Spring is most bass anglers’ favorite season, because fish are often at their fattest and most active. However, springtime fishing conditions change quickly, and anglers who fail to change with them will have hard days on the water. There are brief windows when it can be easy pickings, but things change so much week to week, day to day, and even hour to hour, that anglers who fail to change with them can be left behind. Sometimes that requires moving to a different depth range or another part of the lake altogether, but even that might not be enough if you’re not using the right lure.
Of course, the best spring bass lures can vary depending on what part of the country you’re fishing, and which species of bass you target. But with the following six choices, you’ll have a lure for every condition during this transitional time, no matter where you fish.
- Size: 4 1/3 inches, ½ ounce
- Unique design: Balancer system for long casts
- Must-have colors: French Pearl, Elegy Bone, GG Illusion Tennessee Shad
Why It Made the Cut
The biggest females need to feed before the rigors of spawning, but don’t expend too much energy to get the job done. That’s why a suspending or slow-floating jerkbait that taunts them and represents an easy meal is a prime choice, and this one is a favorite of the pros.
- Huge selection of colors
- Comes with premium hooks
- Casts like a bullet
- Substantial price tag for a single lure
The Vision 110 may now be widely available at retail prices, but a decade ago desperate anglers would pay triple figures for this jerkbait on the secondary market. The demand was so insane because it offers an easy-to-manipulate, distinctive darting action that calls fish from a distance or goads those nearby into striking. It’s a year-round tool, but few lures beat it in cold water situations thanks to its precision engineering. Sometimes the strikes come on the pause, just a subtle “tick” in a slack line, and other times the fish will literally try to pull the rod out of your hands. Fortunately, the lure comes with special sticky-sharp outbarb hooks.
It comes at a premium price tag, but hundreds of thousands of dollars in tournament winnings prove the Vision 110’s value. Get in the boat of any serious tournament pro and he or she is likely to have a stash of them from across the color spectrum.
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Best Lure for Searching for Concentrations: Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap
Size: ¼, ½, ¾, 1 ounce
Unique design: Narrow body can be ripped from grass
Must-have colors: Chrome Blue Back, Rayburn Red Craw, Gold
Why It Made the Cut
There may be more recent entrants to the lipless crankbait field, but the Original Rat-L-Trap offers more size and color combinations than any other, and it’s a proven winner. It allows anglers to cover water fast and trigger bites. It may be at its best around vegetation, triggering strikes when you rip it free, but don’t hesitate to fish it in open water, too, where it replicates the look of just about any baitfish that swims.
- Great consistency
- Can be fished in wide range of depths
- Some chrome finishes flake off after use
The Rat-L-Trap has a simple, hydrodynamic design that hasn’t changed in decades, simply because it works. The lure’s sloped nose and baitfish-shaped body produce a tight wobble, and the loud BBs inside create a ruckus. You can yo-yo it, burn it, or utilize a stop-and-go presentation to get fish to bite, and it calls them from a long way off to investigate.
Like “Kleenex” or “Coke,” a “trap” has become the universal term for lipless crankbaits. The reason for that is simple—it works from coast to coast.
Size: 3 inches, 4 inches, 4.5 inches
Unique design: Patented Rage claws move a lot of water
Must-have colors: Pearl, Watermelon Red Flake, Junebug
Why It Made the Cut
Sometimes, spawning bass need to be incited to strike. This requires placing a lure in a remarkably small zone. If you present something too big, they’ll pick it up and move it away without getting near the hook. A smaller craw style lure creates a big enough profile to threaten them while also maximizing your catch rate. Whether you’re finessing them or need to go in with an oversized hook, there’s a Rage Craw that fits your purpose.
- Versatility, can also be used as a jig trailer or in a swimming presentation
- Durable soft plastic
- Wide range of color choices
Strike King’s popular Rage Tail series of lures are meant to produce maximum action with minimal forward movement. Place this in a bed and the claws-up posture will lead to strikes. The Strike King Rage Craw’s body is soft enough to keep bass holding on, but durable enough to hold up against multiple bites.
The Rage Craw’s versatility makes it a necessity for every tackle box 12 months out of the year. Fished fast or slow, on another bait, or by itself, it perfectly replicates the favorite protein-packed food of every bass.
Size: 3 inches, 4 inches, 5, inches, 6 inches, 7 inches
Unique design: Looks like a Bic pen poured in plastic
Must-have colors: Green Pumpkin, Watermelon with Black and Red Flake, Black with Red Flake
Why It Made the Cut
Since the Senko was introduced over two decades ago, nearly every other manufacturer has tried to knock it off, but none have perfectly copied or improved upon it. Something about the original formulation produces a tantalizing side-to-side wiggle that fish everywhere cannot wait to inhale.
- Salty plastic formula makes it heavy enough to cast without weight
- Wide range of sizes and colors available
- Simple to rig and use
- More expensive than competitors
The Senko may be one of the most unlikely lure successes in modern history, as it resembles almost nothing found in nature—but this simple soft plastic has changed the face of fishing. Whether you’re targeting bushes, rocks, standing timber, or bluffs, pitch it close to cover and then do just about nothing. Suddenly, you’ll notice your line move away with a fish that has inhaled it. It’s often that simple. While it comes in a lot of colors, you can stick to the basics in most situations, and the middle 5-inch size will cover a wide array of scenarios.
Whether Texas Rigged, Neko Rigged, wacky rigged, or fished on a dropshot, the original Senko makes beginners into winners and makes experts even better. This is a lure where less is often more, and letting natural currents work your lure can be more productive than implementing a lot of extraneous action.
Best Spring Bass Lure for Eliciting a Reaction Bite: Z-Man Evergreen Jackhammer
Size: 3/8, ½, ¾, 1 ¼ ounces
Unique design: Premium components throughout
Must-have colors: Fire craw, Green Pumpkin, white
Why It Made the Cut
When the Chatterbait came out about 15 years ago, it reinvigorated bass that could name and reject every spinnerbait in the book. There’s something about the hard vibration that drives fish crazy, and the newer version knocks harder and results in better hookups.
- Patented design allows head and blade to make knocking sound
- Thin stainless steel blade
- Gamakatsu heavy wire hook
- Costs two to three times as much as the competitor
The Jackhammer, now produced by the same company as the Original Chatterbait, took the basic vibrating jig design and upgraded every element of it. From a hand-tied silicone skirt to the natural-style head, everything about this lure screams premium, and, despite the price, retailers can’t keep them on shelves. Like the Rat-L-Trap, above, they excel when ripped free from vegetation. However, the Jackhammer offers more of a “hunting” action that deflects off of all kinds of cover and provokes fish to bite. By changing up the size, shape and color of your trailer, it offers multiple baits in one.
Not everyone is prepared to pay a premium price for a lure that can be had for substantially less, but hundreds of thousands of dollars in tournament wins speak for themselves. You can sometimes go behind someone throwing a different vibrating jig and mop up fish they miss thanks to the Jackhammer’s enticing frequency and better hookup percentage.
Best Bass Lure for Catching a True Spring Giant: Storm Arashi Glide
Size: 7 inches, 3 1/8 ounce
Unique design: Includes snap and extra tail to maintain perfect swimming action
Must-have colors: Blue Back Herring, Rainbow Trout, Oikawa Mesu
Why It Made the Cut
For years glide baits were one of the pros’ well-kept secrets, and many anglers thought you had to spend hundreds of dollars to get one that worked right. This one beats many of the all-time favorites at a price closer to the range of the average angler.
- Reasonable price
- Natural color schemes
- Easy to work straight out of the package
- Large size may require specialized tackle
Single jointed gliders get follows from big bass, and if worked properly an angler can turn those follows into personal bests. Two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk designed this one to be easy to work even for novices and to dance in the hands of a big bait veteran. He added all of the little touches that some of the competitors lack, like swiveling hook hangers to prevent a jumping or surging fish from throwing the lure and leaving you heartbroken.
If you’ve been meaning to get into the big bait game this is an ideal entry point. The Arashi Glide gives the average angler a legitimate shot at the biggest bass in the lake while not ruling out “tournament sized” or “keeper fish.”
Q: What do largemouth eat in early spring?
In the early spring, bass eat a variety of prey in order to fatten up before spawning. Of course, their diet depends partially on what is available, but they tend to favor high-protein meals like crawfish, shad, or bluegills. Regional forage, like stocked rainbow trout (particularly in California) or yellow perch in northern water, can also play a role in their diets.
Q: What colors do bass like in the spring?
The best lure colors for bass in the spring should mimic local forage, but you also need to consider water color. In clearer water, use more realistic and natural patterns. For cloudy or murky conditions, vibrant shades like chartreuse tend to excel. Red—particularly on hard baits and vibrating jigs—works well in all water colors, particularly around submerged aquatic vegetation.
Q: What is the best lure for bass in the morning?
Many anglers think that topwaters are the best bass lures to use in the morning. However, bass may not break the surface during early or cold springtime conditions. Instead, they may want slower presentations as they wait for warmer water temps. Anglers can still trigger a reaction bite with a vibrating jig or lipless crankbait, but a slow slithering Senko or jig can also do major damage early in the day.
I picked the best spring bass lures that would cover the gamut of water temperatures from immediately after ice out into the post spawn period. I made my picks after years of fishing with professional bass anglers and interviewing them about the lures they use—and why they use them—spring after spring. Recognizing that no two bass fisheries are alike, or contain the exact same forage base, I focused on lures with universal appeal and quality components, so that you just need to find the fish and then narrow it down to what they want.
Things to Consider
Price is always a consideration as you build a personal array of tackle, and while several of these selections are pricey, none will break your bank account. If you’re just getting into bass fishing, you can get by with a few bags of Senko worms to fish around.
Final Thoughts on the Best Spring Bass Lures
The list of color offerings for lures might seem overwhelming, but focus on proven colors that match the hatch in your chosen fishing spots. Whether you’re a new or experienced angler, you can feel confident hitting the water with these lures in your tackle.