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Published Jun. 15, 2021

When it comes to summer bass fishing, you’ve got options. Maybe too many. And beyond picking the best bass lure, you need to know how to fish it. You can fish shallow or deep, because when temperatures rise after the spawn, some bass escape the heat by moving to the shade of nearshore cover while others retreat to deeper offshore haunts. You can fish fast, with a topwater plug or crankbait, to cover water and find active bass. Or you can fish slow, with a worm or a drop-shot bait, teasing takes from more lethargic fish.

So, how do you know which are best summer bass baits to tie on at any given moment? Well, you ask. Which is what we did. We put the question to 10 top B.A.S.S., FLW, and Major League Fishing pros. Here are the best bass lures for summer (in no particular order) picked by the pros. Plus, how to fish them.

1. Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg

The Pro: Greg Bohannan, Arkansas-based FLW angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “I love this bait’s versatility. There’s always some type of topwater bite going on during the summer, and you can fish the Sexy Dawg in shallow water around laydowns and docks or out in open water.”

How he fishes it: “I look for shallow fish relating to some type of wood cover, suspended off of the bottom, and I’ll walk this bait right over their heads. I also use it as search bait in open water, as well as around schooling fish. Either way, I’ll mix up the speed of my retrieve to see what makes the fish react.”

2. Castaic Jerky J Swimbait

The Pro: Jason Lambert, Tennessee-based Major League Fishing angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “Given how many lakes across the country have shad, this shad-style swimbait is effective almost anywhere. I pair it with a Kitana Hooks Stagger Scrounger Jighead.”

How he fishes it: “In summer, I find offshore fish with electronics, and then I put this swimbait-and-jig combo in front of them. My exact presentation is dependent on current or wind, as well as a few other factors, but generally it’s a slow, steady retrieve that maintains contact with the bottom.”

3. Lunkerhunt Compact Frog

The Pro: Matt Arey, North Carolina-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “Although the bite can be a slow at times with the Compact Frog, it will catch some of the biggest fish in the lake through the summer months.”

How he fishes it: “I target heavily shaded shallows where bream like to congregate, including docks and overhanging trees and bushes. I usually cast a little past my target and use a walk-the-dog retrieve, pausing the lure over the highest-percentage areas. I use a Lew’s 7’4” Heavy Custom Pro rod with a Lew’s Hypermag 8:1 reel and 50-pound Pline TCB braid.”

4. Z-Man Mag FattyZ

The Pro: Miles Burghoff, Tennessee-based FLW angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “Offshore fishing is a must in summer, and you can fish fast or slow. Either way will catch fish, but the latter is more consistent, and the Mag FattyZ is perfect for slow-fishing pressured bass. The buoyancy of the ElaZtech material adds action that brings that worm to life, even while dead-sticking.”

How he fishes it: “I Texas-rig a Mag FattyZ with 5/0 Hayabusa WRM957 hook, a ¼- to ½-ounce tungsten worm weight, and a Fitzgerald Flipping Bead between the hook and weight for added sound. Most of the time, I’ll just slowly drag it along, maintaining constant bottom contact. But depending on how the fish are reacting, I may dead-stick it or use a hopping motion.”

5. Berkley J Walker

The Pro: Mike Huff, Kentucky-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: The J Walker is a great topwater bait that allows me to cover a lot of water now. The best part about it is that I can use it anywhere on the lake, along the shoreline or offshore.”

How he fishes it: “I use it to catch late spawners in the backs of creeks. I use it on the main lake to target bass that are in full summer stage. And I’ll cast it to schooling fish at dawn or dusk. I just walk the dog with it at a steady pace. Sometimes I’ll speed it up or completely stop it, but most of the time it’s just a steady retrieve. I honestly think this is the most consistent way to catch fish during the midsummer months anywhere in the country.”

6. Strike King 3.5-inch Coffee Tube

The Pro: Matt Becker, Pennsylvania-based FLW angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: A tube is my favorite because it is so versatile. I vary the color based on conditions, but I’ll generally go with Watermelon, Green Pumpkin, or Black/Blue.”

How he fishes it: “A tube mimics so many forage species, from bluegills and perch to crawfish and shad. When I’m fishing rocky cover, I like to insert a jighead inside the tube. For grass or wood cover, I’ll use an Eagle Claw Trokar TK-190 Tournament Tube Hook with a ¼-ounce tungsten weight. You can flip it, drag it, swim it, or even twitch it on the top. Mix it up until you start catching fish.”

7. Norman NXS Crankbait

The Pro: Micah Frazier, Georgia-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “This is a great summer crankbait that gets down to the 16- to 17-foot range. A lot of folks don’t know about it yet—which means a lot of bass haven’t seen it. My favorite color is Chartreuse/Blue.”

How he fishes it: “I target fish on deep structure now, like points and old roadbeds, as well as schools of fish that I find with electronics. I just cast the bait out and crank it deep, ticking it off the rocks and structure.”

8. Missile Baits Bomb Shot

The Pro: Cody Hollen, Oregon-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: : “Neutral bouancy gives the Bomb Shot better action than other drop-shot baits I’ve tried. For colors, I like MM3 and Fisholicious.”

How he fishes it: “During the summer, I’ll find main-lake fish with electronics and lower this drop-shot bait to them vertically, right under the boat—video-game fishing. I’ll also cast it out onto points and drag it back. Or I’ll throw it in holes in the grass and just twitch the bait, trying not to move the weight.”

9. Big Bite B2 10-Inch Worm

The Pro: Drew Benton, Florida-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “I like this bait because as you move further into the summer, bass become lethargic and a large, slow-moving meal is most appealing to them.”

How he fishes it: “I typically Texas-rig the B2 with a 3/8- or ½-ounce tungsten weight and a 5/0 Owner Wide Gap worm hook. I target offshore structure and deep grass, and I keep my color simple, using Green Pumpkin and Tilapia Magic in clear water, and Plum, Junebug, or Black and Blue if the water is stained. I cast the worm out, let it drop to the bottom, and slowly drag or hop it back in. If the bite gets tougher, I may switch to an 8- or 6-inch finesse worm on a shaky head.”

10. Berkley Choppo

The Pro: Justin Lucas, Major League Fishing angler

Why it’s his hot-weather best bass lure: “The rear prop gives the Choppo a great action, and I can cover a lot of water with it to find the most active fish. The 105 size in Bone is my top choice.”

How he fishes it: “I love throwing a Choppo first thing in the morning and the last hour or two of the day during the summer. I’ll bomb it out and let the rings settle before I start bringing it back. I’ll usually start with a steady retrieve and then stop and start it until the fish tell me what they want.”