Best Early Fall Bass Lures: 9 Baits You Need
Fall is generally divided into two periods when it comes to bass fishing - Early Fall and Late Fall. Two very different periods and an alternative approach is needed for both. For this piece, we’ll focus on early fall - a pretty fruitful time for catching bass as water temperatures are attractive for feeding, active bass.
Early Fall Bass Fishing: Where Do Bass Go in the Early Fall?
One of the key things to remember with the early fall, is the slight drop in water temperature. This brings about change in bass, but more specifically - in baitfish.
Baitfish will react to the gradual drop in water temperature and slowly start moving from deeper channels, into shallower pockets or creeks. Bass will notice this quickly and follow them aggressively into these pockets or shallower areas.
Bass will dial in on baitfish in this period, which is a key determinant of our bait selection. Imitating baitfish as best as possible and fishing shallower, more narrow channels will greatly increase our chances of getting bit in the fall.
Best Bass Baits for Early Fall
I like to divide my early fall fishing into two different sections or approaches - I spoke about this briefly in another piece about fishing in the fall.
I’ll start fishing a spot with reaction baits - trying to entice that adrenalin-pumping reaction bite. After this, once the bite quietens down, I will look to finesse presentations - which definitely get more fish overall in this period (for me personally, at least).
Some of the best early fall bass lures are closely linked with baitfish imitations. Lures such as crankbaits, jerkbaits, spooks, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are essentially to have in the tackle box when fishing in the early fall.
Reaction Baits for Early Fall
As mentioned earlier, zoning in on baitfish imitations is key for early fall. I base my reaction bait selection on the baitfish in the system I’m fishing - especially when it comes to profile size and color.
Crankbaits & Lipless Crankbaits
These are both obviously really good baitfish imitators and will be one of the first baits I throw once I feel like I’m in the right area for baitfish and ultimately bass. Because you’re generally fishing shallower water - I tend to stay away from the deep divers and stick to shallow runners.
Depending on water clarity, I will ideally throw a more natural color - but if the water is stained, it’s better to have strains of shock colors in the pattern.
The retrieve will depend on the water temperature - if the temperature is in and around 60 degrees, don’t be shy to give a reasonably fast retrieve. If you’re looking around the 50’s or lower, a slower-rolling action should be pretty attractive to any bass.
In my opinion, an all-season lure, but man this bait shines in the fall. Imitating a wounded or dying baitfish, bass will struggle to ignore the erratic, vulnerable action of a jerkbait.
One thing I learned from Kevin VanDam, is that the more erratic the action of a jerkbait, the better. If a bass spots your jerkbait, there’s a good chance he/she is going to make its way to bite it, especially in the fall.
Water temperatures in early fall are extremely attractive to get on the topwater bite. As Ish Monroe says, the ‘golden window’ for frog fishing is between 62 and 75 degrees and I link this temperature range to all topwater lures.
Early fall will see these temperatures for sure, which is why it’s a great time to throw topwaters in this period. Once temperatures drop into the 50’s, topwaters will still be effective, but a slower retrieve is needed for sure.
I love throwing frogs and walking baits in the early fall, especially around grassy cover - structure that is very common when fishing shallower pockets.
Without a doubt an all-season bait. Spinnerbaits are pretty much always a good bait to throw, especially if there’s a bit of wind and chop on the water.
They can imitate a baitfish or even a shoal of baitfish in more stained water. I base my color selection the same way I do it for crankbaits - more natural for clearer water, and more shock for more stained conditions.
I’ll generally throw a light spinnerbait in this period with willow leaf blades on a slow retrieve. This way is less imposing and more ‘finesse’.
Although not my favorite form of fishing - this is the ultimate imitator of a baitfish when it comes to reaction baits.
I love a smaller more finesse profile when fishing swimbaits, and they work best in clearer conditions. I try to match the hatch as best as possible when selecting colors.
Finesse Baits for Early Fall
After trying out with reaction baits, or maybe the water temperature is a bit too low for a reaction bite - I’ll bring out the spinning rod and work several finesse techniques. Once again, having baitfish imitations in mind is key here.
A timeless bait that gets nailed in the fall. The Zoom Fluke imitates a baitfish very nicely and has a subtle but very lifelike action on the fall.
Thrown weightless is my go-to rig for this bait and it’ll often get smashed on the initial fall after your cast. A few twitches every now and then will give it an almost wounded action, which is very hard to resist for a bass whom has spotted it.
Another epic baitfish imitator that can be rigged in several ways. I like to rig it the same way I do with a fluke - weightless. I love the Strike King Rage Swimmer.
I also fish it similar to the way I fish a fluke - cast it out, let it fall naturally, and slowly twitch it every now and then.
Colors and profile size will be based off the baitfish within the system - smaller profiles are often your best bet. This is a very finesse technique after all.
The fact is a drop shot is always a good bait to throw. It gets the job done in nearly any situation, which is why I’ve included it in the list.
Although usually stationary, I like to retrieve it slowly every now and then to give it a more baitfish-like action.
Caffeine Shad or D-Shad
Two very similar style soft jerkbaits. The Caffeine Shad is by Strike King and the D-Shad is by Gary Yamamoto.
The way these baits are designed doesn’t necessarily represent finesse fishing - slightly heavier soft baits packed with salt that imitate baitfish, but they're still very delicate, natural presentations. The falling action on these baits is simply superb and they’ve become arguably my favorite soft plastics of all time.
Early fall can be extremely productive for bass fishing. Attractive water temperatures accompanied by bass looking to bulk up for the upcoming winter - a great reason to be out on the water.
Lure selection needs to be based off baitfish imitations as best as possible, and working shallower pockets rather than deeper channels will greatly increase your chances of finding and catching bass.