A fisherman’s need to catch fish is relentless, as I’m sure you know. It is this relentlessness that has caused a huge evolution in the types of lures available. After all, live bait is fun, if you have the time to prepare and catch it. But often, having the right lure on hand can just help you catch fish. Which is what you are after in the end.
Fishermen have experimented with anything and everything to be successful but, no one has ever come up with the ‘perfect lure’ that always works in any situation, and thank god for that. Changing your tactics and having to adapt to whatever nature throws at you is part of the joy of fishing. Choosing what lure to put on the end of your line can make or break your day, but there are so many types of fishing lures out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Here we are going to take you through the main fishing lure types and how they work.
How Do Fishing Lures Work
Lures are made to either imitate what the fish are eating or to attract fish through their motion, sound and color. Most fishing lure types are designed with a particular species or family of fish in mind. For instance, a lure to catch bass with will differ considerably from a lure made to catch a marlin. Sure, they are all made to catch fish, but one probably won’t work with the other type of fish. But to help you pick the right lure, manufacturers will include these details in their product information so you won’t have to guess when it comes to buying some.
Spinners are a type of fishing lure than have one or more oval-shaped blades made from thin metal. These blades spin around the lure when you reel it in hence the name ‘spinner’. It is the spinning of the shiny reflective blade that catches the light and gets the fish excited and ready to eat.
Spinners are made to imitate small baitfish, like minnows or sardines and can be used in both fresh and saltwater. They come in a range of sizes and colors and it is always best to have a few different ones in your tackle box. Always check the product information so you do not use a spinner made for freshwater in the sea. It won’t be designed to handle the salt and will corrode very quickly.
The only way to fish a spinner is through casting and retrieving, they are not really designed for trolling. Cast the spinner where you think the fish are and wind it back in. Remember to always experiment with your retrieve and change it up to cover different depths and speed. This will help you catch more fish.
Spinners are great to use when targeting pike and bass, and larger saltwater versions are great for jacks, mackerel, and small tuna.
Spoons, as you might guess from the name, are a type of fishing lure made from a long shaped piece of metal. They have a loop at the top end, to attach your line to, and a treble hook at the bottom end. Spoon lures are one of the oldest types of fishing lures and are still very effective today.
Some spoon lures are simply one color; usually silver, bronze or gold and some come with a colorful pattern on one side and a shiny reflective metallic surface on the other. Their shape is designed to create movement when you are winding them in. It is this movement combined with the light-catching reflective surfaces, that causes a fish to chase and eat the lure.
A Spoon lure is designed to mimic small baitfish and can be used in both fresh and saltwater to catch a variety of different species. They can be used in a few ways and can be fished when trolling, casting and retrieving and vertical jigging.
Crankbaits are some of the best when it comes to mimicking baitfish. They come in a variety of sizes and colors and each combination used for different species. They can be used in both salt and freshwater and when fishing with a crankbait, the key to being successful is using a lure that will swim at the depth the fish are feeding at on that given day. To do this you will need a range of baits and the best way to start is to buy one shallow diver, medium diver and deep diver for your tackle box.
Crankbaits consist of two main parts, the body, and the lip.
- The lip is situated at the front and is set at a particular angle. It dictates the way the lure will swim and how deep it will go, the bigger the angle the deeper the lure will swim. If your lip is ever damaged, which can happen when a fish hits your crankbait, the lure won’t swim correctly anymore and it will need to be changed.
- The body is made from a mold and is usually shaped like a fish. It is then painted in detail to mimic a natural fish species or, with bright reflective colors to attract fish, like a spoon or spinner. Its the body shape and coloring that makes them so effective, especially when the lip takes them where you want them to be. Sometimes a rattle is put into the body which then makes a sound when you fish it. This can help in murky conditions when sound may attract more fish due to the bad visibility in the water.
You can use a crankbait when casting or trolling and they are can be used to target a lot of species, from trout to wahoo.
Buzzbaits are most commonly used for bass fishing. They are known to be one of the most exciting types of fishing lures to use as they force the bass to hit hard and near the surface. They are most similar to spinners but are set up quite differently. A buzzbait has a bent wire, this is where you attach your line, on the bend. On one end of the wire is a molded jig head with a colorful skirt and a hook, and on the other end is a propellor.
The propellor gives the bait lift, keeps the bait on the surface and also creates a churning sound. This sound attracts and annoys the hell out of fish. In fact, a fish will hit it just to get some peace and quiet, it is that annoying.
There are a few types of buzzbaits out there for bass fishing. They are pretty much all the same in design and come in a range of sizes and colors. The only piece that differs is the propellor. Some come with a single or double propellor and can include a clacker. The clacker is a piece of metal the propellor hits when turning, this adds more sound to the lure, helping to attract more fish.
Buzzbaits are usually fished by casting and retrieving. They are known for being excellent when fishing at night and near cover. The key to fishing a buzzbait is to start winding as soon as the lure hits the water. Wind as slow as you can whilst keep the lure working on the surface, this will still be quite a fast wind, but it is the speed buzzbaits are most effective at.
Almost any lure can be trolled behind a boat but there are lures specifically designed for this. Trolling lures are predominantly used when you are offshore fishing and want to target big pelagics like marlin and dorado.
Trolling lures are made up of a molded head and a colorful skirt which holds the hook(s) inside it, sometimes we put two hooks in there. They come in a range of sizes and colors and getting the right lure head and skirt combination is key to success.
When choosing the skirt colors it is best to have a few different ones available. Usually, we follow the rule of dark days, dark skirts and bright days bright skirts. This is to help the fish see the lures in the differing conditions but, I will always fish a combination.
Some of the best skirt colors in my experience are;
- Blue and white
- Pink and white
- Black and purple
- Black and red
- Green and yellow
The lure head is one of the most important factors because it is the shape and weight of the head that will determine how the lure swims, and the bubble or smoke trail it will create in the water. Slant and bullet head lures seem to be the most effective for me but it always pays to have a range out there, as you will never know what the fish will be excited for.
A popper is a surface lure that is cast and pulled back across the water. It looks like a long hollow tube with hooks at the back and in the middle. Its shape makes a gurgling and splashing sound and this is what attracts the fish. It is one of the most exciting ways to fish as you will see an explosion on the surface when the fish attacks.
Poppers are very popular lures for catching bass, tuna, and giant trevally. As with all lures, they come in a range of colors and sizes, and the rule is the bigger the fish the bigger the popper. You will be using a small popper for bass whereas you might use a popper the size of your forearm for giant trevally.
Jigs are specially designed for a type of fishing called ‘jigging’. This is when you cast out your jig, let it sink and move it gently off the bottom to entice a fish to eat it. The majority of jigs are made up of a heavy weighted head molded to the eye of a hook, and a skirt or soft plastic add-on to help it mimic what the fish are eating. The head type is what dictates how the jig swims and what conditions they are best used in. There are five well-known types and they are used predominantly in freshwater but can also be used in saltwater.
The five types are as follows;
- Arkie jigs
- Football jigs
- Punch jigs
- Finesse jigs
- Swim jig
If you would like more information about each type and when to fish them, click here.
There is also another completely different type of jig used in offshore fishing when you are targeting fish near the bottom. They are long and heavy colorful pieces of metal with a hook attached either to the head or tail. To fish them, drop the jig to the bottom, and pump and wind it up very fast. These are excellent to use when targeting giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, and other bottom species. Especially when you don’t have time for live bait!
Remove Your Treble Hooks
When you go fishing you have a responsibility when it comes to looking after the fish and their environment. Most of the lures you buy will come with treble hooks. While trebles are very effective in holding on to fish, they also cause a lot of damage to the fish and possibly to you.
Some lures will have two or three sets of trebles on them, which is six to nine hooks. If you hook a fish on trebles, chances are it may not survive due to the damage all the hooks will do. Unhooking the fish can also be quite dangerous for you. A fish jumping around with a lot of hooks in it is far more likely to hook you than a fish with one single hook in it. I would suggest removing the trebles and replacing them with a single J-hook. This will help the fish to survive once released and make it a lot safer for you when removing the hook. If you are catching fish for the pot then a treble may the choice for you, but be very careful when removing them.
There are a lot of different lures out there and it pays to have a range of them in your tackle box so you can manage the different situations that fishing may throw at you. Always have a selection of size and color in each type and you should be able to adapt to the changing conditions. If you’re targeting a specific species then do some research and talk to fellow anglers for advice. Especially if you want to fish bass, as we have not covered them specifically in this post, and you might be better off with a soft plastic lure.
If you do not have what they are suggesting, it is probably worth buying a couple.