Lures 101: The Different Types Of Lures And When To Use Them

Fishing Lures

Lures are tools that allow more advanced fishermen to challenge themselves while fishing. They require precise movements, and they require a lot of practice to get the hang of.

They’ve been my favorite fishing tools since I graduated from fishing my local pond for bluegill. They’re just a lot more engaging than live baits and cut baits.

Different lures do different things. The action that each type of lure provides tends to be drastically different, and you have to take into account lure color and retrieval methods when you’re trying to target fish. However, those aren’t drawbacks for veteran fishermen. They’re bonuses because they challenge fishermen to truly trick fish into biting.

In this article, I’ll be going over the most commonly used lures. The names of each category are what most fishermen use to describe these lures, and I highly suggest familiarizing yourself with fishing terminology before trying to use lures. It’ll make it a lot easier to read guides such as this one if you take the time to learn what different terms mean. That being said, I’ll describe each type of lure in their respective section.


Crank BaitsCrank baits are usually larger lures that are based very loosely off of fish shapes. Read any children’s book that talks about fish, and you’ll understand what shape crank baits are. They typically have a bill attached to them to help you control their depth.

You’ll notice that a lot of the lures in this guide are named after the motion used to retrieve them. Crank baits are no exception to that.

To use a crank bait, you simply cast it out, and reel it in as you bounce the tip of your rod. That produces the action that attracts large bass and other game fish.

I recommend rotating which color you use as you fish. If one color pattern isn’t working, it’s best to just switch to something slightly different. That means that you’ll have to buy a lot of different crank baits, but that’s something that every serious fisherman does.


Spook LuresSpooks are hard-plastic jerk baits. They tend to be very straight, and they typically have a clear-plastic bill to control their depth. They’re called spooks because the sudden jerk that’s recommended to retrieve them tends to startle fish into attacking them.

To use a spook, all you have to do is cast it out, and slightly jerk your rod. As slack develops in your line, you can reel it back in. You don’t want to reel the lure in unless there is slack in the line, though.

These baits are great during the slower months because they aren’t meant to be fished very quickly. You can easily make a single cast take ten minutes to retrieve, and that slow action tends to work really well on winter bass.


Poppers for fishingPoppers are designed to disturb the water’s surface, and they’re supposed to be fished slowly. They resemble a cone with the base hollowed out, and they’re usually painted to resemble fish. Contrary to popular belief, the paint isn’t very important. It’s best to use colors that make sense for the type of water you’re fishing, but you don’t need a popper to realistically depict a certain fish species. All the fish see is the bottom of the lure, and all of the splashing that the lure does.

Popper come in a lot of different sizes. Some are large enough to catch 300-pound ocean fish, and some are small enough for bass. The method used to fish any size is the same.

To use a popper, all you have to do is cast it normally, and then you have to pop it back to you. To make the lure pop, you have to jerk your rod a single time and wait. The hollowed out part of the lure will force the water to splash, and it’ll grab the attention of nearby fish. It’s best to let it sit for a few seconds before popping it again. I’ve never been in a situation where popping it back to shore at a rapid pace actually worked. It’s important to be slow with these lures.


fishing spinnersSpinners are some of the most basic lures out there. The resemble a steel wire that was bent into a 40 degree angle. On end of the wire will have a jig head and dressing on it, and the other will have a metal blade that spins when it’s retrieved.

Spinners are really easy to use, and you can pick up some very cheap ones at Wal-Mart. However, the cheap ones aren’t as durable as the name brand options. To use a spinner, all you have to do is cast it out, and reel it in until it reaches shore. Sometimes I like to pop the lure for extra action, but it’s not necessary most of the time. These lures are best used when the fish are very aggressive.

Artificial Frogs

Artificial Frogs for fishingFrogs are a favorite among the fishing community, and they come in two varieties. The most common frog is the top water frog. It floats around, and you’re supposed to occasionally pop it like a popper. However, they have long legs made of rubber strings that give the lure a lot more action.

There are also soft-plastic versions that are fished a lot differently. Soft-plastic frogs are relatively new, and there aren’t a lot of manufacturers making them yet. Zoom is the company that I buy mine from. To use the Zoom soft-plastic frog, I recommend taking a standard worm hook, and shooting it through the side of the frog. That allows the frog to bounce around in the water like a normal frog would, and it sets the hook up to hook a bass perfectly in the jaw or lip.

If you decide to try to use top water frogs like Booyah or Lunker Hunter frogs, I recommend trimming one of the legs short. It’ll make the frog walk across the surface of the water, and it’ll look a lot more realistic.


Soft Plastics for fishingSoft-plastics come in such a large variety of shapes and colors that I cannot describe them all here. However, almost all of them are used the exact same way.

If you’re going to use soft-plastics, I recommend buying worm hooks. They just don’t work correctly with normal hooks. Worm hooks have a bend in their shanks that allow them to keep the lure horizontal at all times. That allows you to move worms, flukes, crayfish, and more throughout the water in a natural way.

I recommend putting a 1/8-ounce bullet weight ahead of a soft-plastic to help it bounce around erratically and quickly. You should also know that you should always rig crayfish lures backwards. They move around with their rear moving forward, and fish expect that in the wild. All soft-plastic crayfish are designed to be hooked butt first.


fishing swimbaitsSwimbaits come in a variety of styles. Some of them are soft-plastics, and you can read my previous section to learn how to fish those. This section is about the hard-plastic variety.

Swimbaits are usually made from several parts, and they’re designed to look and swim almost exactly like a real fish. They’re fairly easy to use, too. I suggest retrieving a swimbait by slowly reeling it in, and you should occasionally pop the end of your rod to make the lure look like a wounded fish. That strategy has been very successful during my own bass fishing trips.


Fishing JigsThere are two types of jigs that you really need to know about. Those are football jigs and swim jigs. Jigs are just lead heads that have a hook installed and rubber strings attached to them. However, they’re great for fishing in poor conditions.

Football jigs have heads that are shaped like a football. That’s how they get their name. The football shape allows them to roll over rocks and gravel, and that allows you to fish the bottom of the lake without getting snagged.

Swim jigs aren’t as good at maneuvering on the bottom of the lake as football jigs, but do behave a lot more like fish, and they’re perfect for weed-filled surfaces.

Both types of jigs typically include a bushel of wire tips that protect the hook from getting snagged on junk. However, those bristles are designed to fold down when a fish bites. So, you don’t have to worry about them preventing fish from biting.

Inline Spinners

inline spinners for fishingInline spinning lures are what I suggest to most beginners. They’re extremely simple to use, and they catch bass like it’s nobody’s business.

These are the classic lures that consist of a treble hook, barrel body, leaf-shaped blade, and a wire attachment loop. They come in as many colors as you can imagine, and they’re so easy to use that it’s almost guaranteed that a beginner can catch a fish on one.

To use an inline spinner, I recommend using a medium-light or medium rod, and simply retrieving it at a steady pace. In colder temperatures it might be necessary to pop it slightly, but I’ve rarely had to do that to snag a decent bass.

Jerk Baits

jerkbait for fishingJerk baits are a lot like spooks and swimbaits, but they’re made of soft-plastic. Jerkbaits include a number of sub-types. They include flukes, stick worms, paddle tails, and other soft-plastics that rely on slight twitches to function properly.

Jerk baits are used exactly how their name suggests. You simply cast them into areas that are likely to have fish in them, and you sporadically jerk them back to shore. Make sure to reel up any slack in your line before jerking again.


Lures are my favorite fishing tools. They add an extra challenge to fishing because they require you to trick fish into biting via well-timed movements. There are many different types of lures, but these are the ones that are most commonly used.


My love for fishing started when I was a little boy. My local park had a children's fishing event where I caught my first bluegill. Ever since then, I've pushed myself to learn more about fishing, and I've targeted a large variety of fresh and saltwater game fish, across the majority of the United States, for the last twenty years. While my writing career keeps me very busy, I still find time to throw a line in at least three times a week.

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