Fishing is one of the most interesting hobbies you can have. For some, angling also makes a wonderful way to put food on the table. Whether you’re a fishing hobbyist or a professional angler, it pays to know one important rule of thumb. Your success in catching fish is always highly dependent on what you put at the end of the fishing line. Especially for freshwater fishing, you can either go for live bait or use freshwater lures. Live or natural bait can be worms, minnows, and a wide range of other options. With more focus on artificial options, fishing lures have plenty of advantages.
One of their biggest benefits is that you can reuse them each time you cast your fishing line. This makes your angling less costly and more interesting. Even more interestingly, freshwater lures come in a wide variety of options to pick from. This is in terms of colors, patterns, sizes, shapes, features, and designs. Also, some are designed for surface fishing whereas others are meant for deep fishing. As a matter of fact, some lures are designed for certain types of fish, small to large. If you’re not catching enough, it is highly likely that you’re using the wrong lure or the right lure at the wrong time of the year.
So are you catching any? This freshwater lures guide will show you what types of freshwater lures are available along with some insights on how to use them. We'll also look into what lures catch what fish. Let’s go get started, shall we?
Table of Contents
Freshwater Lures - Two Main Categories.
Before we discuss the various options for freshwater fishing lures available on the market, it’s worth noting that the lures fall in one of two main categories. Most of them are designed to either mimic fish food or visually attract fish. Some of them do both these things. Nonetheless, the ones designed to imitate fish food are built to mimic creatures that the target fish naturally preys on. This could be smaller fish, larvae, and insects and so on. The second type is the one that attracts target fish using color, sounds, motion, reflections, and so on. So what are some of the most common freshwater fishing lures you can pick?
This is one of the most common types of fishing lure. Just as you can tell from the name, the lure mimics the shape of a spoon without a handle. They are metallic lures whose design mimics a swimming minnow or baitfish. This is because when dragged, the lure tends to assume a wobbling movement in the water. The facts that they are versatile and quite easy to use are other reasons spoon lures are so popular among freshwater anglers. Additionally, they come in various sizes, shapes, and weights. This means that to maximize your chances of making a good catch, you’ll want to choose the right spoon. There are specific options for trolling, casting, jigging, and other kinds of freshwater fishing. They are also available in a wide range of colors that you can choose from based on the type of fish you’re after. If you’re targeting large fish such as the pike, bass, or walleye, you’ll want to go for a larger spoon. Smaller spoons are more effective for anglers targeting smaller fish such as the trout and the panfish.
2. Fishing Jigs
Fishing jigs are also quite popular in freshwater fishing. They consist of a device that features a hook, a metalhead, and a characteristic tail to attract fish. The tail can be made from feathers, animal hair, rubber, or soft plastic. Fishing jigs are among the most versatile kind of lures that are not ideal for freshwater fishing but also in saltwater fishing. In the fresh water, however, jigs work for almost all types of fish. Some anglers prefer adding a piece of natural bait such as a minnow on the hook to maximize their catch. Nonetheless, fishing jigs also come in a wide range of options in terms of size, weight, colors, shape, and as previously mentioned, the tail material. Another huge advantage about jigs is that they can be used at any time of the year. Additionally, some jigs come with special features. For instance, Bass Buster Beetle Spin, which is popular for catching a wide range of fish species, is normally rigged with a removable safety pin spinner and a small grub-body.
The best way to use your fishing jig will depend on the type of fish you’re targeting. When targeting bass, for instance, you’ll want to avoid casting your line at long distance. The way you retrieve your line is also important. Again, for bass, you can retrieve your lure with a lift-and-drop motion, raising and lowering the rod slowly so that your jig drops on a taut line. Alternatively, you can retrieve your lure straight, keeping your rod at a 60 degrees position (10 o’clock) to your right. this creates a swimming motion to your lure, attracting even more fish.
3. Popper Lures
Sometimes they’re known as topwater poppers or simply popper. They are one of the oldest fishing lures which have along the years been used for bass fishing. They come in a wide variety of shapes and styles, but even the earliest designs are still on the market today. Basically, however, all poppers share a common characteristic. The lure has a curved, bowl-shaped surface at the front of the body. This is what makes the pop to attract your catch. The small lures are used with spin-casting tackles. The two most common types of poppers include chuggers and spitters which slightly differ in design, the chuggers being the classical type.
Popper lures are also a great option for beginners, thanks to that fact that they’re quite easy to use. The best way to use poppers is to use them when targeting fish such as the bass, trout, and panfish. Nonetheless, this lure’s effectiveness will depend on how still your waters are. Simply cast your line and jerk your rod every once in a while for a retrieve. You can also pause until all the ripples disappear before jerking your lure.
Spinners are also another highly popular option when it comes to freshwater angling. The lure typically comes with one to a few blades that spin around a wire shaft, thus the name spinners. Some of them are designed with soft plastic, vinyl, rubber or animal hair tails. Spinnerbaits or spinner lures are highly versatile lures that can be used both for surface fishing and deep water fishing. They are made to mimic injured or weak small fish to attract their natural predator, which is basically your target fish. Depending on what exactly you’re targeting, there are many ways to use spinnerbaits. Your accuracy and timing, as well as the water clarity and how you set up the equipment, will have a huge impact on whether you catch some or not.
5. Trolling Lures
Just as you can tell from the name, trolling lures are ideal for troll fishing. This is the kind of fishing where you use a boat to trail your baited line within a specific perimeter. Trolling lures are a special kind of lures that are purposely designed and suited for this kind of angling. Trolling lures are one of the best when targeting freshwater fish such as walleyes, especially during late summer or early fall. To get the best out of these lures, you’ll need to know how to maintain the right boat speed, how far in water to troll, and how deep to cast your line. You’ll also need to have the right fish trolling kit and know how to use it.
6. Plastic Baits
Despite the word baits, these are lures that are also quite common in freshwater fishing. These a soft plastic lures that mimic minnows, crayfish, worms, and other natural baits. Available in a myriad of color and size options, plastic baits can be used with or without weights. Sometimes they’re also used with other lures such as spinners, spinner baits, and jig heads. Thanks to technology, scented plastic baits are also available, considering some fish are also attracted by certain scents. Plastic baits can be used for almost any kind of freshwater fish, including trout, bass, and pike.
This one is another type of baits that cut through the water like some egg beater or juice maker. Sometimes they are known as vibrating lures, owing to the fact that when dragged through the water, they create some buzzing vibrations that are highly attractive to the hunted. Basically, the lure contains a small motor inside, which is the source of the luring vibrations to your target fish. The unit also includes a programmed microprocessor that allows the angler to operate the motor and randomly trigger the vibrations. One of the biggest advantages of this lure is that combined with color and motion, this buzzing lures attract a wide range of fish species, including those that may be visually challenged to see the lure. Vibrating lures are also great for night fishing as well as for attracting fish from thick cover, where visual barriers may be present. They do great when fishing in shallow waters.
Plugs are the other kind of fishing lures that feature a wood or plastic body for topwater or deeper fishing. For topwater fishing, floating plugs are used. On the other hand, diving plugs are used for fishing beneath the surface. The latter comes with metal weights to allow them to sink to a particular depth of water depending on the type of fish you’re targeting. The other name for diving plugs is crankbaits, owing to the fact that they are best used along with reel-operated cranks.
9. Snag Hooks
Despite the fact that they are often categorized as lures, snag hooks are your rare kind of fishing lures. This is mostly because they’re rarely baited. At the same time, they are not created to attract fish but to rather grab them during the retrieve. These lures have three treble hooks with a metal (lead) weight surrounding the center of the shank. Snag hooks work best during the spawning period when fish populations are highest. At times, they’re used by freshwater body agencies to keep fish populations in check. The name snag comes from how these hooks operate. To make a catch using a snag hook, you simply need to cast it into the water and retrieve it back using a jerking motion. If you’re lucky, the hook will snag a fish during on its way toward you.
Nonetheless, it is important to note that snag fishing is considered illegal in certain states and countries. Not unless you want to be the law’s next catch, be sure to check in with your local authorities to determine the state’s policy on snag fishing before you go fishing with snag hooks.
10. Fishing Fly
Fishing flies are arguably the most unique fishing lure options today. This is mostly due to their overly simple design, which consists of a single hook attached to a feather skirt or a hair. The fly is often attached using a monofilament leader to a special rod and a weighted line. Just like most of the other types of lures discussed, flies are available in a huge variety of types, patterns, and color options that match the different creatures preyed on by trout. Moreover, it’s worth noting that there various types of fishing flies. Some of these include the following:
- Dry Flies: Waterproof, floating lures suitable for surface or shallow fishing
- Wet Flies: Sink in water to mimic swimming insects
- Nymphs: they mimic young swimming prey in their earlier stages
- Bugs: A version of dry flies that mimic large accidentally drowned prey, suitable for catching the larger fish
- Streamers: Imitate minnows and small injured fish