March 09, 2015
Wakebaits are deadly weapons for bass in a variety of scenarios. You can throw them with confidence virtually anytime bass are shallow, cruising weedtops, or busting baitfish topside over deep water. Generally characterized by flat, downward-facing lips, they produce pronounced side-to-side head wobbles and ample water displacement. And of course, wakebaits swim just beneath the surface, creating the namesake "wake" of a crippled baitfish that can't dive to safety.
Each season, manufacturers expand the arsenal of wakebait options at our disposal. As a result, our choices now span the spectrum in size, color, and profile. Segmented bodies add extra possibilities, as do cupped metal lips, skirting, propellers, and a number of other accoutrements. The following lineup includes a few of our favorite wakebaits that are fine choices, all, for your next subsurface sleight of hand.
Arbogast Jitterbug Jointed Clicker
- Though revered as a topwater, the broken-back Jitterbug also makes a fine subsurface bulge when you speed up the retrieve and keep a low rod tip. The cupped lip is also a departure from wakebait norms, but that can work in your favor when the gurgles trigger strikes from jaded bass than have been strafed by a thousand standard, straight-lipped wakebaits. Comes in 2½- and 3½-inch sizes and five colors.
- At 2 inches long, the Footloose is a shallow-running counterpart to Bandit's venerable 100 series baits, which dive to five feet. The ¼-ounce floater features a rounded body with a profile similar to juvenile shad and panfish. Available in seven color patterns, all listing for an easy-to-swallow price point under six bucks.
Cotton Cordell Red-Fin
- Don't be fooled by the Red-Fin's classic stickbait stylings. It's one of the hottest wakebaits around, with a decorated history of triggering strikes from predators ranging from trophy largemouths to giant striped bass. On a straight retrieve, the bait's wide-wobbling, tail-wagging action generates a large wake that mimics the surface disturbances created when large gizzard shad cruise just below the ceiling. Available in a variety of color patterns, 4-, 5-, and 7-inch sizes, and 3/8- to 1-ounce weights.
- This truly unique wakebait sports a three-section design that yields an almost snake-like subsurface locomotion. The bait clicks when its segments knock against one another on the retrieve for added sonic impact. It's also worth noting that the Mikey's large bill pushes enough water that pros like Cliff Pace have taken to using it in place of burning a spinnerbait around shallow cover. The Mikey is available in 3.8-, 5.5-, and 6.4-inch sizes weighing from 5/8 to 2 ounces. Nine detailed color patterns including California Trout (shown), Golden Shiner, and Tennessee Shad let you match water conditions and the hatch.
- With a wide swimming action — fueled by a pronounced lip and jointed back — this sunfish-imitating wakebait is a hit wherever bass bust baby panfish. But its remarkably detailed coloring, plus realistic gill plates, scales, and fin patterns make it extra-deadly in clear water conditions. Look for natural matte and metallic gloss finishes in 3- and 3¾-inch sizes that weigh in at ½ and 1 ounce, respectively.
Lucky Craft Bullfish
- A chunky, thick-bodied bait, the Bullfish's rotund torso chugs, wobbles, and flashes over prime lies like an irritating, overweight hornet buzzing above your head. As a plus, its aura is enhanced by experimenting with the removable tail prop and blade that come standard with each bait. Available in 11 hot color patterns, the beefy Bullfish stretches four inches and weighs two ounces.
Mann's Baby 1-Minus Elite
- Countless bass fans have flung Mann's iconic Baby 1- shallow runner over the years, and it remains a staple of the wakebait trade. But the newer Elite version is even more noteworthy, thanks to the addition of fiendishly sharp, blood-red Eagle Claw tournament series trebles and killer paint schemes. Standard amenities on the 2¼-inch, ¼-ounce bait include a textured body and 3-D eyes. Available in a dozen colors.
Megabass Griffon Zero
- This buggy-looking bait is as much fun to fish as it is to behold. Weighing just ¼ ounce and stretching 1¾ inches soaking wet, the pint-sized, hard-wiggling Griffon Zero sports serious features and performs stellar waking maneuvers provided you keep your rod tip high and limit retrieves to modest speeds. Besides its bulging eyes and pugnacious profile, one of the bait's more notable attributes is an underbelly water intake, which designers say adds to the attraction while keeping everything on an even keel. Comes in a fistful of feisty colors from Redhead to Midnight Bone.
Rapala BX Waking Minnow
- Introduced in mid-2014, the BX Waking Minnow merits mention for several reasons. For starters, the 5¼-inch, stick-style hardbait weighs ¾ ounce and casts a country mile. After splashdown, it blends a wide wobble with a flashy, rolling action that drives bass wild even on slow retrieves. But we also appreciate the bulletproof copolymer shell, capable of withstanding brutal attacks from bass, pike, and other predators. Inside this protective armor, a balsa body adds trademark Rapala buoyancy. Available in six color patterns, the bait also brandishes size 5 VMC round-bend, black-nickel trebles, 3-D eyes, and internal holographic foil.
Storm Arashi Wake Crank
- A down-turned circuit-board lip gives the 2 3/8-inch Wake Crank a hard, rolling action — even at slow speeds. And we like the single-ball rattle chamber, which adds low-frequency sound and vibration to help call bass from a distance. Other notable features serious bass anglers will appreciate include a self-tuning line tie, rotated hook hangers, holographic 3-D eyes, and premium VMC black-nickel trebles. Comes in 16 colors.
Strike King Wake Shad
- A short yet extremely wide lip and unique jointed coupling give the segmented, 4-inch Wake Shad a great swimming action that's been catching bass since the bait hit the water with a vengeance back in 2009. To this day, one of our favorite features is how well the bait wakes at all speeds — even when burned — without rolling or diving. The flat-sided, stout body also does a fine impression of bite-sized shad, herring, panfish, and other similarly proportioned prey. Available in a number of colors to match different conditions and moods of the fish, from Sexy Shad to Bad to the Bone.