As long as there have been people bass fishing for both sport and sustenance, there have been debates about the what qualifies as the best bass fishing lures. To an almost fanatical extent, many bass anglers will defend their own take on which lures outperform others in what environments, even though these lures are also effective at landing many other types of fish. Naturally, there are rarely very many studies done to conclude empirically which lures attract bass over others, much less why. Nevertheless, we'll look into a few of the most popular lures marketed to bass anglers based on reviews, and subsequently, performance, in no particular order.
The Plastic Worm
This lure has unarguably become the most popular lure for bass fishing since its development around the 1950s. It's a bass fishing classic for a plethora of reasons, to the point where many bass anglers discount it from their tackle box as an unfair advantage (and therefore, not to be used!). It's inexpensive to replace, retrievable at any number of different speeds, can be rigged in innumerable different configurations, is available in an enormous variety of colors and sizes, etc. Not the least of which, it catches bass with an effectiveness almost unparalleled by any other lure with remarkable consistency and effort. The plastic worm, therefore, is the go-to lure for just about any fisherman wanting a sure fire, I-gotta-catch-something solution, not to mention the beginning bass fisherman eager to see results as soon as possible. Most bass fisherman have a large, diverse collection of these, assuming they don't regard the lure as akin to cheating!
The Spinner Bait
As a not-so-close second, the spinning lure is nevertheless a favorite among bass fishing enthusiasts for good reason. Bass are regarded as a predatory fish, which means they hunt using several of their senses, not just sight. One of these faculties allows bass to hunt by detecting vibrations in the water. The spinner bait exploits this ability by causing vibrations in the water, attracting bass from a distance. The spinning lure also features a metal blade which spins in a propeller like motion. This tends to attract bass, as the light reflection deceives the fish into thinking it is pursuing prey. As a result, the spinning lure is extremely effective in choppy and murky water environments. The spinning lure is available in any number of sizes, with larger blades causing considerable vibration in the water, and smaller blades causing minimal vibration.
Crankbait, aka "plugs"
Dating back as far as the late 19th century, another favorite among bass fisherman is the crankbait. This lure is most frequently meant to mimic actual prey in both appearance and behavior. It's not difficult to see why bass would be attracted to a lure that resembles what it's used to hunting in its native environment. With an artificial crankbait, however, there are a couple of added bonuses to factor in. Many lures in this category are outfitted with rattles, drawing bass via sound and added vibration, as well as a lip which causes the lure to dive below the surface. You can determine the diving tendencies of a crankbait simply by observing the length of the lip, a larger lip will allow the lure to dive deep, whereas a shallow diving crankbait will feature a shorter lip. Given its flexibility, this lure is available in a wide variety of appearances, colors, and behaviors. Consider where you're fishing and what the bass have been feeding on before throwing out random crankbaits. For example, try a minnow-like crankbait if the pond or lake you fishing has them in spring and summer. If the bass are used to seeing them naturally, you're far more likely to have success with an artificial replica.
A very simple, but extremely effective lure for bass fishing is, and has been the spoon. As the name implies, the shape usually resembles a spoon both in shape and coloration. It moves erratically, and attracts bass due to its tendency to reflect considerable amounts of light. In terms of technique, this lure can be played any number of ways, as its movement is going to be random and unpredictable, not unlike a smaller fish trying to evade a predator. A bass then instinctively identifies the metallic lure as an easy meal! An added bonus is that because the spoon features so simple a design, and covers such a broad array of deceptive tendencies, it can be used in nearly any body of water where you may not be certain what the bass have been feeding on.
Although certainly not an exhaustive list, this outline will give you an excellent idea as to where to start in determining what you can identify as the best bass fishing lures for you. Remember that each category will yield different results different times of year, so it's best to have a variety of each.