Bass fishing is one of the most popular choices among anglers of all backgrounds and experience levels. It’s fun, versatile, and highly satisfying when you get a bass back to the bank or boat. If you want to experience those joys, though, the right choice of lure or bait is vital. Prop baits for bass fishing should be close to the top of your agenda.
By the end of this guide to prop baits for bass fishing, you will know the answers to the following questions:
- What are prop baits?
- When should prop baits for bass fishing be used?
- How should fish prop baits be used?
- What are the best prop baits on the market?
- What other items should be used in the bass fishing setup?
Whether you’re just looking to test the waters or want to make prop baits a key feature of your setup, here’s all you need to know.
What are Prop Baits?
Prop baits are an increasingly popular choice of lure for bass fishing. They are hard bodied lures that share similar features with various crankbaits for bass fishing. However, they are distinguishable by the fact that they feature a propeller at the front and/or back of the bait. Hence the name,
Considered a topwater lure, prop baits are known for creating surface explosions to attract predator fish like bass. However, they are perhaps a little more versatile than alternative baits in this category, allowing you to fish with them in a variety of setups and situations. This includes aggressive topwater strikes and subtle topwater presentations.
Prop baits may sound like an advanced feature to a novice. In reality, they have existed since the late 1940s when the iconic Devil Horse (which is still manufactured to this day) was released. This type of bait is made to replicate the look of a real small fish but also carries a torpedo-like shape to help it move through the water in a way that attracts bites.
The fundamentals of using prop baits are quite simple. You simply cast it out and then retrieve it by using your reel. The key is to ensure that you use enough speed to activate the propeller, without going so fast that it outswims the bass you’re trying to catch.
While prop baits endured an extended period of declining popularity, they have enjoyed something of a revival in more recent times. They are a great addition to any bass fishing angler looking for topwater fishing.
Best Prop Baits Setup (type of rod & reel to use, line, etc)
Prop baits are relatively versatile in that they can be used in open spaces and grassy zones. While the prop bait itself will have a huge influence on your bass fishing activities, you will still need the right setup to gain the best experience. Focus on these three aspects.
The rod choice for prop baits and bass fishing
When considering rod selections for bass fishing with prop baits, you must remember that you will probably want a long cast. After all, the prop baits will be retrieved at a quick speed. So, you need to cast a good distance to have enough time for attracting a bite.
A medium-heavy action casting rod should work in your favor, which will allow you to gain a healthy strike zone. Anything shorter than 6.5’ may struggle, although a 7’ or 7.5’ rod will achieve the very best results.
Medium-heavy action rods additionally lend themselves to a smoother pull strike action, which is more effective than a jolted snatch.
The reel choice for prop baits and bass fishing
The reel choice is another pivotal decision in building the best bass fishing setup that utilizes prop baits. A high-speed baitcasting reel is the only choice, and it should boast a gear ratio of 6.3:1 or higher. Ideally, you’ll find a reel that’s around 6.8:1.
Going any higher than that is a little unsuited for topwater fishing, especially when used with the torpedo-like prop baits. While spinning tackle can be used for topwater fishing, most anglers will prefer baitcasting reels.
Crucially, this choice of bass fishing reel will partner well with medium-heavy action rods.
The line choice for prop baits and bass fishing
The line used for bass fishing with prop baits may be partly determined by your experience levels as an angler, particularly in relation to topwater fishing. If you are a newbie, a fluorocarbon line in the 15lb to 20lb range will probably work best.
However, an experienced angler who is confident with braided lines. A 30lb straight braid provides an excellent solution, although you will need to take care to prevent the threat of the line getting caught around the propeller.
The line needs to have enough strength to carry the prop baits and the bass, but you don’t want it to sink quickly. Find the sweet spot and you won’t go wrong.
How to Fish Prop Baits
Firstly, prop baits are designed for topwater fishing. The propellers won’t work or create a point of attraction when underwater.
The versatile lures can be retrieved in several ways. A simple stop-and-go retrieve can be achieved with short and sharp pulls on the rod. This keeps the propellers moving while giving bass enough time to react. Alternatively, it is possible to use a steady buzzbait-like method.
Slight presentations are best used for calm waters, especially over beds where you want to create enough of a disturbance to attract a strike. When fishing over covers, you can anticipate a strike just after the lure passes the cover. A rip action will usually be the best method for actually hooking the bass ahead of the fight.
Here are some additional tips that may come in handy when using prop baits for bass fishing:
- Creating a V shape on the water’s surface is achieved with a steady reeling.
- Reeling at a pace to increase the sound output creates an extra attraction.
- You can replicate a natural movement by stopping, and then twitching the bait.
- Short downward twitches will help you slowly guide prop baits through the cover.
- If a strategy and speed are working, persist with it.
Finally, some prop baits can be modified by removing the propeller and placing it backward. This changes the surface level disruption to the water, which allows you to create more commotion and gain more attention from fish without moving too far from the lily pads or grass.
When to Use Prop Baits
Prop baits are quite a versatile solution for all topwater fishing adventures but may deliver greater success under different circumstances. Some situations in which they work well include;
- When other bass fishing lures have been ineffective because fish are often less familiar with the prop baits.
- When trying to coax out a single fish rather than target a school or shoal of bass as the surface disruption should grab their attention.
- Around the time of spawning. This could be during the spawn, or when the bass are either pre-spawning or post-spawning.
- When the waters are clear as the lure itself can be difficult for bass to spot if the surface conditions aren’t great.
- Shortly after it has rained as there will have been water disruption and the bass are likely to be located in shallow, oxygenated waters.
Prop baits can be used in windy conditions to great effect too. It is the ideal solution for breaking up tough waters to create surface disruptions that subsequently yield a large strike zone. Fishing next to cover or standing timber is another popular method.
In the summer, particularly when it’s dry, you can target areas where the shallow waters meet deep waters. Bass will regularly stay around this area and the prop baits will not go unnoticed. Again, this can work very well in areas where heavy cover is in place.
When crankbaits and alternative solutions aren’t up to the task, prop baits deliver a fantastic solution that will ensure your day on the lake is far more productive. Regardless of the season.
Best Prop Bait Lures
Prop baits have been around for decades while plenty of new items reach the market each year. Here are five solutions that will serve you well on your next bass fishing adventure.
Heddon Torpedo Prop-Bait Topwater Fishing Lure
The Heddon range of torpedo prop bait fishing lures offers a range of sizes and colors. With their streamlined torpedo shape and rear propellers, they create a lot of surface disturbance, making them the perfect choice when using sharp, erratic movements.
Yo-Zuri 3DB Prop Floating Lure
Featuring large rear propeller blades and excellent anti-sink attributes, the Yo-Zuri lure creates a lot of surface commotion while its 3.5” size and grey scales look like a real fish. The black nickel treble hooks are shown to deliver great reliability when striking too.
Aneew 5 Pack Topwater Crankbait Bass Fishing Lures
The five-pack of 4” lures gives you a wonderful selection of colors to choose from to ensure that your bait stands out against any surroundings. The torpedo shapes move across the water with good surface disruption while the blood trough hooks are very reliable during the fight.
KRLAO Topwater Frog Lure
Prop baits do not have to replicate fish, as is shown by the dual-propeller frog lures. The pack of three lures offers a suitable color for virtually all scenarios while they are 3.5” long, making them big enough to be spotted by bass, especially with the surface water movements.
Berkley Topwater Fishing Hard Baits
The Berkley range of prop baits features propellers at the front and rear, creating a lot of water disturbance to create a huge strike zone. The hollow bodied lures feature a realistic scales design and 3D eye while two treble hooks will help catch any bass that strikes.