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Published Aug. 31, 2021

The best bass lures are, of course, a seasonally — and situationally — specific inquiry, and one that no two anglers will agree upon. We all have our favorite confidence baits that we know will outfish the competition under the right circumstances. Furthermore, many more seasoned anglers would say that location, cadence and depth matter far more than any specific offering.

Nevertheless, fishing lures are tools, and some are simply better at a given task, or more versatile overall than others. Fortunately the fishing industry contains some remarkably creative brains and better mousetraps are continually brought to market. Some of them work, others are less-than-revolutionary, but even the best of them eventually fade in effectiveness. If you were the first person to throw a Whopper Plopper or an Alabama Rig or a Chatterbait on your home lake, then you may have experienced some epic days, but eventually the newness wears off and the results typically become a little bit less explosive. That’s what separates the all-time greats from the also-rans: they keep on producing through dozens, if not hundreds, of generations of bass. Here are some of our favorites and picks for the best bass lures of all time.

Best Bass Lures Overall: Zoom U-Tale

Key Features

Size: 6 ¾”

Distinguishing Characteristics: Segmented body and ribbontail

Key Colors: Watermelon Red, Tequila Sunrise, Black

Why it Made the Cut

If you don’t have a ribbontail worm — or a selection of ribbontails — in your boat ready to go right now, then stop reading this article and head to the store or make an online order ASAP. They can be fished ankle-deep on 60 feet down, they’re remarkably weedless, and have the ability to be stealthy or gaudy, depending on how you manipulate them, which makes it a bait for all seasons.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Natural profile and movement
  • Inexpensive
  • Wide color array

Cons:

  • Not ideal for covering water

Product Description

U-Tale the best bass lure overall takes an age-old worm design and simply makes it more consistent. You’ll have confidence in them because it’s not much different than the worms that likely comprised your first selection of artificial lures. All you need to add are the appropriately-sized hook and sinker and you’re good to go for any season. The U-shaped tail wags seductively in even the slightest current, and the salt-impregnation leads fish to hold on. Furthermore, it’s big enough to attract trophies, yet small enough that even a sub-legal fish will try to inhale it. With no negative cues to turn bass off or educate them, this flapping soft plastic will continue to work forever — just make sure to select one of the many color options that best matches the local forage and works in the available water clarity.

Best Lures for Pressured Bass: Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits Senko

Key Features

Sizes: 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 inches

Distinguishing Characteristics: Cylindrical, pen-shaped body

Key Colors: Black with blue flake, green pumpkin, watermelon red

Why it Made the Cut

This simple stick of plastic may look like nothing found in nature, but something about its wiggle on the descent means that bass can’t leave it alone. You literally need to throw it out and let it fall on a semi-slack line to be effective, meaning that beginners can feel like world-beaters, but don’t think it’s anything other than a legit tournament tool as well.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Great color selection
  • Unmatched subtle wiggle
  • Easy to rig

Cons:

  • Not particularly durable

Product Description

When they were first introduced, the Senko was met mostly with blank stares. Anglers had been conditioned to think that a soft plastic needed a big wagging tail and multiple appendages to be effective. This proved them wrong. It can be rigged Texas style, or a Carolina Rig or on a dropshot, but it’s most deadly presentation might just be wacky rigged through the egg sack with no weight at all. It falls slowly that way, but even without any angler input it taunts bass to bite. Miraculously, despite over two decades to reverse engineer the Senko, no competitor seems to have found a way to match its seductive action.

Best Bass Lures for Heavy Cover: Strike King Hack Attack Heavy Cover Jig

Key Features

Sizes: 3/8, ½, ¾, 1, and 1 ¼ ounces

Distinguishing Characteristics: Heavy-duty hook and weed guard

Key Colors: Black/Blue, Candy Craw, Texas Craw

Why it Made the Cut

This one particular bass jig is a fairly recent addition and isn’t necessarily the original, but it’s emblematic of the genre, a lead head and skirt meant to penetrate thick cover. In this case, they’ve upped the ante with a gaff of a hook that stands up to vicious hook sets and braided line.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Heavy duty construction
  • Gamakatsu black nickel heavy wire hook with huge bite
  • Easily penetrates heavy cover

Cons:

  • Heavy hook may struggle with monofilament or fluorocarbon (although there are similar models made for such uses).

Product Description

Whether it’s a jig and chunk or jig and craw, the simple lead head is a stalwart of heavy cover opportunities from the grass beds of Okeechobee to the thick buck brush of Texas. This is a jig that is made to be extra-durable, so not only can you put it in the nastiest possible places, but you can also be assured of extracting the giants who are often tempted to bite it. Fortunately, modern braided lines and sensitive graphite rods provide the complements that make this an efficient and tournament-proven system.

Best Bass Lures for Imitating Baitfish: Rapala Original Floating Minnow

Key Features

Sizes: 1 ½, 2, 2 ¾, 3 ½, 4 3/8, 5 ¼, and 7 inches

Distinguishing Characteristics: Tank-tested balsa wood balance

Key Colors: Silver, gold, and rainbow trout

Why it Made the Cut

Finnish angler Lauri Rapala’s creation was featured in Time Magazine in the early 1960s, and nearly 60 years later every decent tackle shop still has the Original floater on its shelves and every angler worth their salt has used one to catch bass. The tight, precision wobble and minnow-shaped body works everywhere.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Consistently run perfectly out of the package
  • Quality balsa wood construction
  • Wide range of sizes

Cons:

  • Minimal depth range

Product Description

When the Rapala lures first burst onto the scene they were so prized and scarce that anglers rented them with a refundable deposit in case of loss. They’re far more widely available today, but no less deadly. That’s largely because they run properly every time, and because their universal baitfish shape resembles a prime forage in just about every ecosystem holding bass. Young anglers beating the banks of farm ponds or wading shallow local creeks use them, and so do serious anglers chasing the fish of a lifetime. It’s the forerunner of every modern jerkbait, and while they don’t run deep, their side to side flash will call bass from a distance.

Best Lures for Deep Bass: Hopkins Shorty Jigging Spoon

Key Features

Size/s: 1/8, ¼, 3/8, ½, ¾ 1, 1 ½, and 2 ¼ ounces

Distinguishing Characteristics: Hammered sides, baitfish shape

Key Colors: Stainless steel, gold

Why it Made the Cut

This simple hunk of lead with a treble hook affixed via a split ring represents a dying baitfish better than just about anything else available. By adjusting the size of the lure, the size of your line, and the aggressiveness of your jigging action, you can control the fall and trigger strikes.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Falls quickly
  • If snagged can usually be popped free

Cons:

  • Not great for horizontal presentations

Product Description

There are plenty of quality jigging spoons on the market, and most of them don’t offer major differences. That’s the point, they’re not complicated. Simply find a piece of offshore structure that’s holding fish, drop it down to the bottom, and jig it in varying ways until you figure out what the fish want on that particular day. You may have to fight off a variety of other species to get to the bass, but again, that’s the point — it’s such a universal shape that just about everything that feeds on shad or other baitfish will succumb to its simple charms.

Best Bass Lures for Covering Water: Rat-L-Trap

Key Features

Size/s: 1/8, ¼, ½, ¾, 1, and 1 ½ ounces

Distinguishing Characteristics: Compact design, pointed at both ends with BB chambers

Key Colors: Chrome/blue, Rayburn red, and gold

Why it Made the Cut

This simple lipless crankbait, an early model of a burgeoning category, and one of the first to become widely popular, calls bass with its tight wobble and heavy sound profile. From the earliest pre-spawn to the latest portion of the fall feed, it calls bass from a distance, and when run in front of their faces generates vicious strikes.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Universal baitfish shape
  • Wide range of colors and sizes
  • Casts long distances, even against the wind

Cons:

  • Factory hooks may need to be replaced

Product Description

The original Rat-L-Trap has become the generic term for an entire category of lures, like “Coke” or “Kleenex,” and decades after its introduction, throwing a “trap” is still a viable way to catch bass in a wide variety of circumstances. Beginners can just lob it out and burn it back and expect to get bites, but in the hands of an experienced angler it does so much more. Rip it free from submerged grass, yo-yo it over a hump, or kill it amongst dying shad, and you can expect to generate bites, often from the biggest bass around.

Best Bass Lures for Heart-Stopping Strikes: Rebel Pop-R

Key Features

Size/s: 2, 2 ½, and 3 inches

Distinguishing Characteristics: Cupped mouth can be “blooped” or chugged

Key Colors: Bone, silver/black, and Tennessee shad

Why it Made the Cut

Rebel temporarily discontinued the Pop-R in the 1970s, until a group of Texas bass pros bought up all they could find — and started winning tournaments with them left and right — convinced them to bring the lure back. Nearly 50 years later it’s a stalwart, and while some purists modify them for particular uses, they’re deadly straight off the tackle store shelf.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Casts well
  • No wrong way to work it
  • Calls bass from a distance

Cons:

  • Not ideal 12 months out of the year in most places

Product Description

While there are more modern and more refined poppers available, albeit at a higher price point, the original Pop-R is still the standard for topwater poppers. You can throw it out, let the ripples dissipate, and then slowly pop it, or alternatively, you can skip it along the surface like a fast-fleeing shad. Anglers in Tennessee even pitch it into buck brush in places most of us would only throw a jig. When you get a strike you’ll know it, because the waters often part in a biblical fashion. Just make sure you invest in a good set of long-nosed pliers because you’ll often find this topwater hard lure in the back of your fish’s throat.

FAQs

A few more things to know about the best bass lures.

Q: What Rapala lure is best for bass?

Rapala has made many great lures since they burst onto the bass fishing scene in the 1960s. But, if I had to pick just one Rapala it would be the Original Floating Minnow. The tight, precision wobble and minnow-shaped body works everywhere.

Q: Are bass top or bottom feeders?

Bass can be found in six inches of water or 60 feet of water. They eat topwater lures, as well as lures dragged on the bottom. That’s why a bass angler should have lures that cover all areas of the water column, like the seven we discussed above.

Q: What is the most popular fishing lure?

The fishing lure that has probably caught more bass than any in history is a ribbontail worm — rigged Texas or Carolina style, it is an offering bass can’t ignore.

The ribbontail worm proving its the best bass lure
The author with a nice bass caught on a classic ribbontail worm. Pete Robbins

Methodology

It’s tough to come up with absolutes or universals when it comes to bass fishing, simply because of the diversity of the sport. Yes, a bass is a bass, but depending on where they live, what they eat, and the depths they inhabit, their behaviors and preferences can vary widely. That’s why we came up with a set of choices, meant to cover the surface down to the deepest haunts that bass inhabit. Remember to think prey and water clarity first, and then location, but don’t sleep on lures that have proven their worth over the course of decades.

Things to Consider

No matter where you fish, it pays to get out of your comfort zone occasionally. Just because you’ve always caught bass on a particular lure, or a particular size or color of that lure, doesn’t mean that something else won’t work better. The sport is about windows of opportunity and maximizing those openings. The worst thing you can have is a closed mind. At the same time, by always having proven winners in the boat, when everything seems lost, or even slightly imperfect, you won’t have to question whether a particular offering has the chops to get the job done.

Read Next: Best Smallmouth Bass Lures

Final Thoughts on the Best Bass Lures

The basic plastic worm may not be as sexy as a topwater or as internationally significant as the Rapala Floating Minnow. Still, it’s a proven winner for largemouths, smallmouths, and spots and can be effective 12 months out of the year. Because it comes in such a wide range of colors, and you can use different lines, weights, and hooks to customize it, it’s the closest thing to a universal lure. That doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t carry other categories — most certainly, you should — just that you shouldn’t leave home without a ribbontail.

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