If you’ve been shopping for lures lately, you know that there are so many sizes, shapes, and types that it’s hard to even keep track, with each best used in different conditions and for species of fish. But lucky for you, we’ve created this beginners guide to the seven types of lures.
But first, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of fishing with lures.
First, the benefits of using lures:
- Much less of mess and cleaner than live bait
- Lures aren’t perishable or need to be stored carefully, of course
- Less likely to gut hook fish, making it easier for catch and release or dealing with swallowed hooks
- You can fish a greater surface of water with lures, especially from the land or a dock
- It’s far easier to attract and catch the species of fish you’re going after with lures
- It’s simple and not time-consuming to switch lures
There aren’t a whole lot of cons to using lures, but they could include:
- Lures are usually far more expensive than live bait
- They’re easier to snag in trees, brush, or on underwater obstacles
- So that makes it hurt even more when you do lose one!
Different Types of Fishing Lures
People usually classify lures in one of seven categories:
- Soft plastic bait
- Spinnerbaits (also called buzzbaits)
We’ll give you a quick rundown on each so you’ll be able to easily identify them and know which one to use for what fish and under which conditions (referred to as “Presentation” by fishermen).
If you’ve just started fishing (and are probably already hooked on the pastime!), you might want to try spinners. They’re very simple to use, as they’re basically just a metal tube with a “spinner” blade on the end. As you drag the spinner across the body of water you’re fishing, the blade automatically spins. The vibrations and sounds of that spinning movement are easily picked up by fish in the area by their lateral line, and they then naturally swim closer to investigate – and bite. Since they operate so much via vibration and sound, they’re a great choice for stained water where visibility is low.
Jigs are like the Swiss Army Knives of lures, as they can hook about any species of fish that happens to be swimming by. They also come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and color patterns replicating live bait, including with a skirt of hair, feathers, or even plastic grub. Fishermen love that they’re not too pricey, either, making them a tackle box favorite.
Just looking at a spoon lure, you’ll know exactly where it gets its name, as its a piece of curved metal reminiscent of the dining implement. The daredevil spoon is my favorite one of all time. In fact, fisherman used to just break off the handle of a regular kitchen spoon and fish with it! These days, they’ve manufactured in a host of sizes, shapes, and colors, with a different model for just about every fish. Of course, as spoons travel through the water, their unique shape gives them a wobbling action that looks like a crippled baitfish – easy picking for a hungry gamefish!
Soft Plastic Baits
Instead of one kind of lure, soft plastic baits describe a bunch of different lures. They’re really popular with bass fishing, and the old reliable is a simple soft plastic worm. As their name implies, they’re manufactured with a pre-designed mold that’s filled with liquid plastic. From there, the different varieties may include colored dyes, metallic flakes, and even chemicals that trigger scent. You’ll find soft plastic baits designed to replicate a whole host of forage for fish, like crawfish, worms, big insects, worms, frogs, and even lizards. However, some soft plastic baits don’t look like anything you’ll see in nature – called “Critters” – although they still will catch plenty of fish!
When you have lures that are made from emptied wood or plastic, they’re called “plugs.” These lures are made to look like all sorts of baitfish, frogs, or other creatures – except that their hiding two or three sharp treble hooks. Plugs also come as surface plugs, diving/floating plugs, poppers, jerkbaits, and even crankbaits. Unlike the soft plastics, they’re rigid lures, so they can be used at deeper depths (those usually have a plastic lip that helps their descent) or floating in shallows, too. They also can be designed to display different movement like shaking or wobbling, and some even gurgle through the water.
Ok, I know what you’re going to say: spinners and buzzbaits are some seriously weird looking lures, with their wired head and detached body. In fact, spinner and buzzbait bodies are usually also covered with a rubber skirt and metallic blades. But when you “Chuck-n-Wind,” or cast them out and reel in at a steady and relaxed speed, so the lure stays under the surface a few feet, the result is usually a big hit!
Fly fishing is a whole different kind of animal (excuse the pun), and so are flies, fly fishing rods, etc. Of course, flies set up on the water and float, so little clear bubbles are usually included with their design. They’re also the lightest and most delicate of lures, made of feathers, fur, foams, and rubber, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bring in some trophy gamefish. You’ll find amazing flies that replicate insects, leeches, hoppers, frogs, baitfish, and even mice! To give you thousands of additional choices while you’re shopping for flies they also come in just about every stage of the life cycle for each of those.
Now that you have a basic idea of the seven types of lures and when to use each, spend some time looking around, doing a little research, and chatting with other fishermen. If you still can’t decide which lure to use, pay attention to which anglers are coming home with a huge catch and just ask them what they use