Best Bass Lures for Shore Fishing: 5 Must Have Baits
Catching bass does not always require a fancy boat or kayak. Fishing from the bank, especially in ponds that boats cannot easily access can provide some incredible fishing experiences. However, because you only have access to spots you can reach from the side and you have limited carrying capacity, knowing how to narrow down your lure selection for the best possible results is crucial. This article provides some guidelines that will help you put a compact, effective shore fishing tackle box together.
General Approach to Lure Selection from the Shore
Before we go into the specific bass fishing lures we recommend for catching fish from the shore, it is important to understand a few key concepts:
Because you only have access to spots you can cast at from the side, you want to make the most of the fishable water available. A simple way to approach this is by choosing baits that allow you to cover the top, middle and bottom of the water column. Generally speaking your fishable zone from the side is from a depth range of 10 feet and up. The top zone of course refers to the surface and anything just below the surface. Middle refers to the 2-6 foot depth range that is holding suspended fish. Bottom refers to the 7-10 foot depth range holding fish feeding on the bottom.
When you start fishing a spot, work your way from the top of the column down. Eventually you will start to pick up a pattern and figure out in which zone the fish are feeding. This makes your lure selection thereafter easier and more accurate.
Keep it Weedless
Remember, if you get snagged you don’t have the ability to go and get your lure like you do when you are on a boat or a kayak. Trust me, you will enjoy your bank angling far more if you use as many weedless lures as possible. It’s not to say that you can’t throw open hook lures from the side, there are times where this is super effective and we cover some of those further on. In general though, you will be fishing submerged cover and fishing weedless is going to make your life far easier.
Keep it Simple
When fishing from the side you probably have a small backpack for your tackle boxes and one, maybe two rods. Narrow down your tackle as much as possible using the guidelines above and the suggestions below. You don't want to be walking around with multiple bags and numerous rods when bank fishing, that will simply slow you down and make you inefficient.
Some of the best bass lures for shore fishing are wacky rigged senkos, the Texas rig, a topwater frog, smaller spinnerbaits, and lipless crankbaits. Let's dive into these baits.
Wacky Rig Senko
Covers top, middle and bottom zones
No surprise here, the Wacky Rig Senko/Stickbait catches bass literally anywhere. Fishing a wacky rig Senko is a great way to catch bass in all three of the water columns we have made reference to, particularly if fished weightless.
Cast your bait around open water/sparse cover and let it sink on a semi-slack line. 9/10 times your bite will be on the drop. If you only take one bait on your bank fishing adventure, let it be this one!
One thing to keep in mind with the wacky rig is the density of cover you are fishing. If you are fishing open water or sparse cover, this technique is great. If you are casting at fairly dense, isolated cover, you would be better off using a Texas rig (which we will discuss below). While there are many weedless wacky hooks on the market, none of them are 100% effective in preventing snags.
There are also weighted wacky options - if you're looking to fish deeper water or cover water more efficiently.
Texas Rig (Worms & Creature Baits)
Covers bottom zone
An absolute must have presentation for fishing from the shore! The Texas rig becomes especially effective if you find some medium-heavy cover that you can reach from the bank and a weightless wacky just won’t do the trick. A Texas rig with a bullet weight sinker will allow you to pierce cover and reach the bass lying in wait below.
Choose your weight size according to the cover you are fishing. For lighter cover, go with something in the ⅛ - 3/16 ounce range. For the heavier stuff, you can bump it up to anything from ¼ ounce to 1 ounce!
We have a full article covering weight selection for a Texas rig for more information.
In terms of plastics to fish on your Texas rig, two safe bets are a creature style bait and a straight tail worm. Two of my favorites are the Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog (creature) and the Zoom Trick Worm (straight tail worm).
Topwater Hollow-Body Frog
Covers top zone
I always have a few hollow-body frogs with me when I am fishing from the shore. It is an extremely versatile topwater presentation thanks to its weedless nature. This allows you to cast it just about anywhere without getting snagged.
There are areas you can throw a topwater frog that pretty much no other lure would reach! Not to mention, it is just a ridiculously fun way to catch bass.
Frogs are especially effective early in the morning and in the evening when the sun starts setting. They continue to work into the night when bass rely more on sound than on sight to hunt.
Here are some of my favorite frogs (links to store):
Covers top, middle and bottom zones
A spinnerbait is one of those lures that will catch bass in just about any body of water on the right day. In addition to this, it is also versatile as it allows you as the angler to control depth of retrieve and can help you cover a huge amount of water.
I like to fish smaller, more subtle spinnerbaits from the bank than I would from a boat. As stated previously, your total amount of fishable water is smaller when fishing from the shore and because of this, you want to avoid lures that cause huge commotion underwater.
Big spinnerbaits are noisy and intrusive. While this can certainly be effective in eliciting strikes from big bass, I find that subtle, smaller spinnerbaits are an effective way of imitating bait fish without putting off more finicky fish.
Spinnerbaits become especially effective from the side if there is a bit of wind and chop on the water. Also - remember to base your color selection on the given conditions.
Covers top, middle and bottom zones
Lipless crankbaits are versatile fish catchers that give the angler full depth control on retrieve. Where your traditional “lipped” crankbaits are set to dive a specified depth, your lipless crankbait goes as deep as you need them to, depending on how long you let them fall and how fast you retrieve them.
Depth versatility is key when fishing from the bank and this is why lipless cranks get my vote over standard crankbaits for shore fishing.
On top of their versatility, lipless crankbaits tend to have a small profile making them great imitations of small pond baitfish.
Make the most of your bank fishing experiences by choosing your lure selection wisely and keeping it simple. Cover the top, middle and bottom zones of the water column using the lures discussed in this article and I have no doubt you will catch some great bass from the shore.