There is little question that Peacock Bass will hit a lure harder and with much more aggression than most any species. All lures will work on Peacock Bass, but we will cover only the most consistent and productive ones. Catching Peacock Bass on artificial lures has a lot to do with the popularity of this large tropical species. They hit a lot of the same lures that other Bass do (with the exception of the plastic worm) and you will catch them in the same lakes, ponds, residential canals, etc. of south Florida and throughout the tropical zones. Topwater lures, jigs and crankbaits are no doubt the Peacock’s favorite and the most exciting to use. They are aggressive predators and like to strike any lure presented to them properly, but topwater lures, jigs and crankbaits are at the top of the list.
Topwater Lures for Peacock Bass
Topwater lures for Peacock Bass fall into a few different categories, so we will talk about them first.
Walking stick lures or walk the dog topwater lures: Walk the dog topwaters zig zag left to right. A walking the dog; retrieve where the lure moves sideways and forward on one move, sits for a short moment, and is moved in the opposite forward direction in the next snap. The lure creates a z-shaped wake that angers and attracts almost any close surface predator like Peacock Bass.
Propeller lures or prop baits: Propeller lures are shaped much the same as walking surface lures, but with one difference; a propeller. They can have one or two props: a prop only on the back, a prop only in the front, or props in both places. Often anglers remove one of the props. They disturb the surface as they are retrieved and the prop bubbles the water behind the lure. Peacock Bass love them. This comment from Captain David Rieumont on the page about Largemouth Bass and propeller lures fits perfectly for this species too:
The faster and more aggressive you work these baits, the more the Peacocks are apt to attack them. Each sweep of the rod should move the baits from 6 inches to 2 feet (dependent on the lure used, current conditions and mood of the fish). Propellers might need to be tweaked to insure that they bite the water and create optimum audible and visible commotion.
Poppers: Poppers have a concave mouth in the front of the lure, and disturb the water with a loud pop if they are snapped. They also spit water forward. Many anglers get more strikes from Peacock Bass if they aggressively pop it then let it sit quietly for a second and snap it again. But try both.
Important Note: With Peacock Bass, if they strike any topwater and miss the lure, keep that topwater moving aggressively. Do not stop the lure from moving or they will lose interest.
Crankbaits and Twitchbaits for Peacock Bass
Crankbaits: As good as topwaters are, crankbaits with the bill built in are equally as deadly; the big difference being the strike is below the surface. The long slender type crankbaits like Rapala's Original (floating), Husky Jerks (suspending), Countdowns (sinking) in sizes 06 and 08 already have a built-in action and would be the first choice. You can add a twitch here and there and change the cadence of the lure to produce a Peacock strike. Again, many times they like the crankbait worked aggressively. You can use floating, suspending, or sinking crankbaits in many colors. Peacocks aren't picky. Use the smaller to medium sized crankbaits to get more strikes.
Note: Lipless crankbaits, such as a Bill Lewis Rattle trap, are deadly in the Florida canal system.
Twitchbaits: Also very effective are twitchbaits; you just have to work the action into the bait more with twitches of your wrist. Mirrolure makes many good ones, as do many other companies. Again, floating, suspending, or sinking - all work.
Catching Peacock Bass on Jigs
Peacocks love jigs of all kinds. Jigs are the number one way to sight fish for Peacocks in the south Florida canal system along the seawalls, docks, and coral outcroppings. This method is completely visual, but you can also use a jig in the deeper water, near bridges and holes where the Peacock Bass are deep and can't be seen. Bucktail jigs, jigs with small plastic shad tails attached, in sizes anywhere from 3/16ths to 3/8ths and in any color will work; white, chartreuse, green or even dark colors like black. When sighting a Peacock, just popping the jig in front of their face a few times will result in a strike 90% of the time. Something unique about Peacock Bass is that even after giving them a taste of the hook and missing, they will come right back and strike it again.
Flies: They all work from Clouser minnows to Deceiver flies. Any type of fly will draw strikes, and of course, a wide range of topwater flies will get a Peacock to strike. They are very aggressive – even more so then the Largemouth Bass that were the sole predator before the 1980s when these fish were introduced. You can catch these fish on cheap one-dollar corks designed for Bluegill with rubber-band legs or you can spend thirty dollars on one created by a true fly artist. Both are productive for Peacocks.
Spinner baits, Buzzbaits and more: Small spinner baits, buzzbaits, and chatterbaits all work for Peacock Bass. The key is using the smaller sizes for more strikes. Using a trailer hook on your spinner baits is a good idea as it increases your hook up ratio.
Note: Peacock Bass are not keen on plastic worms like our Florida Largemouth Bass, so we recommend you don’t use them.