As a professional angler, part of my job is to adopt whatever new baits I believe will help me sack more bass. However, I don’t want them to replace baits that have proven to be consistent bass catchers for decades.
The key is to integrate new baits with the tried and true. Here’s my take on five bass baits that will never die.
When it comes to flipping flooded bushes, laydowns and other wood cover, you can’t beat a jig for consistency. That is never going to change.
Soft plastic flipping baits tend to cycle through. The latest hot soft flipping bait seems to catch them better than the one that was the deal three years ago. Denny Brauer was slamming bass on a flipping jig when I was a little kid. It still slams them today.
For one thing, a jig imitates a crawfish extremely well, which will always be on the menu for bass in shallow water. And there’s probably something about how that skirt undulates in the water when you work it in heavy cover that bass can’t resist. I’ll always have flipping jigs in my boat. You’d be at a huge disadvantage not to do likewise.
A walking bait
In my opinion, a dog-walking bait is the best topwater of them all. It has been duping bass for roughly 100 years, and it’s just as deadly now as it ever was. Bass never get wise to it.
You can’t say that for other topwater baits. Over the past five years, several new topwater plugs have made a big splash. Their bass appeal is already fading away, but the walking bait keeps going strong.
The side-to-side sashay of a walking bait is just so natural that bass never get accustomed to it. The surface noise the bait makes is also a very natural sound.
That’s not true of topwater baits that come on strong and then fade away. The noise they make excites bass when these lures first come out, but the bass quickly learn to avoid them because they don’t produce a natural sound.
In my opinion a Senko is the best soft bait ever made. What makes this bait so good is that it has a quivering action when it sinks that can’t be duplicated with any other bait. That subtle action is something that bass see a lot from minnows, bluegills and other young baitfish.
There’s a time and place for worms that move water, like a worm with a big paddle tail or a curly tail. But the Senko has a realistic profile and doesn’t move a lot of water. It catches both active (feeding) and neutral (non-feeding) bass, and that’s something not many baits can do.
The hard jerkbait has been around for ages, but its bass appeal has never faded. Every year it produces multiple tournament wins and high finishes for pro anglers and weekend warriors.
It has that side-to-side action of a walking bait, except it struts its stuff beneath the surface. On days when bass don’t want to commit to a topwater bait you can catch them with a jerkbait.
For years, the traditional way of thinking, especially for me, was that a jerkbait was only good for catching suspended fish in cold water. I used to put my jerkbaits down once the water got pretty warm in the spring. But over the last several years, Elite pros like Kelley Jaye have opened people’s eyes to fishing a jerkbait all year long. I’ve learned that a jerkbait will play with shallow bass anytime you have decent water clarity.
A deep crankbait
A deep diving crankbait has been jacking bass offshore for decades and will always be one of the best ways to catch bass out off the bank.
I can’t say that about many other baits for deep bass. Swimbaits, big flutter spoons and hair jigs are nowhere near as effective now as they were three or four years ago because bass have seen too many of them.
But when you burn a big crankbait through a school of bass, it still rouses them to react to it. They get in competition for it. And when one eats it, the others fire up and you can catch multiple fish very quickly.
Nothing can beat a big crankbait for covering water fast and for deflecting off cover to spark a reaction strike. The more casts I make to bass offshore the better my odds for success.
Just remember to mix in the “tried and true” with the “latest and greatest” when it comes to bait selection and you will put more fish in the boat.