What Kind Of Bait To Use For Bass Fishing

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Bass are some of the most sought after and commonly fished species in the world, especially in North America. Between smallmouth and largemouth bass, literally millions of these fish are caught every single year.

Now, catching these guys is not all that hard, as they are a good beginner species to aim for.

Now, with that being said, you do need the right gear and equipment for the job. Yes, this includes your lines, reels, and rods, and of course your baits too.

If you do not have the right kind of baits and lures, catching bass quickly becomes an epic challenge instead of an easy day on the lake.

So, what kind of bait to use for bass fishing? Let’s look at what we feel are 8 of the best options and why.


The 8 Best Baits For Bass Fishing

There are quite a few different bait options to go with when it comes to fishing for bass, which is actually why a lot of people choose to fish for bass, well, besides the fact that it’s fun, not to mention that they taste great too!

This is quite versatile in the sense that there are different lures and baits which work well in varying conditions to catch bass. What are some of the best baits to use for bass fishing?

1. The Jig

Generally considered to be a great all around fishing option, jigs or jigging works really well to catch bass. It is regarded as a great all year option that has the ability to catch bass in almost all conditions.

Jigs work really well at sun up, just as they do at midday and sundown too. Jigging also works well no matter what the temperature is, and it also fares well for bass fishing in most water conditions too.

Skirted jigs resemble colorful baitfish and other prey animals which bass eat. They have many parts and the skirt creates a heck of a lot of movement which helps to catch a bass fish’s attention.

Jigs, especially the skirted variety, are also a prime choice to go with because the work well in open water, in shallow water, on the surface, on the bottom of the water, in grass, rocks, and weeds too.

The reason why many people prefer jigs for bass fishing is due to their high level of versatility.

2. The Crankbait

Giffon zero crankbait

Crankbaits are another great choice to keep in mind for bass fishing. If you did not know, crankbaits usually always look like prey fish, fish which bass love to eat, and their main purpose or benefit is to dive under the water, stay there, and allow you to fish well below the surface while effectively controlling the depth at which the lure stays.

Now, there are lipped and lipless crankbaits, but crankbaits with diving lips at the front are much better for diving, and yes for catching bass, so for the purposes of bass fishing, you are best off using a lipped crankbait. These are very versatile and truly effective for bass fishing.

The reason for this is because the look of the crankbait resembles prey fish, and therefore bass are always attracted to them.

They also feature bright colors to catch the eyes of bass fish, plus they usually always come with a swimming action to definitely make bass think that the crankbait is a real fish.

They are so effective because the diving lip allows them to go deeper down with ease, thus allowing for deeper bass fishing and bigger catches, plus different lips allow you to control the swimming motion, depth, and speed at which they dive.

People also love crankbaits because you can change the lips and diving depths of them, you can change their colors, change the type of prey fish it resembles, and you can change the lips to fit different conditions such as for open water, weeds, rocky conditions, and more.

When it comes down to it, crankbaits are some of the most effective and versatile baits to consider in terms of catching bass in any conditions.

3. The Jerkbait


Ok, right off the bat, many people would say that the jerkbait is a type of crankbait, as yes, you do crank it through the water.

However, while some people would say that they are two variations of the same type of bait, the crankbait, we do make a distinction between them.

One of the biggest differences to note is that crankbaits generally have diving lips, whereas jerkbaits usually do not.

The crankbait’s diving lip helps it dive more, but it does make it hard to keep the bait suspended in a certain place for any amount of it.

Due to the shape, lack of diving lip, and fairly long, thin, and lightweight design of jerkbaits, they do well at staying suspended in a certain place for a few seconds without sinking down. As the name of this kind of bait implies, jerkbaits are all about the motion.

Yes, they closely resemble prey fish which bass like to eat, and they are indeed quite colorful, but the main advantage of a jerkbait is that they jerk back and forth, thus creating a lot of lateral movement and motion, thus working wonders to catch the attention of nearby bass.

To use a jerkbait for bass fishing with the best results, you want to have a rod that has a lot of action in the tip and a fair amount of sensitivity.

The whole point of jerkbaits is to quickly jerk them around, so you need a rod that allows for a lot of tight control and finessing. Do you know how fast little fish move?

This is what you want it to look like when using a jerkbait. They work well in scattered grasses and when ripped quickly through open waters too.

They work really well in the winter, and quite well in the summer too. Just keep in mind, in the summer, you want to jerk them a little slower than in the winter.

4. A Floating Lure (Injured Fish)

Yet another great type of bait to go with when bass fishing is the floating lure, specifically one that resembles an injured fish, a minnow if possible.

Now, beware that we are definitely not talking about a bobber here. You still want there to be some movement, so a bobber is not going to be too useful here.

A floater is a type of bait used for surface fishing, this why it is called a floater, because it floats. However, bobbers are usually meant to be stationary, where floaters are still meant to move, just not too fast.

The best part about floaters is that they often resemble injured prey fish. Sure, bass are hunters, but an injured fish is an easy meal, and an easy meal is something that a fish like a bass will always take advantage of.

Therefore, when using a floating lure, one that resembles an injured minnow, pull it along at a decent speed, fairly slow though, not too fast. It will therefore look like an injured fish trying to make its way across the surface of the water.

Due to the bright colors and injured-looking movement of your minnow floater, it should always catch the attention of nearby bass.

Due to it being a floater, of course it works best for not so deep and very shallow waters, but bass in the depths probably won’t see it.

Therefore, a floating lure like this is best used in shallow waters and they work well when there are a lot of weeds and other obstacles at the bottom of the water and in the water column.

Due to the fact that it floats and really does not sink at all, you don’t have to worry about a floating lure like this getting snagged on obstacles.

5. The Multi-Section Swimbait

A good swimbait, the kind with multiple sections, is another good bait choice to go with when it comes to bass fishing. Now, keep in mind that sectioned swimbaits do have multiple sections. We would recommend using one with a head, tail, and 2 or 3 body sections.

The problem with these is that they can’t really be used for fishing along the bottom, especially in conditions where there are lots of obstacles like rocks, sticks, and weeds. The sections can get caught on things.

Therefore, swimbaits are best used in open waters, for the middle of the water column, and for fishing closer to the surface, but they do not do well with super shallow water and especially with obstacles.

Now, also keep in mind that the main advantage of swimbaits is that they create quite a bit of movement, movement that realistically resembles a live prey fish.

These baits tend to be quite colorful too, but they do not make noise and they do not move too quickly.

Therefore, sectioned swimbaits need to be used in fairly clear, bright, and open waters, as you do really need to have a clear line of sight to get the bass to take notice of them.

An advantage to these baits is that you don’t have to reel them in too fast to get a fish’s attention. They create a lot of movement without needing too much speed to create that movement.

Therefore, they work really well for fairly slow trawling. Do keep in mind that swimbaits are quite heavy, some can weigh several ounces and be very long.

Therefore, you need to have a heavy and strong line with a heavy rod, and heavy swimbaits often require big and specially designed swimbait rods.

You need a really long rod if you want to achieve any kind of distance when casting a big swimbait.

Now, another advantage of swimbaits is that you can get them un-weighted, which is great for under the surface fishing, and you can get them weighted so they sink down to a certain depth, making them ideal for fishing down to a depth of about 60 feet.

6. Crawfish Bait

A crawfish bait, often just called a craw bait, is another awesome option to go with for bass fishing. Crawfish are usually always present where there are bass.

This is a main food source for bass fish and they love to eat these little crustaceans all year long.

Crawfish can usually always be found in the rocks and weeds. Therefore, since bass usually look for crawfish in these areas, craw baits are best used in moderately deep waters with lots of rocks and weeds, as well in shallow waters that feature these same conditions.

If you use a crawbait, you can be sure to catch bass no matter where you go. Beware that crawfish are usually not active during the coldest times of year, so the only time a craw bait should not be used is during the winter.

Keep in mind that craw baits can be fairly big and heavy, so you will need a rod, reel, and line to match the weight and size of this bait.

Seeing as you will most likely be dragging a craw bait through weeds and rocks, you need a line that has good flex, give, stretch, and strength too.

You don’t want the line snapping every time the craw bait gets slightly snagged on an obstacle.

7. Finesse Worms

Finesse worms are another good option to go with for bass fishing. Now, finesse works don’t have a super fast body action, they don’t have a bunch of appendages, and they usually are not too bright either.

However, they do still get bit a lot and it is because bass love to eat live worms.

Using a decent sized finesse worm should attract quite a bit of attention. They can be used for open water bass fishing and for shallow fishing in rocks and weeds too.

There is nothing to get snagged here, so they do well in placed with lots of obstacles.

However, with that being said, because they are not highly visible and do not make a lot of noise, they do need to really be seen by bass.

They require a clear line of sight, so they are best used in fairly open waters. They are best used by slowly reeling them back in and getting them to float and twitch around fairly lifelessly in the water.

Overall a good option if you do not want to have to crank your bait in super fast all of the time.

8. Live Bait

The other and final option to go with here is live bait. Folks, never underestimate the power of live bait. Bass are hunters and they love to get real, live, and moving prey.

One big advantage of live prey is the smell. Artificial lures and baits just don’t give off that live animal smell, that blood and guts smell which live baits produce when you put them on the line. This smell goes a long way in attracting bass.

There is also the fact that these things look real and their movement will catch the eyes of any bass that sees your live bait.

Using all kinds of smaller bait fish, crustaceans like shrimp and crawfish, salamanders, lizards, all kinds of worms, leeches, frogs, and large insects are all on the menu for bass, so they can all be used for bass fishing.

Just pay attention to what kind of bait animals are most active in the wild during certain times of the year, as this will go a long way in determining what kind of live bait you use at any given time.

On a side note, here are some good tips for getting rid of the fishy smell from your hands.


As you can see, there are many different kinds of baits and lures to use for bass fishing. Some work better than others in varying conditions, but they all work great if you use them the right way.

Of course, you need the proper gear and accessories to go along with the bait of your choosing, but that is just another step and piece of knowledge that goes towards you being a professional, knowledgeable, and effective fisherman.

photo credits: photo 1: jpellgen (@1179_jp) @ Flickr CC,

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.