. And they work pretty good. You don't really get hung up that much with them. So they're a really popular choice for those situations.

The next one and last one is the flipping jig. Now, some people call it a grass jig or sometimes people call it a bass jig. But really what they are, they're characterized by having the eye in the front and with a slender profile with a weed guard. Those are designed to be thrown in and through and around cover, especially weedy cover, but also wood cover works well too. They come through that stuff surprisingly well without getting hung up. So you can put a variety of different trailers on them. You can put crawdad trailers, you can put baitfish type trailers on them. There's a whole assortment that you can do. But primarily just stick to some main colors. You don't have to go too crazy.

Again, sticking with what I said before, if the water is somewhat stained and dirty, to clear water, you want to go with your natural colors like your browns and your greens and green pumpkins. And if the water is really dingy and dirty, black with blue. Black and blue skirt works really well. 

So those are your jigs. You can fish them any depth at any speed. So sometimes you can hop it off the bottom. Sometimes you just drag it off the bottom. You can swim it and you can do it at any speed or any depth, like I said before. So that makes them incredibly versatile. So definitely got to have that in your arsenal.

The next one would be your plastic worms. Now plastic worms basically come in two different types, your finesse type and your ribbon tail. Both are useful in your arsenal. The finesse kind have very little action to them. So those are best designed when the bass bite is slow. Is not that...when the bass are kind of a neutral to negative feeding mode. At that time, usually the baitfish and what it's feeding on aren't very active either. So a finesse worm kind of matches the activity level of what's going on underwater.

Those work really well. The smaller ones, the three and four-inch ones work great on a drop shot or finesse rig, or a split shot rig. You can put them on a jighead if you want, but that's kind of unorthodox. But definitely work them nice and slow methodically. You can work them at any depth and at any speed. Again, sometimes just sitting and hanging there and barely moving at all and just letting that worm twitch and undulate underwater is all it takes to get a bite when the bass are reluctant to bite. 

The larger size ones, say a six-inch one, those I like to use in flipping and pitching and into cover. Again, when the bass are up into there, say you've got a big cold front that's come through, bluebird skies, the bass are buried up in that in the bushes and in the grass and they're not really willing to chase anything, that's when you can use a finesse worm to go in and dig them out. You know, put a bullet head sinker on there and 50-pound braid, 30-pound braid, something like that and pitch it into that and those weeds. Rig it Texas style so you don't get hung up. And you can get a lot of bass that way. Just make sure when you get that bite, get a good hook set, get their head turned and get them pointed to you so you don't wrap up in that stuff and potentially break you off.

The ribbon tail worms are for when the bass are a little more active. So spring through fall, when they're up and feeding and biting a lot of stuff, this is when that ribbon tail gives it a swimming action and makes it look alive. So again, you can fish this. Most of the time, a lot of guys throw them and the bass will bite it while it's falling. That's like 90% of the way you fish it. But you can also swim it. Throw it out and reel it back in. It looks like there's something swimming in the water, like an eel. A lot of times you can catch a lot of bass that way.

They can be thrown in heavy cover, they can be thrown in rocks, they can be thrown next to docks, into lily pads. I mean, you can throw them basically anywhere where bass is hiding and at any depth, similar to jigs. But it just gives it a slender profile, a little bit different look. 

And again, bass have been biting these since the '70s, if not earlier. Gosh, when did Creme come out with the worm? I can't remember now. Long time ago. And they've been productive ever since.

Color-wise, you can't go wrong with green pumpkin or with watermelon with red seed. If you're going to have two colors, that's where you start your tackle box kit with is those two colors for those worms. You don't really need to get every color on the rainbow, but those two are going to be your most productive all the time. So start with those.

The next lure in your arsenal is going to be the crankbait. Crankbaits on the surface are very easy to use. You throw it out, wind it back in, boom, and you catch fish that way. It does work. But there's more to it than that. Crankbaits, they are designed to mimic baitfish, that's for sure. And baitfish don't always swim in a straight line. 

So if you're reeling it in, if you can bounce it off something, like hit it off a rock or a stump or a piling on a dock, and deflect it and give it a... It suddenly darts off to one direction, that often elicits a strike. And if you don't have anything to do that, you can impart it yourself. Reel it down, you can give it a pause. Reel it, pause. Or you can pop it with your rod, just to give it a sudden change in direction. Just anything that's a different... Because that's what baitfish do, right? They dart, they move around, they pause, they stop. That's what you're trying to mimic. And anytime you make that sudden change in direction, that's a lot of times when the bass will strike. 

One trick is to, if you've got weeds that are under the water, especially milfoil or hydrilla, bring a shallow diving crankbait over it and every once in a while you tick the top of that with those weeds, you'll get snagged a little bit and give it a good pop with your rod. And that's suddenly that lure just takes off in a different direction. That sudden change often elicits a strike. So things like that, just keep in mind.

Again, the best ones to get are like, if you're going to start out, because there's so many crankbaits to get, get a medium diving crankbait. One that dives 4 to 10 feet. That's going to cover a lot of the area where you're fishing. They work best for the warmer months. The spring to fall, especially in the fall, they work really well. 

And color-wise, get a baitfish color like sexy shad or Tennessee shad. You're gonna want to also get a sunfish color like a perch or bluegill. Also get crawdad. There's two different shades of crawdad colors, a red crawdad and a brown crawdad. Red crawdad works best when the fish are up real shallow and brown works the rest of the time.

So those are like...and then the last one, I like to get a chrome color, like a chrome with a black back, a chrome with a blue back. That seems to work year round and it can work with any kind of...whether you're fishing for smallmouth or large mouth.

All right, so let's move on to spinnerbaits. Yeah, spinnerbaits. Spinnerbaits, I'll tell you right now, when you look at them, they don't look anything in nature. Okay, that's just the nature of them. Okay, but bass just can't resist them. And so I really don't care about what they're trying to mimic. I care that bass like to hit them and eat them. So that's why I throw them, and this is why they've been so productive for decades. They really have been working for a very long time.

People get tripped up a little bit in deciding what kind of spinnerbaits to get, so if you're just starting out, it's very simple. First of all, color. White or white and chartreuse. That's going to be like 90% no matter where you are in the country, that is going to work for you. For size, 3/8 ounce, that's like a universal size that's used especially from, again, September, I mean spring through fall, 3/8 ounce works really well for that. You might want to heavy up a little bit during the winter because you're fishing deeper, so maybe a half ounce works really good.

And then blades. There's three different types of blades, right? There's Colorado, Indiana, and willow leaf. Most of the time, a double willow leaf spinnerbait will do you well. So just focus on that and you can throw them anywhere. You can throw them in any kind of cover where bass lurk, alongside docks, along weed edges. You can bring them through, surprisingly through a lot of cover without them getting hung up. So don't be afraid to throw it in the muck. If you think you might get hung up, well, that's a good place to cast it because sometimes a lot of bass anglers have passed up that area because they're afraid of getting hung up. Don't be afraid. What's the worst thing that can happen? You go in and dig it back out. But a lot of times, that's where the fish are and that's a lot of times you catch a lot of fish.

So those are like the six lures to always have with you no matter where you go, no matter what time of the year you fish. Hope that helps. For more tips and tricks like this, visit