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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

bass bait

Down here in North Texas, we are already seeing the bass stage in anticipation of the spawn. With a few more degrees in water temperature, sight fishing will be in full swing. In some parts of Texas, the bass are already spawning. Well-known fisheries, the backs of coves, rocky flats, and shallow creek channel swings will be paid a regular visit from bassboats outfitted with shallow water anchors.

As bass begin getting ready to move up to their spawning flats it won’t be uncommon to see largemouth bass caught with swollen bellies full of eggs. If there is ever a time you want to be on the water with the chance of catching your personal best it’s right now. With that in mind, having the right choice of baits on deck will significantly improve your chances. Here are our top five artificial bass fishing lures you should have on the deck of your boat this spring.

1. Soft Plastic Creature Bait

Not many baits out there will make a bass angry and hungry at the same time like a creature bait. The bug-like body has a bigger profile representing a quality meal for a hungry bass while the extra appendages do the work of convincing the bass that the creature is alive. A creature bait can be Texas rigged for weedless presentations ideal for flipping standing timber or sight fishing beds. Put it on your favorite jig as a trailer and use it to mimic a crawfish crawling on the lake bottom. I even like to throw it weightless when the water is calm while the bass are up shallow so it takes longer to fall on the initial drop after the cast. Without the weight, it will allow the fish more time to see it after it hits the water. 

When bass bite a creature bait they hang on longer. You may not always get an aggressive “thump” when you get a bite, but if I had to fish the early spawn with one bait it would be a creature.

Here are three creature baits you should consider keeping on hand:

Rapala Crush City Bronco Bug

Rapala Crush City Bronco Bug

Lake Fork Creature 

Lake Fork Creature 

Strike King Rage Bug 

Strike King Rage Bug 

2. Square Bill Crankbait

Any serious angler will tell you that cover water is crucial to finding hungry bass and no bait does this better than a square bill. Simply throw it out, reel it up, and repeat. The flat side of the bill allows the bait to bounce off of structures to avoid snags and hangups making it extremely versatile for fishing in different areas. For dirty or stained water I recommend one with a rattle so it has some extra vibration and sound that bass can lock into when you are trying to trigger that reaction strike when visibility might not be the best.

When bass are staging and getting ready for the spawn this bait can mimic anything from shad to crawfish depending on where you throw it, how you retrieve it, and, of course, color pattern.

If you don’t have a box of square bills somewhere in your boat it’s time to add to the collection. Here are three you can start with:

Strike King KVD 1.5 Squarebill Crankbait

Strike King KVD 1.5 Squarebill Crankbait

Shimano World Rush Flash Boost Squarebill Crankbait

Shimano World Rush Flash Boost Squarebill Crankbait

Rapala Balsa Xtreme BX Brat 6 Squarebill Crankbaits

Rapala Balsa Xtreme BX Brat 6 Squarebill Crankbaits

3. Bladed Jig / Vibrating Jig / Chatterbait 

If you mention a bladed jig some people might tilt their heads in confusion, but if you mention “chatterbait” they would know what you are talking about immediately. Vibrating jigs have been around for a long time, but the Z-Man Chatterbait is what got the vibrating jig craze going; the Z-Man Evergreen Jackhammer to be even more specific. Popular Pros like Gerald Swindle have been praising these baits even without sponsorship because they are just that good. Bladed jigs are great for grass lines or swimming it above submerged vegetation because the blade is up at a 45-degree angle which allows it to skim the tops of submerged grass where bass like to hide so they can ambush prey.

A bladed jig can be fished in every level of the water column and is especially useful on windier days. Throw a trailer on it for more action in the back and create a little larger profile. Now you have a bait that can be skipped under docs for those reluctant bass in hard-to-reach places. Just hold on to that rod when a bass bites a vibrating jig—it will be violent.

Try giving these bladed jigs a try the next time you feel the wind beginning to pick up:

Z-Man Evergreen Chatterbait Jack Hammer

Z-Man Evergreen Chatterbait Jack Hammer

Strike King Thunder Cricket Vibrating Jigs

Strike King Thunder Cricket Vibrating Jigs

4. Spinnerbaits

The next artificial bass fishing lure is also a bladed bait that has been around since bass anglers realized the flickering of metal can mimic bait fish. I’m talking about spinnerbaits. The spinner bait is another lure that tends to avoid getting hung up in thick cover. The blades spin above the hook and are connected by a thin wire. Since the spinnerbait holds an upright position during the retrieve it can slip through cover a lot of other lures might collect debris and other trash.

The spinnerbait not only saves you a ton of time lost to having to clean off the hook in between casts, but it also disperses a ton of water at the same time. Those big blades aren’t just for looks. Bass will feel the water movement from those large blades and hone into its location, making it ideal for dirty water, dead-standing vegetation, and windy banks.

The spinnerbaits below should give you a good starting point:

Shimano Swagy Strong Double Willow Spinnerbaits

Megabass SV-3 Double Willow Spinnerbaits

Megabass SV-3 Double Willow Spinnerbaits

War Eagle Nickel Spinnerbait Double Willow

War Eagle Nickel Spinnerbait Double Willow

5. Shaky Head

Last but not least is the shaky head. This is more of a technique rather than an artificial bass fishing lure but worth mentioning considering the effectiveness. Largemouth are opportunists and the subtle presentation of a long but slender creature slowly hopping along the bottom is an easy snack they won’t pass up. Great for bed fishing, isolated rock piles, shell beds, or flipping around cover the shaky head is going to produce fish in all environments regardless of the conditions. 

There are hundreds of ways to fish this bait but for beginners, I recommend throwing it out and simply dragging it back very slowly trying to feel around for anything it may come in contact with. When you need to hop it over something, give it a moment because the tail will be sticking straight up and will likely produce a bite. After a second or so start dragging again.

For anyone just starting out, use this combination below. 

Owner Shaky Ultrahead 

Owner Shaky Ultrahead 

Zoom Magnum Shakey Head Worm

Zoom Magnum Shakey Head Worm

Zoom Finesse Worm 20pk

Zoom Finesse Worm 20pk

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