Beginner's Guide To Picking The Best Bass Fishing Baits & Lures

If you're new to bass fishing, or if you're looking to expand your tackle box, you may be wondering what baits and lures are best for catching bass.

Ask 10 different anglers what the best bass lure is and you'll probably get 10 different responses.

For the beginner bass angler, it can be a bit confusing when choosing what lure to throw. Walk into any tackle shop and your faced with hundreds of lures and artificial baits on the shelves, each with dozens of color and size options.

So, which baits and lures are best for bass? I hate to say it, but it depends! However, by the time you're done reading this article you'll not only have a solid understanding of what the best bass fishing lures and baits are, but you'll know how to choose the right bass lures and baits and how to use them.

How To Choose The Best Bass Lure

Having a wide selection of lures to choose from is important when bass fishing as bass can be finicky eaters, especially in pressured waters. Sometimes you'll dangle a lure a foot in front of a bass, they'll look at it, and then just swim away.

You've probably noticed that most bass fishermen carry multiple rods and reels. This is because a large part of bass fishing is simply figuring out what they want to eat that day. Having multiple fishing rods set up for different bass lures makes switching quick and easy when figuring out what lure is best that given day.

Just because bass were eating a wacky rigged senko yesterday, doesn't mean they'll want it again today. Often times you'll need to switch lures multiple times before figuring out what they're willing to bite and that can even change throughout the day.

Pay Attention To Your Fishing Conditions

Understanding a bit about bass behavior can go a long way in helping you rule out which lures to throw and when.

Time of day and environmental conditions such as water temperature, rain, and wind, all impact how bass behave at any given moment. Extreme ambient temperatures can cause bass to become lethargic and unwilling to bite your usual lure. Sometimes down sizing your rod, reel, and lure to a more finesse presentation can get those stubborn bass to bite, while at other times, bass are on the hunt for bait fish and will demolish moving baits.

As seasons change, so do your lure options. In some waters, thick vegetation can run rampant, making it impossible to run any fishing lure with treble hooks. However, in the fall as the grass and aquatic vegetation die off and the bass begin storing up for the winter, those treble hook lures can make for quite a fun day of fishing!

Choosing The Right Type Of Bass Lure

As mentioned above, when it comes to picking the best fishing lure to throw for bass, you need to pay attention to your fishing conditions as that will influence the types of lures you can use right now.

Some lures are rendered completely useless in certain water conditions. If you've ever tried fishing a crankbait in a pond during the summer to fall transition, chances are you probably pulled up every weed in the pond. While the crankbait is one of the best fall bass lures, it isn't always an option year round, or in every body of water.

One of the best ways to catch more bass is by fishing spots other anglers avoid. By knowing (and having) in your tackle box, you'll be better equipped to fish where others wouldn't dare.

Sometimes you'll be forced to fish weedless rigs while other times you'll have a wide selection of lures options that will work well.

Take note of what's in the water such as grass, laydowns, bushes, stumps, and other objects and then consider how likely it is for you to get snagged with a bare hook.

Running treble hooks in open waters can be an excellent way to catch bass, but run them around brush piles and your likely to donate your lure to the lake.

As you've hopefully gathered by now, paying attention to your current fishing conditions will help when choosing the best lure to throw to catch more bass. But picking the right type of lure for bass is just half of the equation, picking the right lure color is the other.

Choosing The Right Lure Color For Bass

Once you've determined the type of lures you can throw, you then need to consider what colors will work best.

There are an overwhelming amount of lure color options to choose from, so, especially for the beginner fisherman, it's best to keep things simple when picking what colors to carry and use.

The primary thing to consider when deciding on the best color to use is water clarity.

Take note of how well you can see down into the water, as that will give you an idea of how well the bass can see. If you have trouble determining the depth you can see, you can try throwing a white bait out and watch it sink. Once you can't see it anymore, pull the lure out of the water and measure how much line was used.

Water Clarity

Water clarity effects how well bass can see your lures and you'll often hear pro bass fisherman talk about selecting lure colors based off clear, stained, murky, or muddy waters.

Typically, the clearer the water the more subtle you want your lure presentation to be. Natural colors are usually considered best in ultra clear water. In murky or muddy waters, colors that stand out make it easier for the bass to find your lure so picking "loud" contrasting colors like whites, chartreuse, or something like a straight black to create a vivid silhouette will help alert bass of your bait.

Lure Colors Choices For Water Clarity

A general guideline for choosing lure colors based on water clarity. These are ranges and have some overlap. For example, 2 foot of water clarity is considered heavily stained and also a bit murky.
Water Clarity Visibility Note
Clear 4+ feet
  • At 4 feet water may be slightly stained.
  • Natural colors usually better in clearer waters.
Stained 2-5 feet
  • 2 feet would be heavily stained
  • 5 feet would be lightly stained
Murky 1-3 feet
  • "Loud" or contrasting colors like white & chartreuse are usually best.
Muddy 0-1 feet
  • Bass can't see well and rely on other senses like vibrations.

Water clarity can change from day to day and even in different sections of a lake or pond. So make sure you carry a couple of different colors of a lure with you.

Remember that if you can't see your lure in a foot of water, it's unlikely the bass can see it. If your lure matches the color of the water then it's essentially camouflaged and the bass may not know your lure is even there.

Match The Hatch

You've probably heard it before, but what does it mean to "Match the hatch?"

Matching the hatch means to match the lure presentation to the food bass are eating. When bass are feeding on bait fish like shad or bluegill, it's considered best to try and match both the size and color of the bait fish. The same goes for when bass are feeding on crawfish.

To match shad colors you can use whites with chartreuse, orange, or red highlights.

For bluegill, you can use blues, purples, greens, and yellow with a hint of orange or chartreuse. There are many different colored bream fish, but green pumpkin and watermelon are great base colors for matching bluegill.

Crawfish can vary in colors and shades, but are most often a deep moss green. Using colors like green pumpkin, browns, and oranges work well to mimic crawdad colors.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best bass lure to use right now can be challenging for a beginner. Professional bass fishermen make dozens of considerations when choosing what type and color of lure to use at any given moment. But for the beginner, keeping your lure selection process simple is key to learning how to catch bass.

It's best to try to match the hatch when picking the type of lure, color, and size, especially in clear waters. But when the water is muddy or heavily stained, you may need to turn up the volume and reach for louder colors, rattles, flashes, and vibrations to alert the bass and bait them to bite your lure.