Walleye may be king here in Minnesota, but across the nation no other fish gets more attention than the largemouth bass. So, naturally, the number of lures that have been invented to catch bass probably equal all the lures for every other fish combined.
Yet even with all these choices, it only takes two to catch bass.
The classic topwater plugs synonymous with bass fishing -- Bass-O-Reno, Hula Popper, Jitterbug -- are wonderful baits, but have given way to better lures. In the 1960s and 1970s tournament anglers made the spinnerbait and Texas-rigged plastic worm famous. These lures accounted for almost every big bass being caught. Well, nothing has changed.
The reason spinnerbaits are so hot is that largemouth bass often feed near the surface in shallow water, in bullrushes or over the top of submerged weed beds. In these situations, a spinnerbait almost always is the best lure to use.
The spinnerbait is quite weedless and simple to use. Just cast it over likely looking bass cover and reel it in. The spinning blade and colorful body material provide all the action you need. If you want, you can vary your retrieve by lifting and dropping the lure as your reel it in, or you can let it "helicopter" down if the bass are deeper.
If bass aren't over submerged weed beds, they often are part way down or at the bottom of submerged weeds. A spinnerbait can be worked a few feet down these weed walls, but when the fish are deep a plastic worm becomes the better choice.
Plastic worms are buoyant and must be rigged with a weight to get down to where bass lurk near the bottom. The Texas-rigged worm uses a special hook that is impaled through the head of the worm and back into the body so it's weedless. A bullet-shaped slip sinker is placed on the line ahead of the worm, which pulls it deep.
Another method for rigging plastic worms is to use a leadhead jig and hook the worm through the head and leave the hook exposed. The jighead provides weight and a little color to the lure.
With either rig, simply cast it out and let it settle to the depth the bass are. Gently twitch the bait as you retrieve. Often you won't feel a powerful strike when a bass hits plastic worms. Largemouths just suck the worm in with a gulp. It often feels like a tap or light jerk. Relax the line for a few moments and give the fish time to take the worm all the way in. Then set the hook. If the worm becomes tangled in weeds, jerk it loose and keep working it in.
Certainly there are many other lures that catch bass. Some are better choices than spinnerbaits and plastic worms in some situations. But day in and day out, in almost all bass fishing situations, a spinnerbait or rigged plastic worm is your best choice.
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