Sometimes fishermen are attracted to lures more than the fish are. We’ve all see the guy down at the river with a tackle box bigger than his truck, his pockets bursting at the seams and his line, well—empty.
There’s a lot of awesome fishing gear out there and a lot of flashy lures on the market, but your ability to collect the latest trinkets doesn’t normally reflect your success on the water.
So how can you tell which lures are working for real anglers and which are made for the fishing fashionistas?
First, you’ve got to know what the difference is between one lure and the next. Going out on the lake with a hundred lures isn’t going to do you much good if you didn’t bring the one that attracts the local species.
Next, you have to get real, tested advice from experienced anglers on which lures work the best and which ones aren’t worth your money (lures can get expensive!).
There’s only one problem. Getting fellow anglers to cough up their secrets and open up their tackle boxes ain’t easy.
But that’s where we come in. We’ve got fishermen from all over the country to open up about what lures land the big ones time and time again. From their sage advice, we’ve compiled this list of ten great fishing lures you should never leave home without.
Learn your lures: The Big 7
There are about seven main categories of lures that all fishermen should be aware of. Before we get to our list of great fishing lures according to expert anglers, it’s worth taking a look at what makes each type of lure special.
Soft plastic baits
Soft plastic baits are made to resemble live bait. They are normally worm-like in shape and texture, and some even feature an attractive scent (well, attractive to fish). Soft plastic baits are durable and long-lasting, as you can adjust the hook in them to avoid getting snagged in the reeds. These lures also up your chances of setting the hook. Because of the texture, fish don’t realize that the lure isn’t edible and hold on to it longer. This type of lure is especially effective for bass fishing.
Spinning lures do exactly as advertised, but the spinning effect doesn’t just provide a visual cue to surrounding fish. The spinner also creates a buzzing or humming sound. Fish can sense the resulting vibration due to the sensitivity of their lateral lines, causing them to come see what all the fuss is about. Spinners can be used on their own or with bait, and they are especially effective in cloudy water where fish have lower visibility.
Flies are very lightweight lures that are normally used in fly-fishing. Some flies are built to imitate insects and to rest on top of the water where our scaly friends’ prey usually waits. Others are made to sink below the surface. If you’re a fly-fisherman, you’ll be using these lures exclusively, but those with spinning rods can experiment with flies as well. If you want to try using a fly with a spinning rod, you’ll want to use a clear bubble float to keep your lure on the surface.
Jigs are the classic fishing lure. They consist of a weighted head and a hook. You have the option to dress them (add some fabric, feather or tail) or leave them bare and add a little bait or a scent. Jigs come in all colors and sizes and are very customizable, meaning you can use them to catch just about any type of fish.
We’ve seen lures that work because of texture, color and sound, but spoons are different. They attract by the distinct way that they move in water. The spoon lure is a small metal piece shaped like a spoon and equipped with a hook. As you troll or drag the lure through the water, the back-and-forth movement of the lure simulates a small, wounded fish. This signals easy lunch to any big fish in the area, and they all come running.
Plugs come in many shapes, sizes, and varieties, but they typically share a few common attributes: they are hollow and they sport multiple hooks. It is also common for plugs to feature a lip which causes them to dive underwater when reeled in. A small lip will cause a shallow dive while a large one can send the lure down as deep as several meters. Plugs are usually given names that indicate their abilities, like “surface plug,” “deep-diver,” or “shallow-diver.”
Spinnerbaits are for the indecisive angler who wants a lure that has a little bit of everything. These lures feature two parts separated by a bent wire. One part is similar to a dressed jig, with a metal head and a tail of sorts. The other side is equipped with a spinning blade. Spinnerbaits are meant to attract as much attention as possible with sound, color and movement. They are usually pretty flamboyant to look at, and are effective when they are casted and immediately reeled in quite quickly.
10 Lures To Never Leave Home Without
Senko Purple Worm
Type: soft plastic bait
The Yamamoto Senko purple worm may look like your average soft plastic worm lure, but it’s what’s inside that counts. The Senko is made with special salts built into the body that affect the way the lure sinks. The salt causes the lure to sink at a horizontal angle, catching the eye of fish looking for a fight. The Yamamoto Senko can be rigged in a variety of ways depending on what you’re trying to catch, including weightless, wacky and texas rigging. This is one of the lures that almost all anglers can agree is a winner.
Rapala Silver Original Floating
This wooden lure is number one on many fishermen’s lists. It’s wobbling, wounded minnow action has proven irresistible to fish right out of the box, and its stainless steel reinforced body makes it reliable on trip after trip. The Original Floating is light enough to play on the surface, but can also be rigged with a split shot and worked just as well at medium depths and in deep water. Anglers love this lure because it’s versatile, effective and cheap enough to stock up on.
The Kastmaster is a small lure with big action. This spoon lure gleams with light and buzzes with an exciting vibration as it streaks through the water. The aerodynamic design guarantees a perfect cast and the high quality materials used in its production protect this lure from losing its glisten and shape even after repeated use. The Kastmaster is perfect for lake fishing and salt water excursions. Its action attracts fish of all varieties and sizes, so you’ll never have to second guess yourself with this one on your line.
Type: soft plastic bait
The Fluke by Zoom is anything but what its name suggests. This soft plastic bait is not worm shaped like most, but has the perfect dimensions and action to imitate a minnow. Like the Yamamoto, this lure is also salt-impregnated to affect its sink rate and cause it to move like live bait. This lure made it onto this list because of its unique deep belly. The extra depth means you can attach a large variety of hooks and rigs, making this an incredibly versatile and expertly designed lure.
Spro Bucktail Jig
The Bucktail jig is a well-known tackle box staple. It can be used from one side of the country to the other and even beyond, working amazingly well in salt and fresh water. The Spro Bucktail is almost artistic in its design. The eyes of the fish, the shape of the body and the holographic coloring were all engineered to make this lure look as natural as possible. But even the look is nothing compared to the movement. The tail and weight of the lure work together to prevent it from sinking straight down. The lure, instead, glides through the water like a real baitfish. Whether you’re fishing for massive Walleye or panfish, you shouldn’t be without this lure.
Mepps Black Fury
The Black Fury is a beautiful piece of tackle, and may be the best spinner on the market. The secret of this lure is that the spinner whizzes close to the body, so that when a fish strikes, it has a greater chance of taking the hook. The Black Fury is great at all times of day and in shallow to medium depth water. This is a freshwater lure, and has proven effective at landing Bass, Walleye and even Salmon. The Black Fury comes in a variety of colors and sizes, but the fishermen we consulted with recommend the #5.
Booyah Pond Magic
The Pond Magic is an affordable and expertly crafted spinnerbait. This lure features a super fine silicone skirt that is guaranteed to attract the attention of anything in the vicinity, but the real appeal is in the blades. Many spinnerbaits hold only one spinning blade, but the Pond Magic has two. One blade is small and the other a bit larger. This dual action creates vibrations that drive fish mad, and when they get close enough to see the colorful, dancing skirts, they just can’t help themselves. This lure may be small, but don’t underestimate its ability to hook the largest Pike, Bass and Perch.
Widely regarded as the greatest fly of all time, the Adams Parachute should be no stranger to any fly fisherman. The magic of this lure comes as result of its amazing ability to imitate multiple different types of mayfly and caddis insects. The more types of insects that your fly resembles, the more fish are going to be attracted to your hook. Another way this lure outstrips the competition is in its rate of fall. It’s called the parachute because it falls more slowly towards the water, giving fish a longer time to see its silhouette and prepare for a strike.
Most lures are shaped like worms or minnows, because those shapes tend to be the most successful. Other lures come in a variety designs, but they don’t usually end up among the greats. The Rebel Crickhopper is the exception. This grasshopper-shaped lure has a fiery and realistic design that looks just like a real grasshopper, as well as razor sharp hooks to nail Bass, Trout and much more. This plug lure is also versatile and can be used in a variety of locations and weather conditions. It works great on the surface but can also be used as a traditional crankbait.
The Rapala Krocodile will turn you into an even more effective predator than the animal that leant this lure its name. This lure may look simple, and that’s because it is. Simple, yet effective design turns this small lure into a beast in the water. Its wobbling action imitates multiple species of minnow and its large selection of wild colors mean you can have the perfect spoon lure for anywhere you want to cast a line. No matter where you are in the world, Rapala is confident that the Krocodile will prove to be one of the most effective pieces of tackle in your collection, and after countless journeys on lakes, rivers and oceans, our consulting anglers have agreed.
The Next Great Lure
There’s only one way to figure out what the best lures in the world are. You’ve got to get out there and use them. If you’re a veteran angler and there’s a lure that you think deserves to be on this list, give us an earful in the comments below. Maybe our next list will contain your tackle box teachings.