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A collection of the most popular types of bass baits that are effective year round

Top 7 Best Bass Fishing Baits & Lures

By Discount Tackle Staff        

What kind of fishing bait or lure is the all-around most effective at catching bass, capable of reliably hooking up with fish during any time of year, in any given weather pattern, or body of water? The frustrating truth is that there is no single best universal bass fishing lure; any effective angler knows that they, at the very least, need a tight but versatile assortment of baits and lures to secure a successful day on the water.

But with so many different types and brands and shapes and sizes of bass fishing lures out there, how do you know what to keep in your tackle box for maximum fishing success? Whether you are a fishing novice, a seasoned veteran, or a recently reactivated angler getting back into fishing, there is one thing that almost all anglers can easily agree on: shopping for bass fishing lures online in particular can be a little overwhelming. With all the fantastic fish caught on YouTube and Instagram, you may start wondering if these influencers are using bass fishing lures that you are not using. Whether you are a beginner or bass fishing enthusiast, you deserve to know and understand what works.

Here are our picks for the top 7 kinds of bass lures that you would want for the most effective bass tackle box:

1. Soft Plastic Stickbaits

Gary Yamamoto Senko in Green Pumpkin Black Flake

There is no doubt that a soft plastic stick bait must be your top priority when choosing bass fishing lures. Note that they are the most versatile and flexible of all soft plastics. This is why all nearly all species of freshwater fish, including bass, will eat them, just like most species of fish like to eat worms. As they are one of the most versatile baits for bass fishing, you can easily Wacky rig it for skipping under the docks and use or structure it as either weighted or weightless Texas-rigged bait. Did you know that some anglers also use it with Carolina rigs, swing heads, drop shots, and even shaky heads?

The Gary Yamamoto 5 inch Senko pictured above is the original soft stickbait and the "Gold Standard" that many anglers are most familiar with, nonetheless almost every other soft plastics manufacturer has released their own take on this lure. Notable examples include the YUM Dinger, Z-Man ZinkerZ, Googan Baits Lunker Log, Berkley's The General PowerBait MaxScent, and Big Bite Baits Trick Stick.

2. ChatterBaits (aka Bladed Swim Jigs or Vibrating Jigs)

Z-Man Evergreen Jack Hammer ChatterBait in Green Pumpkin Shad

 Z-Man Evergreen Jack Hammer ChatterBait in Green Pumpkin Shad

ChatterBaits are also known as vibrating jigs and bladed swim jigs. Note that it is an extremely popular and deadly bass fishing lure. One of the common names for these is “vibrating jigs,” and this is due to the unique action that the single hexagonal blade performs. And it is worth noting that the constant and quick churn of the blade on most ChatterBaits causes more humming vibration under the water.

Keep in mind that bladed swim jigs or vibrating jigs are most effective when bass are shallow and active. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, but savvy and experienced bass anglers can find many other good uses for vibrating jigs throughout the year. The best thing about ChatterBaits is that rigging them is quite simple. Note that you have the jig, which often comes pre-rigged with a strong skirt. You can add a soft plastic trailer in order to add bulk and keep your bait moving slowly with plenty of action.

3. Lipless Crankbaits

Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap Lipless Crankbait in Cali Craw

Bill Lewis Craw Series Rat-L-Trap in Cali Craw

Note that for pre-spawn bass with temperatures in the mid-50s, professional anglers favor red or gold lipless crankbaits. Your deep water secret, lipless crankbaits, can give you the amazing power to target any depth. By letting this lure drop around one foot per second, you will be able to reach accurate depths, working it easily anywhere in the water column. Keep in mind that the rattling action will pulsate as you rip up and call in bass from far and wide.

Often anglers simply cast these plugs and make a straight and steady retrieve. However, you can allow lipless crankbaits to sink in a little deeper and then bounce along the bottom over any shell beds or other clean structures which do not have debris. The ideal combination of noise, vibration, and speed, these lipless crankbaits are amazing in shallow water.

4. Topwater Hard Lures

Berkley Choppo Topwater Prop Lure in Ghost White

Did you know that topwater hard lures, such as topwater prop lures, can be very effective for targeting bass? Note that for this application, it is most effective during dusk or dawn when bass are most actively feeding. In this cateogry, you have four main hard topwater lure styles to choose from. These are prop lures, topwater walkers (aka Spooks), poppers, and wake baits. Almost all examples of these types of baits are rigged with treble hooks, so they will perform best without snagging in open water. Keep in mind that topwater prop lures tend to work better in wavy or choppy water conditions when many other topwater lures simply don’t perform. 

5. Squarebill Crankbaits

Rapala BX Big Brat in Delta

You will find squarebill crankbaits in all shapes, sizes, and colors, which is great. These crankbaits can either be silent or have knockers in order to create more disturbances in the water. Like a majority of crankbaits, they can easily be made to mimic bream, shad, crawfish, and almost everything in between. And anglers know that variety is certainly the name of the game, especially when it comes to plug fishing. Keep in mind that unlike the curved lip of many crankbaits, a squarebill crankbait has a square lip just like the name implies.

And the unique flat lip of the squarebill helps make it a deadly and effective bass lure. Also, you can easily wind a squarebill over riprap, laydowns, or even submerged weeds and plants without getting snagged. So, if you are running shallow water and like a subsurface power technique, then fishing squarebill crankbaits is right for you. They can easily go where other types of crankbaits cannot and get plenty of bites.

6. Ned Rig

Z-Man Finesse TRDs and Finesse ShroomZ in Assorted Colors

The Ned rig with Ned rig soft plastics has quickly become unstoppable in its unrelenting dominance of the light line finesse fishing soft stickbait category. It began as a rather niche freshwater finesse technique in the Midwest, mainly for smallmouth bass. However, it has now exploded into its own unique soft plastic sub-category. It is a staple presentation not just for all kinds of bass anglers, but other anglers who target perch, walleye, drum, bay bass, and redfish.

7. Paddle Tail Swimbaits

Z-Man MinnowZ in Pinfish rigged on a VMC Boxer Jig in Bluegill


Z-Man MinnowZ in Pinfish rigged on a VMC Boxer Jig in Blue Gill

Perfect for capitalizing on that revved up bass bite, swimbaits are great for bass fishing because they mimic baitfish. Did you know that soft plastic paddle tail swimbaits are some of the best bass catchers year round and in any water condition? This is because they imitate the feel and look of baitfish better than anything else. Note that the best opportunity to offer a swimbait is when many baitfish are noticeably schooling in the body of water. You can cast it around the edges of the area where bass are lurking and let the swimbait’s paddle tail thump, alerting nearby lurkers.

Storm Largo Shad w/ Hook in Green Back


Storm Largo Shad w/ Hook in Green Back

Also, note that using a color of bait that closely resembles the color of the baitfish is important when using these swimbaits. The great thing about paddle tail swim baits is that they are very adaptable. This is why they can work almost anywhere you fish. Deep, on points, shallow, open water, or even on structure, note that the paddle tail swimbait is perhaps one of the most effective moving baits that you can use.

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