May 2021

Best Baits for Cold vs Warm Water

By : Mark Hicks

When Texan Clark Wendlandt clinched the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year title, he proved beyond question that he can sack bass in any season. He claims that many baits are productive in a variety of situations. However, there are a handful of lures that he always relies on in cold water and vice versa for warm water.

“In terms of which baits I use, I consider anything under 55 degrees to be cold water and anything above that to be warm,” Wendlandt says.

Cold Water Baits - 55° and Under

“It is considerably easier to pick baits for cold water,” Wendlandt says. “There are not as many options because the bass are not as aggressive. For example, I wouldn’t throw a topwater bait in water under 55 degrees.”

Given that premise, the three types of Strike King baits that Wendlandt always has tied on in cold water include a jig and a few particular crankbaits and jerkbaits.

The Jig

Tour Grade Skipping Jig (muddy to clear water)

Although this Jig was designed for skipping under docks and overhangs, Wendlandt doesn’t limit it to those applications. He often sacks heavy cold-water bass by casting and pitching the 1/2-ounce size to likely hangouts.

“I like the hook on the Skipping Jig and the way it stands on the bottom,” Wendlandt says. “I dress it with a Baby Rage Craw because sluggish bass don’t want lots of movement.”


Pro Model Lucky Shad (stained to clear water)

This slender profile cranker has the buoyancy of a well-known balsa bait that excels in cold water, but it is made from a durable plastic. The Lucky Shad weighs 5/16 ounce and dives to 8 feet.

“It has a tight wiggle that works better in cold water,” Wendlandt says. “I go with a shad or crawfish pattern, depending on what I believe the bass are feeding on. It is not designed to bounce off cover.”

Pro Model 3xd (clear to dirty water)

The small profile of the 3XD comes through for Wendlandt when cold-water bass aren’t inclined to chase larger crankbaits. It weighs 7/16 ounce and dives 10 to 12 feet deep.

“I favor crawfish colors early in the year, and I catch a lot of bass by bouncing that bait off rocks,” Wendlandt says.