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Different types of Fishing Lures for Freshwater Fish

Different types of Fishing Lures for Freshwater Fish

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History of the Lure

A large bass, explodes from the water throwing it’s head back and forth, all the while a shiny lure hangs on to it’s lip. This is our vision of fishing.  But, lures have come a long way over the years. And what we take for granted today, was invented by some ingenious thinkers hundreds of years ago. Lets dive into the many different types of fishing lures for freshwater fish.

Fishings firsts

The modern concept of the fishing plug was invented in the late 1890s by James Heddon. He was carving a piece of wood next to a pond one evening when he became bored, he tossed the wood into the water, where it was taken by a black bass. This encouraged him to experiment with different colors, and shapes. As a result, this lead to the design of the first fishing plug.

Genuine James Heddon Dowagiac Minnow Fishing Plug
HEDDON Vamp Lures with Box

Early plugs

Early plugs, were carved out of barrel plugs, because they were already in the basic shape. Anglers would carve the remaining shape, and paint the plug to resemble bait fish. All that was left was to add hooks. Soon, the era of the artificial bait had begun. 

Types of Fishing Lures: Plugs

RUNCL Topwater Pencil Plug types of fishing lures
RUNCL Topwater Pencil Plug Lures

Today’s fishing plugs are made of plastic or wood, and are much more life like than their early counterparts. Plugs are usually a term used for shorter, deeper bodied lures. These lures mostly imitate frogs, crayfish, or smaller prey species of fish. These types of fishing lures generally have a lip attached to the front end, therefore to produce action when pulled through the water. 

Using a plug

How To Fish Plugs For Salmon In Rivers or Creeks

Most, but not all, plugs are top water. They dive as the anglers retrieval speed increases. While some, remain on the surface. They gurgle, rattle and splash water, to mimic fleeing or wounded bait fish. Most anglers will pop, or flick their wrists and quickly pull the plug through the water. Then they will bring in the slack, all the while letting the plug rest. Then, repeat the process.  

Types of Fishing Lures: Crankbaits

Strike King Square Bill Crankbait Fishng Lure
Strike King Square Bill Crankbait

Crankbaits are similar to plugs, with one exception.  These lures are longer and more streamlined than plugs. Crankbaits come in three classifications. Surface, medium, or deep diving. The lip shape and how long the lip is will determine how deep it dives. Due to this fact, crankbaits can be used at different phases of fishing.

Fishing with Crankbaits

How To Fish Crankbaits (Bass Fishing Tips)

These lures are fished in much the same way plugs are. The lip causes the lure to dive and move, much like an injured minnow. Both plugs and crankbaits can have metal balls built in to add sound to the bait In fact, the term plug and crankbaits can be used to describe both baits.

Jig Type of Fishing Lures

Booyah Black Green Pumpkin Skirted Fishing Jig types of fishing lures
Booyah Black Green Pumpkin Skirted Jig

Jigs are simply hooks with a weighted head near the hooks eye. This type of fishing lure usually come with a feather skirt, coarse hair, or used with a plastic bait such as a grub, plastic minnows, or other soft bodied offerings. Jigs have the casting weight with the lure. Therefore, you don’t need extra weight to toss the bait. 

Fishing with jigs

How to fish a Jig - For the Beginner

Jigs can be fished in a number of ways. From ultralight gear, to trolling with several jigs on one line. These baits can be diversified in a number of ways. Many anglers who target panfish such as perch, bluegill, and crappie. Use jigs very effectively. They are pulled through a likely spot that looks fishy.

Best time to use Jigs

Z-MAN Texas Eye Jigheads for Fishing
Z-MAN Texas Eye Jigheads

The best time to use small jigs is during a hatch. After certain fish species have emerged from their eggs, and you see what looks like millions of minnows on the surface. A jig is a very good lure to use.


Cast the jig out, and let it sink to the bottom. Lift your rod up slightly, and retrieve the slack as the lure moves. Continue this until you get a bite, or the lure is retrieved. Or, cast and retrieve the lure slowly through the water under schools of minnows on the surface. Large fish will hang under the schools and wait for sick and dying minnows to drift down to them.

Types of Fishing Lures: Spinnerbait

Booyah Pond Magic Spinnerbait types of fishing lures
Booyah Pond Magic Spinnerbait

No tackle box would be complete without a few spinners. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Spinnerbait gets its name from the spinning blades attached to the main body by heavy wire. The blades may be offset, or in line to the main body of the lure. The blade flashes in the light and mimics the shine of bait fish. 

Fishing Spinnerbaits

Yakima Bait Wordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner Fishing Lure
Yakima Bait Wordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner

Spinnerbait types of fishing lures move horizontally through the water. This is when the flash of the blades attract the fishes attention, and triggers the natural instinct to chase. The vibration of the blades attract attention, even in murky waters. 

How to Fish a Spinnerbait - Scott Martin - Everything you need to know.

Trolling with Spinnerbait 

Spinnerbait, much like jigs,  can be used in trolling. The more spinnerbait you troll with. The more it looks like a school of minnows moving through the water. Spinnerbait can be used to target any species of fish. From bluegill, to musky, these baits can take on anything we throw them to. Therefore, they are a vital tool in any tackle box.

Buzzbaits Type of Fishing Lures

Strike King Tri-Wing Buzz King Bait
Strike King Tri-Wing Buzz Bait

What’s the buzz? Buzzbaits are similar to spinnerbait, where as they have a blade on a thick wire. This is pulled through the water near the surface. As a result,  the blade makes a buzzing sound as it cuts through the surface.

Take off

Much like a propeller on an airplane, the blades give the lure lift, therefore keeping it near the surface. Buzzbaits usually have a weighted head near the front, and a colorful skirt covering the hook. Line is attached straight to the bend in the wire. 

Fishing Buzzbaits

Buzzbait Fishing 101 With Denny Brauer

Many anglers use buzzbaits near thick cover, such as downed trees, brush piles, and over boulders. Due to it being near the surface. Bass must come out of their hiding place and hit the bait.

Outsmart a fish

As a result, they are no longer close to the branches, and therefore gives the angler time to pull them away from any snag. Anglers who fish buzzbaits are thrilled when a bass bursts out of the water and gulps the lure. 

Types of Fishing Lures: Spoons

Johnson Sliver Minnow Hard Bait Fishing Bait Lure Spoon types of fishing lures
Johnson Sliver Minnow Hard Spoon

Spoons are one of the oldest types of fishing lures, and most common type of fishing lure. As their name suggests, they are shaped like a spoon. The evolution of the spoon has exploded over the years. What once was only for targeting large game fish such as bass, walleye, and of course musky. As a result, this iconic lure is now finding it’s way into the mouths of panfish and trout.

Early spoons

The original Buel spoon had a single hook that was soldered to the concave side of the lure. (Courtesy of Eppinger Manufacturing)
The original Buel spoon had a single hook that was soldered to the concave side of the lure. (Courtesy of Eppinger Manufacturing)

Early fishermen would make their own spoons. Cut the handle off of an old spoon. Drill holes on the front and back. Finally , add hooks and probably a quick paint job. Due to the fun in making them. I have tried this myself. Let’s just say, results may vary.

Fishing Spoons

How To Fish Spoons The Best Way: Lucky Tackle Box Tips

Spoons shape wobble and preform very erratic in the water. Because of this, it imitates a wounded bait fish. Spoons are great to use in tandem with with other lures. Furthermore, they compliment other baits because of the flashy nature of the lure itself. They can be trolled, cast, or even allowed to be suspended over other baits, therefore attracting bites.

Classic colors

Original Dardevle Spoons for Fishing
Original Dardevle Spoon

One thing that is most noteworthy about spoons is their color pattern. Just like natural bait,  they have colors on the back, yet sporting a silver underbelly. The most popular and iconic spoon is the red and white striped colors that has been around since the 1970s.

Types of Fishing Lures: Plastic, or Soft body baits

Zoom Bait Finesse Worm Type of Fishing Lure Bait
Zoom Bait Finesse Worm

The first plastic worm was patented in 1877. It wasn’t exactly a hit to start with. But, over the years, plastic baits have made their way into the fishing industry. Of all the artificial bait on the market.

Popular baits

Plastic baits are among the most popular types of fishing lures. They can be molded into any shape. Where as they can be fished in any situation. These baits can be infused with smell, as well as taste attraction. Above all, this makes them a deadly combination to any fishing arsenal. 

Most variety

Yum Crawbug Soft Plastic Fishing Lure
Yum Crawbug Soft Plastic

Plastics can be shaped into a multitude of features. From worms, to minnows. And to every color pattern in the spectrum. There’s sure to be a plastic bait to suit your needs. Hence, this is the reason for the expanding popularity.

Fishing Plastic baits

You could write an entire book on plastic bait. Therefore, these baits are as versatile as they are numerous. And, there are just as many ways to fish them.


It’s no secret that fish are attracted to certain colors. I keep an assortment of colors in my tackle box. Therefore, plastic baits have a great place in the scheme of things. One such method is to string a few worms on a single line on a one foot leader. They can be easily trolled or cast. Once you have established the color the fish are interested in, change your baits according. 

Size, and rigging

Likewise, lure size can be a factor. Staggering the size of lures can intice fish of different sizes and species. Plastic baits can be rigged in a variety of ways as well.


How to Tie a Carolina Rig - Bass Fishing

One popular method of rigging is Carolina rigging. This method involves passing the hook through the head, and inserting the tip of the hook inside the bait. The weight is kept separate from the lure itself, due to the tip being covered the bait is, virtually weedless.

Panfishing with plastics

Crappie fishing is very popular with plastic bait. For that reason, plastic baits have a grand standing with panfishing enthusiasts. To fish a plastic bait, it’s best to keep things simple. Cast the lure out, and allow it to settle to the bottom. Then, just like with jigs, bring it in with short, erratic bursts.

Cost effective 

These baits are inexpensive in contrast to crankbaits and other lures. Therefore, they are fished closer to structure without the worry of losing an expensive lure. Drop the bait near downed trees, and near rocks. Retrieve slowly or in short bursts. If you snag a branch instead of a fish, it’s no big loss.

Flie Type of Fishing Lures

Outdoor Planet 12 Pieces Top Rating Dry-Nymph-Streamer Fly Fishing Flies
Outdoor Planet 12 Pieces Top Rating Dry-Nymph-Streamer Fly Fishing Flies

The water babbled over the rocks. Mayflies dip and buzz over the rocks. All the while, leaping trout come to mind. Flies are the smallest and most beautiful of all the lures.


The artist works with paint and canvas. But, when it comes to fishing. Most consider Fly tying an art. And those who can tie a fly that can catch a fish, are considered invaluable to the fishing community. It takes a lot of practice to make, and fish flies.

Fishing with Flies

How to Fly Fish- Beginner Fly Casting

Flies, or dry flies as some call them. Are usually fished with a fly rod. The angler strips off line from the reel. Pulls the rod back. And flips the rod(almost like a whip). Therefore, tossing the fly into the water.

 On the water

The dry fly floats on the surface of the water. Imitating an insect that has fallen into the water. As a result, trout come up out of hiding and inhale the bait. Once the fly is where you want it. Twitch it as if an insect is struggling on the surface.

Dry fly or wet fly Types of Fishing Lures

Dry flies, as the name suggests, stay on top, or stay dry. Likewise, wet flies are designed to sink. Both types of fishing lures are made from a single hook, and fluffy material such as hair, or feathers. 

Wet flies

Outdoor Planet 12 Pieces Top Rating Nymph Fly Fishing Flies
Outdoor Planet 12 Pieces Top Rating Nymph Fly Fishing Flies

Wet flies are designed to imitate small minnows or sinking insects. These can be used with different types of fishing rod and real combinations. Therefore,  they are a little more forgiving. Wet flies are better when fished with light lines. 4 lb or less. Lighter lines are best for the finesse needed for manipulating the light lure. 

Versatile types of fishing lures lures

Both wet and dry flies can be used to catch a variety of fish. As a result,  they can be used in high land streams, to farm ponds.

Flies and panfishing

Dry flies can be tossed near shore line bushes. I myself , have used flies in early spring and spent the afternoon pulling one fat bluegill after another from the creek with almost every. Bluegill like to suspend here, waiting for insects to stumble in. Likewise, wet flies swim like minnows, so they are slowly pulled through the water like a bait fish. 

The overall benefits of Lures

Finally. Lures, are a basic necessity for overall fishing. There is a lure for every species of fresh water fish imaginable. And many ways to fish them.


Lures are reusable. As long as the lure is not lost. It can be used for as long as it functions. They are economic. And,therefore, saves money in the long run. 

Long lasting

They last longer than natural bait. As a result, artificial lures can be used multiple times. In contrast to natural baits, which is a one shot deal.


Lures, can withstand the harshest conditions. Due to that reason.Freezing cold, or sweltering heat has little effect on most lures. Due to their endurance, they can take a beating. 


Many lures can be carried in a backpack without harming them, therefore, they are ready in a seconds notice. You can toss them into a small box, and consequently forgotten until needed.

In Conclusion

From their humble beginnings, to technological advances. Lures have come along way to help anglers to catch bigger and better fish. From hand carved plugs to micro details. There’s a lure for every species of fresh water fish.

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