When you consider the plethora of bass lures on the market it is extremely hard to pick what lures are the best. To be completely realistic, there really isn't an absolute best bass lure, or even top ten best lures. Depending on where you are located at, if you fish rivers, lakes or ponds, or if you are fishing in summer versus winter the best lures can be quite different. However, these are my top five bass lures that I have had a lot of success with. It is important to note that these aren't in any particular order as well.
Rage Tail Space Monkey
Soft plastics are a pretty crucial part to fishing for bass, especially in the hot summer months in Texas. When the fishing becomes a little rough it is probably time to tie on a soft plastic and start working it through the water. I have had a lot of success with the Rage Tail Space Monkey. It is primarily a crayfish imitation, or a creature bait, but it doesn't really look like any one thing. The appendages really flutter well in the water as it sinks to the bottom and this is when you will get the primary amount of strikes. I like to pair it up with a 3/0 worm hook and a 3/16 oz. tungsten weight to make a classic Texas Rig. A lot of water I fish in Texas has big boulders in the water and the Space Monkey is deadly when it is searching through the rocks. Green Pumpkin and Watermelon are good neutral colors for slightly stained water. If you aren't in hardcore structure I would give a medium light spinning setup a try so you can really finesse the Texas Rig. Go with as light of a weight as possible. If you aren't having to go super deep and you are just in a few feet of water I would even consider a weightless Texas Rig. For heavy duty fishing, such as weeds, logs and sticks go with a baitcasting setup with at least 30 pound braided line. I like to use a medium heavy 7' rod but a little longer or shorter will work as well. Get you a big bullet weight in order to penetrate the thicker vegetation, but once again go with the lightest weight you can. You really want your soft plastic to slowly fall in the water in order to give big bass an easy, appetizing meal.
There are several similar soft plastic creatures baits that resemble the Rage Tail Space Monkey, but I have not had as much success with them. I think the bait formula, construction and overall appearance of the Space Monkey is spot on and is the perfect setup for bass fishing.
Heddon Zara Spook and Super Spook
The Heddon Zara Spook and Super Spook are pretty similar in design, but the main idea of both of these lures is the walk the dog action that Heddon has perfected. For most people I have talked to topwaters lures are either their favorite or they haven't caught anything on them. I think a lot of this has to do with becoming comfortable with fishing a walk the dog type action lure and developing the right patience for when you need to set the hook. If you were to ask me what exactly the Zara Spook and Super Spook are imitating I couldn't give you an exact answer, but I think it is probably a frog or a snake imitation. One thing about the Heddon Zara Spook and Super Spook that I haven't mentioned yet is the amount of fish that I have caught on them. I couldn't tell you an exact number, but I have caught many bass on these lures. At one point in time I almost convinced myself that I could make the Heddon Zara Spook and Super Spook my number one lure.
The colors really haven't played a tremendous role in my success, but I do like to go with a natural coloration if I am in clearer water and a dark coloration in murkier water. A baitcaster with a stiff rod is an absolute must in my opinion. Most people will tell you to use monofilament, but I always like to use braided line because of its hook setting capability. Time of day is pretty crucial as sunrise and sunset are optimal times by far. You can fish these lures during the day, but make sure you are casting in shade or you won't have much success.
In my opinion the key to fishing the Heddon walk the dog topwaters is to have just enough slack in your line to get the right action. Once you figure that out, make sure to vary your retrieval with some pauses and an inconsistent amount of time between pauses. This will really get bass looking at your lure. If you haven't fished a topwater or walk the dog lure before you will experience a little bit of a learning curve, but once you figure it out you will be ready to catch a lot of fish.
Worden Rooster Tail
Although not a recognized lure for catching huge bass, I have a special spot in my tackle box for Rooster Tails - an entire box all for Rooster Tails. I started fishing on Rooster Tails which is part of the reason why I like them so much. They are pretty versatile in catching different fish species, but for this article we will focus on bass. I have caught a ton of bass on the old Rooster Tail, primarily in a Fire Tiger coloration in a 1/16 - 1/8 oz. configuration. I know this might seem small but this is the size I like to use when I am casting in smaller bodies of water that hold bass. I don't expect to catch monster bass on Rooster Tails, but I do hook a large one every once and a while. I have caught some as big as 8 pounds and quite a few 3-5 pounders, but most are at 2 pounds and under.
I like to use a light action spinning outfit with 4 pound test monofilament to cast lighter Rooster Tails far under trees and in the holes that big bass like to hide. One thing about using smaller lures and a smaller outfit to fish for bass is how much fun you will have. Bass fight pretty hard and when you hook one on a light action spinning rod they seem to fight a lot harder. Of course, this doesn't have much to do with the success of catching bass but it certainly does make it fun. A light setup can definitely aid in casting in areas that you can't with others lures, such as shallow water under trees - however there are bigger bass lures that will let you do this too. There is a downside to the Rooster Tail though. It seems as though you will never catch as many "good" bass as if you were using more traditional bass lures that are much bigger. Although I do catch a ton of bass on Rooster Tails, more often than not they are under 2 pounds than over 2 pounds. With this said, I couldn't leave the Rooster Tail out of my top five bass lures because of the huge number of bass I have caught on Rooster Tails.
Strike King Square Bill Crankbait
This could be the one bait I have that just catches huge bass. Something interesting about this lure is that I have only bought one of them in my entire life and I still have it. During its two year life time I cannot begin to stress how many big bass I have caught on it - without doing any work to it at all, all the original hooks are still on it. I have caught a twelve pound bass, many five pound bass, several three pound bass, and a plethora of two pounders. This lure has extremely beefy hardware and can take some abusing from big bass.
I like to use a medium heavy baitcasting rod with a fast retrieval reel. Braided line is what I usually throw, but sometimes I throw this crankbait with 14-18 pound monofilament. This lure is pretty heavy so be cautious when you are casting. It also puts out a lot of displacement in the water so it can wear you down if you are throwing it a lot during the day. Vary your retrieval rate and throw in a few twitches for best results, but sometimes a nice and steady retrieval works great. I wouldn't recommend this bait for super clear water, but more so areas with a little stained water. It does well in rocky areas as well as around sticks and logs. Don't be afraid to cast over logs. This lure can go right over them do to the square bill. It is a shallow running lure though, so don't cast it blindly in the middle of the water - look for structure and cast towards it.
If you want big bass this is a lure you have to buy. It will last a long time and catch a ton of big bass for you.
It is pretty amazing that two different types of topwater lures made my top five bass lures, but this is just how effective topwater can be when used appropriately. I do not have a specific topwater frog that I like to use more than any other, but I do like the Strike King KVD Frogs. They have good durability and get bites quite a bit. The key for me has been to target as much structure as possible. Unlike the Heddon topwaters, frogs are weedless and can go just about anywhere. In my opinion, if you aren't casting them into some sort of cover or vegetation you should be throwing a walk the dog topwater. One good thing about a frog is that it is a little more versatile in the sense that you can use it a little more throughout the day than a traditional walk the dog. This is because walk the dog topwaters are often in open water where bass will never look up into the sun to find a bait. However, if they are hiding in vegetation during the hot afternoon sun and see the silhouette of a frog running across the matte, there is a good chance you will get a bite.
A heavy duty setup up is a must, as you need at least 30 pound braided line, a medium heavy to a heavy 7 foot rod and a good fast retrieval baitcasting reel. Do not try to use lighter weight line with topwater frogs, as the vegetation will break it off really quick if you land a fish. Heavy line won't make that big of a difference here, as the line won't be seen by the fish because it is on top of vegetation. I use 50 pound braid a lot. If you aren't familiar with this type of fishing you might think I am crazy, but trust me it is well worth having such strong line. Another reason for the beefy setup is so you can set the hook in all of the muck.
Really vary your retrieval with a frog and make sure to take several pauses as you work it in. Sometimes a constant retrieval by just reeling it in is successful, but I have had the most success with using a twitching retrieval. As for my personal success with frogs, it has been pretty good. I haven't caught many giants, but several five pounders and many 2-4 pounders.
Bass fishing is a blast and it is what I do the majority of the time I am out on the water. There are a lot of lures to pick from, but these seem to give me the most success day in and day out. I would give each of them a try if you haven't already, and if you just can't seem to master the walk the dog motion or setting the hook on topwater lures, be patient, as it is well worth the wait. I can't guarantee that these are the magical lures that will get you big bass and lots of bass, but I can guarantee you that they have worked tremendously for me and I bet they will for you as well.