Published Jul 28, 2022 1:00 PM
Peacock bass are brutal, unforgiving fighters who operate at warp speed, so the best lures when fishing for them need to run true when retrieved quickly and withstand a spirited fight. While some lures that you use for other freshwater species will not only attract them but stand up to their fierce nature, others simply aren’t up to the test.
When considering which peacock bass lures to buy, it’s also critical to examine which species you’ll be chasing. They’re not truly a “bass” but rather a species of cichlid native to South America. The dream location to catch them for most anglers is in their home countries, most notably Brazil. However, some of the smaller species have been transported to the southern portion of Florida, along with Hawaii, so American anglers need not leave the country to capture this colorful fighter. Read up on fishing for them, load up on the best peacock bass lures, and you’ll put yourself in the best possible position to get your fish, whether at home or abroad.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Peacock Bass Lure
Just because a lure garners strikes doesn’t mean it will put fish in the boat. Peacock bass are notorious for ripping off drag, bending out hooks and pulling out hardware. If there’s a weak point, they’ll find it, so make sure that every component is time-tested and bulletproof.
Fidelity at High Speeds
Peacock bass like their lures moving fast. In fact, the hardest thing for newcomers to remember is that if the fish misses your bait you need to keep the cadence moving, or perhaps even speed it up. They typically will not strike a non-moving lure. If a lure will track to the side, or come up out of the water, or start spinning wildly if you reel it as fast as you can, it’s probably not a keeper.
Peacock bass typically do not reside in deep water, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always break the surface to get a topwater lure. Jerkbaits and jigs get down in the water column, and that may prove vital for more bites. Current may also be a factor, and a lure that gets dragged out of the strike zone before it gets going is worthless.
Why It Made the Cut:
This universal baitfish imitator is a proven standout both in the jungles of the Amazon and in US waters with peacock bass.
- Available in sizes from 2.75” to 5.25”
- Tough resin construction
- Standard version has saltwater-grade hooks
- Stainless steel split rings for durability
- Natural baitfish shape attracts fish of all sizes
- Wide range of colors including some peacock staples
- Runs true at high speeds
- Remarkable durability for a well-balanced jerkbait
- Multiple treble hooks can lead to snags in heavy cover
I wanted to choose a big prop bait for the “Best Overall” category simply because the strikes they elicit in the Amazon are so exciting. However, that would have done a disservice to readers who expect all peacock bass fishing to revolve around the “choppers.” When fishing stateside or in the Amazon when the bite is tough, they’re not as much of a player. That’s when the jerkbait comes in, and there are few that have caught as many peacocks as the Yo-Zuri. While there are some others that may be more popular in the traditional bass world, none has the precise match of balance and durability that this one has. It’ll continue to run correctly even after it has been mauled by numerous giant fish. You may eventually have to change out the hooks, but it comes from the factory with peacock-ready stout models that are up to the task. Consider a bone model, gold/red, redhead, or green mackerel to start. Those colors work in a wide range of peacock bass environments.
Why It Made the Cut:
All of the fish-attracting ruckus of the historic “Choppers,” but upgraded for the 21st century to make your fishing more efficient.
- Durable white pine construction
- VMC 6X treble hooks
- Counter-rotating rear propellers
- 6- and 7-inch sizes
- Easier to pull all day than traditional big prop baits
- Heavy-duty construction
- Hand-tuned to run properly
- Proven peacock colors
- Hard to work all day (but not as hard as some of the competition)
The traditional ripped Woodchopper-style prop bait has lured anglers to the Amazon for generations, but it’s a bear to work. Not only do the peacocks want it ripped super-fast, but it typically works best at midday, when the temperatures are 95 degrees, with humidity to match. That’s a recipe for fatigue and possibly heat stroke. California’s Kermett Adams saw the need for a better version and built one that has stood the test of time. The body is hydrodynamic so that it still makes a distinct fleeing baitfish noise, but won’t rip an anglers’ shoulder out of the socket while doing so. The hardware is also top notch—while on a frenzy on the Rio Negro my Ripper held up to one fish after another while my friend’s competing brand suffered bent-out 3X hooks. He only started landing fish when he borrowed one of mine. Just be sure to have a heavy rod and heavy braided line to absorb some of the stress, because while they’re gentler than the competition, ripping these baits is still a workout. With the first strike, however, you’ll know that it was worth it.
Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow Rebel
Why It Made the Cut:
Simple design and bobbing side-to-side action have a special allure for marauding peacock bass.
- Cigar-shaped body
- 3.5” and 4.5” sizes
- Internal rattle
- Remarkably easy to “walk”
- Loud rattle adds more attraction for fish at a distance
- Hardware may have to be upgraded if fishing around true giants
There are dozens if not hundreds of super-tuned walkers on the market today, so why does this old-school, relatively primitive topwater get the top spot? There’s something about its combination of movement and sound that creates an acoustic signature peacocks can’t stand. It glides, but not in the lazy way of some others. Instead, it stays high atop the surface and actually skips out of the water at times, a motion that seems to trigger hesitant trailing fish. The Brazilian market has generated multiple copies, but there’s something about the original that cannot be topped. Just be sure to check and replace the hardware frequently if you’re fishing around monster peacocks. The Jumpin’ Minnow comes in several new colors like Half Beak and Moon Spot, but Bone and Chrome are two staples that have been produced for decades and will continue to be relevant as long as there are peacocks.
Why It Made the Cut:
Stubby prop bait can be pulled, ripped or reeled and will pull both stubborn and inquisitive peacock bass away from cover.
- Stubby body
- 1 7/8 and ¼ ounce
- Single propeller
- Small lure that can be cast a long distance
- Works well at a variety of speeds
- Hook hanger design sometimes leads to lost fish
Like the Jumpin’ Minnow referenced above, the Tiny Torpedo is a relatively simple design that has been proven to work time and time again. It’s exceptional in Florida waters—or anywhere that smaller species of peacocks thrive—because it creates a large commotion without having an oversized profile. Whether the peacocks consider it a meal or a snack or simply a nuisance, they want it out of their way. The only downside is that anglers specifically targeting peacock bass may be “annoyed” by the countless other species like largemouths and snook who also see it as a viable source of nutrition. The gold finish is a solid choice in Florida waters, where peacocks often feed on golden shiners, and the natural G-Finish patterns imitate a wide variety of baitfish.
Why It Made the Cut:
Solid selection for your first trip to the Amazon, covering a full range of the water column without breaking the bank.
- Total of 15 lures
- Housed in a tackle tray with rust-inhibiting dividers
- Lures include several that are typically hard to source outside of Brazil
- Proven brands, sizes and colors
- All lures come with heavy-duty terminal tackle
- Easily packable for commercial flights or float planes into the Amazon
- Not ideal for anglers chasing peacock bass in Florida
Falcon Rods owner John Beckwith is obsessed with peacock bass fishing in the Amazon. Not only has he built rods specifically tailored to the Brazilian market, but he’s put together a kit that American anglers can buy and feel reasonably prepared for any South American peacock situation. It includes not just US-made topwaters and jerkbaits, but also both topwaters and subsurface lures from Brazil’s Borboleta company, a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty peacock bass magnets. He also includes six heavy-duty hair jigs, a staple for the species, but one which is often hard-to-find in strengths and colors that excel in the Amazon. For anglers who are short on time, or don’t know what to buy, before a jaunt down to Brazil or Colombia, this is a solid starting point and won’t break the bank.
Haggerty Lures Peacock Bass Jig Haggerty Lures
Why It Made the Cut:
Fishing the jig isn’t quite a time to rest, but it’s less demanding than the big topwaters and works in a wider range of circumstances. This is the best of the bunch.
- ¼, ⅜, ½ and ¾ ounce sizes (½ is most popular in the Rio Negro region of Brazil)
- Northern bucktail and holographic flashabou
- Extended tail attached by 80 lb. test fishing line
- 2X strong Mustad hooks
- Heavy duty construction centered on beefy hook
- More snag-resistant than treble hooked lures
- Run true at a variety of speeds
- Piranhas may give them a “haircut”
On trips to the Amazon, the hair jig has been my savior on several days when the bite got a little finicky. They catch numbers, but they also produce quality fish, including my 21-pound personal best that ate a jig near the shore and then led us on a wild chase down the river’s current and around the boat multiple times. During the fight, I had complete confidence that the hook would hold. Haggerty builds these lures specifically for that kind of trauma and abuse. Any angler heading to the Amazon should bring a selection, but on the rivers I’ve fished red/yellow and red/white have produced the best. Thanks to the extended tail, you don’t need to bring soft plastic trailers, which are surprisingly heavy, a downside when you have a luggage weight limit for the float plane. In Florida waters anglers might want to use a lighter size than the standard ½ ounce version. They’re also deadly for striped bass, so don’t put them away when you get home from the jungle.
Why It Made the Cut:
Proven topwater lure design attracts not just hungry peacocks, but smallmouths, stripers, snook and various other species with equal skill.
- 5 inches and 7/8 ounce size standard or 3 ½ inch ½ ounce “Junior”
- Three saltwater-stout corrosion-resistant trebles (two on the Junior)
- Internal rattles
- Casts like a bullet
- Easy to walk
- Can we walked quickly or made to glide
- Not ideal when fish won’t break the surface
The Zara Spook was one of the earliest walk-the-dog topwater lures and it remains one of the best. That’s partially due to the fact that Heddon has refined and upgraded its design and some of its components over the years for maximum effectiveness. While the Jumpin’ Minnow, described above, has special appeal for peacock bass, they love the Super Spook, too, as do a wide variety of other species. It’s a known killer for smallmouths, attracts muskies, and excels for inshore saltwater angling as well. Be sure not to put them away to gather dust when you return from the Amazon because this is one lure that has a huge range of effectiveness. Some of the best colors for peacocks are white with a red head, but smallmouths love bone silver. If you’re looking for one color to take around the globe, consider black shiner or nickel, and for clear water scenarios the unpainted clear model is a stone cold assassin.
How I Made My Picks
I’ve chased peacocks on multiple remote rivers in the Amazon, as well as in the urban canals behind the Miami airport, and any angler who craves vicious strikes and hard-pulling fish owes it to themselves to take a stab at this colorful fighter. The good news is that most serious anglers—no matter what they chase—probably have some lures that will work. However, by refining color choices and making slight tweaks for the sake of speed and durability, it’s possible to substantially increase the chances of success. I’ve had some heartbreaks and I’ve had some triumphs and each of them has increased my understanding of how to attack this fabulous gamefish.
Q: What colors do peacock bass like?
The best colors depend on local forage and water clarity. In Florida, think baitfish shades, including gold to replicate shiners. In the Amazon, they seem to favor reds and chartreuse patterns, although a bone jerkbait or topwater can work wonders at times.
Q: Do peacock bass eat spinnerbaits?
A rapidly-retrieved spinnerbait can be deadly for inquisitive and aggressive peacock bass. Just make sure that it is constructed of heavy wire with a stout hook or they will bend and possibly break your lure, and at the same time break your heart.
Q: Where is the best peacock bass fishing?
The best peacock bass fishing is in South America, where they are from. It still pays to be careful, because some fisheries there are overfished, while others are near-virginal. There are also peacock bass in Singapore. In the United States, there are populations in Florida and Hawaii, although they typically do not grow as big as their foreign cousins.
Durability and speed are critical when choosing lures for peacocks, because pound-for-pound they’re one of the strongest and craftiest freshwater species in existence. If a lure has a weak point, they’ll find it.