7 Types of Lures: A Fisherman’s Guide

types of fishing lures

When first heading to the tackle shop or perhaps browsing your favorite online store for a fishing lure, it can get incredibly overwhelming at first glance.

Whether its the lingo or types of lures, its really hard to make sense of just what the differences are.

Whether you want to get a lure to just simply catch any fish,

or if you are perhaps trying to catch a pike, bass, or trout,

we will go over a few of the key pointers on the different types of lures and which one should work for you in just a minute.

Before we deep dive into all the lure types – its important to understand the critical reason why anglers everywhere may prefer a lure over live bait:

The Core Advantages of Lures Over Live Bait

The differences between live bait and lures is quite substantial.

By and far the most obvious reason that many fishermen may stray towards a lure initially is given that its a relatively ‘clean’ method that doesn’t involve any stabbing of live bait.

Some folks just simply would rather opt for a lure over the squeamish feeling of hooking a worm – and that is completely fine!

Beyond this unsettling feeling for some, lures can actually be a much more humane way to fish.

If you are simply fishing for the pleasure and plan to catch and release, a lure is going to be much less susceptible to getting caught within the fish.

Sometimes when fishing with live bait, a fish may completely swallow the worm along with the hook.

This of which will likely puncture the stomach of the fish and perhaps even kill the fish long after you release it.

Contrary, lures tend to be much larger and less susceptible to being accidentally swallowed.  This is not only more humane, but also can be incredibly cost efficient…

Which leads us to the next point:Lures in the long run can potentially be much more cost efficient than live bait.

Before you go out to your favorite local fishing spot, you will need to swing by either your local fishing store or roadside stand in order to pick up some live bait.

Of course if you go fishing on a weekly basis or even several times a month, this incremental cost of live bait can add up over the long run.

That is if you use one single lure every time you go fishing…

But who are we kidding!

The biggest draw back to lures is of course the investment – and the eventual loss of your favorite one.

Whether it was a really bad cast that ended up in a tree, or simply the lure got stuck between a pair of rocks or completely wrapped up in seaweed – losing a lure is a painful experience.

Especially if you have invested a tidy sum of money on the end of that line!

Lastly, and likely the most important facet of owning a lure is its predictability.

If you are looking to catch a certain type of fish, the lure that you are using can have a large impact on increasing your probability.

You see, the problem is that many fish simply like worms, therefore when casting into a pond you may hook a sunfish, carp, or a bass.

Which may lead to a semi-frustrating experience especially if you were just going after bass.

Oh and with a lure you don’t have to worry about worm charming if you plan on collecting live bait yourself!

Freshwater vs. Saltwater: Can You Use These Lures In Both Scenarios?

Generally speaking, you want to keep your tackle boxes separate, especially if you are going to be hopping between either freshwater or saltwater.

In fact when you take a look at some of the popular online retailers, they actually bucket saltwater lures separately from the rest of the lures: 

But when clicking within this section, you will see a lot of similarities between saltwater lures and the rest of the market: 

So what’s the deal here?  

Is it just a clever way for companies to make an extra buck off of you depending on the water that you plan on fishing in so you have to buy everything twice?

Well, not exactly…

You see, saltwater lures are typically designed to be able to withstand the harsh and abrasive liquid that is saltwater.

Therefore the metal fittings that are affixed to most lures for saltwater use are made from a thicker galvanized or stainless steel that likely won’t corrode after a few uses.

In addition, the lures tend to be a bit on the larger size in order to account for the proportionally larger fish that lurk beneath the surface in saltwater environments.

Lastly, saltwater lures do tend to have a thicker veneer/coating simply due to the fact that many fish in the ocean may contain teeth that would otherwise destroy your freshwater lures if caught.

Simply put, you of course could use a freshwater lure in saltwater and vice versa, however, bringing a freshwater lure into a saltwater environment may yield a destruction of your gear, or generally worse results as they may be too small for the particular fish that you are trying to catch.

Soft Baits Are A Popular Bait For The Feint of Heart

 Ok, I admit it, even when I was a kid, hooking my first worm was a bit of a struggle.

It wasn’t the technique that bothered me, it was moreso the fact that I was using a worm as bait and using it to catch a fish that was only to be released again – however I did get past this struggle as I told myself I was simply giving a lucky fish a healthy lunch!

However, as we outlined above, one of the biggest sticking points with live bait is that it can be a bit messy.  Therefore if you want to hook your line and then take a bite of your sandwich, soft bait can be an excellent choice.

Typically mimicking critters naturally found in the fishes habitat, soft bait can be replicas or in other interesting shapes that are made to catch the fishes attention.

By and far one of the most popular soft baits is going to be the common earth worm.  You can also find soft baits that are more abstract called ‘creature baits’ along with grubs, spiders, craw fish, frogs, etc.

Generally speaking, soft baits tend to be geared towards novices given their relative ease of use when compared to other lure types.

Also being that soft baits, are well ‘soft’ they are less prone to being snagged on any of the weeds that are along the bottom of a pond, lake, river, etc along with a lower susceptibility to also getting caught on a rock given their flexible and forgiving form.

You may notice too that many soft baits are infused with a glitter substance.  This is used to be more attractive to the fish when they are in the water.

Another interesting note on soft baits is that some may be coated with synthetic smells in order to be more ‘life like’ that falls in line with regular live bait.

Lastly, soft baits tend to skew a bit to a lower cost and are great for novice fishermen to try out.

Hard Baits Are An Effective Lure For Catching A Fish Of Your Choice

An extremely popular lure that is used by both novice and expert fishermen alike is the standard hard bait.

Hard bait is a type of lure that is typically constructed of wood or of a synthetic plastic material that is rigid in nature.  Hard baits come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Now when it comes to knowing which lure will work best for your scenario, the options vary far and wide.

There are a ton of different factors that weigh into the type of lure that would catch specific fish.  Generally speaking, if you are going after smaller game fish you will want to get a smaller sized lure.

Hard baits can also vary when it comes to buoyancy.  Therefore when looking up lures online or at the local bait shop you will see a variety of options at your disposal.  Some hard baits will sink while others will float.

Once noticeable trait that you will see when it comes to hard baits is that they may have a plastic lip on the front of them.  This is purposefully there, not only to tie the lure to your line, but also to simulate a dive for the hart bait when you reel it in.

Lastly, when deciding on a hard bait you will also notice that they come in a variety of hook sizes.  These sizes are meant to give you guidance on the type of fish you plan on going for.

Therefore if you are trying to catch a smaller fish, you will want to then get a smaller hook size.

As you get to know your hard baits, you will notice that some may be particular favored by one type of fish over another.  Therefore as you get used to fishing with the hard bait, its important to keep a journal of your catches to see if you can spot any trends.

Jigs Are Affordable But Require Technique

 Jigs are likely one of the first fishing lures that fishermen will buy simply due to their incredibly low price point.

However, with such a low price point, much of the work lies within your hands to fully draw out all the great benefits of a jig.

When fishing with a jig, you will want to do a few things in order to catch a fishes attention.

First and foremost, jigs work pretty well when you reel them in slightly and then give a flick of the fishing pole.  This combination of moves should likely catch a fishes attention enough to try and grab bite.

Therefore when using a jig, its a continuous movement of work that is required while fishing.  If you plan on just casting your line and want the jig to do all the work for you – then you likely aren’t going to catch many fish.

Much like with any type of lure, jigs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and color combinations along with different hook sizes as well.

While jigs can be geared for use on many different types of fish, if you do intend on fishing with a jig, from our experience, along with what other fishermen have reported as well, is that bass do tend to prefer this type of lure.

Spinners Are A Simple Cast And Reel Lure

Using a spinner is dead easy.

In fact when compared to soft baits, they are just about on the same level of difficulty.

But spinners do vary drastically when compared to soft bait in regards to the continuous effort that is required.

Simply put, when you cast a spinner into the water, you can let it sink for a few seconds, however, beyond that you will need to start reeling it back in slowly.

Unlike some of the hard baits that may float, or soft baits that you can affix with a bobber, a spinner lure will sink to the bottom of the water and will be susceptible to getting snagged.

Spinners are pretty unique from the other types of lures in that they don’t actually mimic what the fish sees naturally in the water.

Instead what makes spinners unique is that they are very much like spoon lures in that they have a metal disc (typically in the shape of a oval) that is affixed to some synthetic fibers alongside a hook.

When reeling in a spinner, the metal oval will clang against the rest of the body of which will make a gentle sound, but also give off a vibration that will pique a fish’s interest.

Secondly, the bright metallic disc will simulate a smaller fish’s scales in the water which should also catch the attention of bigger fish.

As with just about all lures, spinners come in a variety of hook sizes, colors, and price points.

Spoon Lures Are Excellent For Game Fish

 Whether you are trying to catch a trout or bass, spoon lures can be incredibly effective at helping you catch larger game fish as opposed to panfish.

Spoon lures rest somewhere between both a spinner and hard bait lure as they share similar properties with both.

Spoon lures are essentially just a metal plate with a hook typically attached to the tail of the lure.

They share properties with hard bait in that they often may look very similar to smaller baitfish found in the water.

However, not all spoons mimic the same look as fish.  Don’t be surprised when looking through the vast array of spoon lures if you find some that have a mixture of bright neon colors as well.

While spoons aren’t going to give off a noise like spinning lures do, the flat oval shape of these lures will simulate smaller fish swimming through the water.

Also similar to a spinning lure, is that a spoon lure will require continuous effort on your part in order for it to not get snagged on the rocks or seaweed at the bottom of the water.

When it comes to difficulty these range similar in nature to spinning lures – easy.

Spinnerbaits (also known as Buzzbaits) Are A Combination Lure

 While we talked extensively about spinner lures separately above, there is a unique type of spinnerbait that tends to get classified into its own category.

Spinnerbaits are a combination of both spinner lures and jigs that work in tandem with one another.

With all the unique properties that are found within a spinner bait (i.e. noise/vibration abilities) this lure is also coupled with a jig that will help in attracting the attention of larger game fish.

Therefore when you cast this into the water, both the noise and appearance should help to gaining a fish’s interest.

Now compared to the rest of the lures reviewed above, spinnerbaits tend to be more on the expensive side.  Therefore to prevent frustration when fishing, its generally recommended to be quite comfortable with some of the other lures offered before trying a spinnerbait out.

Price aside, spinnerbaits do also require the most amount of effort due primarily to its jig attachment.

Therefore its going to be a reel + flicking the pole combination continuously.

Overall though, this lure is extremely effective at catching some great game fish.

Fly Lures Are Typically Used For Fly Fishing

 While fly lures are definitely a type of lure that is worth knowing about, chances are you likely aren’t ever going to purchase this one.

Fly lures are primarily used only for fly fishing, of which requires is own unique set of gear including fly reels, rods, etc.

Fly lures will vary wildly in sizes, but do tend to favor very similar shapes.  The core purpose of fly lures is to mimic water bugs.

Materials used to make fly lures can also vary from either synthetic fibers or animal fibers.  Some of the common types of animal fibers used with fly lures may include hare or elk along with others.

The Core Lures Covered

As you can see above, all the lures used in fishing can vary greatly when it comes price, size, level of difficulty, and even the type of fish that you are going after.

Therefore it really comes down to testing out lures and seeing what works best in your environment.

Generally what we recommend doing is keeping a log of all your catches to see what lures tend to work better than others.  In addition to just the sheer quantity of fish that you catch, also notate the type of fish along with the weight and size (if possible).