Man, do I love pond fishing for largemouth bass and I have been experimenting with the best bass bait for ponds and small lakes since I was a child. This is how I grew up and still how I catch most of my fish. As a kid my parents would drop me off at my grandparents house for the summer. They lived in the Ozark Mountains, and my grandfather owned one of the biggest private hog farms in the state. It was littered with farm ponds that were full of monster largemouths.
I still have a photo of one of my first memories. A three year old me is holding a five pound bass with my grandfather in front of one of those farm ponds. We learned to fish around the lily pads, moss, and logs to get the big ones biting. We sometimes would use a rubber worm, and sometimes we would pop a topwater at dawn or dusk. We found a variety of different lures that worked well for largemouth bass in farm ponds.
While bass are sometimes more likely to spook in small bodies of water, they can still strike aggressively. Sometimes a lighter lure works better in these tighter spaces. There are three primary types of bass baits we can discuss. These are bladed lures, plugs, and soft plastics. They all come in a variety of colors and sizes that work well.
As a general rule, you should use lighter colored lures in clear water. This would include silver, white, light green, orange, and yellow lures. When the water is clear, the fish will be more focused on colors. In ponds, often the water is murky. When this is the case, bass will strike on shadows rather than colors. Dark colored lures create the best shadow in muddy water, so purple, blue, green, brown, and black all work well. The only exception to this rule is that pink lures can be seen in both water conditions. We are going to get specific on these lures, but keep in mind that you can find comparable lures that will accomplish the same thing. Here are the lures that we find work best on pond bass.
The Best Bass Bait for Ponds & Small Lakes
Four Inch Green Pumpkin Yamamoto Senko
Plastic worms have always been part of my bass arsenal and probably top most fishermen’s list for the best bass bait for ponds, small lakes and really anywhere the bass live. For most of my fishing career, I used plastic worms in a rotation with several other styles of lures. Then about ten years ago I started picking the brain of one of the best bass fishermen I know. He said he only uses dark colored plastic worms. Since then, I have started to rely much more on these lures.
Plastic worms have been bringing bass our of farm ponds for eighty years. I find that the brownish green coloring for the green pumpkin pattern is ideal for muddy waters. It creates a shadow that drive the bass crazy. This model gives you lots of movement as well.
I have found that the key for these kinds of lures is hook placement. I like to use hooks with extended shafts so I can run them further down the length of the worm before the point pokes out. I generally like the hook to come out of the worm about halfway to the tail. Originally, I placed the hook further up and had lost of strikes without setting many hooks. Once I adjusted the hook placement, I started setting hooks on almost every strike. This is known as a wacky style rig. You can also use a Texas style rig or use a jig head if you want to try something different.
Fred Arbogast Hula Popper
This lure is one of the most widely used poppers on the market and is quite similar to what I used every day as a kid. I still break this out when the light is low and I need some action. As is with most poppers, the lure floats on the surface and has a concave face to create air bubbles when popped. As you retrieve your lure, you jerk your wrist. This forces the concave face across the surface of the water creating a gulping sound. It has legs trailing behind that create some additional movement.
With topwaters, you really don’t need to worry too much about the color. This one is all about sound and movement. The Frog pattern is the one I have always used, and it has produced well. It is common for anglers to pop this lure too often thinking this is the only way to draw in fish. The movement of the legs in the water is just as important as the popping action. Give the lure a moment to sit there before popping it again.
Quarter Ounce Black Johns Beetlespin
This is one of those smaller spinnerbait options but catches big bass as our choice for the top spinner in the best bass bait for ponds category. It has a single Colorado blade and a plastic grub body that is smaller than many lures. The silver blade with the black grub is excellent as the dark grub creates a shadow in murky water and the blade creates a shimmer that resembles a baitfish in clearer water. To work the lure, you simply cast it out and retrieve it at a stead pace. The blade creates vibrations along with the shimmer, so it needs no action from you. This lure works great in tight spots when you have weeds or logs to work around as it is relatively weedless.
Three Inch Chartreuse Mister Twister Grub
This style of rubber grub came out about fifty years ago, and I have a few tackle boxes full of them. They are shorter than a standard rubber worm and have a curly tail that creates more action. I use these constantly on crappie, but they are one of the best bass bait for ponds too. To rig them up, I usually just use a 1/8 ounce jig head. You can cast and retrieve using the tail to create vibrations, or you can work your jig across the bottom. Both dark and light colors can work depending on the clarity of the water.
Number Eight Silver and Black Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait
Yes, the name of this one is a mouthful. It is actually just a modern version of the famous Rapala Floating Minnow that I have used for decades. There are just a few minor improvements to this lure. This is a hard body plug that is sometimes called a jerk lure because of the action used. It is a floating diver, so it starts on the surface but dips down about three feet when pulled in. The best way to bring it in is to give it a good jerk or two and then let it set for a moment by giving it slack. This action combined with the silver and black coloring make it look like an injured baitfish.
Quarter Ounce Gold Johnson Silver Minnow Spoon
This lure is a typical shiny spoon and has been around almost as long as anglers have used artificial lures. This gold spoon flips around in the water like a wounded baitfish catching the sun. It is mostly weedless making it ideal for weedy farm ponds. It works great in lily pads as you can bounce them over the top and drop them in little holes to shimmer for a few seconds. The bass can’t resist the vibrations and the flash of light. I have also had one of these in my tackle box for decades.
1/8 Ounce Worden’s Original Roostertail
There were actually a few of these roostertails in my very first tackle box given to me by my father. It is an inline spinner often used for sunfish or trout, but it can work well on bass too. Bright colors seem to get the attention of the bass the best. The simplicity of the retrieval is one of the best parts of this lure. You just cast it out and retrieve it slow and steady. The blade does all the work creating shine and vibration. Use this for clear water as it is not weedproof at all.
Quarter Ounce Booyah Buzz Bait
These funky looking lures are designed to draw in fish when you don’t really know where they are. They stay on the surface creating vibrations and shimmer with the blades. Not only will this action draw in fish from a distance, but it typically attracts larger fish. They work best around vegetation, and just need to be retrieved at a steady speed.
Livetarget Frog | Topwater Best Bass Bait for Ponds
A list of the best bass bait for ponds would never be complete without a rubber frog lure. These are weedless, so they are great to bounce across lily pads and grasses. Sometimes the bass will miss on their strike because the frog stays partially out of the water. Just leave it in that spot so the bass can try again. This is one of the few lures you will find that really needs vegetation to work properly.
I really tried to give you the best option available for each of the types of lures that I use on pond bass. You will find all of these lures in my tackle boxes. I don’t always take them all with me, but they all get used. When I need to bank on just one lure, the dark colored plastic worm will always reign supreme. Frogs and poppers are my most common backup plans if I want to change it up.
The truth is that any of these lures could work well for you depending on when and where you fish. Vary the colors you select based on the sunlight and the clarity of the water. This can sometimes make all of the difference in the world. Also, practice varying your cast and retrieval based on which lure you are using. If you pick the right lure and you retrieve it the right way, who knows how many monster bass you will catch?