Many people think legendary fishers have secret spots or methods they use to attract zounds of tasty fish. That may be true, but in the thousands of years humans have been catching swimming food, we’ve come to know the best arrangements pretty well.

Bass is perhaps the best-known sport fish in North America. That it’s good eating adds to the popularity of these lake-dwelling fish in large- and small-mouth varieties. Still, what is the best type of bait or lure to attract bass? Here are our five suggestions. 


These lures please the eye because they more closely resemble a real minnow than lots of bait on the market. Crankbaits come in different varieties. 

crankbait fishing lure

“Lipless” baits are best used with a cast and retrieve technique while “billed” baits are less likely to snag when bounced off the bottom. They come in a variety of bright colors, with red and gold the favorite of professional angler Peter Thliveros. 


If the crankbait is the beauty queen of this contest, the spinnerbait looks like Frankenstein’s monster. 


These lures get their mechanical look from a design that causes them to gyrate in the water, creating a flitting of light that can attract hungry fish. Use a lighter color in clear water or a red-chartreuse lure in muddy water. A word of caution, though, the high number of moving parts can be troublesome in water with lots of snags and vegetation. 


The Chatterbait lure, made to bounce off the bottom, is a brand-specific item that’s become the understood concept. These modified jig-style baits navigate cloudy waters well. 


Anglers like them for their lifelike behavior, as good Chatterbaits are known to veer off to one side suddenly during a slow retrieve. This herky-jerk movement resembles that of a small fish and can often be the thing that causes a big bass to strike. 


Nobody with fishing experience will be surprised to see this lure listed, as the traditional jig is a perennial favorite and quite a simple lure in its purest form. 

Fishers love conventional jigs for their versatility. You can fish them in any water temperature. Fish them straight down below the boat, bounce them off the bottom or cast and retrieve. They are competent in clear and muddy water. They don’t tend to pick up a large amount of foliage while going about their business. All in all, they’re a good-ole’ reliable lure. 

jig and twister tail

These days, jigs are seeing a comeback with anglers creating their own customized and modified arrangements like the “jig-and-pig” or swim jig. Some of these involve adding extra bait to the lure while others add lips, fins and blades to enhance in-water behavior. They’re fun and effective in the right situation, but it’s probably true that the basic jig is still the ultimate in versatility. 


This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the time-tested fishing lure that is the worm. You might wonder whether we’re talking about the live variety or the dolled-up squishy plastic “super worms.” The answer is both. 

plastic worm lure

A live nightcrawler fished off the bottom is an excellent bait because it’s, well, lifelike. It moves, smells and looks like a real worm because it is. Plus, you don’t have to go to a bait shop to get them. Just head outside after heavy rain and grab them. You can also use the worm grunting technique, where you pound a stake into the ground, rub it with a piece of flat iron and allow the vibrations to encourage worms to the surface.

If you don’t have access to nightcrawlers or need something with more size, there are great options in the way of synthetic worms. 

Choose Your Bait Wisely

There’s an old saying in fishing about how companies design lures to catch fishers, not fish. With all of the colorful, creative designs on the market, there is undoubtedly some truth to that. You’ll want to do your homework so that you can be confident when selecting what pieces go into your tackle box. Make a well-informed decision about which fishing spot you choose, use your bait correctly, and you’ll catch more fish. Good fishing to you this year.