Finding the best fishing lures for bass can be tricky, and requires a bit of research. Largemouth and smallmouth bass live in different habitats, so you’ll need different lures to catch each. The weather will also affect what type of lure you’ll need, so checking out your conditions in advance will help you bring the right lures for the day. While there may seem like an endless number of brands and models of bass lures to choose from, knowing the types of lures that work best for different bass, in different conditions, will help you focus on lure types, rather than brands.
Smallmouth bass tend to congregate deeper in the water than their largemouth cousins. Smallmouth bass prefer the water to be clear, and you’ll find them in more active water, such as in pools and near riffles.
During warmer weather, the smallmouth bass will be closer to the surface (so close, in fact, that you could fly fish). Try poppers, gurglers and divers when fishing close to the surface. To fish in weedbeds (where the fish tend to congregate during warm, sunny weather), use lures that imitate live bait, like jigs and soft plastic lures.
When the weather gets cold, smallmouth bass can go to depths of 30 feet or more. When you fish at these depths, try tube jigs the color of worms or crankbaits or large worms on a hook or salted minnows. Angler Jody Holubek, a contributor to The Ultimate Bass Fishing Resource Guide, recommends a jigging spoon during winter weather when fishing in deep water for larger numbers of average size fish, rather than trying to land “the big one.” He recommends a jig and pig, which is a jig with a pork rind trailer, when fishing in cold weather closer to the shore in rocky and weedy water. You can also add crayfish to the jig.
When the weather is cooler, largemouth move closer to sandy shores to look for food. During the winter, bass will go 10 feet or deeper. At these depths, bass look for larger prey, like crayfish or minnows. These make excellent bait choices, along with other live bait such as frogs, worms and leeches. Jig-heads, split shot, and lures made of soft plastic also work well at deeper depths when you are fishing in cool or cold weather.
Largemouth bass hide in weeds, farther from shore and closer to the surface when the water is warm. This gives them easier access to their favorite food that gathers near the surface. You’ll want a sturdier and more nimble lure that won’t break or get hung up weeds if you’re fishing for largemouth bass during hot weather. Use a plastic worm, lizards, tubes, metal spoon or leeches when fishing for bass in the weeds, especially when bright sunlight is heating the water.
During rainy weather, bass come to the surface and closer to shore to find insects that fall into the water. Largemouth bass don’t like direct sunlight, so they will leave the weeds during cloudy weather and move closer to the surface. If you’re fishing during the morning, dusk or in light rain when the weather is warmer, try spinners, crankbaits, diving and floating plugs as you fish near an obstruction-free surface. When fishing in shallow streams, crankbaits bounce along the bottom of a creek or river and look like crayfish to bass. A flat-billed crankbait will bounce more.