Tackle & Gear

Best Early Spring Bass Lures: 5 Must-Have Baits for Pre-Spawn

Early spring, or as many would say, pre-spawn is a time of change for all species of bass. This change is brought about by a change in water temperature caused by the gradual increase in air temperatures. Spring bass fishing can be a fruitful time for bass anglers, as bass begin to prepare for their upcoming spawn. Understanding the best lures for early spring and knowing where to find bass will go a long way in kicking off your season on the water.

Best Early Spring Bass Lures: 5 Must-Have Baits for Pre-Spawn

Early Spring Bass Fishing

As water temperatures rise due to winter's departure, more fish will start moving from main lake or river zones into shallower creeks or pockets. This is a bass's natural instinct, and we as anglers need to position ourselves in order to take advantage of this.

The early spring season or pre-spawn usually begins kicking off around February and goes until around May. Unless you're in a place like Florida, where it may even start earlier and the spawn may occur around May.

Bass will begin moving into shallow water when water temperatures reach the low 50's. This temperature will bring about an increase in appetite and the natural instinct to follow warmer water. Do note that this season is still marked by cold water and fishing can be very slow.

Pre-spawn fishing brings about the opportunity to catch big bass which is a big reason why we should get out there and cover the points that lead to spawning grounds.

Wooden cover for early spring bass
Submerged trees and logs are excellent ambush points for bass

5 of the Best Early Spring Bass Lures

Bait selection during this period can be difficult, however, it is arguably harder to locate bass themselves. This is where the importance of covering water comes in.

During the pre-spawn, bass are making their to spawning areas. Spawning areas or beds are characterized by shallower water in and around submerged vegetation and other forms of cover, and these zones are usually close to shore.

Pre-spawning bass will not quite have made it to these areas and will rather sit around secondary points that lead to spawning areas.

The ability to cover water will give us anglers to get an idea of where these fish are in their annual tradition, so we're going to mention a few lures that are efficient in covering water and entice a reaction bite, but also lures that will get nailed once we know where bass are sitting during the early spring.

Some of the best lures for early spring bass fishing are crankbaits, spinnerbaits, shaky head rigs, and wacky rigs.


Crankbaits are incredible ways to entice reaction bites while covering loads of water, whether it's deeper structure, shallow cover, or steep drop offs. It remains one of my go-to baits during this period and it'll often give away where bass are hanging out during early spring.

Ripraps and crankbaits are simply made for each other. Whenever I'm approaching a bank with loads of rod, I'll immediately start thinking about bring out a squarebill crankbait.

Color selection is based on water clarity. For stained water, I'll turn to shock colors such as a bright red or chartreuse and for clear water, I'll pick a more natural pattern to try and match the bait in the system.

Diving depth is an important consideration for crankbaits. Fish tend to hang deeper in colder conditions and they might have moved to shallow water if water temps are more optimal.

Squarebill Crankbaits

The shape and lip of a squarebill crankbait make it a lure more suitable to fish around ripraps and wooden structure. Squarebills are pretty good when it comes to bouncing off of these cover points on a slow retrieve making it a solid power fishing technique.

Bass will often sit around ripraps for that little bit of extra warmth and they'll also begin their feeding season around here.

Logs and other wooden cover are epic ambush points for bass and bringing a squarebill around these points is always a good option.

Docks are also awesome spots to throw a squarebill. Starting from the front side of the dock and working your way towards the bank may help give you an idea on where the fish are operating. Docks are again really good ambush points for bass.

The retrieve speed for a squarebill should be slow and steady and one should look to make many casts in an area with ripraps and wooden cover.

The 1.5 Hard Knock in a Fire Craw pattern

Lipless Crankbaits

The tight wiggle on a lipless crankbait drives most fish crazy and this type of crankbait works best when fishing around shallower water or shore-based ripraps.

Brian Latimer himself loves throwing lipless crankbaits around banks in search of fish preparing for the spawn. He always prefers fishing around dirty water with bright colors.

One should look to lipless crankbaits when bass have moved slightly shallower and are further into the spawning process.

Once again, the lipless crankbait is best on a slower retrieve and one should look to make many casts.

The Berkley Warpig in a Spring Craw color


Spinnerbaits are in my opinion all-season lures but in my opinion, they really do shine when during pre-spawn as bass are starting to feed again properly.

The spinnerbait is also an incredible way to cover water quickly and it's super versatile in terms of where you're throwing it.

Whether you're throwing a 3/4 ounce down steep drop-offs and fishing shallow flats with a lighter option, the spinnerbait will often do the job in pointing out bass.

Many anglers prefer muddy water for a spinnerbait and this is often where we'll find fish in the early spring. Muddy water will generally be slightly warmer and this will attract moving bass.

Spinnerbaits also have the potential to catch the biggest bass in a system and many pros will turn to it they need to boost their bag.

The Strike King Double Willow in a Chartreuse color

Shaky Head

The shaky head is less efficient when it comes to covering water compared to crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but it's more a bait you'd throw once you have a fair idea of where the fish are feeding/sitting.

Shaky heads and finesse worms will get comfortably more bites than both a crankbait and a spinnerbait, but one needs to find the bass first and that's where the reaction baits come in. It's no use fishing a slower finesse worm if you're not sure there's fish around.

Cover points like docks and isolated vegetation are zones where the shaky head thrives and its slower, more delicate presentation is ideal for water temps that aren't quite there in terms of warmth. A shaky head worm is also rigged weedless, meaning you can throw it right in the vegetation. However, it is a finesse technique, so it's generally fished on lighter line.

The shaky head has a pretty similar profile to a Texas rig, but it's just slower in application.

Shaky head early spring
The a Squirrel Tail on a shaky head rig

Wacky Rig

The wacky rig is another finesse technique that'll work all season because of its incredibly subtle and lifelike action. Finding the strike zone of a fish with a wacky rig will often result in a bite and this usually comes on the initial fall.

I find it's best to throw a wacky rig around isolated cover, whether it's a dock, a tree, or any vegetation. Cast right up into these zones and let it fall on a semi-slack line. The horizontal shimmy of a wacky worm is hard to resist for a bass that's preparing for its spawn.

Wacky rig early spring bass
A Senko on a weightless wacky rig

Early Spring Fishing Tips

This is definitely not the easiest season to get bass in the boat. Remember, winter is still very much prominent and water temperatures are still not quite there for actively feeding fish.

Rather, there has been a gradual increase in water temperature and bass are beginning to move to their spawning areas with more willingness to feed. This season requires patience and plenty of casts.

Here are some tips for this season that have worked for me when beginning my bass fishing season:

Zone in on secondary points leading to spawning areas

Make your way towards narrower creeks and pockets and look for cover points that lead to potential spawning areas. Ripraps, docks, or wooden cover are great starting points for this period. Bass will often hug these areas as a point of ambush or additional warmth.

Cover areas well with lots of casts

Remember, these fish won't be feeding too aggressively in this period as water temperatures are still relatively cold. They do however have intentions of feeding, so presenting your bait to them more than once may help entice a bite.

If you've found an attractive secondary point such as a dock, make more than one cast all around the dock and cover each zone heavily. Often, it'll take a few casts to get that fish to eat.

Look for warmer water

Fish will have started moving away from deeper water columns during this period in the search for warmer water. Clear water is often cold water in this season, as it generally takes longer to warm up. Zoning in on more stained water and fishing these areas with the necessary brighter/darker colors may be the best option in locating bass.

Wrapping Up

Early spring marks the start of a new season for us bass anglers. It's hard to contain the excitement for that first day on the water, but this time for fishing can be slow and difficult.

Start by making your win into shallower creeks in search of warmer water. Slow down your presentation and make several casts into areas that you think may be holding bass. This period requires patience, but it's a period that can produce big fish.

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