Lure fishing is a very effective way to cover a large area quickly and effectively. It is in fact, one of the most efficient forms of fishing. I am a fly fisherman, not a snooty one, promise, but I will always use a fly rod over a spinning rod. I’ve got nothing against lure fishing, I just prefer fly, but when I go exploring to new areas in the middle of nowhere, quite often where no one has fished conventionally, I will start with a lure just to see what’s there before switching to a fly rod.
A fishing lure is an artificial bait that mimics a swimming fish, crab or other natural bait. There are hundreds of different lures out there and they are used when spin fishing or baitcasting. Each type of lure needs to fished in the right way and I’m going to take you through the main types and try to explain how to fish with lures properly.
Types of Lure & How To Fish Them
Here are the main types of lures out there and how to fish them right to be more productive.
Soft plastics are a colorful squidgy plastic lure that often looks a bit like a worm with a wiggly tail. They re very lifelike and a lot of fun to catch fish with. The come as just a soft plastic lure with no hooks and you will need a jig-head hook to attach it to. A jig-head hook is a hook with a heavy head on it. The heavier the head, the quicker the lure sinks and the further you can cast it. It is the heavy head that you will use to create the action of the lure on the retrieve.
Once you have the jig-head hook, simply feed the soft plastic on to it and tie it to your spinning or baitcasting rod. Now, cast the lure to where you think the fish are and let it sink and jig it back in. Jigging is pulling the lure with your rod, then winding, and then pulling the lure with your rod again. This makes the lure rise on the pull and move forward and then sink when you wind. So it’s effectively going up and down as it comes back in. This action is deadly and fish love it. They will often eat on the down or the up of the lure. The faster you bring it in the shallower the jig will swim.
When fishing with soft plastics you can add scent to the lures which will attract fish, for example, Gulp plastics come ready scented. You should also vary the colors and depths that fish to make it more effective.
Blades are super easy and simply to fish with and have been around for a long time. They are exactly what they sound like, a thin blade that is fish-shaped and painted in a huge range of colors like most lures today. They work by tracking through the water with their thin profile, shining and vibrating as they go. They look just like a scared baitfish as they swim through the water.
They attract a large range of fish and are particularly effective in open water and the sea. They come in a range of different styles and actions. Some may come with rattles for attracting fish and others may look very simple, but they are all effective.
The lure will have hooks attached and an eye to tie your line or clip your swivel through. Once on your line, simply cast the lure where you want it to be, put your rod tip close to the water and wind. Don’t wind too fast and make sure the lure swims nicely. Vary the speed of your retrieve to see what works best.
Crank Baits – Hard Body
These are usually hollow fish-shaped baits that are painted in a range of colors like most lures. They come in a range of sizes depending on the bait you want to imitate and each one comes with a lip at the front. This lip dictates how deep the lure will swim when you wind it in. The larger and bigger the angle of the lip, the deeper the lure will swim. This means you can have a range of lures that will swim at different depths, allowing you to explore the water to find where the fish are hiding.
Some of these lures will float and some will sink. If you are fishing an area with a lot of underwater snags, you’ll want one that floats, so when you stop winding, the lure comes up and does not get stuck. If you’re fishing in a very deep area, then you’ll want one that sinks.
In terms of fishing these lures correctly, you’ll be casting to where you think the fish are and winding back in. Make sure to vary your depths and how quickly you retrieve them. You can also try jigging with these lures and trolling if you want to cover a lot of ground.
Plugs or Poppers
Plugs and poppers are the same things, so don’t be confused if you hear people referring to them both. They have become more and more popular recently probably because they are awesome fun to fish with.
They are a hard body plastic that floats but with no lip, so they move along the surface and do not dive. They have a hollowed-out top so that they catch the water as you retrieve them and make a noise. This noise attracts fish as they can feel the vibrations in their lateral lines. Plugs come in a range of colors and sizes and the larger the size the more noise they make.
The way to fish these is to make as much noise as possible with the lure. Cast it out and then, keeping your rod low to the water, pull it hard with the rod, this should make it ‘pop’ and make a lot of noise. Then pause and wind in the slack and repeat. Keep doing this until you see an explosion of a fish behind your lure. This is the joy of topwater fishing, seeing the fish smash your bait on the surface, it’s as exciting as it gets.
Spoons & Spinners
Spoons are one of the original fishing lures and they are so effective that we’re still using them today. They are a key part of your lure collection and one of the most simple and cheap ones to use.
Spoons are a solid wedge of metal with a hook at the back. They come in different sizes and weights and can be cast very far. Spinners are lighter and have a kind of teardrop of metal attached to a shaft that spins as it is retrieved. Fish love them as they are attracted to the shiny movement of the lure and love to attack them.
When using them, cast as far as you can and wind, it’s that simple. They will sink quickly as they are made of metal, so make sure you are winding fast enough to keep them off the bottom but not too fast. They can be wound in very fast and are a great choice if you are targeting fast predatory fish.
- If the water is dirty, fish will rely less on their eyesight and focus more on their lateral lines, detecting movements and vibrations in the water. When this happens, it’s best to use a lure that makes noise in the water. Using a plug or a lure with a rattle in it can be very effective.
- Cast in an arc. The advantages of lure fishing are that you can cover a large area quickly. Keep your casting methodical, starting in one spot for a few casts the mover slowly around to cover ground efficiently.
- Keep changing your lures. People often catch a few fish on one lure and it naturally becomes their go-to as they believe in it. Don’t make this mistake. Fish change what they eat daily or even hourly and continually changing what you are using will be a big help in catching more fish. Experiment with depth, size, and color until you find something that works consistently. Don’t change too quickly though, give each lure a real shot.
- If you are fishing in freshwater then always try casting near cover. This can be large boulders or underwater trees and the like. Predators like to hide in the shadows and ambush prey, especially bass and crappie
- If you are fishing at sea, then diving birds are always a sign of baitfish on the surface. Where there’s bait there is usually bigger fish. Casting your bait in the area will be very productive.
- Keep your eyes on the water. Sometime’s it will look like the water is vibrating. This is called ‘nervous water’ as actually a shoal of baitfish that has been pushed to the surface but the birds haven’t noticed yet. Cast near those and you may hook up with a nice fish.
- Vary your depth and retrieve. Fish will move to different depths to find a more comfortable water temperature or to chase food. You’ll never know where they are concentrated and you’ll have to go and find them. Varying your retrieve is about trying to mimic the movement and speed of the baitfish the predators are after. Think about your situation and what fish you are trying to mimic in your retrieve.