Angling enthusiasts know that the key to a successful fishing trip often lies in the bait. Replacing live bait with fishing lures can be a game-changer, given the diverse range of lures available. The type of lure you choose can significantly influence your catch rate.
Fishing lures, with their assortment of colors, shapes, and designs, might seem overwhelming at first. But fear not! This guide is here to help you understand the different types of fishing lures. By the end of it, you’ll be able to identify each type of lure, know which ones to keep in your tackle box, and when to use them to reel in more fish!
Ever wondered why you’re not catching any fish? Check out our post here for some possible reasons.
How Fishing Lures Work
Unlike live bait, fishing lures work in two primary ways. They either closely mimic the prey of gamefish, such as smaller fish, insects, and crustaceans, or they use their flashy movements, vibrations, and bright colors to attract fish. 
Fishing lures are typically designed for a specific species of fish , making them more effective than generic fishing lures. For instance, a trout lure might be very different from a bass lure or a marlin lure. This specificity allows the lure to imitate the natural prey of the target fish, increasing your chances of making a successful catch.
Different Types of Fishing Lures
Fishing lures range from worms to spinners, crankbaits to spoons. To navigate this vast world of lures, here’s a detailed guide to help you understand each type.
The jig bait, with its weighted lead head and a hook at the opposite end, is a versatile and affordable lure. Jigs can quickly get down to the strike zone in the water. Available in every color and size, these lures often have a skirt of additional hairs or feathers to help them imitate baitfish.
While jig baits can be used for almost all types of gamefish, they work particularly well with fish that feed on the riverbed. Many anglers also prefer jigs for bass fishing, as they are attracted to the irregular ‘jiggling’ movement of the lure through the water. Jigs are primarily used in freshwater, but they can also be effective in saltwater.
Fishing with Jig Lures
Fishing with jig lures, commonly known as jigging, requires careful control of your jig. If not moved around, it will sink like deadweight to the bottom of the river.
When using a jig bait, cast it out and allow it to sink. Once your line goes slack, indicating that your lure has reached the bottom, start to twitch the jig gently. Raise your rod a bit, then lower it while you retrieve your line. Repeat this a few times, retrieving a short section of the line each time to make your lure appear as though it’s hopping through the water. Experiment with different speeds and lengths of retrieves to see what works best. And always keep a keen eye on your line, so you don’t miss a strike!
Spinner lures, made up of a metal blade attached to a hook, are among the easiest types of fishing lure to use, making them excellent for kids or beginners. As you pull the lure through the water, the metal blade rotates rapidly, creating a flash that resembles a small minnow or baitfish. Spinners also create vibrations and sounds effective in dirty, murky water, making them an excellent choice in less-than-ideal conditions.
Fishing with Spinner Lures
Using a spinner bait is straightforward. All you need to do is cast out your line and then start a retrieve. As the lure is pulled towards you through the water, the spinner begins to spin, attracting fish. For a more strategic approach, vary your speed to see what works best. In clear conditions, spinners work best just below the surface. In murky water, use a sinker and rely on the vibrations to attract fish.
Spoons, among the oldest lures around, are still very effective. Originally, spoon lures were just spoons with the handle broken off. Today, they are concave, curved metal lures that create a distinctive movement in the water. Most spoons have a reflective metal surface on one side and a bright pattern on the other, for optimal visibility and flashiness. Their wobbling motion through the water mimics a wounded baitfish, making them highly attractive to larger fish.
Fishing with Spoon Lures
The method of fishing with spoon lures depends on the type of spoon used. Casting spoons, for instance, are the easiest to use: simply cast and retrieve. If your lure starts to spin, your retrieve might be too fast. When using a trolling spoon, you may need downriggers to get your lure to the right depth.
Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits, known for their flexibility, are most commonly used for bass fishing. These lures can resemble anything from a crayfish to a frog or lizard. ‘Creature baits,’ which don’t look like any natural prey but still work well to attract fish, also fall under this category.
Fishing with Soft Plastic Bait
When fishing with soft plastics, the technique will vary depending on the kind of prey your bait is mimicking. For worms, add a bulletweight above the head, cast it out, and let it sink to the bottom. Then, wiggle your rod to give your worm some movement. If nothing’s biting, pull your lure back in short, sharp jumps and try again in a different spot!
Buzzbaits are a cross between a jig lure and a spinner. They are particularly effective for bass fishing, prompting an explosive reaction. They feature a jig head and dressed skirt on one side and a blade like a spinner lure on the other. Their flashy appearance and the significant vibrations they create as they travel through the water make them highly attractive to fish.
Fishing with Buzzbaits
One of the best techniques for bass fishing with buzzbaits is the ‘Chuck-N-Wind.’ This tactic involves casting and retrieving at a depth no more than 5 feet below the surface. A moderate speed usually delivers the best results. Even in murky conditions, the sound and vibrations from the buzzbait will attract and catch fish.
Unlike spinners, plugs (also known as crankbaits) are usually made from hollow wood or plastic. Most plugs have at least two, or even three hooks and are often painted to imitate baitfish. Plugs make a fantastic addition to your tackle box for fishing on and below the surface. They’re also a top choice of lure for bass fishing, as they can draw a lot of bass.
Fishing with Plug Lures
Fishing techniques with plug lures depend on the type you’re using. One of the most popular plug lures is the minnow imitation. When you cast this plug out, it will float. But when you start the retrieve, it will dive below the surface to a shallow depth with a convincing presentation. Cast it out, let the water surface calm down, and then begin to strip it with occasional pauses or jerks.
Fly lures are designed to imitate insect species as closely as possible. They are often made using natural materials like feathers and fur, but modern materials like rubber are sometimes used. Compared to other artificial baits, flies are very lightweight and are used with fly fishing equipment, including a fly rod, fly line, and fly reel. You can also use flies with spinning fishing rods if you add a clear bubble float to your setup. Many anglers take pride in tying their own lures, a skill in itself!
If you’re interested, you can also check out our post here on different fly types for fly fishing.
Fishing with Flies
Presentation is essential when fishing with flies. You’ll need to know what the fish are eating to pick the correct fly. Then, you’ll need to carefully replicate the natural movements of the insect, crawfish, or baitfish. If you’re fishing a dry fly, try to land it gently on the surface and see if you get a bite. With streamers and nymphs, the retrieve under the water is critical. You can find our in-depth guides to fly presentation at Fly Fisher Pro!
Top Tip: Remove Your Treble Hooks
Most commercial fishing lures come with treble hooks attached. However, a treble hook can cause significant damage to any fish you catch, reducing the chance that it will survive. You’re also much more likely to hook yourself on a bait that has a treble hook than a bait with a single hook! That’s why we recommend removing trebles from all your fishing lures and baits and replacing them with a single hook.
Fishing Lures FAQ
What are fishing lures made of?
Fishing lures are made of wires adorned with plastic, metal, and rubber components. Some fishing lures will even have feathers, rubber detailing, and beads. Fishing flies are often made using natural materials such as rabbit or buck fur, and glass beads for weight.
What is the most popular fishing lure?
Jigs and spinners are some of the most popular fishing lures among anglers. They are reliable, easy to use, and effective.
What kind of lures catch bass?
Buzzbaits, crankbaits, and soft plastic lures are some of the best lures for bass fishing. You’ll be sure to draw out lunker bass every time with plastic worms or buzz baits!
The Wrap Up
Having the right kind of lure in your tackle box can make your fishing trips unforgettable. You’ll see more fishing action and catch more fish when you know which fishing lures to use. But with the many different types on the market, it can seem overwhelming at first. You’ll need to know what sort of lure to select for bass fishing vs. trout fishing, for example.
Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on the various types of fishing lures, and when and how to use them. So go ahead, pick a few of the best lures, grab your rod, and get ready for an epic fishing trip! Don’t forget to check out more fishing guides and articles too.
And remember, for more tips and tricks to level up your fishing game, download our series of fly fishing books below! Happy fishing!