Joey's Must Have Baits by Season

Name: Ryan Moore

Subject: What's in your box?

Message: I would love to get behind the "Curtain Of Oz" to know what you guys have in your tackle box. The "must" have's. The "never leave home with out it", kind of stuff. Thanks!

p.s. When does the new season start, and the Sweetwater clothing come out?

(Sent via Sweetwater Blog)


Fishing can be a complex sport and must be taken in a step by step, season by season fashion, in order truly learn and grow as an angler! One of the biggest questions I hear across the country is what baits do you just simply not leave home without. To answer the question I really like to break it down by season, spring, summer, fall, winter. This progression from season to season is sure to help you understand that most baits have there very own peak periods of performance and are not effective year around.


Giant early spring spotted bass caught on zman diezel minnowz!!!

Giant early spring spotted bass caught on zman diezel minnowz!!!

Spring is an interesting time where bass have two things on their mind in this order, eat, and then spawn. That being said if I'm fishing early spring conditions with water temperatures in the 50 to 60 degree range I tend to fish more moving aggressive reaction baits. One of my favorites and probably the most effective pre spawn spring bait ever invented is the Umbrella Rig. This big bulky rig is perfect for triggering a hungry aggressive pre spawn bass and is definitely something I would not leave home without! I love to throw a Hooch Gooch rig baited with Zman ElaZtech DieZel MinnowZ. Their 4 inch size and insane durability make them a perfect choice. As spring moves on the spawn will generally begin around the first full moon in which the water temperature is above 60 degrees. When this happens my approach drastically changes. Previously aggressive bait chasing bass will become very lethargic with a one track mind to reproduce. My bait of choice for the spawn is definitely the Carolina Rig. I believe that the weight clanging through the bed irritating the fish fallowed by a threatening lizard imitation is far too much for a protective bass to resist. 


Big bag of late spring bass

Big bag of late spring bass

Summer is all about post spawn feeding and is generally a consistent season throughout the months of June, July, and August. While fast moving baits such as deep diving crankbaits are very effective in this time period my all time favorite can't leave home without summer bait is a Shakey Head. The Shakey Head setup which consists of a jig head and a straight tail worm has proven to be a fish catching machine from coast to coast! It can be fished shallow around boat docks with a 1/8oz jig head or it can be fished in 30 feet of water with a 3/8oz jig head. Deep to shallow this slow moving bait is irresistible to bass. I have personally landed hundreds of fish in the 3lb to 6lb range on a Shakey Head. I would keep your color selections simple with either green pumpkin or watermelon being hard to beat choices.


Fall can be a little bit tricky and tends to be more of a, "junk fishing", time of year. So instead of just giving one single bait for that time period I would rather share what my general progression is on a standard day of fishing in the fall. I like to start out by throwing a topwater bait, such as a Spro Dawg 100 or a Buzzbait. This is a great way to pick up a big bonus fish early in the morning. As the sun gets high in the sky I like to split up my day of fishing utilizing two patterns. The patterns that produce best for me are flipping soft plastic baits under docks, as well as fishing a Shakey Head worm in deep brush piles off shore! If you piece these three tactics together it is sure to equal a successful day of fish catching!


Winter fishing can naturally be a little chilly and a little slow. While days can seem long with few bites this is honestly one of the best times of year to truly catch the fish of a lifetime! Day in and day out a rubber skirted Stanley Finesse Jig is my very favorite winter bait. I like to fish my jig in deep water near creek channels or river channels, while making sure my bait stays tight to rocks or submerged brush piles! Fish the jig painfully slow and wait to feel the pressure of a giant bass on the end of your line.

I hope this helps and if you ever have any questions about fishing you can submit them at!

I'll see you on the water!

Joey Nania