The great freshwater bass lure debate

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BY BILL SCHAEFER

Ask a group of largemouth bass fishermen what their favorite lure is, and they will debate and argue about it for hours. Ask the bass and you will get no answer. Half of the time the bass are attacking a lure in anger or protection of their nest or young. The other half of the time they are hungry and something that looks good and tasty just passed in front of them. The fisherman rarely has a way of knowing at that defined moment of the strike.

The list of the lures for a bass fisherman to choose from is unlimited and the list would fill this entire page. The choices are endless in every different category of lure. Plastics, hard baits, soft baits, spinnerbaits, jigs, surface lures, diving lures, etc. I polled some of my Pro bass fishing buddies as well as other fishing friends and they all had a different answer. They did all agree that the time of year can change your favorite bait for that season, but you can still have an overall favorite. Let’s look at how it polled.

THE ZARA SPOOK is just one of the topwater lures bass will
literally inhale when they attack. BILL SCHAEFER PHOTO

The number one type of lure, no matter which company makes it, or what version it is, came out to be the topwater lure. More bass fishermen want to fish a topwater bite rather than almost anything else. Fishermen all agree that there is nothing more exciting then pulling into an area, finding a glassy misty surface, and throwing out that surface lure, only to have a bass suck it in the second it hits the water. Whether it is the popping of a Pop-R style lure, the walk of a Zara Spook or gliding bait, the clacking and gurgling of a buzzbait or any other buzzing top water lure, the fisherman can’t wait for that first strike. Then, the explosion of the bass flying out of the water and the battle is on.

The choice for number two was a close one. Remember, the fishermen will argue for days over this choice. It seemed the spinnerbait just edged out the number three lure in our poll. The spinnerbait is so versatile it can be fished around all types of structure; shallow, deep, or even raced across the surface. You can cover a lot of ground quickly and locate fish. You’re out on your local lake and you find a point with some new young tule growth on the tip of it. You throw your spinnerbait as far back into them as you can, let it sink a bit, and then start retrieving the lure through them, caroming off every other tule until the strike. The fishermen agreed that this lure is an exciting one to hook up on, no matter the structure.

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WITH A CRANKBAIT you can cover a lot of water and locate fish quickly. BILL SCHAEFER PHOTO

The crankbait was next, although many debated (no surprise), that this should be the number two lure in our poll. It was close, but no ties here. The crankbait can be trolled, cast in every situation, working it from shallow to deep or vice-versa, thrown in heavy cover, and can imitate almost any creature the bass might eat in your local lake. I, for one, like to fish it in the springtime. The larger females are lying out in a little deeper water waiting for prey, especially crawdads, their food of choice for spawning. I’ll crank my favorite crawdad pattern Fat Free Shad down to the bottom until the bill hits, then, go into a slower retrieve, letting it scurry, like a crawdad, across the bottom. Usually, the lure just stops when a big ole momma bass eats it!

Speaking of crawdads, our number four lure was designed to imitate just that. The pig-n-jig as it had come to be known by is just as versatile as any other lure and there are many different new variations with all the different jig and trailer companies out there. This lure, no matter where it is thrown, instantly gets a largemouth’s attention. It works just sitting on the bottom, with all its living rubber arms floating around. Put it on a flipping stick and throw it into some type of heavy cover. Put it right in the bass’ living room. The exciting part comes when the bass strikes. He wants to kill this thing he thinks is a crawdad and knows he has to hit it hard to do so. The fishermen all agreed that bass just thump this lure so hard and there is no doubt when you’re bit. Then you have to set and pull that fish out of that heavy cover.

EXAMPLES OF our top 5 lures from the Great Lure Debate. BILL SCHAEFER PHOTO

I know that at least a few of my fishing buddies are wondering if this next lure category would make this top lure list; the plastic lure. Did you notice that I didn’t say plastic worm? Categorizing this lure with worm on the end would narrow it down too much. There are so many different plastic lures out there; swimbaits, craws, flukes, a million variations of worms, as well as a list too long to mention any more of them. Think of that favorite of yours and the last exciting moment you had. You go to your best area on the lake. Throw out a Texas rigged Senko. You’re bit on the sink, set the hook! No matter which plastic you choose, as long as you have confidence you will get bit over and over.

I know that this article will be debated among some of you, and I may get a few emails because of it. It wasn’t easy to choose the order of this top 5 list, but as I said earlier, fishermen will argue for days over this. I just reported the facts and wanted to get you all thinking and talking and debating about all the great lures out there. One thing everyone I polled agreed on is that there is nothing more exciting than a bass on your line doing a tail walk across the water in front of your boat.

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