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Lures can spark heated debates among bass anglers. Everyone has their favorite. Some fishermen like spinnerbaits more than jerkbaits and others prefer topwater over soft plastics. In reality, it is difficult to say this is the best bass lure because every bait excels in a particular situation. At the end of the day, personal preference plays a huge role in selecting baits. But only the facts should determine the best fishing lures.

Fluctuating temperatures, pressure systems, and conditions all impact fish patterns and feeding habits. A good angler should have a wide variety of lures to choose from depending on the conditions to consistently catch fish. As a general rule of thumb, moving baits like swimbaits and crankbaits work well on windy days, whereas finesse-style baits are suited for more clear water shallow applications.

The most important question to ask about a lure is whether or not it catches fish consistently. It should be durable enough to withstand multiple fish and be offered in a variety of colors for different situations. As a long-time angler and biologist who has studied fish for years, these are some of my best bass lures that meet those criteria. 

Best Bass Lures

Best Jerkbait: Megabass Vision 110

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Specs

  • Size: 4-1/3 inches
  • Best Colors: Sexy Shad, French Pearl, Table Rock SP
  • Hooks/Lure Pairing: Comes rigged with treble hooks

Pros

  • Realistic color options
  • Great action in the water
  • Barbs on the outside of hooks to help land more fish

Cons

  • Not cheap

In 2009, the world of bass fishing was permanently changed with the creation of the Megabass Vision 110. For the first time, there were realistic-looking jerkbaits with great action readily available and the result was apparent. Anglers from across the country started dialing in deep-water fish with a bait that could be worked slow or fast. Since then, the jerkbait market has been flooded with realistic options, but the Megabass still reigns king.

I find the action of this bait sets it apart from others. Fished slowly, it can trick the most pressured bass into eating which is crucial in tournament situations. But when bass are schooled up and chasing bait, the lure fishes just as well with a fast retrieve. The bait has an erratic swimming action, due in part to the perfect balance, that mimics a fleeing baitfish.

It is currently offered in 56 colors so you can match any baitfish out there including bluegill and perch. My go-to is sexy shad which works in a variety of conditions. The best time to fish them is the early season when bass are pre-spawn and looking to pack on the weight. But don’t be afraid to fish them in windy conditions when baitfish get pushed around and make easy meals. 

Best Worm: Zoom Finesse Worm

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Specs

  • Size: 4-1/2 inches
  • Best Colors: Green Pumpkin, Water Melon Red, and Black Grape
  • Hooks/Lure Pairing: 3/0 EWG or 3/0 Shaky Head

Pros

  • Plenty of color options
  • Affordable
  • Twenty in a pack

Cons

  • Can usually only be used for one or two fish before the worm is destroyed

The Zoom Finesse Worm is my go-to worm whenever I tie on an EWG hook and start fishing slowly. A standard trick worm is around 6 to 8 inches, but nothing has yielded me more success than this 4 ½ -inch finesse worm. It is subtle, with a slight bit of movement that piques the interest of bass of all sizes. If you want to catch a lot of fish, this is a good bet to do so.

But don’t be fooled; this small bait can catch some tanks. My preferred method of rigging is with a shaky head to get my bait down fast and add a little extra movement. As far as colors go, green pumpkin is my go-to for clear water, and black grape is an overlooked but extremely effective color for deeper and darker water.

Best for Ponds: Z-Man The Original Chatterbait

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Specs

  • Size: 5/0 hook in 1/4 oz, 3/8 oz, 1/2 oz, and 5/8 oz 
  • Best Colors: Sexy Shad, Chartreuse/White, Black/Blue, Green Pumpkin
  • Hooks/Lure Pairing: Paddle Tail Swimbaits or Crawfish Trailers

Pros

  • Easy to fish
  • Goes through vegetation well
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Skirts can fall apart after a lot of fish

If I could only have one bait for pond fishing it would be the Z-Man Original Chatterbait. This is one of the most versatile baits available and is great for covering water. Fishing a chatterbait is simple, you cast it out and reel it in, which is great for casting and moving. The bait has a blade on the front that vibrates to attract fish and doubles as a weed guard to go through vegetation.

Fished as is, it is effective, but paired with a soft plastic trailer and it’s deadly. I prefer fishing a paddle tail swimbait to mimic a fleeing baitfish but crawfish trailers work too. If the fish are lethargic and not willing to chase it down, you can drag it on the bottom like you would a jig. Popping it off the bottom makes the blade flutter and can entice fish to eat. If you like packing light, chatterbaits are a great way to minimize gear and cover all your bases in just about any situation. 

Best Swimbait: Keitech Swing Impact

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Specs

  • Size: 2 to 4.5 inches
  • Best Colors: Electric Shad, Chartreuse White, and Electric Bluegill 
  • Hooks/Lure Pairing: Jig Head, EWG Hook, or Underspin

Pros

  • Comes in a variety of sizes
  • Scented
  • Swims great

Cons

  • The hook must be centered to swim right

When bass are dialed in on schools of baitfish, matching the hatch is crucial to landing fish. I’ve had days where a bait a half-inch too big means not getting bit. The Keitech Swing Impact is the best swimbait to match schools of bait in color and size at a fair price. It’s available in 2-inch to 4.5-inch sizes and over 45 colors so you can dial in your presentation. Even when bass aren’t schooled up it’s still a solid choice to throw for consistent results. You can fish the bait by itself on a jig head or an EWG hook for weedless presentations. This creates a natural baitfish silhouette with an erratic action.

For a little more flash, rigged on an underspin you get the weight of a jig head and the addition of a blade that mimics a small school of bait. However, this bait really shines as a trailer with other baits. On chatterbaits and swim jigs, it adds the extra realism and profile that can dramatically increase strikes. I also find that if you flip it over and rig it upside down it has a much tighter action similar to a fleeing baitfish.

Whether fished as is or as a trailer, I make sure to always carry some Keitech Swing Impacts with me.

Best for Summer: Spro Bronzeye Popper Frog

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Specs

  • Size: 2.4 inches
  • Best Colors: Rainforest Black, Natural, Nasty Shad 
  • Hooks/Lure Pairing: Comes with Gamakatsu hooks

Pros

  • Great popping action
  • Can work it slow or fast
  • Sharp hooks for landing fish

Cons

  • Cost more than most frogs 

Summertime means hot days, warm water, and lots of vegetation. While it may seem impossible to get through the vegetation, the bass haven’t gone anywhere. Instead of going through it, I prefer to go over it with a frog lure. The Spro Bronzeye Popper Frog is my go-to frog lure for summer bass fishing. In the heat of summer, frogs are everywhere and bass key in on them. A popping frog like the Spro allows you to work your lure fast or slow. The lip on the frog chugs and throws water so a small twitch can still produce a lot of commotion. This is important because bass don’t always want it to work fast and traditional frogs can struggle to make enough commotion at slow speeds.

What sets Spro frogs apart from others is the quality of the hooks. Built with Gamakatsu hooks, they are ridiculously sharp which is a must when you need to bury the hook into a fish from far away. The hooks are also plenty stout to avoid bending one out when dragging a fish through thick vegetation. My preferred colors are natural or rainforest black, but in the case of these frogs, the action seems more important than the color. 

Best Smallmouth: Roboworm Straight Worm

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Specs

  • Size: 4.5 inches
  • Best Colors: Pumpkin Punisher, Margarita Mutilator, Bold Bluegill 
  • Hooks/Lure Pairing: VMC Spinshot 1/0 or 2/0 

Pros

  • Erratic action
  • Salt release system
  • Unique layered colors

Cons

  • Only ten in a pack

The Roboworm 4.5″ Straight Worm is one of my favorite smallmouth bass baits. You can fish this lure in a variety of ways including on an EWG hook like you’d fish any other bass worm. However, adding this to a drop shot rig is the best for consistently getting bites. The worm is soft and pliable resulting in an erratic wiggling action. When bounced on a drop shot rig it can mimic a dying baitfish or a fleeing crustacean. Smallmouth key in on this and can consistently be caught.

For a good drop shot, bait scent is key and the Roboworms have a salt release system that tricks fish into holding on longer. When crawling a drop shot this can put more fish in the boat giving you time to feel the bite. For colors, I prefer the margarita mutilator for goby or crawfish imitations and the pumpkin punisher for shad and shiner imitations. Your best bet is to match the worm color to what the fish are eating and you’re on the way to catching fish.

How We Tested Bass Lures

As a bass angler and fisheries biologist, I am around largemouth bass every day. I can attest that they are much smarter than they look. Start by covering all the bases with bottom, moving, and topwater lures. From there, use baits that match what the bass in your area are eating. Look for lures that have good action, are built to last, and are scented when possible. I took the time to find several of the best bass baits out there to keep you on fish. Here are the criteria I based my selections on:

  • Durability: How well will the lure hold up to multiple fish?
  • Scent: Is the bait scented and how does it improve the lure?
  • Action: Does the lure have a good action that attracts the attention of bass?
  • Value: Is the lure worth the money or if it’s a soft plastic how many do you get?
  • Hooks: Are the hooks sharp enough and strong enough to keep fish on?
  • Application: What situation is best for this particular bait? 
A largemouth bass caught on Headwaters Lake in Florida. Max Inchausti

Buying Guide

There are hundreds, if not thousands of companies producing effective bass baits and it is overwhelming to sift through them all. Learning to recognize what makes a good lure like size, hook strength, colors, and application is crucial to finding the best out there. This will help save you money and frustration when picking out new gear. Here are a few things to look for in the best soft plastics and hard baits for bass fishing. 

Soft Plastics

In the world of soft plastics, there are an infinite number of possibilities. Companies can make a mold of any shape and fill it with whatever color combinations they can think of. For worms, I like a basic worm shape between 4 and 8 inches long—it’s simple but it works. If you like fishing creature baits look for soft plastics with a lot of movement. Crawfish patterns with several appendages can trigger a reaction strike from a bass. . The next thing to consider is color. Generally, you want to fish dark colors in darker water and natural colors in lighter water. But if you’re unsure, green pumpkin is a safe all-around bet. 

Hard Baits

Hardbaits are lures with a solid plastic or wood construction—like crankbaits and jerkbaits. Hardbaits tend to be a little more pricey, so it is important to pick usable lures. You can tell a lot about a lure based on the components that go into them. The biggest consideration for me are hooks. A lure with sharp and sturdy hooks will help you land more fish. If a company didn’t skimp on the hooks it is usually safe to say they didn’t skimp on designing the lure. The next most important thing is movement. Unfortunately, the best way to test this is with time on the water. Some baits swim with a tight wobble while others swim with more vibration. 

Match the Hatch

Matching the hatch can dramatically improve your catch rate. Learn what the bass in your area are eating and find lures that resemble it. Local reports can be a good starting point when trying to dial in baits. On the water, look for clues like a dead baitfish that can help you match your lure to what the bass are eating.  When I fish a lake with a lot of shad, white swimbaits are my go-to for fish that are actively cruising for an easy meal. Come summer, ponds and lakes can be overgrown with vegetation that frogs love. Fishing a topwater bait or frog pattern can trigger a reaction strike from a fish waiting under the cover. 

FAQs

Q: What is the best bait for largemouth bass?

Finding the best bait for largemouth is not as straightforward as it seems. It depends on the conditions to find the right lure. If you find a solid lure for finesse fishing and a good moving bait, you can cover nearly all conditions. For finesse fishing, a trick worm like the Zoom Finesse Worm is a good bet to catch fish of all sizes. As far as moving baits a chatterbait can imitate most baitfish patterns effectively and covers a lot of water. From there you can always expand your tackle selection but these are the best starting points to catch fish.

Q: What attracts bass the most?

Bass are attracted by a variety of things such as vibration, smell, and sight. Of all these vibration and smell are the most important. For moving baits, lures with a lot of vibration can attract fish from far off. Bass can feel these vibrations in the water and will curiously investigate such offerings. When fishing more finesse-style lures, a good bass bait should have a scent to get fish to bite and hold onto the lure while fishing. This allows anglers to set the hooks before the fish spits it out. 

Q: What smell attracts bass?

A lot of smells will attract bass but salt and garlic are two of the most important factors. Good soft plastics that are infused with salt and garlic produce a scent trail in the water that will bring fish in to investigate. When they do bite, a scented lure will make them hold onto the bait longer than an unscented one. If you want to add scent to a hard bait there are plenty of sprays that you can add to the lure to attract fish.

Q: Are bass top or bottom feeders?

Bass can be caught anywhere in the water column but it can depend a lot on conditions. When the water cools down bass will go deeper seeking more consistent water temperatures. If this is the case, the best baits are bottom baits which can drag past lethargic fish and produce a strike. In other instances, like first and last light, bass will move shallower in search of baitfish cruising flats. Here topwater lures like frogs or poppers are a good bet. Weightless swimbaits can also fool bass cruising the shallows.

Why Trust Us

For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.