The Lure Of Bass�

What are the best bass fishing lures? How do I know which to use?

If you are a novice wanting to explore the possibilities of using lures to harvest white, striped, large and smallmouth bass, the myriad of choices can seem daunting. But take heart. All is not lost.
While there are thousands of lure designs out there, bass lures can actually be broken down into 9 catagories. They are:
In-Line (French) Spinners
Crank Baits
Jerk Baits
Soft Baits
Spoons are just what the name suggests. An oval concave slab of metal, sometimes painted, or sometimes not, with a hole to tie line in on one side, and a hook on the other. Sometimes, they are made to be %u2018weedless%u2019 for fishing in heavy cover. They are very versatile, as they can be jigged, hopped, trolled, fished vertically or just cranked in. They usually have a wobbling action, and can be augmented with rubber tails, bodies or pork skins to enhance their appeal. They can be fished deep, or shallow. Spoons are most often used for vertical jigging in deep structure, mainly in cold water when bass are suspended and not very active. They work best when bass are in tight structure, such as along a creek channel. Bass often bunch up in these areas. The technique is to locate suspended bass with a depth-finder, then jig the spoon up and down right in front of them. That%u2019s all there is to it. Alternatively, spoons can simply be cast, allowed to sink to the desired depth, and retrieved straight. The drawbacks to spoons are the limited designs available. No matter what color they are, a spoon is basically a spoon. Some of the more well known brands are the Daredevil, Worth, Little Cleo, Johnson Silver Minnow, etc%u2026.
Jigs are the most versatile lures available. They consist of a hook with a molded lead %u2018head%u2019 on them. They can be dressed with feathers and fur, much like flies, or have plastic bodies of every shape imaginable placed on them, without removing the jig from the line. This makes it very rapid to change colors, sizes and styles on the water. Another type completely covers the jighead, and are reffered to as %u2018tube%u2019 lures. Even real minnows and other live bait can be impaled on them, with very effective results. One of the top lures for bass in deep water is called a Jig & Pig, which is a jig with pork skin bodies on them. They can even have small spinners on them to provide extra flash. Jigs can be trolled, casted, flipped, vertically jigged, and even fished in tandem, under a bobber, or without one. They can be fished directly in heavy cover.
Spinner Baits are simply a jig on a %u2018safety-pin%u2019 type wire, bent at a 90 degree angle, with one or more spinner blades on the end of the wire, and a hook on the other. The lead %u2018head%u2019 rides between the two. They can be dressed with feathers, plastic bodies or bait, and fished shallow, deep or jigged. They are usually cast out and retrieved just under the surface, near cover. They are highly effective in the warm months. Popular models are made by Heddon, Strike King, and custom lure makers.
In-Line spinners are a wire, threaded through a lead body, or weighted beads, with a loop in the end to tie line to, and a hook on the other end. A rotating spinner is in front of the body and spins on the retrieve, sending out vibrations through the water that bass can detect from considerable distances.. The hook can be dressed, or plain. They are usually cast out and allowed to sink to the desired depth, then retrieved near cover. They are especially effective on active, feeding fish. Popular models are Mepps, Panther-Martin, Blue Fox and Rooster Tails. These are one of my favorite lures to use. I am partial to Rooster Tails. Another variation on this design is the rear mounted spinner, such as the Little Suzy and Little George lures.
A crank bait comes in several designs. The most common is a hard plastic, or balsa wood body that resembles a %u2018pregnant%u2019 perch. They are painted to match various baitfish and crustaceans. They have a plastic %u2018lip%u2019 at the front that imparts a violent wiggling motion to the lure on the retrieves, and sometimes makes them dive rapidly, depending on the design. They are usually fished deep near structure, and are simply cast out and retrieved. Other types have %u2018minnow%u2019, or thin shaped bodies, or even look like a boomerang (Lazy Ike), but they all work the same. They work best on schooling bass. The most well known of these types of lures is Rapala. Other models are Heddon, Fred Arbogast, Tom Mann, and custom lure makers.
Jerk Baits are a relatively new phenomenon. They are a minnow-shaped, floating body with several treble hooks on them. They have no action on their own, but must be %u2018jerked%u2019 to each side, in a technique called %u201Cwalking the dog%u201D. They create a surface commotion that drives bass insane at times. They resemble a struggling animal on the surface, irresistible to a hungry bass.
Soft Baits are the king of all black bass lures. The most common is the ubiquitous plastic worm. If you could only have one lure for bass, this is it. Plastic worms have accounted for more bass than all other baits combined, including live bait. They are simply soft plastic worm-shaped molded lures. They are usually rigged %u2018Texas%u2019 style, with a special hook piercing the head, back out and back into the body, with a slip-sinker on the line directly above it. This is the most weedless lure there is. It can be fished right through the heaviest cover. They can also be rigged %u2018Carolina%u2019 style, with exposed hook points for special situations. There are crawfish, and other shaped models, but the worm is by far the winner. They come in every color/combination there is. They work everywhere, anytime of the year. They are cast out right into heavy cover and allowed to sink to the bottom. Then, they are retrieved sssssllllooooowwwwlllyyy, with short, light jerks of the rod tips. If there are bass around, they will bite these. This is as close to %u2018can%u2019t-fail%u2019 as it gets. They can also be flipped, and jigged in special situations. The biggest marketer of soft baits is probably the Zoom Lure Company.
Now we come to 2nd most fun way to catch bass. Top Water lures are just what the name implies, a plastic lure that floats on top of the water. Most have a cupped head, or lips attached that makes a loud splash, or %u2018pop%u2019, when jerked. This attracts bass from great distances, and incites them into a murderous rage at times. They are cast out near cover, and retrieved in short jerks, with pauses in-between. When a bass hits, the water will literally explode, with the bass often coming completely out of the water in heart-stopping leaps. Top Waters are most effective in the shallows, in the morning and evening. Popular models include the Chugger, Popper, Crazy Crawler, Jitterbug, and my favorite, the Billy Bass. There are other types with a veritable arsenal of treble hooks on them, shaped like thin minnows, with spinners on them such as the Devils Horse, and Tiny Torpedo. They are all deadly.
And in closing, I%u2019d like to just mention my all-time favorite way to catch any fishing. Fly fishing is way beyond the scope of this article, but there are many great books out there on fly fishing for bass by such greats as Skip Morris, Dave Dahlberg, and a great website at www., with my good friends J. Castwell, Lady Flyfisher, Richard Komar, and some of the most expert Anglers on the planet. If you haven%u2019t considered fly fishing, give it a try. You%u2019ll be hooked for life.
Happy Fishing

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow bass fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on bass fishing since 2004.

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