If the saying “like a kid in a candy store” had a fishing equivalent, it would be “like an angler in a bait shop.”
As you walk through the doors, you’re greeted with rows and rows of colorful lures designed for every purpose, from fishing a murky, muddy lake to trolling the shores of a large reservoir.
When you’re fixated on a particular species of fish, stocking up your tackle box can be a little more overwhelming, especially if you don’t know the names of fishing lures and what they’re actually for.
I’ve found myself in this situation many times, and when I see an employee coming up to me, I just want to blurt out expletives and tell them to go away.
But, I don’t.
Next time you find yourself in the bait shop, make sure you know every type of lure so you can confidently shoo the barely knowledgeable pro shop employee away.
Anglers.com Community Coordinator Wesley Littlefield runs through the most common types of fishing lures and when to use them in this YouTube video.
Table of Contents
Fishing Lure Types Chart
13 Types of Fishing Lures Every Angler Should Have
Before you visit your local bait shop, let’s review a few artificial bait types, how to fish them, and what it’ll take to nab a record catch.
We’re covering a full stock of lures, including:
- Jigs, tube baits, soft plastics, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, frogs, jerkbaits, swimbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, topwater poppers, spoons
Jigs consist of a lead head, a single hook, and a rubber skirt. Most also have a weed guard attached to the weight.
It’s easily one of the best lures for tempting largemouth bass, thanks to its versatility and fluttery movement.
The most common imitations for jigs are insects, crawfish, and bluegill.
Jigs are made for luring out bottom-feeders, who are typically on the hunt for worms and crustaceans, so you’ll want to cast from a still or slow boat.
Once it’s sunk, pull it along the bottom slowly, giving it just enough tension to flutter while still maintaining contact with the bottom.
Alternatively, you can also swim your jig. Vary the cadence on your retrieve, letting the lure bounce and jerk as you move through the middle of the water column.
These types of fishing baits make them ideal for dense vegetation, but it’s easy for the large, heavy fish to get snarled up in the weeds when you’re reeling in.
To overcome this issue, you’ll need a sturdy rod with a flexible tip to dance your jig and haul your catch through any obstacles.
In cold weather, fish prefer hiding out in rock cover, weeds underwater timber, where they can hunt smaller, less-mobile prey while conserving their energy.
Cast out towards coves or grassy patches, wait for your line to slack, and slowly bounce the jig along the bottom.
A jig’s movements will catch the attention of any lurking aquatic apex predators but likely won’t attract skittish panfish looking for smaller targets.
Tube baits are one of the simplest fishing lures, but one that’s essential in any angler’s tackle box. They look like miniature squids, with hollow, soft plastic heads and trailing tentacles out of the butt end.
These little wonders trap air in the head, making them a slow sinker that offers a shad-like wobble to your line, circling through the water column rather than plummeting straight down.
The unique, hollow structure of tube baits offers fishers endless options for beginners and experts alike. They’re very forgiving,
For shallow waters, add a little styrofoam into the hollow head. This will maintain its buoyancy while you twitch the line, drawing strikes from fish who like to snatch insects from the surface of the water.
Deep water offers even more options. You can get a good sink by inserting a jig head into the hollow body, then casting past the school.
As the air escapes, the tube bait will spiral beautifully in the water, drawing in predatory fish on the lookout for forage while still obtaining the necessary depth when angling for crappie, walleye, or other saltwater target fish.
After infiltrating a school, use a pump and reel technique to keep the motion natural.
Tube baits offer plenty of room for you to finesse through any kind of cover, depending on where the fish are schooling.
They do particularly well off of bluffs or underwater rock walls, where you can let a jig-weighted tube bounce down the layers.
As it falls, the tentacles will dance around as it spirals through the water, creating a more natural swimming pattern.
The heads are also perfect for adding cotton balls soaked in attractant. As the tubes dance through the water, they’ll leave a scent trail that makes striking in murky water easier and less reliant on flashy movements or color.
Soft plastic lures encompass a massive range of affordable tackle box fillers in various baitfish shapes.
These rubber-textured artificial lures can imitate anything from a worm to a lizard, making them ideal for beginners who haven’t quite worked out the proper presentations for more complicated fishing lures.
Your strategy for presenting soft plastics will depend on what shape you’re using.
For example, some types of baits have a streamlined design and subtle movements for nabbing strikes from suspended freshwater fish, while others are best for casting around cover.
Beavers are perfect for flipping and pitching to fish hiding near stumps or overhangs.
The oval-shaped, ribbed body and trailing limbs also flit through thick grasses, creating realistic live bait movements without spooking your fish away.
Craws are another excellent option for smallmouth, particularly when used as jig trailers.
Target fish keep a keen eye out for the clawed appendages and narrow bodies of crawdads in the mud, so the key is imitating their jerk-pause-jerk movements.
Designed for deadly strikes and fast fishing, buzzbaits have plenty of bells and whistles that make them an attractive option for bass fishing.
These topwater fishing lures consist of a wire frame with a metal blade on the top wire and a hook inlaid on a weighted head. Many also have an attached silicone streamer skirt.
As the lure moves across the surface of the water, it will squeal or click loudly, so it’s crucial to adjust the volume of your buzzbait according to the current conditions so as not to spook your target fish.
You’ll need to be quick on the retrieve with buzzbaits to get the bubbles and blade going.
Once it surfaces, slow down your retrieve and gently jerk the fishing line to create more dynamic movement. Continue drawing it back and prepare for a fight once the fish breaches the surface.
Bass seem to avoid fully engulfing buzzbaits, but that doesn’t make them ineffective. You just have to give the fish a chance to chomp down and embed the hook before you retrieve your line.
Cast out, as usual, get the lure to the surface, then reel in slow and steady. When you feel the strike, give the fish a second to latch on before you try to set the hook.
Once you feel the weight, you can start reeling harder.
Trailers are also helpful for tempting the fish to bite instead of swiping at these types of fishing lures.
Spinnerbaits bring together swimbaits and spoon lure blades into a highly-effective fish-catching machine that consists of a weighted, articulated head shaped like a baitfish, a silicone skirt, flashing propellers, and a hook.
As the blades turn, vibrate, and catch the light, they draw the fish’s eye, tempting them over with the motion of the swimbait body.
One of the essential techniques for presenting spinnerbaits is popping the end of your rod once it hits the water. Doing so helps get the blades moving, which creates vibrations and flashes of color.
Trailers can increase the buoyancy and movement of this lure, or you can try casting onto shore, then slowly retrieving your line until it drops silently into the water.
Avoid weeds, though. Once the blades get tangled, you’ll need to retrieve and clear the lure.
Because they depend so much on light, they’re best in clear, shallow water on sunny days.
Gold and copper blades can help you draw Fish out in murky water or areas with little cover, but the bright, silver blade flash can scare fish away on very sunny days.
Spinnerbaits got a significant upgrade when chatterbaits hit the scene, as they feature a hexagon-shaped blade that vibrates aggressively when they move through the water.
These compact propellers are excellent over weeds because the shape and size of the blade are much less likely to get hung up.
Additionally, they have a silicone skirt to create multisensory action, making for an unbeatable fishing experience.
You’ll need to continually work your line when presenting chatterbaits, letting them sink all the way down before popping up and retrieving.
Once it’s in motion, continue steadily reeling it in, targeting the tops of weed patches.
Another popular technique is jumping along the bottom, pausing briefly before bounding again. This movement is deadly, as it imitates crawfish movement.
Chatterbaits do well in muddy waters because of the impressive vibration, which works to lure out fish even if they can’t see the skirt.
Chatterbaits shine as freshwater fishing bait, particularly in the spring when bass congregate in the shallows near docks.
They glide through even the densest weed cover like butter because of its sizable guard and compact size.
They make landing fish in murky water a breeze, particularly when they’re slightly more lethargic. They don’t rip through the water like spinners, giving lazy, low-energy fish a chance to latch on.
Frogs are the way to go if you want to make someone fall in love with fishing.
No matter how boggy, muddy, or grass-tangled the surrounding water is, these web-toed wonders will effortlessly slip their way around.
These are one of the simplest types of fishing lures, consisting of a rigid body or soft body construction sometimes accented with silicone “tentacles” to create more underwater movement.
Frogs are an easy-peasy option that requires minimal movement or work to bring in predators. Once you splash down, linger for a moment before retrieving slowly and casting out again.
The goal is to mimic the sound and silhouette of frogs on the surface of the water, so sticking around too long in one spot can make fish suspicious.
There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as casting frogs out into a patch of lily pads. Once freshwater fish hear that distinctive “plop” of a plump-bodied amphibian falling into the drink, they ambush mercilessly.
Wounded minnows are easy prey for a hungry fish, and jerkbaits capitalize on that by mimicking the movements of injured live bait.
These minnow-shaped lures come in three varieties: floating, suspending, or sinking.
When you fish floating jerkbaits, they only sink when you tug the line, making it the best option for navigating underwater obstacles without getting tangled up in them.
The key to presenting jerkbait naturally is in your line cadence. Wounded bait swims erratically, pausing and darting as they head for cover.
You can recreate these movements by snapping your rod.
Hold your rod to your side and snap your bait down. This sets the jerkbait horizontally in the water and lets it dart side-to-side.
Shift your rod to your center and reel into the channel. Make sure there’s enough slack in the line to let the bait shimmy freely.
Snap your rod back to the side, then pause. Repeat this snap-snap-pause.
Jerkbaits are king in suspended bass because they linger at their intended depth and draw fish up from below.
Be thoughtful about weight and depth when you cast. Leave enough room between your target drop zone and the fish to allow you to draw in your line until there’s very little slack.
Once you’re in position, try jerking the tip of your pole to create rapid, erratic movements.
Swimbaits are realistic fishing lures modeled after prevalent bait fish like trout, bluegill, shad, and perch.
They come in two general categories— hard and soft body— and hybrid options that combine a hard plastic body with a rubberized tail for more authentic motion.
Hard body versions are jointed to produce a wobble or ripple down the body line, and dual treble hooks are attached to the belly.
This makes them troublesome in weeds, where they’ll quickly get hung up in denser vegetation.
Soft body swimbaits have a more natural rhythm to their swim action and are less prone to alerting prize catches because they feel more authentic in the mouth.
They typically feature a hook eyelet at the nose or a single hook through the top, though line-through options are popular because they help keep the lure safe when reeling in aggressive game fish.
Because they tend to have very natural, realistic colorations, swimbaits don’t do well in dense, muddy waters because it masks the more subtle movements.
You should also be mindful of how heavy swimbaits can be.
Casting them repeatedly will wear you out very quickly, so it’s better to reserve your energy by focusing on creating lifelike movements rather than swift retrieving techniques.
Fishing with swimbaits is not for impatient anglers, but they’re top-of-the-line for bringing in massive catches.
Predatory fish like big meals, but swimbaits tend to lack the gimmicks that make other artificial fishing bait types attractive.
Make sure you keep your line erratic or choose a floating option that looks like dying prey on the surface of the water.
Soft-body swimbaits are a decent choice for fishing in cover, where the predator fish won’t put much thought into waylaying these “tasty” teasers.
Stickbaits are better known as minnow baits and offer a slim, hard-body profile that mimics a range of baitfish movements.
They typically have different features based on their real-world counterparts, including bills, paint jobs, joints, rattles, and weights.
Because there is so much variation in individual stickbaits, the best advice is to study the baitfish it looks like. A good rule of thumb is to reel erratically, adding in jumps, jerks, and pauses to look like prey on the run.
Be ready for anything while fishing with stickbaits. You’ll want to constantly stay in motion, changing your presentation during a steady, slow-paced retrieval.
Pausing too long can tip off the target that something is fishy about the prey, but overly jerky movements might make the lure unappealing, especially in colder weather.
Rattlers are an excellent choice for calm, clear waters. Cast near cover and walk the dog, bumping into rocks, timber, and grass along the way.
Lipped crankbaits feature a lengthy bill at the mouth, creating a more aerodynamic shape that cuts through the water for deeper fishing.
On the way back up, they do the opposite, building up the drag to help you maintain your position in the water column.
On the other hand, Lipless crankbaits lack the bill and are weighed down inside the metal body with bearings or bbs, creating a tighter wobble.
They produce a rattling noise when you’re reeling them back in.
For the most versatility, stock your tacklebox with shallow, medium, and deep-diving lipped crankbait.
Each is weighted appropriately to help you hit your target based on where they’re swimming and features different bill sizes to match certain bait fish swimming habits.
When fishing lipless crankbaits, the goal is to retrieve them fast and hard to make them rattle. The farther you let it sink, the more momentum you’ll be able to build while you’re reeling.
The largemouth bass are big fans of crankbaits, and anglers appreciate the quick retrieval that lets them cover large swaths of water in very little time.
Depending on where your fish are currently swimming, you’ll want to choose a lure that lets you get a few feet below the fish before ripping it back up past their line of sign.
You can also play with natural obstacles to bump the bbs around and create a more extensive rattle.
Of all the different types of fishing lures, topwater poppers are by far the most satisfying for beginners because of how fast you’ll find yourself setting hooks.
These innovative artificial lures have concave mouths that spit, pop, or chug when they hit the water. The sheer variety will quickly fill your tackle box, as they come in various colors, presentations, and sound effects.
You’ll generally start by choosing whether you want a chugger or a spitter.
Chuggers are much noisier, making a distinctive pop sound on contact with the water, then producing dense bubble trails on retrieval.
As you reel in, these bubbles burst, creating a loud and sustained series of popping sounds.
Spitters, as the name implies, spit out a narrow stream of water as you retrieve them, creating an irresistible display for the target fish.
While they’re not nearly as loud as chuggers, they’re one of the best plastic baits for bass fishing at the top of the water column.
Poppers do best near, but not in, weeds and rock piles. The treble hooks leave them liable to getting hung up, but these near-shore showoffs will prove worth their weight in gold when surface hunters start biting.
Color plays a significant role in the presentation of these lures because you want them to catch the eye of game fish from above.
Choose bright colors for murky water and darker ones for clear, as these create enough contrast to be far more attractive than the grubs and crawfish lurking below.
Poppers are the place to start if you’re new to catching fish with plastic fishing bait types. They’re interactive and incredibly successful, as long as you pace your retrieval correctly.
Keep a slow, steady cadence with your fishing line on calm waters, letting the lures put on a show across a large area.
Alternatively, you can try jerking the tip of your fishing line, creating the appearance of wounded live bait that predatory fish will find irresistible.
Like spinnerbaits, spoons depend on light to bring in fish. The concave lure is typically painted chrome, with a treble hook at one end and an eyelet at the other.
The scooped shape helps the lure flutter, twist, and spin as it drags through the water, while the metallic color throws light like minnow scales.
How To Present Spoons
Most anglers add lead weights to their spoons, letting them sink to the strike zone before slowly drawing the lure up through the water for the most prominent movement.
They’re also excellent for surface fishing in sunny conditions because the excessive light makes the flashes look like white bait fish bellies swimming above the prowling predators.
How To Catch Fish with Spoons
Flat areas are best for fishing with light, thin spoons because you can skip them over the surface, attracting fish from nearby cover.
As you retrieve, pump your rod to get the spoon spinning and let it bob before pumping again.
Preparing Your Presentation
A confident presentation is crucial to making the different types of lures work for you.
While it comes naturally to fishers with years of experience, burgeoning anglers should do their research to select the best bait and tackle that will help them ace their presentation.
What Is a Fishing Presentation?
In fishing, presentation refers to choosing lures, casting, and retrieving in ways that attract the particular type of fish you’re hoping to catch.
Large fish are intelligent, instinctual predators.
They have highly honed skills that help them select prey worth the energy they’re going to expend catching it, so it’s your job to seduce them to your line.
Location and Conditions
Depending on the location where you’re fishing and the current conditions, fish change their feeding behaviors.
For example, in the winter, they’re more likely to hide near rock cover in shallow water because they retain heat better, so casting in the middle of the lake likely won’t produce the way you want it to.
Cold weather also makes them less voracious eaters, and they’re not as interested in large bait as they are in the spring and autumn. Smaller lures are more likely to tempt their peckish appetites than massive prey.
Species of Fish in the Water
There’s a lot of overlap between fish species and what they want to feed on, so knowing the underwater residents can help you avoid wasting time and resources on fish you’re not interested in.
Poppers will draw pike, trout, and pinfish in fresh water, so adjust your methods depending on the most active species if you want to avoid certain types of fish.
Local Food Resources
Predator fish are incredibly aware of how their prey move, what they sound like, and where they hide, so your best chance for a strike is choosing lures that imitate what they want to eat.
Using lures that look like their natural prey will keep the fish interested in your lure for a longer period of time.
You’ll also need to study the baitfish’s habits if you want to trick the predator into engulfing your hook.
Crawfish jettison themselves across the sandy bottom, then pause before taking off again, so if you’re using a shellfish-shaped soft plastic, you should jerk your line to mimic that movement.
Otherwise, the bass won’t be interested because it’s not “tricky” enough to convince them your lure is worth their time.
Colors of the Natural Surroundings
You’re going to fight against the color of the water, which can change daily.
Dark lures aren’t going to entice bass living in murky water the same way something bright and colorful will, but they contrast beautifully against a clear, placid lake.
The Fishing Tackle Box Checklist
Nothing is more frustrating than learning you left some crucial piece of angling gear back in the garage when you’re already in the middle of the lake.
The best way to avoid frustrating fishing excursions is to double-check your bait and tackle before you head out.
Packing the right types of fishing tackle and accessories will help anglers hit the water prepared for whatever their aquatic adversaries throw their way:
- A first aid kit to quickly take care of any bumps or bruises
- Plenty of SPF, sunglasses, and insect repellent
- Cooler and stringer
- Spools of extra line
- Lures appropriate for your fishing tactic and location
- Extra weights and hooks
- Pliers, multi-tool, and a sharp knife for cutting small fish into bait if you’re planning on saltwater fishing
- Headlamp and flashlight
- Fishing license
Keep your fishing rod nearby, and you’ll never have to bumble around at the crack of dawn before heading out again!
Part of the fun of fishing is testing out different lures in different conditions until you find that just-right lure that keeps you in the strike zone.
We covered 13 types of fishing lures that fish can’t resist, from simple tube baits to realistic swimbaits. We hope you found our breakdowns, tips, and tricks helpful, but there’s still work to do if you want to reel in the big guys.
Once you’ve invested in your hardware, it’s time to finesse your angling skills.
You have to have a solid presentation if you want to land a prize catch, imitating the swimming depths and movement patterns of the predator fish’s favorite baitfish.
I recommend watching some of our YouTube videos about the bait you’re trying to copy or casting tutorials that break down the most effective casting strategies.
It’s also helpful to observe the water and observe how predators and prey naturally interact.