Common Types of Fishing Lures – When to Use Each

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Last Updated on October 11, 2022 by admin_hunter

A fishing lure is an artificial bait used by an angler to capture the attention of their target fish by leveraging on the fishes’ predatory instincts. We use them to entice the predatory fish out of hiding so we can level the odds on the water and capture them. For this to be effective, the lures have to resemble the fishes’ prey as closely as possible in appearance, movement, and behavior. They are also designed to trigger vibrations in the water that will pique the fishes’ sonar instincts and draw them closer.

The varieties of fishing lures match the aquatic critters the fish feed on, and they can never be comprehensively captured in a single platform. There are however common fishing lures that have been used by fishermen and women over the years and are applicable for diverse freshwater fishing techniques. Stick around as we explore lure fishing and instances where it is most effective and comparable to the use of live bait.

Common Types of Fishing Lures

1. Plugs

These are arguably the most realistic-looking fishing lures, shaped exactly like baitfish with realistic eyes painted on the head section and finishes of various colors that closely resemble fish skin. They are dubbed ‘hard plastics’ as their construction is either a piece of solid or hollow plastic. They often feature beads inside the body to rattle as they are retrieved and attract more attention.

They have a piece of thin metal or plastic vane on their fronts which is often adjustable for a wobbling effect. The lip also determines how they swim in the water; large, steep lips are for swimming deep under water and shallow smaller lips are used near the surface. Plugs can hover, sink, float, or dive depending on their design, allowing them to be used for diverse fishing techniques.


Plugs are effective for a wide range of fish. They are more effective when the water is warm as they target high-energy fish. They naturally float on water but suddenly dive when being retrieved. For added efficiency, you should make them dance to mimic wounded fish more accurately. Jerk them regularly while sinking and floating them irregularly, and then bring them to a complete stop.

2. Jigs

These are designed to look like very small fish with a heavier head and a tail with a hook. They sink easily due to their weight and are excellent lures for bottom feeders. Their weight also makes them a great choice for accurate casting into the wind. They are popular among boat anglers because you only need to drop them over the side of the boat and start jigging up and down with your fishing rod.


Cast out your jig and wait for it to sink toward the bottom; you will know it’s all the way down once your fishing line goes slack. Start jigging while lifting your rod a bit and then lowering it again as you slowly wind up the line. The twitch creates the kind of disturbance you want without spooking the fish. Change the speed and size of your movements to determine which action is more effective.

3. Spinner Baits

These lures come in the form of a solid weight with metal blades mounted at its neck. The blade(s) spin like propellers as the artificial lure is retrieved, thanks to resistance from the relatively static water. These move horizontally in the water causing a lot of vibrations which the targeted fish should zone in on.

They are great for bass, perch, and pike. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and depending on the species being targeted and the depth of water where you expect to find them. The flashy look combined with the vibrations is irresistible to the most conservative fish.


These lures are designed to create all the commotion for you, and you don’t need to jerk or jig them. You just cast and retrieve; the faster you retrieve, the faster they spin and the louder they become. They will give a better experience when fishing from the shore or a bank as the retrieval work is hard to execute from a boat. You can add a sinker to help them go deeper if you feel the fish are in deeper waters where it’s difficult to see. The flashing blades can attract fish even in murky water.

4. Spoon Lure

These are concave pieces of metal that resemble spoons without handles and are finished to look like the body of a fish. They will often come with a large eye painted on them to make them more realistic. They shine and wiggle as you retrieve them, mimicking wounded baitfish which is impossible to resist treat for your game fish. The larger the curve, the more pronounced the wobble is.


Spoon lures can be used for casting or trolling. For casting, you drop the lure 10 to 15 feet below your target zone and retrieve it, so it passes up through the target zone. For trolling you might want to incorporate a downrigger to get to your desired depth. You have to ensure the speed with which you are retrieving the lure allows it to wobble sufficiently for the desired presentation, don’t be too quick or slow with the reel.

Because the spoon has no moving parts, all the swimming and presentation relies on your arm movement so you should regularly twist and turn them to entice your fish prey. The twisting and turning can get tiring after a while. They are more effective when fishing in deep water on a boat or kayak as opposed to the shore or bank. You will get better results when the water is warm as the fish are usually more athletic and curious.

5. Soft Plastics

These are rubbery lures fashioned to mimic almost all aquatic animals that fish feed on. They range from lizards, frogs, crawfish, minnows to worms and are selected based on what your target species is feeding on at the time. They are designed to be very realistic to achieve the desired effect. They often have highly mobile tails and small fins to make them look realistic as they swim in the water.


Soft plastics can be used all year round and are attractive to different species. They will do all the luring work for you just like spinnerbaits. If you need them to go deeper, there is a wide array of swim tails available that you can accessorize with, in combination with weighted jig heads to weigh them down.

Ensure that the color and size of the soft plastic fits in with the natural habitat where you intend to cast them and that they are the right lure for the species you are targeting. Bright plastics will work well on a clear day, but you should avoid them on gloomy days. Sink the bait and twitch the rod a bit if the hookup takes long.

6. Flies

These lures are typically used for fly fishing and are a hook and skirt. The skirts are made from fur, feathers, and threads and are designed to look like insects and crustaceans which account for a significant portion of the fishes’ diet. They can also be made to resemble small fish, larvae, frogs, and other aquatic living things the fish feed on.


Fly fishing can be done on the surface and in the water, depending on the type of fly and the fish species being targeted. It however produces the best results in spots where the fish come to the surface of the water because of the tide or during spawning season.

Different types of surface flies have different applications and they bait differently. Surface flies float on water while subsurface flies are designed to sink. Dry flies look like insects, are waterproof, and float. Wet flies are subsurface flies that resemble minnows and sunk insects, nymphs, crustaceans, emerging flies, hatching insects, and streamer flies to bait fish.

7. Poppers

These are lures with concave faces that are designed to pop and spit out water during retrieval. They are a top water lure that perfectly mimics mortally wounded fish floating on the water surface as they take their last breath. They will secure a bite out of nothing on a calm day as they represent low-lying fruit to the predator fish in the water.


Keep the line stiff and jerk it frequently to produce the pop. Be alert as the bite will come just when you have taken a break. You can use the ‘walking the dog’ technique which involves making the popper swim in a zigzag fashion like a confused baitfish.

Our Take

Each lure has a target species and applies to its unique circumstances. To cover all your bases, it is advisable to have each type represented in your tackle box. Weather conditions change and with them so do tides, making the whole exercise very dynamic. You want to be prepared to change with the tide, so you don’t end up wasting a whole day out on the water.

PLUSINNO 102 Pcs Fishing Lures Kit

Common Types of Fishing Lures – When to Use Each

This package of 102 lures has you covered from all angles as it has an item for every need. It features crankbait, plastic worm lures, jigs, and assorted top water lures. It also comes with its own tackle box that you will use to arrange and separate the different types of lures for easy access when you are out fishing.