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What We’re Throwing in May

Feel that warm air all around us? Breathe it in. (Deep inhale) Ahhhhh. May is here. Winter is over for all of us. Spring has come and gone for most of us. The pollen has settled out. The water is warming fast. It is officially topwater time for the majority of us across the U.S.

Today, I’m going to list out a few of the baits we have rigged up for bass for the month of May. I’m going to have to make a concerted effort not to talk about only topwaters. Topwater fishing is the absolute best in my opinion. Watching a bass blowup on a frog or chase down a buzzbait is simply incomparable to any subsurface bite. 

However, there are other great baits that work well during the month of May too. So, I’ll throw a couple of those in there and lump a few topwaters in the first section to cover as much ground as possible.


From Whopper Ploppers to hollow body frogs to twin prop baits to buzzbaits, you pretty much can’t go wrong with a topwater in the month of May. Around where I live here in central Alabama, there are several different things going on this month that make it set up well for a topwater. 

For starters, the shad spawn is winding down. Buzzbaits, buzz toads, Spooks and poppers are all great topwaters to use around a shad spawn. Buzzbaits and buzz toads work best when the shad are spawning in shoreline vegetation like water willow, since these baits can be fished through the cover well. Treble hooked topwaters like the Yo-Zuri 3DR-X Popper 65 and Heddon Spook work well when shad are spawning along hard cover like docks, seawalls and tree tops. 

The bream are bedding this time of year too, which sets up well for topwaters. You can take a Whopper Plopper, Berkley Choppo or buzzbait and cover water looking for these bream beds. When you stumble onto an area with several beds, slow down with a twin prop bait, hollow body frog or popper. These slower baits are great for mimicking an injured bluegill or bream floundering on the surface. 

Mayfly and cicada hatches often happen in May as well, they draw the attention of baitfish and bass to the surface. Pick your poison here, as several topwaters work well dependent on the specific set of circumstances. If the hatch is localized through and around or under cover (like bushes or docks), there likely isn’t a better or more effective bait than a popping frog that can be skipped below cover and worked along slowly.


I also have a lot of big baits on deck this May. I’m currently researching which rods are the best swimbait rods for a buyer’s guide coming soon. I’ve been heaving glide baits and big soft swimmers around a lot lately. This is a great time of year for oversized wakebaits as well.

I have had the 7-inch SPRO Chad Shad and 9-inch Sixth Sense Draw in hand a lot the last few weeks. Big glidebaits like these baits have amazing drawing power to pull fish to them from cover or from far off in open water. They represent threats to the bass that are protective of their beds or guarding their hatched out fry and they appear to be substantial meals for the early post-spawn bass looking to feed up. 

Big wakebaits like wooden rats are great for this time of year too. This is a bait I’ve played around with a good bit during the summer months over the last decade. I haven’t mentioned it much because it’s one of the few things that I really love to do so I’ve kept it to myself and a select couple of buddies. However, I will tell you that I do have one of these rigged up in May each year.


A shakyhead was the bee’s knees back in the day. There was a time about 15 years ago when everybody and their brother relied on it to get a bite when the fishing was tough—and it is often tough during the day in May. However, shakyheads have taken a backseat to Ned rigs the last couple years to dropshots and a few other finesse tactics. Still, this is a great bait to get a bite on and perhaps the best finesse bait for fishing in May.

Dropshots are great this time of year too, but they typically work better with a vertical approach. The days of hovering right over top of a bass in less than 30 feet of water without spooking it have passed us by. You’re better off with a finesse bait you can cast out, like a shakyhead or a Ned rig. The problem with Ned rigs in May is that they can be a little too snaggy, since bass like to hunker down in deeper brush this time of year. Thus, the more weedless shakyhead beats out the Ned rig too. 


May marks the start of night fishing for many of us. Fishing at night is a lot of fun in the summer months. As the day time temps here in the south get well into the 90’s, the idea of fishing at night when the temps are in the 70’s becomes more and more attractive. Bass also feed more at night in the summer and in the lowlight hours of dawn and dusk than they do during the day, so night fishing is not only more appealing but it’s also more productive. 

Perhaps the best night time bait of all time is a primarily black spinnerbait with a large Colorado blade. A “night blade” like this can be used to target bass throughout the post-spawn transition, from the last few leaving the beds that are still in shallow water to the first few bass making it to their summertime haunts in 20 feet, a night blade can catch them all. 

You’ll want to choose the weight of your spinnerbait accordingly, based on the depth you’re fishing. The Booyah Moon Talker Spinnerbaits are my favorite. The 1/2-ounce is light enough for almost any shallow water presentation, since the big #6 blade slows the bait’s fall and slows it down on the retrieve as well. The 3/4 ounce with the #7 Colorado blade can be fished effectively out to about 17 or 18 feet, but it gets difficult to let it sink and slow roll it much deeper than that.


May is a fun time to fish. There are a few bass left spawning, bait spawns galore and insect hatches too. Bass are blowing up topwaters left and right and willing to eat really big baits as well. If and when the fishing is tough up in the day, you can usually still get bites on a shakyhead. The night fishing starts to heat up this time of year as well, offering plenty of opportunity to catch them in the dark while slowly rolling a spinnerbait. These are some of the baits I have rigged up this time of year and I think they’ll serve most of you well too if you want to try them out this month.