If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a group of feeding bass, you need to expect the unexpected. Although there are certainly times when feeding (schooling) bass will bite anything you throw at them, some presentations are undoubtedly more efficient than others. Sure, a schooling bass might bite a shakey head, but can you catch, fight, unhook, and handle bass quicker on a shakey head than a spinnerbait, or a swimbait?
For that reason, we thought it’d be a good idea to put together the following list of the top 6 baits for schooling bass.
1. Lipless Crankbaits
When fishing around feeding bass, the two top attributes to look for in a bait are castability and retrieve speed. For that reason, lipless crankbaits like the Strike King Red Eye Shad take top billing. They cast a mile, can be retrieved super-fast, and elicit tons of sound and vibration – which results in jarring strikes from aggressively feeding bass. They can also be worked effectively in depths from 2 to 20 feet. Try colors like chrome or sexy shad in clear water, and red or fire-tiger when it’s stained.
2. Walking Topwaters
Walking topwaters like the Rapala Skitter Walk are the surface bait equivalent to the lipless crankbait for schooling bass. They can be launched for days; they create a wild commotion on the surface, and perfectly emulate baitfish getting waylaid by hungry bass.
When the bass don’t respond to the aggressive vibration and sound of a lipless crank, an excellent fallback is an underspin like the Fish Head Spin threaded with a soft plastic jerkbait. Essentially a jighead with a spinner blade, the underspin can be counted down to any depth and then jerked/hopped/twitched to emulate a dying shad perfectly. They are especially deadly on spotted bass, and work in even the coldest water temperatures.
Although they’re passé to some, spinnerbaits like the Castaic BDow are still an excellent choice any time the bass are whipped up to a frenzy. They have the perfect combination of thump and flash, and come through almost any cover cleanly. Around schoolers, choose a spinnerbait with blades similar in size to the baitfish in the area to get more strikes.
Want to emulate a fleeing baitfish? Why not use the Reaction Strike Chunky Shad, a swimbait that actually looks the part. Swimbaits come in countless lengths, weights, and colors. Pick one that resembles the predominant baitfish size and color, and prepare to get jacked. Swimbaits are also effective when the feeding activity slows down, as their natural appeal can continue to draw strikes when other baits have quit.
6. Weedless Jigs
Weedless jigs like the Stanley Flip Max Jig are particularly effective at triggering schoolers in dirty water, or bass feeding near cover. If bass are feeding around cover, or in shallow water, there’s not much better than a baitfish patterned weedless jig to trigger massive strikes.
Updated April 21st, 2021 at 4:35 AM CT