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You’ve already spotted one bass on a bed as you ease into a shallow cove, and you know there are more in the area. The question is, what bait should you tie on, and how should you fish it?

To help you figure that out, we asked 10 B.A.S.S., FLW, and Major League Fishing pros to name their favorite baits and presentations for boating big largemouths on or around their spawning beds. Most pros picked some type of soft-plastic creature bait, no surprise, but there are subtle differences between them that could make all the difference for you—and there are also a couple of real surprises. Here are their picks, in no particular order.

1. Strike King 4-Inch Game Hawg

A 4-inch Game Hawg in Watermelon/Red Flake. Bass Pro Shops

The Pro: Bill Lowen, Indiana-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his favorite: “Because it’s small and compact, with appendages that add action when I shake it.”

How he fishes it: “There three ways I like to fish a Game Hawg, all Texas-rigged. First is dead-sticking it right in the bed. Second is shaking in place in the bed. Third is snapping it up in a bass’s face when it’s looking at it. There’s always a sweet spot in the bed; sometimes it’s very small, but when the fish reacts to your bait, you usually know that you’ve found it. Pay really close attention to the mood of the fish too. If a bass stays close to the bed, I feel like I can catch it. If it stays away or swims in big circles, I may move to another fish after a short period of time.”

2. Berkley Powerbait MaxScent The General Worm

The MaxScent The General Worm in Black. Bass Pro Shops

The Pro: John Cox, Florida-based FLW and Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his favorite: “I love the versatility of this bait during the spawn.”

How he fishes it: “For bedded fish, I Texas-rig it with a 3/16-ounce weight. When fish are just off the beds, I like a lighter presentation—either wacky-rigged with a Berkley Fusion finesse wide-gap hook or nail-weighted, where you just put a nail weight in one side of the bait and hook it in the center wacky-style. I prefer natural colors, like Green Pumpkin, in clear water and Black or June Bug in stained or muddy water. The three different rigs allow me to catch fish out of spawning areas no matter what the bottom and structure is like.”

3. Bagley Bang O Lure Spintail

A Bang O Lure Spintail in Gray Ghost color. Credit: Bagley

The Pro: Scott Canterbury, Alabama-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his favorite: “I love fishing any topwater bait, and the Bang O Lure is a proven winner for giant bass during the spawn.”

How he fishes it: “I use the Bang O Lure to get explosive strikes from big female bass that are hanging just off the beds—fish that are never caught by sight-fishing the beds themselves. The key is making precise casts to an area where beds are present. Let the bait sit until all the ripples settle, then retrieve it with small downward twitches of the rod, which will cause the bait to dive 3 to 8 inches deep, creating a lot of commotion on the water. Mix it up between one and three twitches at a time, with pauses in between. The bait can be irresistible to any male bass protecting the beds too.”

4. Berkley PowerBait 4-Inch Power Hawg

A 4-inch Power Hawg in Green Pumpkin. Bass Pro Shops

The Pro: Jordan Lee, Alabama-based Major League Fishing angler

Why it’s his favorite: “I like a smaller-profile bait with good action for the spawn, and this fills the bill perfectly.”

How he fishes it: “I use the Power Hawg when I’m sight-fishing for bedded bass, if they’re shallow enough, or I blind-pitch it around their beds. It’s critical to work the bait slow on a light weight. Natural colors, like Green Pumpkin, work better for me than white. I like a 3/16-ounce weight with a 4/0 Berkley offset worm hook and 15- to 20-pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.”

5. Googan Baits Bandito Bug

The Bandito Bug, in Green & Blue. Amazon.com

The Pro: Skylar Hamilton, Tennessee-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his favorite: “It has the profile of a bluegill, which is the main enemy of a bass during this time. It comes in many different colors for any situation and you can remove appendages from the bait according to how much action you want.”

How he fishes it: “Bass that are hanging just off the beds tend to be more aggressive, so in that situation I’ll pitch the bait out with a ¼-ounce weight and swim it or move it more to cover water. When I spot a bedded fish, I may go up to a 3/8-ounce weight to help keep the bait in the bed for longer periods of time.”

6. Yamamoto 3.75-Inch Flapin’ Hog

A 3.75 Flapin’ Hog in Green Pumpkin/Black Flake. Amazon.com

The Pro: Brent Ehrler, California-based Major League Fishing angler

Why it’s his favorite: “Because it’s relatively small, which makes it easy for bass to eat. I’ve always liked dark baits instead of the traditional white that a lot of people use. I go with Green Pumpkin, and I dye the tail chartreuse to make it look more like a bluegill.”

How he fishes it: “I Texas-rig the bait with a ¼-ounce Ark tungsten worm weight and a 3/0 Gamakatsu Heavy Cover hook. I take all the side appendages off the Flapin’ Hog so it’s just the body with the beaver-style tail. Then I pitch it out and hop the bait through the bed. Because of the design of that bait, it will dart and glide quickly when hopped. I feel like that aggravates the fish more.”

7. Z-man Fatty-Z

A 5-inch Z-Man Fatty-Z worm in Green Pumpkin Blue color. Z-Man

The Pro: Luke Clausen, Washington-based Major League Fishing angler

Why it’s his favorite: “The Fatty-Z catches fish in all phases of the spawn. Its buoyancy causes the bait to stand up and have incredible action.”

How he fishes it: “I rig it on a lightweight (usually 1/8-ounce) shaky-head or Texas-rig. Then I’ll pitch it either to likely bedding areas or to actual beds, and then I just shake it on the bottom.”

8. Dirty Jig No-Slack Swim Jig

The Dirty Jig No-Slack Swim Jig in Bluegill color. Tackle Warehouse

The Pro: Brad Knight, Tennessee-based FLW angler

Why it’s his favorite: “This jig is a little unorthodox for using around beds, but I’ve found that the Bluegill color matched with the bulk of craw trailer really stimulates bedding fish.”

How he fishes it: “I pitch the bait past the bed, drag it in, and watch how the fish reacts when the bait enters the bed. The more aggressive the fish is, the faster and more aggressive I’ll be with how I’m work the bait.”

9. Big Bite Baits 4-Inch Rojas Fighting Frog

The Rojas Fighting Frog in Tilapia. Amazon.com


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

Why it’s his favorite: “The profile of the Fighting Frog fits a bream or craw, and the appendages move with the slightest shake. The bait also has a hook slot, which makes for a higher hook up ratio.”

How he fishes it: “I Texas-rig it with a ¼-ounce Titan tungsten weight and a 4/0 Gamakatsu G Finesse Heavy Cover worm hook, on 20-pound Seaguar InvizX. I simply flip the Fighting Frog to the bed and then tap the rod so that the bait doesn’t move forward but the legs and appendages quiver to drive bedding bass crazy.”

10. Zoom Z Craw Jr.

A 3-1/2-inch Z Craw Jr. in June Bug. Bass Pro Shops

The Pro: Buddy Gross, Georgia-based Bassmaster Elite Series angler

Why it’s his favorite:The Jr. has tremendous action on the fall, it comes in a ton of colors, and the smaller size makes it easier for fish to take.”

How he fishes it: “In thick cover, I Texas-rig it with a 1/8-ounce Fitzgerald tungsten weight. If the bed isn’t in thick cover, I use the same bait but with an exposed swimbait head from Nichols Lures for better hookups. My favorite colors now are Green Pumpkin and June Bug.”

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