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Published Sep. 14, 2021

Fall is a time when many anglers, fearing the impending cold weather of winter, rush to get in their last good licks on the water. Fortunately, bass feel the same pressures, and need to feed up before going into a state of semi-lethargy. The whole food chain is in motion, with baitfish often migrating up tributaries and bass following them, snacking all the way.

That doesn’t mean that fishing is always easy, however, or that the fish bite with no discretion. Often anglers can have trouble locating the rapidly moving fish, and once they find them, the bass can be so keyed in on a particular forage that anything off the mark gets completely ignored. That’s why it’s so critical to keep moving and keep trying new things. With the best fall bass lures, you’ll have a good start to cover all of your bases.

The Best Fall Bass Lures for Covering Water: War Eagle Screamin’ Eagle Spinner Bait

Key Features

  • Sizes: ½ oz
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Small frame made of piano wire
  • Key Colors: Spot Remover, Mouse, Silver Shiner

Why it Made the Cut

Spinnerbaits may have lost some of their shelf space as chatterbaits, swim jigs, and swimbaits have become more popular, but they never became less effective. The Screamin’ Eagle is a ½ ounce head built on the body normally reserved for a ½ ounce lure, meaning that it packs a lot of punch in a package representing young-of-year baitfish. You can fish it fast and keep it down in the water column — it excels in both open water and cover alike.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Sharp Mustad NeedlePoint Hooks
  • Small profile
  • Hand-tied skirts

Cons:

  • Not a great choice for calm days

Product Description

Spinnerbaits are one of the best bass lures of all time for finding productive water. War Eagle’s compact body spinnerbait has become a staple for anglers who want to fish fast without their lure blowing out of the water. While you can get them in a variety of blade configurations, start with a basic double willow, which you can get in gold/gold, silver/gold, and gold/silver combinations, as well as hologram patterns. This bait is made to stand up to marauding schools of fish, and will continue to track true after being used and abused. Add a trailer hook in open water and when fishing for side-slapping smallmouths.

The Best Fall Bass Lures for Fishing Around Dying Baitfish: Strike King Red Eye Shad

Key Features

  • Sizes: ¼, ½, and ¾ oz models
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Free floating rattles
  • Key Colors: Chrome Blue, Chartreuse Shad, The Shizzle

Why it Made the Cut

A wide variety of lipless crankbaits can be used to chase fall largemouths, smallmouths, and spotted bass gorging on migrating baitfish. The Red Eye Shad is among the great choices in any circumstance, but where it distinguishes itself is when bass are keyed in on forage that’s dying off in rapidly chilling temperatures. You can fish it at a moderate pace or even burn it and then stop it abruptly — it will shimmy down perfectly, almost like a soft stickbait, and this is the moment when bass usually decide to claim an easy meal.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Wide color selection
  • Runs true out of the package
  • Comes with quality VMC vanadium cone cut treble hooks

Cons:

  • Not a great choice for heavy cover

Product Description

Strike King makes the Red Eye Shad in two versions — the original, with free-floating rattles, and the Tungsten 2 Tap, which creates a “double tapping cadence.” Sometimes, fish will be keyed into one noise or the other, or after having been pressured they’ll be turned off by one, so keep a variety of colors available in both models. There is a pattern to match just about any prey species or water clarity and at a reasonable price point it doesn’t hurt to invest in a bunch.

The Best Fall Bass Lures for Giant Bass: River2Sea Whopper Plopper

Key Features

  • Sizes: 60, 75, 90, 110 130, 190 mm
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Rotating tail, borrowed from the musky world
  • Key Colors: Loon, Powder Munky Butt

Why it Made the Cut

Topwater fishing was already exciting enough, but the introduction of the River2Sea Whopper Plopper to the bass world less than a decade ago made it even more heart-stopping. Just by retrieving this lure at a steady pace, and perhaps occasionally adding a stop or stutter-step, anglers can generate strikes that you’d normally have to travel to the Amazon to experience. Amazingly, hookups are also typically rock solid.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Really fun to fish
  • Wide color array
  • Numerous sizes to match the mood of the fish

Cons:

  • Easy to stick with it too long when fish would prefer something else

Product Description

The Whopper Plopper combines a cigar-shaped body with a propeller tail. Does it represent a terrestrial animal? A frog? A baitfish? Who cares? It casts like a bullet, generates ridiculous strikes, and despite its gaudy footprint, it works surprisingly well on pressured fish. It can be worked at a snail’s crawl, you can burn it, or use any pace in between. Big fish especially seem to have a love-hate relationship with this lure, and even if they’re not in a feeding mood they often strike it out of pure territoriality. In the smaller sizes you’ll find it to be one of the best fall bass lures for ponds, especially ponds that haven’t been fished with a Whopper Plopper yet.

The Best Fall Bass Lures for Offshore Structure: Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jig

Key Features

  • Sizes: 1/8, 3/16, 5/16, ⅝, and 7/8 oz.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Rear rudder tail
  • Key Colors: Pearl, Chrome Blue, Silver Fluorescent Chartreuse

Why it Made the Cut

Jigging spoons and blade baits have historically gotten the call for vertical presentations of offshore structure, but the Jigging Rap offers something they don’t — incredible unpredictability. No matter how much you try to make your presentation the same on every hop, leap, or jerk, the lure never rips up or glides down in the same manner, and that’s what triggers strikes.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Your local bass may have never seen an ice jig before
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Unpredictable action

Cons:

  • Thin hooks are sometimes easy for fish to shake

Product Description

This is a semi-secret bait of the pros, many of whom live where the water never gets hard, making the term “ice jig” at least a partial misnomer. This lure is effective when fish are tight to the bottom, but it’s the best fall bass lure to use when bass are suspended and need a trigger to get them to bite. There are single hooks on each end and a treble hanger on the belly; if the cover you’re fishing around allows you to use the latter, by all means do so, but it can be removed if you’re around heavy brush or timber for more snag-proof action.

The Best Fall Bass Lures for Getting Lots of Bites: Z-Man TRD

Key Features

  • Sizes: 2.75, 4, and 6 inches 
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Do-nothing shape and floating tail prove oddly irresistible to bass of all sizes.
  • Key Colors: Green Pumpkin, PB&J, The Deal

Why it Made the Cut

Ned Rigging, which combines a mushroom-shaped jighead with a featureless piece of soft plastic, was originally thought of as a midwestern oddity for beginners… until top pros started beating stacked fields with it in competition. It catches all three major species of bass year-round, in all water colors, even on featureless banks where you might assume no self-respecting bass would ever live.  It’s also hands down one of the best fall smallmouth bass lures, and it catches smallies in any season. The hardest part is just letting it do its own thing and not imparting any action on the fall or after it hits bottom.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Ultra-durable construction
  • Floating tail is a difference-maker
  • Good color selection

Cons:

  • Not particularly snag proof

Product Description

The maker of this best fall bass lure, Z-Man, was the first major company to jump on the Ned Rigging technique, which was previously the domain of off-brand jig makers and discarded or butchered soft plastics. They still dominate the market, not only with their signature heads, but with the TRD soft plastics as well. They’re made of Elaztech, which means they stretch remarkably far and one “worm” will last a great many fish. That’s good, because these lures consistently get bites from a variety of species and sizes. Just be careful that you don’t get complacent after landing a bunch of panfish or sub-legal bass, because the next bite could be the 10-pounder of your dreams.

The Best Fall Bass Lures for Flipping Heavy Cover: Missile Baits Ike’s Mini Flip

Key Features

  • Sizes: ¼, ⅜, and ½ oz
  • Distinguishing Characteristics: Simple and compact jig
  • Key Colors: Bruiser, Bamer Craw, Brown Purple Passion

Why it Made the Cut

A simple jig never goes out of style, and shouldn’t leave the deck of your boat, 12 months out of the year. Whether you’re flipping boat docks, shallow brush piles or laydowns, this lure is small enough to sneak in and out of the heaviest cover. Combined with the proper trailer, you can not only adjust what sort of forage it represents, but also the fall rate and the overall compactness of the lure.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Angled weedguard keeps it relatively snag free
  • Fine-cut skirt
  • Compact size

Cons:

  • Limited color selection

Product Description

Missile Baits teamed up with Bassmaster Classic winner and television personality Mike Iaconelli to make a small-profile jig that will slip in and out of cover easily, while still maintaining the heft to attract and hold lunker bass. While there are times when more bulk is necessary, this jig will excel in heavy current situations including tidal waters, where anglers can maintain control while still feeling every stick and rock on the way down. It comes with a heavy-duty weedguard that is angled to prevent snags and also to move out of the way on the hookset, providing the best of all worlds. It also comes at a reasonable price point.

Final Thoughts

Fall is a season of change for fish, with the early portions of it resembling summer and the latter portions of the season resembling winter. That means you need to be ready to adjust with them, finding the fish and then figuring out ways to get them motivated to bite. A spinnerbait may be the best all-around way to accomplish this when fish are shallow and aggressive, with a jig being better when they want a slow presentation. Oddly enough, however, the decidedly unsexy Ned Rig — tipped with a Z-Man TRD — may be the best overall choice: something that will catch fish anywhere at any time, in the hands of beginners and experts alike.

Evaluating the Best Fall Bass Lures

Fall bass can be in six inches of water or 60 feet of water, so I tried to develop a system that will give you full access to that substantial range. Bass lures are just tools to get the fish to bite — the hardest part may be finding the bass at this time of year, especially on larger waters. That means you need to be willing to utilize your electronics, your eyes, and your trolling motor to get on them and stay on them. Once that is accomplished, cycle through the basics until you find what they want, which may change hourly. Here are some queries that may help you make a decision on where to start:

  • What depth do you expect the fish to be in? (Fish holding closer to the bottom may not respond to surface offerings)
  • What are the fish expected to be feeding on? (Crawfish, shad and other baitfish may all demand different choices).
  • Are the fish in heavy cover or open water? (The former may require single-hooked lures, the latter gives you more options).
  • Will the fish chase or do you need to hit them on the head? (Speed and movement can be a trigger, even for dormant or lethargic bass)
  • What is the water clarity (Dirtier water requires gaudier colors and more or different vibration, while cleaner water may necessitate a more natural profile).

It’s all part of a puzzle, and it varies even on the same body of water, but by starting with staples you know that you’re never outside of the ballpark.

FAQs

What you need to know about fall bass lures.

Q: What do bass feed on in the fall?

In the fall, bass looking to feed up before the winter tend to chase migrating baitfish, such as shad, smelt, and even perch. Match the hatch to the local forage and you should experience success.

Q: Is bass fishing good in the fall?

Bass fishing can be hit or miss in the fall. If you can stay on top of rapidly changing conditions, it can be some of the best fishing of the year, but if you don’t constantly adjust, it can be a struggle.

Q: What colors do bass like in the fall?

In the fall, the best lure colors usually closely replicate the primary forage, such as shad or alewives. Go as natural as you can in clear water, and in dirty or even muddy water consider a dash of chartreuse or another bright shade.

Final Things to Consider

Don’t forget to consider the baitfish or other food sources that bass on your home waters prefer. While following shad up a tributary and then later keying on places where they’re dying can be a textbook pattern, it might not do you much good on fisheries where there are no shad whatsoever. Remember, bass want an easy meal, but as it gets colder they also want one that packs a lot of protein and calories for their effort, so even if you have the right bait, it sometimes pays to try different sizes, colors, and sound profiles to dial in the perfect choice.

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