How to Choose a Striped Bass Fishing Lure


Updated on November 9, 2022 by
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When it comes to selecting any specific lure for striped bass fishing, it’s best to start out by identifying whether you’ll be fishing in freshwater, saltwater, or brackish water where rivers meet the coastal areas and empty into the ocean. Striped bass can be found in abundant numbers in all three locations and catching them often requires a tailored approach using lures that very closely resemble their favorite menu items. 

You can also catch striped bass by fishing in the surf from your favorite beach, as well as trolling with an umbrella rig along the middle of a large river in the midwestern United States. The territory of the striped bass is as expansive as any in North America and their appetite sometimes shows specific preference for certain fish in each type of habitat where they can be found. 

In most cases, anglers will use live bait rigs to catch striped bass, especially in cases where they are fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers for landlocked bass that can’t make it out into the ocean. These live bait options typically include cut crappie, cut bream and even whole crappie in some cases when they are specifically targeting giant striped bass. 

The use of live bait doesn’t necessarily equate to more success when compared to fishing with artificial lures. Anglers who know how to leverage the natural bait fish species that stripers are usually targeting can often select an artificial lure that will very closely mimic the look and movements of the striped bass’ favorite prey. 

Striped Bass Lures next to a fish and knife

Crankbaits

When it comes to selecting a good crankbait for striped bass fishing, it’s best to consider using these types of lures during the mild spring and fall months when striped bass might be schooling in lakes or even in the ocean. When fishing in lakes with crankbaits, you can usually expect to have success by fishing around points or humps that rise up out of the depths and allow these fish to ambush unsuspecting bait fish that happen to swim by. 

Anglers have been known to use anything from deep diving crankbaits to lipless cranks in order to draw strikes from hungry striped bass at different times of the year. If you can locate striped bass that are chasing large schools of shad in lakes and rivers using electronics, you should have a good idea of the depth that you need to target these fish at. 

Using this knowledge, you should then select a crankbait capable of reaching that depth and cast it so that the lure will pass by the area where the shad schools are running. 

Crankbaits
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Spoon Lures

Another highly popular type of lure that anglers use to catch striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater environments are spoon lures. These can be fished at a wide variety of depths while also allowing anglers to incorporate certain movements and techniques that might work to draw a strike in any environment. 

Much like crankbaits, spoons work well if they look very similar to the shad that striped bass are chasing at the time. The silver color is always a winning choice, but anglers might often select a spoon that has other colors and tones mixed in to help the lure more closely resemble the type of prey that striped bass are looking for at the time. 

Swimbaits

Plastic swimbaits are one of the most popular types of artificial lures that anglers have begun using to catch stripers in recent years. These lures are often produced to make them look highly realistic, making it even easier to fool even the largest and most mature striped bass into biting. 

There are huge varieties of different soft and hard-bodied swimbaits that are known to work when it comes to striped bass fishing. It’s always important to choose a swimbait that very closely resembles the type of bait fish striped bass happen to be chasing at any given time of year. 

By fishing these lures around large schools of shad and migrating striped bass, you can give yourself a serious advantage over anyone who might be using other types of lures that are less realistic in size, shape and motion. 

Topwater Lures

There’s one type of lure that’s by far our favorite when it comes to striped bass fishing. There’s nothing quite as exciting as fishing with a topwater lure when striped bass are feeding on the water’s surface or in areas around where shad are schooling in lakes and other waterways. The heart-pounding action is as intense as ever watching the lure gurgle its way across the water’s surface as you wait for a massive striped bass to erupt out of the water and devour the lure, which begins an intense fight to land the fish. 

There are a number of topwater lures that will work when it comes to striped bass fishing and one might work more efficiently than another depending on what the striped bass are in the mood to bite on any given day. Anglers are known to use anything from poppers to buzzbaits and even whopper ploppers to elicit bites from hungry striped bass that have their eyes tuned toward the surface. 

Striped Bass Fishing in Lakes 

Anglers all over the United States are known to have lakes of all sizes throughout most of the states that hold large numbers of striped bass. Depending on whether these bass are trapped in the lake and river system that feeds into it due to large dams across the rivers, they might sometimes come and go throughout the year. 

Striped bass are an anadromous fish species. In a natural setting, striped bass are known to live most of their lives in the ocean while migrating up into rivers and areas of brackish water to spawn once a year. In some cases, striped bass are limited to living their entire lives inside these large reservoirs and stretches of rivers that empty into or out of these lakes. 

The striped bass that are restricted to living their entire lives in freshwater have shown no signs of experiencing health defects or other problems related to being limited to a freshwater-only life. They show much of the same behavior that striped bass which live in the ocean do in terms of their diet and spawning habits. 

When it comes to fishing for these striped bass, you’ll need to focus in on the types of smaller bait fish and other species that they tend to gravitate toward at certain times of the year. During the months when you’ll find large schools of shad swimming together in these lakes, you can guarantee that there will be monster striped bass nearby, often hunting and chasing these schools to pick off any and every fish they possibly can. 

Striped bass

Striped Bass Fishing in the Ocean 

The best striped bass fishing is often that which takes place in coastal waters near the shoreline of the mainland United States. Throughout much of the year, anglers will fish in certain areas where striped bass are known to prowl the shoreline in search of schools of fish and other types of meals. 

Striped bass can be found mostly along sections of the Atlantic Ocean and can be caught throughout the entire year using different techniques and methods. You can usually expect to find striped bass in the deeper waters of the ocean off the coast of the eastern half of the United States. 

These fish migrate during the cooler months of spring and fall once the water temperature drops. They will also use the oceans to migrate back toward the warmer southern waters during the cold winter months and the first states that begin to see this migration are those in the upper reaches of New England. 


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Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.