You’ll find all sorts of lures in different colors, shapes, and designs, so narrowing down which lure to pick can be difficult.
That’s where this guide comes in – we aim to help you understand the difference between the types of fishing lures. By the end of this guide, you should be able to spot each type of lure easily. Plus, you’ll learn which lures to stock your tackle box with, and how to decide which lures to use on your next fishing trip to catch more fish!
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How Fishing Lures Work
Fishing lures are different from live bait, and they work in two main ways. Lures either closely resemble gamefish prey, such as smaller fish, insects, and crustaceans. Or, they may be flashy and tempt fish with their movement, vibrations, and bright colors. 
Fishing lures tend to be designed for a specific species of fish , rather than being general fishing lures. For example, a trout lure may be very different from a bass lure or a marlin lure. In this way, a trout lure can closely imitate the trout’s natural prey, and your chance of making a catch will be higher.
What are the different types of fishing lures?
From worms to spinners, crankbaits to spoons, there’s a lot of fishing lures out there. So, you might feel a bit lost when it comes to the types of lures. Here’s our detailed guide to help you understand the world of fishing lures!
The jig bait is one of the most useful types of fishing lure to have, as it is both versatile and cheap. These factors make jig lures a popular choice with anglers! With a weighted lead head, jigs can quickly get down to the strike zone in the water. Typically, they have a hook at the opposite end to the head. Jigs come in every color and size and often have a skirt of additional hairs or feathers to help them imitate baitfish.
While jig bait can be used for almost all types of gamefish, they work particularly well with fish that feed on the riverbed. Many anglers also use jigs for bass fishing, as they are drawn to the irregular ‘jiggling’ movement through the water. Jigs are mainly used for fishing in freshwater, but you can also use them in saltwater if you like.
How To Fish with Jig Lures
Fishing with jig lures is commonly known as jigging. It’s not too complicated, but unlike a spinner, you will need to control your jig carefully. If you don’t move it around, it will just sink as a deadweight to the bottom of the river.
When you use a jig bait, you need to cast it out and give it time to sink down in the water. A telltale sign that your lure has reached the bottom is when your line goes slack. Then, start to twitch the jig gently. The best way to do this is to raise your rod just a bit, and then lower it while you retrieve your line.
Do this several times, retrieving a short section of the line each time to make your lure look like it’s hopping through the water. Jigs move erratically through the water, drawing the attention of nearby fish. You can experiment with shorter or longer retrieves as well as trying out different speeds to see what works best. The tactic you use will vary depending on what you’re fishing for. Don’t forget to keep a beady eye on your line, so you don’t miss a strike!
Spinner lures are one of the easiest types of fishing lure to use, making them an excellent choice for kids or beginners. A spinner is made up of a metal blade attached to a hook. Sometimes, the hook will be dressed with plastic or feathers, or it may be bare.
When you pull the lure through the water, the metal blade will begin to rotate very quickly. The reflective metal blade is flashy and looks remarkably like a small minnow or baitfish, zipping through the water. Spinners also create vibrations and sounds that are effective in dirty, murky water. If the conditions aren’t great, a spinner can be an excellent choice of lure.
How to Fish with Spinner Lures
Using a spinner bait is very simple. You just need to cast out your line and then start a retrieve. The spinner will begin to spin as you pull it towards you through the water, doing all the work to draw fish in for a strike.
If you want to get more technical, vary your speed to see what works best. In clear conditions, spinners work best just below the surface. But if the water is murky, use a sinker and rely on the vibrations instead.
Spoons are among the oldest lures around, but they’re still very effective. The original spoon lure was literally just a spoon with the handle broken off. Today, spoon lures are concave, curved metal lures which create a very 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. Spoons are so reliable because they wobble through the water, just like a wounded baitfish might do.
How to Fish with Spoon Lures
There are different types of spoons, including casting spoons, jigging spoons, trolling spoons, and surface spoons. Which one you go for will affect the techniques you use when fishing. The casting spoon is the easiest spoon lure to use, as you simply need to cast and retrieve. Your spoon bait should be wobbling, but if it starts to spin, your retrieve is too fast. If you’re using a trolling spoon, you’ll probably need downriggers to get your lure to the right depth.
Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits are rubbery, flexible lures, most commonly used for bass fishing. Perhaps the most well known soft plastic lures are worms, like the San Juan Worm bait. However, soft plastics can resemble anything from a crayfish to a frog or lizard. A soft plastic bait may be bright in color or more natural-looking. You’ll also find ‘creature baits,’ which don’t look like any natural prey but still work well to attract fish.
How to Fish with Soft Plastic Bait
The techniques you use when fishing with soft plastics will vary, depending on the kind of prey your bait is mimicking. The best way to fish with worms is to add a bulletweight above the head of the worm, cast it out, and let it sink to the bottom. Next, wiggle your rod around 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!
The buzzbait lure is like a crazy combination between a jig lure and a spinner, but it’s incredibly effective! Buzzbait lures are most often used for bass fishing and prompt an explosive reaction. A buzzbait lure is made up of bent wire with a loop to attach your line. On one side, you have a jig head and dressed skirt, and on the other, you’ll see a blade just like in a spinner lure. So, you get double the effect with a buzzbait! Not only are they flashy and bright, but they create significant vibrations as they travel through the water.
How to Fish with Buzzbait Lures
One of the best techniques for bass fishing with buzzbait lures is the ‘Chuck-N-Wind.’ This tactic involves a cast and retrieve at a depth not more than 5 feet below the surface. There’s nothing like seeing a bass strike on your buzzbait lure! Moderate speed tends to get the best result. You can use a buzzbait even in murky conditions, as the sound and vibrations will attract and catch fish.
Unlike spinners, plugs are normally made from hollow wood or plastic rather than metal. Most plugs (aka crankbaits) have at least two, or even three hooks and tend to be painted to imitate baitfish. You’ll find all plugs of every size and color to mimic any possible baitfish. The main types of plugs include poppers, surface plugs, jerkbaits, and diving plugs. Plugs make a fantastic addition to your tackle box for fishing on and below the surface. Plugs or crankbaits also make a top choice of fishing lure for bass fishing, as they will draw out a lot of bass.
How to Fish with Plug Lures
How you fish a plug bait will depend on the type that 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. You want to cast it out and let the water surface calm down. Then, you can begin to strip it with occasional pauses or jerks.
Fly lures are designed to imitate insect species as closely as possible. Most flies are tied 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 used with fly fishing equipment, including a fly rod, fly line, and fly reel. You can also use flies with a spinning fishing rods if you add a clear bubble float to your setup. Many sports and fishing shops stock flies, but a lot of fly anglers pride themselves on tying their own lures – a skill in itself!
If you are interested, you can check out our post here on the Best Spinning Reel.
How to Fish with Flies
Presentation is essential when it comes to fishing with flies. You’ll need to know what the fish are eating to pick the correct fly in the first place. And 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, it’s all about the retrieve under the water. Find our in-depth guides to fly presentation at Fly Fisher Pro!
If you want to know more about the different Types of Flies For Fly Fishing, see our post for a full breakdown.
Top Tip: Remove Your Treble Hooks
Most commercial fishing lures will come with treble hooks attached. However, a treble hook can do terrible 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 will make your fishing trips even more memorable. You’ll see more fishing action and catch more fish when you know which fishing lures to use. But there are a lot of different types on the market, and 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 will have enlightened you on the various types of fishing lures, and when and how to use them. So pick a few of the best lures, grab your rod, and get out for an epic fishing trip! And don’t forget to check out more fishing guides and articles too.