bass fishing lures
Major League Fishing: Garrick Dixon

Top Baits, Approaches Through First Half of MLF Bass Pro Tour

With half of the season behind us, it's time to see what strategies are working the best for MLF anglers.

The 2022 Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour season is right around the halfway point, with three events plus REDCREST and Heavy Hitters in the books.

Year after year, we see certain bass fishing lures and techniques take center stage as the collective field continues its series of trial-and-error experimentation. And, no different than any season prior, we're seeing a number of trends emerge.

Four regular-season events remain, but with five events completed, there have been 50 Top 10 finishers and a wide variety of methods to the madness.

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The Year of the Jerkbait


Major League Fishing: Garrick Dixon

It makes sense that jerkbaits have been a top player with these early-season events. The use of forward-facing sonar has further helped the popularity of the lure and it has accounted for plenty of top finishers in the season so far.

It was not a significant factor at Heavy Hitters or on the final day of Stage One in West Monroe when they visited Bussey Brake, but it was a player the rest of the year, mentioned 12 times by the top anglers.

Three anglers mentioned jerkbaits without sharing the brand or model, but the Berkley Stunna 112 was the most commonly named lure, with four anglers saying it was vital to their success. The others mentioned were the Rapala Shadow Rap Deep, Hardcore Minnow Flat 110, Livingston Lures Jerkmaster Jr, Strike King KVD Deep Jerkbait, and 13 Fishing Loco Special.

Cranking, ChatterBaits, and Spinnerbaits


Major League Fishing: Garrick Dixon

Moving baits have been a popular option for anglers so far this year and many reported catching largemouth bass on a mix of different bait during the tournament. Shallow crankbaits have been a common theme, with one additional mention of a lipless crankbait.

Spinnerbaits have had a resurgence, with five anglers reporting them as part of their success, namely at Stage Two on Lake Fork, Texas. For vibrating jigs, the ever-popular Z-Man Evergreen Jack Hammer ChatterBait was disclosed four times, the Strike King Thunder Cricket once, and an "unnamed vibrating jig" came up twice.

Flipping and Pitching

Another trend for the year so far has been shallow flipping and pitching. Much of this is from the schedule, with cover-laden fisheries making up the bulk of the events. With the techniques, anglers have successfully targeted shallow wood and spawning fish with creature baits, stick baits, and others.

A jig has come up five times, the Yamamoto Senko and tube once each and a host of different creature baits also playing a role. The Missile Baits D-Bomb was mentioned twice, notably coming from Stage One winner Bradley Roy, and the Zoom Z-Craw and Strike King Game Hawg also came up twice in the top finisher's bait recaps.

Frogs and Swim Jigs

frog lure

Getty: Art_rich

Two other popular ways to catch fish were with frogs and swim jigs and these two baits dominated at Heavy Hitters. The Spro Popping Frog, River2Sea Ish Monroe Phat Mat Daddy Frog, and an unnamed white popping frog helped anglers in the Top 10 of that event.

For swim jigs, white was the color of choice with four anglers using them at Lake Palestine, either to catch bass during the shad spawn or to target shallow bass spawning around the abundance of brush and wood cover in the lake.

Finesse Has Still Been a Player

Nearly all of the top baits so far this year have been employed via power-fishing techniques around heavy cover, and much of that is due to the time of year and the schedule, but some finesse techniques have also been a factor.

Fishing for suspended bass with the "Damiki Rig" or other suspended bass techniques has accounted for four of the Top 10 finishes this year, including Dustin Connell's win on Smith Lake. Michael Neal scored two top finishes with a Big Bite Baits Swimmer Head with a 3.75-inch Big Bite Baits Jointed Jerk Minnow, and Jacob Wheeler had a high finish targeting suspended bass on his sonar with a Storm Largo S swimbait, a Rapala Flat Jig, and a Jigging Rap.

So far, other light-line techniques have included a shaky head and drop-shot, and a small swimbait—a Neko-rigged Yamamoto Senko—also being mentioned.

Taking a look at the top baits five tournaments into the season shows a heavy emphasis on the tried-and-true lures that are used by just about every bass angler out there. The pros use what works best for the situation, and while there have been some interesting trends, no big secrets have emerged so far this year.