To successfully fish bass in the winter, we need to understand that it’s not about the lure. It’s about how you present it. Truthfully, you could take almost any lure and catch winter bass.
That said, you need to size down the lure, slow it down, and blend in more with your surroundings to have any success. In this guide, we’re going to pair those tips up with some of the best lure choices for winter.
Top 6 Best Lures for Winter Bass
1. Blade Baits
Spoons and blades are a great choice when fishing for bass in the winter for a few different reasons. First, many spoons are meant to imitate a dying baitfish, so you’ll want to play along with that.
When the water temperature drops, the most important thing to remember is that the bass’ metabolism slows down, which means they’re less likely to put up a fight. As the smart angler that you are, you know this, so you know how to change your presentation to appeal to that.
The best way you do that is by using a lure that looks like an easy meal.
Now, there are a few scenarios that come into play here. If it’s a bright sunny day and the sun is reflecting off the white snow, the presentation might be a little too much, and you’ll want to switch it out for something else.
What I recommend doing is trying the blades when it’s a sunny winter day and see what happens. If they start biting, look out because they’ll be biting all day. If they’re not biting, chances are you’re pushing them too hard, and you’ll want to dial back a little on the presentation.
Use a suspending or slow sinking jerkbait when the water temperatures are lower. This is your standard “run of the mill” choice, and it should work on most occasions. What I recommend doing is changing up the presentation pretty frequently, so the bass doesn’t catch on to you.
When you’re suspending them in the water, make sure you’re providing erratic jerks that offer just enough presentation to trigger a strike, but you don’t intimidate them by being too crazy with the lure.
A little expert trick I have is to fish jerkbaits near runoff. Use a brightly colored jerkbait because the water will be extremely murky. You’ll need something to help you stand out.
Drop it right near a creek or river that runs into the larger body of what you’re fishing, and let the river maintain the bait in place. What you’ll end up with is a lot of great fishing because moving water creates oxygen, and that’s what bass crave this time of year. So, they’ll sit where the river flows into the water to rest in that heavily oxygenated water, and they’re likely to be a little more rambunctious here as well.
I know most people think of grubs as something you’d use to catch bluegill and sunfish, but when the bass aren’t biting, this is a stable lure to switch out to. If you’ve tried the previous two strategies and haven’t had any luck, give this one a shot. Grubs offer a great presentation but just make sure you take it nice and slow.
I’m also a big believer in paying attention to your surroundings and choosing your lure based on that. So, you’ve tried the previous lures and haven’t had any success. Look around.
What colors do you see? Do you see white, brown, and green? If so, use those colors for your lures. You’re not trying to stand out in the winter. Instead, you want to blend in and make the bass strike your lure out of opportunity rather than reaction. Make them feel like this is their opportunity to grab an easy meal.
Using bright colors, fast presentations, and oversized power lures will not work right now. You need to deploy a more finesse style of fishing.
4. Drop Shot
Drop shots are a battle-ready solution when the bass aren’t biting. If you’re fishing all winter long and not having a lot of success, I’d recommend going with one of these. Take a soft plastic of your choosing and rig it up with a 2-4 foot leader and play around with it until you find the fish that are suspended in the deeper water.
Keep in mind that the bass’ behavior is actually quite the opposite of what you’d think when the water is cold. When the temperature drops, the bass tend to move towards deeper water because they’re looking to escape the high pressure that makes them feel uncomfortable.
So, you’re actually better off looking for bass in deeper water, but you can’t fish the bottom, and you don’t want to fish the top either, so a drop shot works well in this situation. I’d suggest going with the longer side of the leader because you’re fishing deeper. A four-foot leader is likely going to be your best friend.
When all else fails, use a jig. When you don’t know what you’re doing, use a jig. When your younger cousin is out with you on the lake, use a jig. This is what so many anglers have always told me, and it finally comes true. But, I’m not leaving you with this open-ended bit of information. This is a comprehensive guide, so I promised to be, well, comprehensive.
It doesn’t matter what kind of jig head you use; just keep it relatively small. But, you’re going to fish medium depth water [anything between 6-12 feet]. So, you’re essentially fishing the bottom, but you want to keep an active presence on the jig to keep it up off the floor.
Another trick I have is to get a white and red skirt for your jig. It doesn’t matter how big it is, because we’re going to trim it to make it smaller. You want the white and red because it reflects the sun just enough, and the red helps the bass feel superior.
With this lure, you’ll want to cast around any type of structure you can find, whether you’re using a fish finder or going at it based on your memory or sight. Use a slow retrieval, don’t create too much noise, and watch what happens. This strategy works every time.
6. Live Bait
This tip is like a little bonus because many people don’t think of using live bait in the winter, but it’s honestly the perfect solution to our presentation woes. Live minnows are great for enticing lethargic bass because their appealing presentation gives the bass plenty of time to make a choice on it.
The longer they sit down there and stare at the shiner, the greater the chance you have of hooking them.
I’d suggest using a bobber for this and trying your best to determine the proper depth based on the water you’re fishing. Stick within that 6-12 foot depth, and you’ll stand the best chance. I would also highly recommend fishing live bait near a creek mouth because the live bait will work it’s beautiful presentation, and you’ll have bass at their most active here.
Just remember to keep it as slow as possible, and if you’re using live bait, you need to be okay with catching pickerel as well because you’re bound to bring in a lot of them.
Anglers ask me all the time how I do so well in the cold PA winters before and after the ice. You’ve got the answer right here. Winter fishing tips are the most requested content pieces I receive, so be sure to check out my complete guide on winter bass fishing right here: https://yourbassguy.com/winter-bass-fishing-tips/.
Don’t hang up your rod and reel yet; there’s plenty of bass to catch! Good luck out there!