There’s no denying that Bass is one of the best freshwater fish in the United States to catch, and if you’re using the best bait for Bass, your chances will be much higher. However, without the right best bait for bass or bass fish bait, targeting Bass can be extremely difficult.
Bass is great for both inexperienced and experienced anglers, providing a great fight on the correct tackle with explosive runs and violent head shakes once hooked.
The good news is that if you know the right bait to catch Bass and use weather and fishing conditions to your advantage, you can clean up on these abundant freshwater fish.
In the following article on the best baits for Bass fishing, we’ll cover:
Even the best Bass anglers need a little help now and then, especially when you’re fishing in a new location away from home. Thanks to the Fishbox App, you’ll have reliable and accurate weather forecasting information at your fingertips, just a swipe away.
Expert Opinion on the Best Baits for Bass Fishing
16 years fishing experience
““What are your go-to bass baits?” This is a question I get asked all the time and I definitely feel like breaking down my response to this question could help out bass anglers everywhere. The article does a great job explaining the various types of baits for bass and why they are chosen, but I want to provide you with some of my personal favorite bass baits that have yielded results time and time again. To make this easier, I’ll break my bait into two main categories: natural bait and artificial bait. First, natural bait. If on the off chance I am fishing for bass with a natural bait, it will, 100% of the time, be a live bluegill hooked through the back under a bobber or rigged with just a hook. Now you’re gonna hear the argument that live worms work, but I personally believe (and have seen) that there is far too much bycatch, especially little panfish. Using a live bluegill allows me to “narrow my target audience” if you will to only bass and potentially catfish—much better than two-inch bluegill stealing my precious nightcrawlers. In addition to narrowing species, the live bluegill also narrows the size of the bass you will catch depending on the size of the bluegill you use. Use a smaller bluegill, you can catch smaller bass and up. Use a bigger bluegill, only the bigger bass can fit the bluegill in its mouth. Second, artificial baits. I’m going to break this down further into a bait for each of these three subcategories for each part of the water column: top, middle, and bottom. Let’s start with my favorite bait for topwater: the popper. I was pretty against topwater fishing for a long time, but in recent years, both topwater fishing and poppers have started to grow on me. There’s simply no way to describe the feeling of that bite on topwater—especially a popper. These baits, when fished correctly, can pull bass out of the water that you didn’t even know were there. Fish a popper either early morning or late afternoon into dusk for best results. Next, for the middle of the water column: the lipless crankbait. In my opinion, it is not only one of the best bass baits of all time, but one of the best fishing baits of all time. Because of the style of how you fish this lure—a medium to fast retrieve—you can cover tons of water. In addition, lipless crankbaits can be thrown in just about any depth as long as it’s not too shallow. For me, lipless crankbaits are my go-to in the summer as the fast action often instigates a strike from the energic bass. Lastly, at the bottom of the water column: is the Texas-rigged finesse worm. You simply cannot beat the action and versatility of a finesse worm on the structure on the bottom. The Texas-rig allows for the worm to bounce off the structure, weaving in and out of the bass’s home territory. I fish these year-round normally, but I fish them very heavily in spring and early summer when bass spawn. I hope my experiences with these baits can help you in your future fishing endeavors and as always, tight lines! “
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Identifying the Best Bass Baits
Answering the question, ‘What is the best Bass bait?’ involves analyzing many factors, including habitat, weather conditions, Bass species, and environment.
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Catfish might be slow lurkers in the rivers and lakes, but Bass are the true predators, ready to burst from cover and ambush whatever bait or food is close to their hiding spots.
It’s essential to remember size when you’re trying to catch Bass. Despite being voracious feeders and predators, smaller Bass will still target smaller fish. So, if most of the Bass in the waterway you’re fishing in are on the smaller size, then you’ll need to use smaller baits if you want to catch them.
Bass will eat most things in the environment around them, which is good news for anglers.
Below are the common types of food that Bass will regularly eat:
- Crawfish, Snails, and other small crustaceans.
- Worms, Grasshoppers, Crickets, Caterpillars, and other Insects.
- Baitfish, including Shad and Minnows.
- Smaller Bass.
- Frogs and even Ducklings!
When considering using an artificial lure instead of bait, you want to closely mimic what Bass are eating in the water you’re fishing. If there are a lot of baitfish around, then pick an artificial lure that closely resembles the baitfish, and you stand a good chance of catching lots of big Bass!
Another factor that you need to consider when choosing the best bait to catch Bass is the time-of-day influence on Bass behavior. When the baitfish are more active in the early morning, they are out and about feeding, so you should consider that when selecting your bait.
At dusk, a time when Bass are in their most aggressive state and insects are in that active twilight activity time, flying nighttime insects will make a great choice when selecting bait for bass fishing.
Even though Bass aren’t overly active or feed aggressively during the warmer and brighter midday hours, preferring to hide in cover, grasshoppers are a great choice of Bass fish bait.
So, consider the time of the day and also what the weather is doing. If you want to maximize your chances of catching a big Bass, you need to fish when the Bass are most active. If you want some premium weather advice that will help you plan the best time to be on the water, then check out the Fishbox App. This premium Fishing Forecasting App will help you identify the best times to go fishing in your state or local area and also tell you when you’re better off relaxing at home and cleaning the boat or rigging some new tackle.
Understanding Bass Attraction
Bass are opportunistic predatory hunters, so the chances are high that if you are fishing in a location with many Bass and put your bait in front of where a Bass is lurking in its cover position, it will bite. However, different Bass prefer different baits, and not all baits are considered to be the best Bass fishing baits.
Before using any of these baits for Bass fishing, check the regulations of the waterway you plan on fishing. Some waterways may have regulations in place that prevent you from transporting live bait from one area to another.
An example of this is Colorado, which has regulations in place that govern their ‘Gold Medal Waters,’ where you can’t use any live bait at all. Many states have introduced similar regulations governing their freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers, so check before you fish.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the most popular live Bass fish bait and which Bass species they appeal to most:
- Worms – Most freshwater anglers are familiar with using worms for bass fishing bait, along with many other common freshwater fish species. Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Spotted Bass will all be attracted to a worm, and bycatch will include species such as Trout, Bluegill, Catfish, and Walleye. Worms can be found around your home or purchased from most bait shops if you plan a Bass fishing trip.
- Minnows – Live Minnows are an excellent choice for the best bait to catch Bass and can either be purchased live from a bait shop or caught in a net. However, check your local regulations before netting for Minnows. Remember the size of the Bass you’re targeting. While bigger Minnows will appeal to bigger Bass, they’ll probably be ignored by smaller fish, so consider the environment you’re fishing in and the average size of the fish in the area.
- Crayfish/Crawfish – Crayfish and Crawfish make excellent live bait for Bass fishing, especially if you’re targeting large Bass. These baits will be a little more challenging to find yourself, but most bait shops should be able to source them for you if they don’t already stock them.
- Frogs – While frogs make excellent Bass bait, you need to pay close attention to the size of the frog you’re using. While a small frog will be gobbled up by a hungry Bass, a large Bullfrog will most likely be ignored.
Understanding what bait is best for Bass is the first part of the problem solved, knowing when to use bait to catch bass instead of artificial lures is the next. While using baits for Bass will deliver some surprising results, you’re also more likely to catch other fish species in the process.
So, if you’re using live baits for bass and getting a lot of other fish species taking your bait, such as Catfish, Crappie, or Perch, you may want to consider switching to an artificial lure such as a spinner or crankbait.
Best Baits for Specific Conditions
When you’re deciding on which baits you’re going to be using, you need to consider the water, location, and environment you’ll be fishing in.
There are a lot of different natural conditions where Bass is going to be found, but smaller fish will generally be more abundant in shallow water sources such as streams and rivers. Big bass will be found in deep ponds and lakes or rivers where there are larger bodies of water that don’t have much rushing water and shallow rapids to navigate.
Remember, Bass are ambush fish. They prefer to find a location where they can sit in cover and then ambush their prey when it comes to them.
- Streams and Small Rivers – Small minnows and bait fish are good Bass bait for shallow streams and rivers, along with worms or nightcrawlers. Small Crayfish are also an option, but pay attention to the size of the bait you’re using.
- Large Rivers – Small minnows, Crayfish, and worms are effective Bass baits in large rivers. You can also consider small frogs if you have access to them.
- Large Ponds, Dams, and Lakes – This is where the big Bass live, so you’ll want to consider upsizing your bait in these larger bodies of water. Baitfish, Crayfish, and frogs will pay dividends here, and if you’re chasing big Bass and happy to pass up on smaller Bass, consider upsizing your bait, hooks, and tackle.
Fishing Techniques Using Top Baits
Above, we covered the best bait to use for Bass fishing, and now we’re going to take a closer look at the best way to rig these Bass baits to increase your chances of landing a big Bass.
While you could throw any bait on a hook, cast it into the water, and catch a Bass, understanding how to rig the best Bass baits in the right way will significantly increase your catch rate and save you a lot of wasted time sitting in your boat or on the bank waiting for the bite that never comes.
Below are the best ways to rig Bass baits as recommended by Bass pro anglers from across the country. Most of these Bass bait presentations and rigging techniques are beginner-friendly and don’t require a lot of practice to master.
Baitfish – Herring | Minnows | Shiners
Rigging Your Baitfish
You have a lot of options when it comes to how you rig your baitfish for Bass. However, you want your baitfish to look natural in the water. When you’re targeting Largemouth Bass, the most common method is to rig the baitfish through both lips from the bottom, bringing the hook out through the top lip of the baitfish. Another method is to hook the baitfish just below the dorsal fin. However, you can damage the baitfish using this method, and if you notice that your baitfish isn’t moving much, you’ll need to replace it with another fish.
Baitfish Fishing Method
The most popular and effective method of using baitfish for Bass is to rig your live bait under a bobber and then cast it as close as possible to any structure where Bass will be lying in wait to ambush their prey. The bobber will prevent your live bait from sinking to the bottom, keeping it alive longer.
Crawfish | Crayfish | Crawdads
Rigging Your Crayfish
Largemouth Bass are well-known for devouring tasty-looking Crayfish, and a good-looking Crawfish is one Bass bait that professional Bass anglers swear by. Pick a hook in proportion to the size of the Crayfish and hook it through the tail. Remember, the key is to match the hook size to the Crayfish.
Crayfish Fishing Method
Cast your Crayfish as close to the cover as possible and consider the natural environment. Look for rocks or vegetation where a Crayfish would naturally be, and then let your Crayfish do the work.
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Worms | Nightcrawlers | Leaches
Rigging Your Worms
Worms are a particularly good bait for catching Bass if you’re fishing with new Bass anglers, beginners, or young children. The trick with fishing worms is to use an appropriately sized hook, not too big for the worms you’re using. Thread the hook through the tip of the worm. Try not to kill the worm in the process. You still want it to wriggle around.
Worms Fishing Method
Fishing for Bass with worms will require switching to lighter tackle and rods. Remember, worms aren’t big or heavy, and you still need to be able to cast them effectively. You can float your worm under a bobber or jig it up and down with a small split shot weight to get some added casting distance.
Rigging Your Frog
Using frogs for Bass fishing bait could be among the best yet most underrated Bass fishing baits ever. It’s not the most beginner-friendly method of catching Bass, but it can be a very effective method of catching big monster Bass. The best way to rig your frog is with a wide hook, adding a split shot weight about a foot above the bait. Run the hook through the forelegs of the frog so the frog can still swim freely.
Frog Fishing Method
You want to cast your frog near cover such as vegetation, rocks, branches hanging into the water, or lily pads. If your frog isn’t getting any attention, try jigging the rod, which will cause your bait to move erratically.
What Do Bass Eat? Exploring the Best Baits for Bass Fishing – Conclusion
Thanks for checking out the best bait for bass guide. If you’re planning on targeting Bass in the United States, now you’ll have a good understanding of what is the best bait for bass and which baits are going to catch more Bass.
While Bass is an aggressive predatory fish, it doesn’t mean you throw any bait in the water and expect to catch a record-breaking Bass. Understanding good fishing bait for Bass and what kind of bait Bass like is the key to increasing your catch rate.
Pro Tip – If you’re using live bait and getting a lot of bycatch from other freshwater fish species, and you know there’s a lot of Bass in the area you’re fishing, switch to an artificial lure like a spinner or crankbait. While using bait to catch Bass is effective, sometimes pressure from other fish species, such as Perch, Walleye, and Crappie, can make bait fishing for Bass a tedious process.
When it comes to choosing the right time to go Bass fishing, even seasoned anglers need a little bit of assistance, especially when you’re fishing in a new area and you’re unfamiliar with local conditions. The Fishbox App will give you tips about where local anglers are fishing for Bass and getting good results and the best time to hit the water based on Premium Weather Forecasting and fish behavioral analysis recommendations.
If you have been using bait effectively to catch big Bass and would like to share tips for the best Bass baits and how to rig them, then drop a comment below! We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the best Bass fishing bait.