Deadly Half Dozen Bass Baits
Day in and day out there are baits that have proven to be the best for bass. If you had limited storage space or were on an extremely limited bassin’ budget what are the top artificial baits would you have to have? Factoring in seasonality, cover, flexibility, and varying weather and water conditions, I'd recommend adding these 6 baits in your tacklebox if they're not in there already.
Number 1: The Spinnerbait
This is possibly the most versatile lure that catches bass under many circumstances and can be fished in “thin” water or great depths. The hardest part about picking this bait is the multitude of blade configurations that you could use. Components to consider are Colorado, willow, Indiana, single or double blades, lure weight, skirt colors and let’s not even get into trailers. Bass eat more minnows and baitfish because they are more available and they're there year round. When it comes down to crunch time I would go for the best of all worlds with a willow/Colorado combination with the willow blade being a 5 ½ gold for the back blade and the Colorado on the front in nickel about a #2. This set up offers both flash and water displacement. Skirt color (I feel the skirt is more for the angler than the fish) would be chartreuse/ white or just white. I’ll take a 3/8 ounce model for most situations.
Number 2: Crankbait
This is another logical choice to cover lots of water. Available in a rainbow of colors and able to reach depths up to 25 feet, cranks will fool fish consistently. Again, the ability to mimic baitfish makes them a smart selection for a limited tackle box. Crankbaits will wake the surface in the one foot versions and dredge the bottom of many waters at 20 plus feet. Adjustments include the size line used, the rod position and the length of the cast; each of these factors helps determine the eventual running depth of a crankbait. Heavier line is larger in diameter thereby causing a shallower dive, rod up, the bait loses depth conversely rod down send the bait a touch deeper. A long cast gets a bait down to maximum depth and allows it to come back at about that depth with a steady retrieve. Minimally three colors are necessary, bone color or neutral for clear water and sky conditions, natural crawfish pattern for moderate conditions and fire tiger for discolored to muddy water and dark skies.
Number 3: Curly Tail Grub
Curly tail grub, WHAT? Yep, easily swallowed, subtle, great swimming motion and simple to fish. Cast it out and use a slow, steady retrieve and wait for something to try to jerk it away from you. Catches everything. Standard would be a ¼ ounce leadhead and more than likely spinning tackle spooled with 8 to 10 pound test line. For colors, pearl is first choice followed by chartreuse and finally smoke/silver glitter.
Number 4: Floater Driver Minnow Plugs
Not much variation in depth but retrieve speed and motion makes this one a necessity. Floaters can also be used like a jerkbait and they are fair game from when minnows first emerge in early spring until water becomes icy cold. This means in the south ten months of use. Silver/black back, essentially three inches long and again presented on spinning equipment these baits are a staple in tackle boxes all across North America.
Number 5: Plastic Worm
Fooling fish for over 60 years, worms have and continue to evolve. Pick a color, size or shape and you can rest assured there’s a soft plastic bait that matches the description. The biggest plus with plastic worm is the random action, no one fishes it the same way. For this reason and the lack of sound associated with it bass never become shy of a Texas rigged worm. Starting with a slip sinker (lead or tungsten) I prefer the lightest I can use that matches the size of the worm and the size of the hook. It’ all about balance. 3/8 ounce slip sinker, a 4/0 hook and a seven inch worm is ideal for many situations. Baitcasting gear is my preference, and 30 pound test braided line my choice for being best in casting and strength categories. Many colors work and preference varies by region, angler and confidence level.
Number 6: Jigs
Jigs and bass are a perfect combination. Jigs offer some unique versatility in water conditions, depth and cover in which they can be used. A big fish bait, jigs zoomed to prominence when bas tournament limits went from ten to five fish. Where other lures caught numbers jigs fooled trophy size fish. Swimming jigs in open water or winching bass from heavy cover jigs earn a place in every serious angler’s arsenal. Head design, weight and skirt colors vary but the one thing that doesn’t is the effectiveness of this bass bait. Swimming like a shad, darting like a bluegill or scooting across rocks like fleeing crawfish jigs are bass catchers. Again a 3/8 ounce model in black/blue or brown and possibly black/chartreuse cast, pitched or flipped on a baitcasting outfit, jigs are exciting and deadly for bass everywhere and throughout the year.
There you have the half dozen baits you should never launch the kayak without. Regardless of the location, type of water or weather that list will put fish in the boat. Learn to use these and have a camera ready for the “grip and grin” shots that are sure to follow.