Spotted bass are not targeted by anglers near as much as their close cousins which are the largemouth and smallmouth. While all three of them are members of the black bass family, they are closely related to sunfish. Differently, they all three have a predator instinct and prey drive that sets them well apart from any bluegill or shellcracker from your local farm pond. Spotted bass in particular have a poor reputation in comparison to the other two. For this reason, it makes it hard to figure out the best lures for spotted bass partly because not as many people fish for them. Many more anglers are into catching the other members of the black bass family.
The first thing you need to understand about deciphering what baits to bring with you is that you do not need some special or custom made lures to catch them. You really don’t. In fact, many of the bass baits you likely already have will work just fine, especially if you fish for largemouth or smallies regularly. There are a few different lure styles that you can buy if you don’t have them already. One great thing for you (the angler) is that these fish are opportunistic feeders and a lot less selective in what they choose to eat. They are different with their food.
Anything that even somewhat resembles what they naturally eat will get eaten much more often than it would by a smallmouth or largemouth bass. That means your focus and the sole aim should be to cover more water quickly and not get as caught up in bait selection as you typically would for the other two. The best lures for largemouth will usually be sufficient. You just need to cut the size down some. As long as it fits inside the mouth of the fish, it should work well.
How To Choose The Right Spotted Bass Lure For You
Since you now know that fishing lures for Spots are fairly simple and basic, now you should consider a few key factors before picking one up. While you may get bit on one or many lures throughout the day, one can be better. These better ones are often more specific for a certain situation. Let it be known. The Spotted Bass have smaller mouths. The mouth is so small that smaller offerings are key. The size of the mouth does not change much at all regardless of size. A five pounder will have around the same mouth size as a one or a two pounder.
This is important to understand. While the other things about choosing baits are helpful, size is absolutely critical. If a fish hits a bait that is to large, it will be difficult to hook it. To clear any confusion, this does not mean that they will not hammer bigger baits. They will but it has to be enticing enough. You have to make them want to give chase. It has to be worth their time and effort. After you have chosen a size, you are ready to consider the next criteria.
Temperature is one of those things that must not be overlooked in any cases. In cold water, you need to fish slower and throw baits that move more naturally. As it warms up, you can be sure to throw more aggressive reaction baits like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and topwater walkers. Spots will not like to give chase in situations where they must expend energy without having to. Weather affects fishing and needs to be considered before you even choose a color or style. The fish needs to be able to see the bait and react to it if it wants to. Consider it first.
What do you do when you go on a fishing trip and see that the water is full of mud? Give up and go home? You can but a good trip is still possible. The water clarity may be lacking but this is why color choices are important. In the darkest water, you are better off trying the darkest colors. Colors such as jet black, navy blue, green pumpkin, and junebug can be great for casting a visible silhouette that the fish can easily see. These are attractive at far distances. Closer up in dirty water, I like to throw colors like chartreuse, fire tiger, white, and yellows. Natural colors work best in clear water.
Always remember to choose fishing lures that mimic actual, live, prey. Preferably, that prey should be what bass mainly eat. This will give you the best chance of hooking into something nice. Luckily for you, it does not have to be an exact match. As long as it looks something like real food, it is just a matter of fishing it right on the retrieve. You must find when they bite and for what reason. Understand this and repeat it to get more strikes in short order. Modify it if you have to.
Probably the most effective style of bait which will work pretty much everywhere is a swimbait. In other words, a very realistic imitation of a smaller fish. Spots have a tendency to chase the baitfish around, clean them out, and move to another spot. Swimbaits are preferred because they excel in cold water as well as in warmer weather. You can cover the water very quickly with them. Whether you should use a hard version or a soft version has more to do with where you will be fishing.
Harder swimbaits usually have exposed treble hooks and are more for getting catches from the middle of the water column. Soft plastic swimbaits excel in getting fish off the very bottom, as most have a single hook on the top of the lure. This will get snagged a lot less often if it ever does. Also, since they have smaller mouths than the Largemouth and Smallmouth, you should try to downsize the one you throw. They do not get extremely huge around the mouth region and the size of the mouth is almost identical on a two-pounder compared to a five-pounder.
Treble hooks on hard swimbaits make hooking them easier. They naturally feed on the same things as most other predators. For every species of black bass, their main diet is usually small baitfish like threadfin shad, gizzard shad, fathead minnows, golden shiners, and sunfish. Make sure to match the color of your swimbaits accordingly. Just swimming them through the water will cover a lot of it very quickly. Learning how to fish swimbaits is something you should consider worth it.
Our Top Pick: If you want a great imitation of a baitfish that looks and feels incredible to the fish, look no further than the Keitech Swing Impact paddle tail. This particular bait is a soft plastic version and is different from hard swimbaits. Be sure to match the colors correctly. Choose a size that will match the size of the actual bait in the water for the best result. Even at very slow speeds, the tail is kicking around and is very enticing. The ribbed body displaces water to a degree and it gives the lure a very unique action which big fish associate with food. The ribbed body of this paddle tail has a very unique water displacement as it moves through the water. We also like that the plastic is extremely durable compared to other similar competitors. Because of this, you will get much more catches off of each lure body. They are also filled with salt for balance. They have a great squid scent inside of the plastic which makes it more attractive.
2. Stick Baits
A stick bait is a worm lure that has a straight body. I never refuse to have some make or model of straight worm, senko, or stick bait tied onto one of my rods. They are just so versatile. You can rig them a number of different ways. You can rig them wacky style, Texas, mount it on a shaky head, etc. These are more effective when you have found a school of fish and do not have to search for them. This lure style is fished very slowly so it excels in fishing the very cold water temperatures which can make Spotted Bass fishing annoying. When that happens, you pick up a straight worm. Regardless of what size of fish you are going after, it will work the same for pretty much all of them. The bait has an action that is extremely attractive. They work very well in the Summer to late fall when the water starts off warm and starts to cool down. Even so, they are also great at any time of the year. When the bite is tough, especially when lakes are half frozen, it forces you to fish slower. This is one of the baits to always have tied on in cold water because the action is barely anything. Enough to attract fish to come over for an easy meal and nowhere near enough to spook them away.
Our Top Pick: Many people are already aware that the Gary Yamamoto Yamasenko is simply one of the greatest soft plastic bait bodies of all time and for many reasons. When you have found the fish, you can rig this awesome stick bait on a Texas Rig, a Carolina Rig, a wacky setup, and other ways. This stick bait can be an especially effective producer for predators who are chasing down baitfish, crayfish, worms, leeches, or snakes. Couple this with its great action. It does not have to much action of its own but it is just enough to trigger cold water as well as warmer water fish to come out of hiding. Throw them on a 3/0 worm hook and let it fall on a semi-slack line. More about fishing Senko baits here. This worm has been the option of choice for many anglers when everything else fails to work. This is the bait you should turn to catch pressured fish.
3. Tubes/Creature Baits
This next category of fishing lures actually includes a couple of soft plastic lure bodies and not just one. One of the most influential lure bodies is the bass tube, which can be mounted on a jig head, a Texas rig or as a trailer on a finesse jig. While tubes lack a ton of action by themselves, one fished properly in the right color can become your successor for the day. The reason for including creature baits under this category with tubes is because they can be rigged pretty much the same ways and can be used interchangeably depending on how much action you want of out it. Creature baits like soft plastic craws have varying degrees of action and can be adapted. Craw trailers, as well as other creatures baits like soft plastic lizards, make a great way to show the fish something new. As far as appendages go, things can get a little bit funky. So many crazy designs and actions for creature baits or craw trailers have been created that it is almost impossible to not find one that will work for you. Lure manufacturers are coming out with new designs for these all the time. The great thing is you may not have to worry about which one is the best to use. As stated earlier, the targeted species are opportunistic feeders and your selection of lure has more to do with how much action, water displacement, and water you can cover. They will swim up and choke down pretty much every single one on the market.
Our Top Pick: The best bait that we have found to cover this category is the Dry Creek Tournament Tube. This is a do-everything type of tube. It has everything everybody would ever need in one. You can rig them on a jig head as well as Texas rig them. They perform very well. Another popular trend is to use them in place of a craw trailer on a chatterbait, buzzbait, or spinnerbait. Fish these slower to start off with and try bouncing them off the bottom. Although normally associated with Smallmouth and Largemouth fishing, they make an excellent choice for Spots. The plastic on these is a little firmer thus more durable than on other tubes. The amount of colors available for them is a nice perk to have as well. They are a great way to imitate crayfish as well as Bluegill, Round Goby, and rodents. Just make sure to change the color.
4. Topwater Spooks/Walkers
During the season of Summer and all the way into early and late fall, you may catch a whole lot more fish on topwater. When they pounce on the surface at topwater baits, it normally means that they are trying to fatten up themselves to ensure that they survive the long, harsh, frigid cold waters that the season of Winter has to bring. Understand how weather affects fishing and change your game. When fish are 15 feet below the surface or less and in the mood, they will come up and attack spooks and other walking baits so hard that they almost always hook themselves. Having a few exposed treble hooks is a great idea just in case they cannot fully engulf such a beefy lure. You can throw these when they are chasing baitfish like Shad and minnows with a matching color. It looks exactly like a Shad trying to swim back down but can’t because it has an enlarged air bladder. When fish see this, they normally associate fish on the surface to being injured, sick, or dying. Fishing spooks is a great way to cover water quickly and can even be used as a search and find option. Some have propellers (called props) and some don’t. We recommend giving both a try and see which ones work best for you in the water where you fish.
Our Top Pick: The best spook we have found is the Heddon Zara Spook. Despite all of the other spooks on the market, they wouldn’t be if this one never was. This one is the original topwater walking plug and still the best one on the market. It is effective too. It features a long and lean body designed for that walk-the-dog action. It also comes in enough colors to match anything you want to imitate on topwater. Shad, Bluegill, baby Bass, you name it. It can copy it. The Zara Spook is respected for its unique, topwater, action. The action of the Zara is personal. Many times, competitors have tried to copy what makes it so effective at getting predators to pounce on this topwater. Every time, they have fallen just short. The Zara is copied by many but never duplicated. That is what makes it so unique. No other competing walker has quite grasped the action. It has inspired many competing baits to be manufactured but few are better than this original.
Tried and true to run fast, crankbaits are the reaction bait of choice for many professional anglers, including myself. There is so much you can accomplish by throwing deep divers or square bills colored similar to bait, that you just cannot get anywhere else.
Squarebills run in the more shallow to the mid-depth range while those with a longer round lip dive much deeper. The best thing about throwing any crankbaits is the versatility they offer. They do not move very naturally, yet they still hold fish down for the count out of reactionary biting. A gem in reaction lures, the fish’s ability to detect vibrations from the crankbait can be deadly.
Many people want to claim that something this aggressive can only be fished in mid to late Summer and becomes obsolete afterward. My experience has been, however, that this could not be further from the truth. I will go out and catch Spotted Bass on crankbaits even when lakes are half frozen. You don’t need warm weather to catch bass with crankbaits. They work year-round as long as there is open water.
Try experimenting with a stop and go retrieve if a straight one isn’t producing, because these should produce well for you in many situations. It is always extremely important to match the hatch for crankbaits too. They already move like a fish had a drink and got wasted. Because of this, match the natural forage as closely as possible. The fish are more likely to react to something half natural than completely foreign.
Our Top Pick: The Strike King KVD Squarebill crank is one of the best we ever have seen to catch any manner of Black Bass. Designed by elite Bass angler Kevin VanDam, it is surely effective. This is a great versatile crankbait that will work very well in most situations and dives to a medium depth. The square bill helps it bounce off the cover. It comes in a rainbow of great and effective color patterns. The square bill it has on it acts as a cover guard so it snags a lot less. It also features some of the sharpest hooks on the market which are great tagging those Spots in the mouth region, however small. This is one of Kevin’s own power fishing options. It can be used to cover a lot of water quickly. Contrary to many like it, it is also silent. It produces no noise or audio cues to speak of. This can help get you the bite if fish are used to seeing rattling crankbaits. It also comes with an oval split ring instead of a circular one. We believe this is the superior option for all crankbaits and should be the standard option.
Is There Really A Best Lure For Spotted Bass?
Unfortunately, the word best has a dictionary definition but so many fishing lures fit this definition too. If you are really worrying a ton about what the best lures for Spotted Bass are, you may be worrying about the wrong issue. The issue should not be whether the targeted species will hit a lure like those mentioned above or which one is the absolute top choice.
The question to be asked is whether these Spotted Bass tips and tricks work best where you fish and you alone. Bringing these lure choices with you can certainly help but understand that no bait artificial or otherwise works all of the time in every situation. That is just one part of what makes fishing so fun to begin with!
What do you consider to best the best lure choice for Spots? If you share a reply in a comment below, you can help other people with your comment, catch more fish, and get hooked!