BlogFebruary 2023

The Five Best Winter Fishing Lures

The Five Best Winter Fishing Lures

By Andy Whitcomb

Feb 13, 2023

Fish bite differently in cold water because of low metabolism and not feeding as frequently. Here are a few lures that can still draw strikes during winter.

Winter, of course, means cold, cold water that, as fishing personality Mark Zona says, may even have several inches of a “lid” over it. Experienced anglers assemble the best lures for winter fishing based on a different kind of “bite.” In cold water, fish are understandable sluggish and in a foul mood so lures are chosen to get a reaction bite, rather than an “I’m hungry” bite. Here are the best fishing lures for winter.


1. Lipless Crankbait

This versatile, hyperactive, wobbling attention-getter, makes any list of best winter bass fishing lures. As the name implies, there is no lip to help it dive so it sinks rather rapidly, fluttering on the way down. Due to the dual treble hooks and my normal weedy haunts, this lure rarely makes my lure rotation until winter, when there is less vegetation to snag. During a Bassmaster Classic on year, I was amazed at how rapidly Kevin Vandam worked a lipless crankbait in a cove that was iced over just a day earlier. Letting it flutter down a few feet to the top of decomposing weeds, then ripping it up and letting it flutter down again, he kept warm landing enough chunky, “sulking” largemouth bass to win the tournament.


2. Jerkbait

Another best winter bass fishing lures party attendee, this long, narrow lure has is a lipped crankbait. Depending on the model, this lure is may slowly sink, float, or suspend. Although it can act as a standard lipped crankbait and just be reeled in slow and steadily, where it excels is when it stops doing anything. Reel to desired depth, then start trying to figure out a cadence varying the number of jerks between pauses. Also, experiment with the length of each pause, which in cold weather can mean astonishingly long. One way to learn how to use this lure is to include it among your best bass lures for winter pond fishing. In ponds, the odds of an interaction with bass usually are in your favor so this will help with confidence—and believing—in cold larger waters.


3. Jig

Jigs also are included in the best winter fishing lures for a couple of reasons. First, they rocket to the bottom. Then, because they are only equipped with a single hook, they can be hopped across the bottom in places where treble hooks would get hung up in remaining vegetation. Jigs also vary greatly in size, shape, and weight. The best fishing lures for bass in winter can mean downsizing to a jig normally reserved for sunfish in warmer waters. Jigs also should be included with the best lures for winter pond fishing because they are fairly tolerant of brush piles and docks.


4. Swimbait

On the flip side, this lure is where I will upsize. Not only does a 4-5” swimbait make the list of best lures for winter bass fishing, but it also makes the list of best lures for winter pike fishing, walleye fishing, and muskie fishing too. Usually, this lure has a single hook too so it can be retrieved slow enough to remain in close contact with the bottom, forcing big, lethargic fish to make a quick cost benefit analysis and react to a large, seemingly easy feast.


5. Spoon

Nothing flutters like a spoon, making it a chief component on the list of best winter fishing lures. Normally armed with a treble hook, it connects with fish that cannot help but snap at something with that much dying fish action. In fact, not only is the spoon among the best fishing lures for winter bass but also spring, summer, and fall bass as well. Varying in sizes, shapes, and weights too, a good ol’ winter spoon is always nearby for target species like smallmouth bass, pike, and steelhead.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.