It is very easy to go inside a Bass Pro Shop or Cabelas and blow a couple hundred dollars on fishing tackle. Unless you’re a Tournament Pro and have a reason to carry 57 different variations of the plastic worm, let’s look at 5 lure variations that should help you to locate bass, and reel in more fish!
1: Spinnerbait– One of the most versatile lures on the market, and one of my favorite lures is the Spinnerbait! Every time I get on the water I have two goals: Cover as much water as possible without sacrificing presentation, and locating bass. You can rip a spinnerbait through a laydown, or run it along a dock, to get post and pre-spawn females and bucks to bite. I most always throw a craw chunk or some type of trailer on all spinnerbaits. Traditional retrieve not bringing them in? Switch to the stop and go technique. Cast your lure past your target and let it settle for a couple seconds with your rod tip parallel with the water line. After a couple seconds, raise your rod tip while simultaneously starting your retrieve. Reel your line in so your lure covers 4-6ft of water. Then drop your rod tip, stop your retrieve, and let your lure fall for a couple seconds. Repeat. Not an avid angler? Buy the cheaper spinnerbaits until you get more accurate with your casts so you’re not losing lures and money. After you’re comfortable with your casting, start exploring some alternate blades for your spinnerbaits to give it better presentation. Experiment with the Willow, Colorado, Indiana, and Oklahoma blades. There is also the deep cup, thumper, ripple, and chopper blades that I have had great success with.
2: Soft Plastics (Senko, Plastic Worm, Creature Baits)- Easily some of the most important and widely used lures. There are many soft plastic variations out there that can help you land a trophy bass! In fact, my personal best bass was caught off a Senko. What makes soft plactics so versatile is their wide range of uses! You can go with the classic Texas rigged plastic worm. You can tie on a Carolina rigged paddle-tail or twist-tail worm and throw towards dropoffs and ledges. Throw a creature bait of some sort during the spawn or pre-spawn. You can even go with a more unconventional approach like the drop-shot! The best thing is, any one of these methods have the potential to get you YUUUUUUGE fish! (article coming soon on how to tie all the proper knots and how to rig these 3 setups)
3: Topwater (Buzzbaits, Frogs, Poppers, Etc) One of my favorite categories! There is nothing more satisfying than watching a bass breach the water line with your Buzzbait in its lip. Just like soft plastics, there are many different variations of the top water lure. Like mentioned before, the buzzbait is a very good lure to use from the pre-spawn moving forward. The blades create a chugging on top of the water that irritate bass to no end! Prepare for aggressive strikes! You can also drill holes in your blades to give your lure more presentation. Do not start drilling into your blades unless you are aware of what you’re doing. You can go from an $8 bass lure to an $8 rearview mirror ornament very fast. Not only are buzzbaits good top water lures, but poppers, frogs, mice, and spooks will also provide you with great fishing! I have a rod and reel combo dedicated for top water fishing. I use a 6.5′ heavy action rod with 50 lb braided line. The heavy tensile strength gives me the confidence to throw in heavy cover, and the braided line helps me to pull the big bass from the heavy cover! Braided line has no stretch to it, unlike monofilament. If you don’t have the resources to dedicate a rod and reel for top water then try 20-25 lb monofilament line. Monofilament sinks slower than fluorocarbon. This means you can use it for top water and your soft plastics!
4: Crankbaits- Available in many different variations such as lipless crankbait, stick bait, suspending jerk bait, and shallow to deep diving lipped crankbaits. I enjoy throwing a crankbait during my first visit to a lake or pond. Of course when I throw a lure into the water, I have every intention of catching a fish, but I use the first few casts to locate the bottom and determine what kind of structures are around. Bouncing your lure off tree limbs and rocks are excellent ways to trigger a strike! When you get more experienced, you will even be able to tell what the floor of your body of water is made of. Sand, rocks, clay they all have a distinct feeling when your lures run along them! Remember, you don’t always have to keep your crankbait moving! Change up your retrieve. Slow it down, speed it up, throw a 3-5 second pause in after every other rotation of your reel. Using the stop and go technique gives your lure the appearance of a struggling baitfish. You can also use my Heartbeat technique! Think of watching a heartbeat on a hospital monitor. Now simply imitate that with your lure! Change up the speed of your retrieval until you find out how active the fish are.
5: Jig ‘n Pig- The #1 way to catching YUUUUUGE bass is to be versed in the art of jig fishing. They are such an excellent way to reel in the big ones year around! Personally, Spring/Summer is my favorite time for using jigs! My first piece of advice is to keep it simple. Just like any other category, there are tons of different jigs and retrievals. Each one serves a certain purpose. Until you become more comfortable with using a jig, stick with a bullet style jig. Adding a soft plastic trailer of some kind is a no brainer. Adding fins, pinchers, or tentacles to your jig will increase water displacement and add to your presentation. You can also control the descent of your jig. Whether you want it to drop nose first or you want it to drop flat, your trailer will do nothing but improve your chances of catching bass! Fish your lure along heavy cover such as submerged trees and overhanging branches. Flip, pitch, or cast your lure starting on the outside of the cover and slowly working your way towards the head of the structure. A lot of times you will get solid bites while your lure falls. Be ready to set the hook! A lot like using soft plastics, you have to be patient when using a jig. Don’t be afraid to let it sit in one spot and twitch back and forth for a couple minutes. Not only are jigs good for using around structures, but there are also good to use in transitions! Try casting where clay meets sand, pea gravel meets chunk rock, or on a steep bank. This will allow you to pop, twitch, and swim your jig along a natural break in the water and current, which is a natural ambush point for big bass!
Remember, there are THOUSANDS of different lures out there. There are also thousands of different colors. Don’t get too caught up in the selection. Keep your tackle box less cluttered with these simple tips for keeping quality lures at your fingertips!