The Best Fall Bass Fishing Lures: Top Choices for Cooler Temps

Coty Perry

There are a couple of things you need to know about fall bass fishing lures.

First, they need to be smaller. Most fishing is done in shallow water during this time and many bass lose some of their aggression as the temperature drops.

Second, the water is pretty clear in the fall so that impacts the intensity of your presentation. 

Not sure what all of that means?

No worries, because I was there at one point.

After more than a decade of fishing all four seasons, I’ve got it down to a science and I’ve consulted with some of the best bass fishermen in the world to bring you the best fall bass fishing lures.

1. Buzzbaits 

best lures for bass fishing - buzzbaits

Buzzbaits are really one of those lures that are great all year long.

When they really succeed is when fish are hugging shallow cover and this happens a lot during the fall when the water temperatures start to drop.

Take it from three-time Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam

“A lot of weekend anglers have forgotten about buzzbaits, and that is a mistake,” says VanDam. “When the fish are using shallow water cover, the buzzbait will flush them out.

When it comes to fall bass fishing lures, buzzbaits contain a lot of the characteristics you’re looking for in the ideal lure.

“It’s a great tool for locating bass in the shallows,” he explains.

“When I’m checking out new areas, I move quickly and make a lot of casts until I get a bite. It may not be the only lure that I use during a tournament, but it’s an important one for finding fish.”

The white Strike King Buzzbait is my lure of choice because it comes in a .25 ounce size which is ideal for working the shallows in clear water.

Another thing that Kevin really stresses is understanding the difference in water clarity through Spring, Summer, and Fall.

“If the water is clear, it means the fish are seeing the bait too well and are not as aggressively striking it,” says Kevin VanDam.

“A change to a more subtle skirt color can make a big difference.” If the water is stained and they’re missing, VanDam switches to a slower, popper-style topwater.

When the water clarity is high, it’s easy to intimidate the fish so you’ll want to size down the lure and change to a more subtle color like the white Strike King I referenced here.

2. Swimbaits

best lures for bass fishing - swimbaits

Swimbaits have really expanded over the years into a variety of different markets.

You now have so many different lures that people call swimbaits that it makes it difficult to actually identify what we’re looking for and talking about here.

When I refer to a swimbait I’m talking about soft bodied swimbaits, no joints, and lures that mimic most soft plastic worms and minnows.

These are one of the best fall baits for bass because they are more active at this time because the water temperatures have cooled but not to the level that would make them lethargic like in late fall.

The Berkley Power Swimmer is a great choice because it produces a vibration in the water due to it’s ribbed body.

This attracts bass that are more aggressive than the small ones hanging around and getting in the way of the catch you want.

Many of these lures also have scents which makes them smell like real baitfish. This means they not only attract largemouth bass with their appearance but also with their scent.

One of the keys to catching bass during this time is subtlety. You don’t want to stand out too much, make too much noise, and you want to blend in however possible. 

The Jonhcoo 3D shad is another great option for swimbaits. This lure is incredibly realistic with 3D eyes and a soft silicone body meant to imitate the appearance of a shad.

It’s also 3.94” so it’s not the smallest lure out there which will help you scare away the less than one pound bass and attract everything larger.

This one comes with a natural swimming body and tail as well that twitches and hops as you work it through the water. I recommend a slow and steady working presentation

If you do decide that swimbaits are the lure of choice, I think they make the best early fall bass lures because of their increased size and action.

You’ll find that when the water temperatures are still pretty warm, you can work these really nice in deeper water as well as cover in the early morning and evenings when the water has cooled down.

If you’re a fan of swimbaits and you want to learn more, check out our complete review of the best swimbaits here. 

3. Spinnerbaits 

best lures for bass fishing - spinnerbaits

When the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, one sure-fire way to heat up your fishing game is with spinnerbaits.

When it comes to October bass fishing baits, it’s hard to beat spinners.

There’s this challenging in-between period where it can be 40 degrees one day and 90 the next day. That’s how it is in most of the Northeast through the Midwest.

Those of us who are serious about angling won’t give up though.

For spinnerbaits in the fall, I like to use a Booyah Colorado spinner in the most modest color ever.

You also want to size down to a ¼ ounce or 3/8 ounce according to FLW Tour Pro Clayton Batts.

“At this point, the shad are as far back in the creeks as they can go,” Batts said.

“The bass have ‘em herded into small, easy-to-predict areas, but you have to use a subtle spinnerbait. I use a 1/4-ounce because if you use one much heavier, it’s going to sound like a basketball landing in the shallow water and will totally spook the fish. A smaller spinnerbait will also increase your efficiency because you won’t be scraping the leaves and pine straw off the bottom.

In the fall, you want to look towards isolated cover where the big bass are.

This means trying to find areas that seem out of the ordinary and might be nestled right in the middle of a big open space.

This could mean that there are a number of bass hanging around there on their travels for food or headed deeper in the water as the temperature warms up.

This is especially true during the early fall transition period.

I’m also a big fan of the Goture Double Willow Bladed spinners for when the bass are active.

If you’re fishing through mid-morning into the afternoon on a day when the outside temperature ranges in the low to mid-60s you’ll find a lot of success with these.

The clear water clarity paired with the warmer temperatures can make for a more active bass. 

The double willow bladed spinners will create a lot of light in the water if the sun is shining. These work great during periods of high activity.

Go with something natural like a crawfish when the water is clear and work them near areas of isolated cover.

I actually recommend spinnerbaits all year long and I don’t think you can go wrong with them. To dive deeper into spinnerbaits, check out our complete review of the best spinnerbaits for bass here. 

4. Crankbaits

best lures for bass fishing - crankbaits

One of the primary things we’re always keeping in mind with fall bass baits is that we are targeting schooled up fish that are likely looking for something natural and subtle.

For this reason, if you choose to fish crankbaits in the fall you want to go with a lipless crankbait like the Rapala Rattler.

This crank looks a lot like a baitfish and it provides a natural presentation that is easy to work. These work especially well near brush piles, downed trees, and low hanging trees.

On the flip side, you can still use square bill crankbaits like the Strike King KVD and a lot of anglers will swear by them.

When the water temperatures are still warm in the 70-80 degree range you can throw square billed cranks that are chasing shad around the channel. 

I also like fishing in areas where rivers and streams meet the lake. There is a lot of oxygen and microorganisms coming from the rivers and working their way down into the lake.

The bass will hang out here a lot as the temperature starts to work its way down. I think going with white, black, or chartreuse is the best choice.

If you’d like to learn more about these crankbaits and a few others, check out our comprehensive review of the best crankbaits for catching bass here. 

5. Jigs 

best lures for bass fishing - jigs

Last but not least we have jigs for bass.

The reason jigs are one of the best baits for fall bass fishing is because you can use them anytime!

You can use jigs to fish anytime of year but you need to tweak your approach and presentation based on when and where you’re fishing.

According to MLF Pro David Walker:

“In fall, the jig bite tends to get overlooked,” Walker observes.

“This can be the toughest time of the year to catch fish here in eastern Tennessee. But one of my favorite things to do now is to downsize a jig. It’ll get you more bites.”

He says that downsizing your jigs is the key and this has become a common trend across the article if you haven’t realized. You need to cater to what the fish want when you’re fishing for them.

In this scenario, the cold water temperatures cause the bass to slow down, and as a result you need to slow down your presentation and size down your lures.

“Water tends to be clearer in fall,” he says. “You don’t have the runoff you had in spring. It’s usually pretty dry. For me, that smaller profile and natural profile and color trailer work better.”

He also talks about downsizing your trailer which is important too. You can use a small soft plastic paired with a ¼ ounce or 3/8 ounce jig and be good to go.

Sometimes there’s no reason to get too fancy. The Bico ⅜ ounce jigs are a great choice because they come in a variety of colors and they’re the perfect size for this time of year.

These are also the best late fall bass lures because they’re more subtle.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best color for a fall bass lure?

The best color for a fall bass lure depends on the water clarity. If the water is clear, go with a natural color like a craw. If the water is murky go with a bright color like yellow or orange.

What is the best early fall bass bait?

Buzzbaits and other blade baits are the best early fall bass bait because the bass are still active and this aggressive presentation really gets them going.

What do bass bite in the fall?

Bass bite spinnerbaits in the fall. Willow and Colorado blades are the most popular and help create a lot of noise banging off docks, stumps, and other cover.

Final Thoughts 

At this point, you should have a firm understanding of what fall bass fishing lures you should use and why.

When you understand how the bass are behaving, what they’re thinking, and what they’re planning for it makes it a lot easier to understand how to catch them.

Remember, the key is to think like a bass and give them what they want. 

You also want to play it day-by-day because the fall is unpredictable.

One day it’s 70 and sunny and the next day it’s 40 and rainy.

There’s no one-size-fits-all option for fall bass. 

That said, if you want to learn more about techniques, presentations, and fall bass habits, check out my guide on fall bass fishing.

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