If you are like me you grew up reading all the articles you could find in outdoor magazines like Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, Field and Stream and so many others. I would go to the school library during study hour just to make sure I read all of them. I devoured everything I could find and dreamed of exotic trips to far away places and catching stringers full of fish on all the new lures listed in the advertisements. I couldn't afford most of these lures but it didn't stop me from dreaming. One thing always stood out though and caught my eye above and beyond all the other articles. I always relished those Top 10 Lists. You know the ones.... "Top 10 Bass Lures!", "Top 10 Greatest Fishing Lures Ever Made", "Top 10 Lures Your Grandpa Used" and so many others. While I was paging through a vintage magazine recently it got me thinking maybe I should post my own Top Ten List. After all I've fished most of my life and have collected, handled and fished most of the lure designs ever put into production. Besides that I had the only other thing needed to create such a list, an opinion.
After some thought, I decided I would start a series of my own Top 10 Lists. These lists are completely my own opinion and reflect where I fish. Keep in mind I grew up and live in Wisconsin. Cold and long winters seriously limit the growing season of the fish. To put it into perspective for those of you in the south, a 5 pound bass in Wisconsin is a darn nice fish and has a good chance of being mounted. Heck the Wisconsin state record for a Largemouth Bass is 11 lbs. 3 oz. and that was caught in 1940 on Lake Ripley in Jefferson County. The Smallmouth Bass record is 9 lbs. 1 oz. caught in 1950 in Indian Lake in Oneida County. (Funny how all those old records stand up so well...) While 10 pound bass may be common in Florida, I can assure you they are not in Wisconsin. I've never even see a Wisconsin 10 pounder in my life.
Another rule I added to my methodolgoy was that I eliminated spinnerbaits and soft plastics from this list. They are fantastic lures, especially Mepps spinners but I wanted this list to be traditional crankbait type lures to keep it more interesting. It's great to throw a Mepps or a Texas rigged worm but old lures have so much more character.
So as to start the first of my MyBaitShop.com Top Ten List Series.... Drumroll please... from the headquarters in Neenah, Wisconsin here is my:
TOP 10 BEST FISHING LURES FOR BASS FISHING EVER MADE!
#10: Fred Arbogast Jitterbug:
OK, I know this is probably much higher up on a lot of your lists but keep in mind this is my list. Honestly I almost kept this lure off the list. Personally I have not caught that many bass on a Jitterbug. It is an all-time classic lure from Akron, Ohio. The main reason I did include it on the list is there may be nothing more exciting that casting that Jitterbug out in low light and hearing the clug clug clug of the bait across the water only to have an EXPLOSION of water erupt as a Largemouth Bass slams it. My go to lure in the heat of summer as the sun is almost gone. Doesn't always produce but sure is a blast when it does.
Surprised Storm made the list but not as the Wiggle Wart? I'm not. Often overlooked as the "less pretty sister" to the Wiggle Wart, the Thin Fin Hot 'N Tot is a go to bait for me. I like to throw this bait for northern pike and walleye as well but I really like bass fishing with it. Seems smallmouth and largemouth like this lure equally well. I've had much success in recent years on this bait. I love the fact there are seemingly endless colors to choose from and they're not too hard on the wallet. I switch up colors regularly if the current one isn't producing. If you haven't tied on one of these give them a try. The Thin Fin Hot 'N Tot is a nice lure.
Creek Chub had to make this list. I LOVE Creek Chub lures. I never had any as a kid but as I've collected antique Creek Chub fishing lures as an adult I have started to fill my tackle boxes with older warrior baits that are beat up. Boy do they catch fish! It was hard to narrow down to one lure but I ended up going with a Jointed Pikie and in Pikie color. The 2600 series was one of the most successful lures sold by Creek Chub. For me they catch just about anything. Northern, Bass, Musky, you name it, Creek Chub catches it. I enjoy throwing these when the bass are looking for something a little different. After local bass tournaments come through and the fish are wary to all of the usual the jointed Pikie generally comes through for me. Remember the George Perry record Largemouth Bass was caught on a Creek Chub lure (June 2, 1932 - 22 pounds, 4 ounces on a Fintail Shiner).
#7: Helin Flatfish:
OK. Say it. A Helin Flatfish? Yes a Helin Flatfish. Have you actually ever tried one of these? They are killer. Troll or cast they are tough to beat. There is a reason they are found in volume in nearly every tackle box you come across. Did you know that by 1972 over 40 million Flatfish had been sold! That is an amazing number and one that is much much larger today. The reason why so many have been sold is they work. Plain and simple as that. Hundreds if not thousands of variations of colors and sizes exist to keep you stocking tackle boxes for decades. Some of my best days fishing, and bass fishing have come from Helin Flatfish. If you doubt they work take a look at some of the old Helin catalogs Charles Helin used to put out. Picture after picture of monster catches of bass and other species. They are also quite affordable. Give them a try if you haven't already.
Did you know that more record bass, both smallmouth and largemouth have been caught on a Bomber than any other lure out there? Keep in mind these funny looking football shaped lures haven't been made in decades. I have only recently begun fishing vintage Bombers here in Wisconsin and let me tell you they are a blast. They get deep, provide a nice wiggle and are easy to cast and rip through weed edges. In fact I would guess that this is one lure on the list that is trending up for me personally. I plan to throw a lot of these this bass season and can't wait. The original Bombers were made of wood and later changed to plastic. Both work but I personally prefer wood lures whenever I can get them. Bombers came in a variety of sizes and many different colors. I am amazed that this bait is not made anymore even though Bomber Baits still exists. Head on over to our Bomber page and grab one of these, they tend to sell out fast. Want to learn more about Bomber's history and see a color chart, check out our brand new history page added in 2019. Find it here: Bomber Lures
#5: Chautauqua Piko Plug:
Talk about a fast riser on my list, this one came out of nowhere. Only last season did I discover Chautauqua and their amazing line of hand crafted wooden baits. I believe this is another Creek Chub in the making. Soon after discovering this company I began to try out their lures and even ordered a special color Strawberry. I fish a lot of stained waters in Northern Wisconsin and this pattern shows up well. We fished this bait hard all of 2017 and it was far and away the best bait for bass we had in the boat. Not only was it the top producer for me for smallmouth and largemouth bass but also for my two sons. We alternated between the standard Piko bait and the Lil' Piko, a slightly smaller version. The results were simply amazing. Going into the 2018 season this is our top bait in our tackle box. Because of the short tenure of success though I can't rank higher than #5 all time but hopefully it keeps producing.
#4: Lazy Ike:
The Lazy Ike is one of the all-time classic fishing lures (read a little about it's history on our history page). Originally made by Kautzky out of Fort Dodge, Iowa this one has been around for well over 70 years. The brand is now owned by Pradco and currently not produced. Hard to believe as this bait simply catches fish. Whether throwing the older wooden ones or the newer plastic versions the Ike is amazing. Lots of colors and sizes to fish but my go to for bass is still the classic. A number 3 in red and white as shown in the photo. You can work these fast or slow depending on the conditions and they consistently produce. I have been successfully using a Lazy Ike since I was a kid. There will always be a few of these in my tackle box. You can find these vintage Lazy Ikes in my store. We carry the largest selection of vintage Lazy Ikes you will find for sale anywhere on the internet.
I have fished Bagley's since obtaining a prized one as a kid from a friend of my Father. It was tough to decide which Bagley really makes the list. I went with my old stand by, the Small Fry Series. Whether it's the vintage Baby Bass version or any of the panfish bluegill, crappie or more these are great bass lures! I have caught so many fish on Bagley Small Fry's that rarely does a fishing trip go by that I don't throw one of these. These are hardly a secret but are a consistent producer year in and year out.
#2: Heddon River Runt:
Heddon has been in business since 1894 in one manner or another. Through their history you would be hard pressed to find a more recongnizable or popular bait than the River Runt. These came in many sizes, colors and styles but they all have one thing in common, they flat out catch fish. I'm amazed that the current Heddon owner no longer produces this lure. Luckily you can always find them on our Heddon page for sale. I have been fishing Heddon River Runts since my youth and they continue to catch bass every single year for me. If you had to fish with only one lure, you could do a lot worse than a River Runt.
Here we are at my number one. This was a tough one for me. I like all of these lures and many more that didn't make my top ten. It really came down to a single fishing day I had many years ago. We were fishing a small river and had thrown anything and everything all day long and didn't have a single strike. In desperation I tied on this newer lure I had a Baby Bass Rebel Baitfish Series. On the second cast I caught a nice bass. A few casts later another bass. Before all was said and done I had my limit on bass in about fifteen minutes. Since this time the Rebel comes out of my tackle box on a regular basis and it produces. Largemouth, smallmouth and so much more will hit these baits. Plus they just look cool. Catching bass and catching my eye put this one over the top into my number one position. These haven't been made in a couple of decades but still can be found and bought on my Rebel page.
Well that's my Top 10, subject to change as soon as my next fishing trip:) It was a fun exercise to really put them down on paper. Some hard choices as I got towards the number one spot. I hope you have enjoyed this as well. Leave a comment below and let me know your top ten.