Beginners Guide to the Best Bass Fishing Baits and Lures

For those new to bass fishing, it can be overwhelming to learn about all the different lures and baits used to catch bass. I remember walking into my local tackle shop when I first started fishing for bass and being overwhelmed at all number of plastic worms, jigs, lures, and other baits advertised on the shelves for bass fishing.

As I later learned, bass have quite a diverse pallet and they're willing to pretty much eat anything that fits in their mouth. However, bass can be finicky creatures, and on one day they may be absolutely crushing senko worms, but the next day they seem to have zero interest in them, highlighting the importance of having an array of lures at your disposal.

When it comes to choosing the right lure for your waters, it helps to know what the different types of available baits and lure options for bass are and what they're designed to do.

Imagine showing up to a pond with a crankbait only to be faced with heavy matted vegetation. You won't be able to effectively fish it because the treble hooks will get hung up every cast.

By learning each lures intended purpose, you'll be able to stock your tackle box with the right gear to properly fish in a variety of cover situations.

In this article we'll go over the different types of baits and lures used in bass fishing by breaking them into the major categories. Click the link in each section below to read a guide on the what, where, when, and how of using each type of bass fishing bait and lure.

Guide to using different live baits to catch bass. Catching bass with live nightcrawler worms, crawfish, minnows, and other small bait fish.

Live Baits

Using live baits that bass feed on naturally is an excellent way to catch bass. Live baits such as nightcrawlers, crawfish, frogs, mice, and salamanders, are all great live baits to catch bass. You can even use various bugs and larvae.

Bass also love feeding on small bait fish like shad, perch, bream, shiners, and minnows.

When using live bait presentations to fish for bass the angler doesn't need to do much twitching, hopping, or other retrieval methods as the living bait will do most of the work. This makes live bait a great option for new anglers.

Learn About Live Baits
Guide to rigging and using different soft plastic baits and lures to catch bass.

Soft Plastic Artificial Baits

Soft plastic baits like the senko stick bait worm, flukes, craws, tubes, and other creature baits can be found in pretty much every bass anglers tackle bag.

Some artificial baits are more versatile than others, such as the soft plastic worm, and can be rigged up in a variety of ways to provide different presentations.

Many soft plastics like flukes, craws, and beaver style baits can be used as trailers to make lures more enticing to the fish.

Learn About Artificial Baits
Guide to the different types of crankbaits and how to use them


Crankbaits are a fun, popular, and effective lure that can be fished at a variety of depths in the water column.

These lures wobble and rattle as they're retrieved, alerting bass of their precense, and are used to draw out active bass and trigger reaction bites.

They're designed to look like crayfish and bait fish, typically featuring a front bill that causes them to dive down into the water column, though there are also lipless crankbaits.

There are a ton of different crankbaits out there, from shallow divers to deep diving cranks, miniature cranks, l-shaped bills, and wake baits, each deserving their own special place in your tackle box.

Learn About Crankbaits
Guide To Bass Fishing Topwater Lures

Topwater Lures

As the name implies, topwater baits or lures are designed to be fished on the surface of the water.

Popular topwater lures include buzzbaits, hollow body frogs, plugs, prop baits, and more.

Topwater lures are an effective way to entice suspended bass. They're a fun and active way to fish for bass as they typically require the angler to twitch, jerk, walk, or otherwise vary the cadence during when retrieving the lure.

Watching fish blow up on the surface to eat your topwater lure is one of the most exhilarating ways to catch bass.

Learn About Topwater Lures
Guide to the different types of bass fishing jigs and how to use them


Jigs are one of the most versatile bass lures that can be fished pretty much year round and work in both shallow and deep waters.

There are a ton of different styled jigs, some with rubber skirts, blades, weed guards, or just the plain jighead itself.

Some jigs can be swam like a search bait, allowing you to cover lots of water, while others are designed for punching heavy grass mats or crawling and hopping across the bottom like a startled crawfish.

Open up any bass fisherman's tacklebox and your bound to find a large variety of jigs, skirts, and trailers to match them.

Learn About Jigs
Guide to bass fishing spinnerbaits


Spinnerbaits are a popular moving bait that feature one or more blades that spin and create vibrations as it's retrieved.

They are a fantastic search bait for locating active bass in shallow and deep waters. The spinnerbait is an excellent choice for the beginner looking to efficiently cover a lot of water.

Spinnerbaits come in a variety of sizes and weights with numerous blade and color options that can often be changed out.

The spinnerbait is an incredibley versatile lure that should be in any bass fishermans bag.

Learn about Spinnerbaits
Guide to types of swimbaits and how to use them to fish for bass


When it comes to swimbaits, there are soft plastic swimbaits that feature different tails like the fluke or paddle tail, and there are hard plastic swimbaits like a jointed swimbait.

These lures are great when you need a more subtle presentation, especially in clear waters. However, some jointed swim baits can feature a more aggressive presentation that could prove fruitfull in murky waters.

Swimbaits are great search baits for covering water thanks to their drawing power. If you've never used one of these relatively new bass lures before, then you're definitely missing out.

Learn About Swimbaits
Guide to bass fishing spoons


When you hear someone mention fishing with a spoon, you might not correlate it with bass fishing. They don't quite get the attention of other lures. However, spoons are used more than you might think.

Bass fishing spoons come in a variety of profiles, each designed for certain applications.

There are 4 primary types of spoons: casting spoons, slop spoons, jigging spoons, and flutter spoons.

While you may not find spoons in every bass angler's tackle box, they can still be an effective way to catch bass.

Learn About Spoons
Guide to jerkbaits and how to use them to catch bass


Jerkbaits are designed to mimic struggling minnows in cold waters. These bass lures are designed to suspend or slowly float back to the surface as a dying bait fish would.

As the name implies, jerkbaits are designed to be fished in an erratic manner with the angler "jerking" the rod tip, causing the bait to quickly dive down, presenting an easy meal to hungry bass. They often feature internal rattles that aid in their drawing power.

These popular lures are often effective in cool waters and you'll likely find them in most fishermens tackle bags as water temperatures drop.

Learn About Jerkbaits

Best Bass Lures For Each Season

Guide to the best baits and lures for winter bass fishing.

Winter Bass Lures

Don't let the frigid temperatures this season ruin your fishing fun. The bass aren't hybernating in winter, and neither should you.

Winter bass can be difficult to catch, so make sure you're throwing the right baits and lures to make the best of cold weather bass fishing!

Learn About Winter Baits

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between a bait and lure?

The term bait is to refer to any kind of substance used to attract bass to bite. Hands down, one of the most popular natural baits across the board for all freshwater fishing, is the good old Nightcrawler your granddad used. But when it comes to bass fishing, artifial baits like soft plastic worms have become the norm.

Lures on the other hand, are artificial baits typically made of plastic or metal, designed to mimic a bass's favorite prey, such as crawfish, bluegill, and shad and try to entice the fish to bite.