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Most Popular Types Fishing Lures to Use

Lures are an effective part of an angler’s arsenal, so understanding them is necessary if you want to level up your fishing game.

Everything You Need To Know About Fishing Lures

For the uninitiated, fishing lures are used to attract fish as a type of bait. Unlike live bait, lures can be reused so you get your money’s worth out of them.

They come in many sizes, colors, and distinct shapes that are designed with specific uses in mind. Some are for general use while others have a specific fish species in mind.

Today you’re going to learn all about fish lures thanks to our short and handy guide. What works for one wish won’t work for another, so we’ve included in-depth information about the different types of fishing lures you’ll find on the market.

We’ve also included how to use each of these lure types, for those of you who haven’t got experience with them.

Plugs & Crankbait Lures

Plugs, also called crankbaits, are the hard plastic fishing lures that probably come to mind if you’ve seen standard fishing lures before.

cedar plugs

They’re simple and have the shape and color of common baitfish or prey that’ll get the fish excited.

There’s more to them than meets the eye, typically being made from either hollow or solid plastic that’s attached to a metal sheet, called a lip. Cheaper lures have plastic lips, too.

The lip might also be adjustable, which is handy for making the lure wobble in the water so a fish gets attracted.

Square Bill Crankbait

Depending on what you do with these, they’ll float, hover, sink, or even dive. While doing so, they have two treble hooks that’ll catch onto the fish and hopefully never let go. Some crankbait lures even have three treble hooks!


Jigs are a lot like plugs except they are weighted on one side, which is opposite the hook.

best jig trailers for bass fishing

They’ll be attached to either a plastic grub or a feather skirt, whichever one is best for the occasion. Jigs are one of the more common lures out there because they’re great for penetrating the surface and getting at bottom feeders.

That means you should let the weight of your jig carry it beneath the water. When your line goes slack, you’ll know it’s hit the bottom of the water’s bed.

best bass jigs for fishing

Lift your rod ever so slightly and then pull in some line as you lower it. This ‘jigs’ the lure, hence its name, and creates an illusion of struggling–perfect for attracting a hungry bass.


What sets spinnerbait lures apart is that they move horizontally through the water. To help with that, they have a skirted hook that’s built into one side of the lure and then propeller-like blades that spin.

a spinner bait on a fishing rod

While that sounds fierce, the spinning metal actually helps with creating vibrations and mimicking the shimmering, metallic scales of minnows and other small baitfish out there.

The colors of spinnerbait lures change depending on how deep they go and which species are being targeted. They are especially effective for bass.

nichols lures pulsator spinnerbait

These lures are great when used in murky waters too, where game fish get attracted by the sudden flashing and movement.


The last of the full-bodied lures, spoon lures are called that because they have a concave structure that curves. They’re quite thin and usually cut from metal, so they keep their shape and remain sturdy after much use and many encounters with aggressive fish.

trolling sppons and lures

Before spoon lures were invented, anglers used to just cut the handles off of spoons and use them, so that’s where the name comes from.

They use the same attraction method as spinnerbait lures, wobbling and shining in the water so that the lure catches a fish’s eye. The bigger that curve is, the more the spoon lure wobbles.

Too much wobbling will look fake and scare skittish fish species away while others will like a more active and struggling prey, especially if it makes the fish look injured and helpless.

multicolored fishing spoons on a mossy log

Spoon lures work best when simulating movement, so it’s advised to cast it beyond or below your target zone and then retrieve it, dragging the lure through.

Don’t pull it back too fast or too slow, both are equally suspicious to the fish. To troll with spoon lures, you’d need a downrigger so you can establish a set path.


Fly lures were historically used for fly-fishing, hence their name. Some are suitable for spin fishing too if they’re made from the right material. Fly lures are quite simple – it’s just a hook and a skirt.

bonefish with a fly in its mouth

The skirt will be made from strands of thread, feathers, or furs so that they can mimic the skin colors and texture of different organisms. You can find fly lures that are modeled after beings like insects and crustaceans.

There are many subtypes of fly lures. First, there are surface and subsurface fly lures that are intended to float or sink, respectively. Surface lures are best for fish that like to approach the water’s surface, naturally.

Then, some fish prefer to eat dry prey over wet prey. This means some fly lures are waterproof so that the lure material isn’t wet. Wet fly lures sink and are supposed to look like minnows or insects that have sunk into the water.

trout eating a fly fishing fly

Then there are nymph baits that look like crustaceans, emerging fly lures that look like hatching insects, and then streamer flies that are supposed to look like standard baitfish.

Soft Plastic Lures

Last but not least, we have flexible lures that are made to look like just about anything under the sea. Whether it’s shiny minnows, wriggling worms, snapping crawfish, or cold-blooded lizards and frogs, you can find soft plastic lures in pretty much every shape and color.

person holding a package of Gulp! bait

They’re ideal for all kinds of saltwater and freshwater fish. Most of our favorite redfish lures are soft plastics!

The color of the lures is important because it determines how well they fit into their surroundings. Soft plastic lures are fickle, changing in effectiveness depending on the weather. That wasn’t a joke, brighter lures are more successful on clear days while dull colors work better when the sky is overcast.

Soft lures aren’t as rigid as a lot of the examples we’ve described above. This works in their favor because they can mimic biological movement accurately.

assortment of different soft plastic fishing lures

To properly simulate a creature moving under the water, let the lure sink to the bottom and then twitch your rod, gradually increasing the force of the twitches until they turn into jerks.

Why Use Fishing Lures?

Before we get into the details, why should you use fishing lures? Well, you can get away with fishing without touching lures, and there are certainly disadvantages to using them sometimes, so let’s look at the pros and cons.

best mahi lures for trolling

That way you can get informed and decide if fishing lures are right for you and your fishing style.

Advantages of Fishing Lures

  • Working with lures isn’t as messy as live bait.
  • You can throw lures farther than live bait.
  • They’re tailored to species, so you can target them more effectively.
  • They’re easily interchangeable.
  • They can be used in both freshwater and saltwater.
  • They’re better for catch-and-release fishing since it reduces the chance of fish swallowing the whole hook.

Disadvantages of Fishing Lures

  • Lures are specially made, so they’re more expensive than live bait.
  • They can get caught on underwater structures or terrains.
  • You need to move them to get the fish’s attention. This can take some skill so that you don’t make artificial movements and scare the fish away.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it! These are the most common types of fishing lures that you’ll find in any angler’s tackle box.

Lures are great for catching fish when you don’t want to deal with live bait. Which lure is your favoite? Let us know in the comments down below!

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