Before we discuss the three best early spring bass fishing lures, let’s clarify early season bass fishing. The calendar period I’m talking about is pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn when the majority of bass are still shallow in less than nine foot depths before they set up on the traditional deep water summer haunts. The bass we’re targeting are roaming fish either moving from deep water to shallow to spawn or post-spawn fish that are staging on the first break line adjacent to deeper water.
Pay Attention to Water Temperatures When Picking Lures for Bass
This calendar period can run from early April through late June depending on where you fish across the state. The temperatures start around 45 degrees on the low end and going into the post-spawn period they can be as high as 65-70 degrees, so to avoid worrying about the date it’s a good idea to let the water temperature dictate what lure to use.
Early Spring Lures
For my early season bass fishing I always have three lures tied on and ready to go: Lucky Craft LVR-D7 (rattle bait), Strike King Swim Jig with a Zoom twin tail trailer, and a Lucky Craft Pointer (suspending minnow bait). These baits have produced for me anywhere I throw them, and I absolutely will not launch the boat without them on board.
Lipless Rattle Bait
Over the years I’ve developed a formula that helps me choose the right lures for bass based on water temperatures. For cold water, 45-50 degrees, my weapon of choice is the lipless rattle bait. The attracting quality of this type of bait is unparalleled when searching shallow water flats for an active bite. There are several makes and models available and they come in numerous sizes and colors, but I’ve found the Lucky Craft LVR-D7 is a one of the most reliable lures for bass.
Rattle Bait Setup
I fish the rattle bait on a Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) FWC 704-1, 7 foot medium action rod paired with a US Reel 810 (bait caster) spooled with 12 lb. Bass Pro Shops XPS fluorocarbon line. The presentation is a steady retrieve, and depending on how deep I’m fishing , I’ll count it down a second or two and other times I start the retrieve as soon as it hits the water.
How to Fish a Rapala Rattle Bait
My goal is to work the rattle bait slightly above available vegetation; and when the hooks make contact, I simply pop the rod and continue the retrieve. The strike this generates can be jarring, but in the early season usually the bass strike equally well on the steady retrieve. The vibration and sound waves of this bait will call fish to it from as far as 20-25 yards away. Should you encounter slightly stained water from a spring run-off, throw one of these lures for bass; you’ll like what happens.
Lucky Craft Pointer
As the water warms to the 55-60 degree range, the Lucky Craft Pointer comes into its own. This lure works well on the same rod & reel combo described above and it’s great when targeting roaming fish. Simply cast it out, crank it down three or four turns and begin a jerk-pause-jerk-jerk-pause cadence and repeat. On the pause let these lures for bass set for 5-8 seconds. I’ve also found times when an extended pause was required before I started generating strikes, so pay attention to your cadence and let the fish tell you how fast to work the bait.
Strike King Swim Jig
When the water gets above 60 degrees I like to throw the Strike King Swim Jig with a twin tail trailer. For this lure I use Twin Forks Outfitters FWC 705-1, 7 foot medium heavy rod and the same reel and line. Due to the jig’s heavier hook, I believe the extra power of the medium heavy rod helps me achieve deeper hook penetration.
How to Fish the Strike King Swim Jig
The retrieve for this bait is very similar to the rattle bait, and a steady speed is the key to success. This lure emulates a bait fish and a crawfish equally well and the thin protective weed guard makes it a perfect choice to swim through the tops of vegetation.
When the fish strikes, continue cranking, and after a two count, set the hook as you normally would to drive the barb home. Try to avoid setting the hook as soon as you feel the fish strike. If you can discipline yourself to do this you’ll notice a marked improvement in your strike to hook-up ratio.
In clear water the rattle bait in red (Mad Craw) is my first choice and next is the American Shad. I don’t know why, but for some reason the bass will absolutely crush the red rattle bait in the spring. When selecting a Pointer Minnow, I like to start with the Golden Shiner or Aurora Black and mix in a Chartreuse Root Beer from time to time.
Partly Cloudy Fishing Conditions
I keep the Swim Jig selection very simple. Under partly cloudy skies I use a black blue jig with blue sapphire trailer, and under bright sunny skies I use the green pumpkin jig with green pumpkin trailer. When fishing these lures for bass in less than five foot of water,I use the 3/8 oz model, and to fish deeper I’ll use the 1/2 oz model.
Tried and True Baits
In today’s marketplace there are numerous baits to choose from, but for me these three lures for bass have proven their worth over time, catching numerous largemouth and smallmouth bass; and each lure has earned a place in my tackle box. I think if you give them a try you too will become a believer. Remember to practice selective harvest. There’s nothing wrong in keeping a few to eat, but release the rest for another day.
Original Article By Burnie Haney
About The Author
Burnie Haney is the Garrison Chief of Operations at Fort Drum NY, Chairman of the Jefferson County Sport Fish Advisory Board, B.A.S.S. Life Member, Public Relations Officer and Sponsor Product Coordinator for the NY BASS Chapter Federation. He is a member FLW and Pro Staff member for Bass Pro Shops Nitro Boats, US Reel, Temple Fork Outfitter Rods, Lucky Craft Lures and VRX Fishing Products. Haney holds three National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame Line Class World Records (carp, steelhead, Chinook salmon) and one IGFA NY State Line Class Record (walleye). Get in touch with Burnie at burniehaney.com.