With so many different types, styles and colors on the market today, choosing the best early spring bass fishing lures can be difficult. The time of year can make that decision even tougher. Changing weather and water conditions may dictate a certain lure from one day to the next. I’ve compiled some spring bass fishing tips to help anglers trim down their tackle box and select the best, most productive early spring bass baits.
As fishing conditions change anglers will need to incorporate different lures and techniques to meet the mood of the bass. Anglers will also need to adapt throughout the course of the fishing day. Certain times and situations may occur where another lure is more effective.
Savvy bass anglers can narrow down their lure choices and spend more time catching bass. However, determining what lures and colors doesn’t have to be a guessing game. There are certain lures that are great for early spring conditions and continue produce strikes each year.
Best Early Spring Bass Lures: Twisted Wire and Metal
To a non-angler, a spinnerbait doesn’t look too appealing, to either an angler or a bass. A stiff wire bent or twisted connected to a hook with the eyelet encased in lead, a couple of funny shaped, shiny metal blades and a skirt to cover the naked end of the hook.
At first glance this contraption doesn’t seem effective in catching fish and. However, the spinnerbait is one of the best early spring bass fishing lures on any lake. Actually, they are great for any season but early spring is one of the best times to utilize the effectiveness of a spinnerbait.
“A spinnerbait is one of the best early spring bass lures because it can be used as a search tool,” mentions Jordan Lee, two-time Bassmaster Classic Champion. “It allows you to cover lots of water and locate active bass.”
Lee’s spring bass fishing tip for anglers is to start off with a smaller bait around 3/8 ounce size. A willow blade in number 3.0 to 3.5 range paired with a small Colorado blade is a good choice. In clear water Lee prefers a white skirt. A chartreuse or chartreuse and white combination seems to work better in stained water.
Sky and water conditions will dictate a starting point for the day. On overcast days, shallow flats or points near a ditch or channel are areas to target. Bass generally tend to move shallow on cloudy days. Anglers should begin with a steady retrieve making long casts at different angles across the flat or to the shoreline.
There are many different brands of spinnerbaits on the market. A handful have made the test of time and continue to perform today. Models by Booyah, Strike King and War Eagle are a few of the best spring bass baits and have produced consistently over the years.
In colder water a slower retrieve may be required to entice a strike from a lethargic bass. Lee sometimes adds a soft plastic trailer to the hook of the spinner to assist is a slower retrieve. The added trailer also increases the profile size of the bait giving bass more to target.
“Cover is key in finding bass in the early spring,” comments Lee. “Stumps, rocks, and clumps of grass spots to fish a spinnerbait.”
Lee says sometimes a change in the retrieve speed can trigger a bass to hit the spinnerbait. Vary the speed on the retrieve speeding up or slowing down as the lure approaches a piece of cover. Also, burning the spinnerbait just under the water’s surface can initiate a strike.
Best Early Spring Bass Lures: Get Cranking
Another choice for the best spring bass bait are crankbaits. Square-billed baits made by Strike King, Lucky Craft and Rapala are top brands. The fatter bodies along with the squared off plastic bill or lip gives off a different action on the retrieve.
Also, these baits are designed to run shallow. With most baits, depths of three to five feet are average for baits in the 3/8 to 1/2 ounce weight class. Larger, heavier baits can approach eight feet in depth. The square bill models can be fished slow or fast with their wide wiggle action.
Shallow to medium depth crankbaits are also a great choice for the best early spring bass lures. The longer lip or bill cause the bait to run deeper. For bass in the early spring, lures running down 12 feet is probably deep enough. An advantage of these baits I that the deeper run depth allows the bait to contact the lake bottom to make extra noise and trigger a reaction strike from a bass.
Randy Payton of Oxford, Ala. prefers the thinner body style crankbaits for cooler water situations, as his spring bass fishing tip.
“I like the No. 7 size Shad Rap in a crawfish pattern,” explains Payton. “The Shad Rap has a tighter wobble and can be fished slow or fast depending on the situation.”
Skinny lures like the Shad Rap, Bomber Flat A and Bandit Flat Maxx work better in open water areas where bass and other game fish are following shad. These lures come in many different color patterns and combinations. Each angler may have a certain preference to color, but generally a shad pattern or crawfish colored bait will perform in most all cases.
Lipless crankbaits like the Rat-L-Trap and Red Eye shad are also some of the best early spring bass lures. These lures can be used to cover plenty of water and are effective once the water temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Top colored choices here are blue back and silver, craw orange or red.
Best Early Spring Bass Lures: Football Jig Always in Season
One of Lee’s choices for best early spring bass lures is a football-head style jig. He tips the jig with a soft plastic trailer. The addition of crawfish or creature style bait works great. The football shaped head allows the lure to bump through brush, cover and rocks.
A 3/4 ounce jig is the top choice for Lee for cold water and slow retrieves. The heavier jig allows him to maintain contact with the lake bottom during the retrieve. He will trim back the rubber skirt on the jig. A smaller trailer will allow the jig to fall faster through the water column.
“If I’m fishing water less than 12 feet deep I will go to a ½ ounce jig weight,” Lee advises. “You have to change the lure speed and style of presentation to match the mood of the bass.”
Lee mentions that spotted bass will hit the jig with a solid or robust thump. Largemouth bass on the other hand will strike with a softer bump, more like a tick. Anglers will need to learn the difference between a strike and bumping a rock.
Crawfish are a favorite food for bass, especially in the spring. To simulate the crawfish Lee will opt for a crawfish colored lure. Orange and brown with some green pumpkin and chartreuse mixed in is a good color combination. With the soft-plastic trailer dip the claw tips in chartreuse or orange dye.
A top area for pre-spawn bass that many anglers may overlook is rip-rap. The large rocks along roadways and bridge abutments are prime spots for crawfish and bass and many anglers overlook these rip-rap areas or fish them too fast. Lee capitalized on rip-rap along a roadway in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville.
Early spring bass fishing doesn’t have to be complicated with a bunch of different lures. Anglers can take these spring bass fishing tips, simplify their lure choicest the best early spring bass lures, and employ different approaches to fill out their limit.
This article first appeared in the February 2019 print issue of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. For more great hunting and fishing content for the deep South, subscribe to Great Days Outdoors print and digital editions or click the image to download this issue.