Welcome to our lure and bait guide. When you first start out as a fisherman you will quickly notice that there are thousands of different lures and baits to choose from. It’s actually a little overwhelming at first. More experienced fisherman tend to find favorites and fill there tackle boxes with lures that have worked for them in past. Many newer readers and anglers simply want to know, “what is the best lure to use?” Well this isn’t really an easy question to answer. There are just so many different factors that come into play making it an impossible question to answer. Some things that need to be taken into consideration before choosing what bait or lure to use are the following:
- What species are you targeting?
- How deep is the water?
- What kind of current are you up against?
- Are you fishing from shore or by boat?
- What time of the day is it?
What objects are in the water/on the ground floor?
- Are you trolling?
- What is the water temperature?
- How big are the fish you are targeting?
… And many many more.
If you are new to fishing there are definitely some go to lures and baits then tend to work well in numerous different situations. I usually recommend starting with these, and then moving on to other types as you become more experienced and see what works in your fishing hole. You can basically divide your tackle up into two parts:
Below we will go through the most common of each, and discuss their pros/cons and when to use them.
Artificial baits have come a long way in the last few decades. Many of these lures are so well engineered that fish can’t tell the difference at all. Below are the most common types or artificial that you will come across:
Spinners – these are small-medium sized lures. They some in a variety of different colors and will create a shine when the sunlight reflects off them. Spinners are easy to use- you simply cast and retrieve them slow to make the blade spin. These lures have several different variations but they all produce the same overall effect. They mimic a minnow and the shine and flutter of the blade helps get the fish’s attention. These are great lures to use in shallow waters and will usually produce small to mid-sized fish.
Plastics- there are plastic baits of literally everything out there: minnows, worms, frogs, mice, crayfish and many more. Their purpose is to replicate whatever it is they are moulded after. Some plastics will be dipped in scents to help make them seem more realistic. Plastics are cheap and effective in many scenarios. They can be added to a jig to adjust weight and depth. Fish of all sizes can be landed on plastics.
Spoons- these lures are shaped like spoons hence the name. They come in many different sizes and can be used for small to very large fish. They are usually silver on one side and painted on the other. Different colors work better in different environments and will produce different types of fish so keep that in mind. Spoons are typically not too expensive and heavier spoons work great in deep waters. Simply cast these things out and reel in while jigging at the same time. They will mimic an injured minnow swimming in the water.
Crankbaits and Plugs- these are the holy grail of artificial lures. Crankbaits and plugs represent minnows and fish. They have flat fronts or plastic lips that allow them to dive under the water to achieve your desired depth. The bigger the lip the deeper they go. These lures are awesome because they can float on the surface of the water over rock beds and weeds or you can use one that travels 20+ feet deep. They have a nice wobble to them making them look very lifelike. Some are jointed so that gives them even more of a wobble and replicates an injured fish. They come in small sizes which are good for smaller fish species and large sizes which are for targeting larger species. They literally come in every color and shape imaginable. The only downfall is that these lures are very expensive (around 10$ a piece). Crankbaits and plugs can be casted and retrieved or trolled at low speeds.
Flies- fly fishing is a whole new world of fishing. There are flies for every water type and situation imaginable. They are relatively inexpensive and work great in areas where the fish emerge to the surface. A fly rod setup in necessary to use these lures.
Live baits are great and have been used for centuries. When using live bait fish tend to strike harder and will often come back if they miss. The downfall to live bait is the time/money required to obtain it, the short life of it, and that they are only good for a single use. Below are the most commonly used live baits:
Worms- pretty cheap to get a hold of and work really well for most freshwater species. Both large and small fish will go after worms. You can use a piece of a night crawler or the entire worm depending on what you are targeting. The downfall to worms is that they fall off the hook easily. If the fish nibble or the current is strong be prepared to go through a lot of worms.
Leeches- a good alternative to worms in situations when the water is rough or the fish keep nibbling off the worm. Leeches are more durable than worms but tend to draw less strikes.
Minnows- probably the most commonly used live bait. Minnows are pretty much good for any fish. Minnows range in shape and size and can be purchased or caught using a minnow trap. Minnows are great all year round as well and can be used for ice fishing.
Crickets- not commonly used, but tend to work well for certain species. Bass tend to go crazy for crickets along with several crappie and pan fish species.
Crayfish- tend to work well for bass. Difficult to obtain and hard to hook making their use limited.
Wax worms- great for species will small mouths such as white fish. These typically don’t work well for larger fish and are not routinely used.