Part 1. Matching Lure Types to Fish
2. Use crankbaits in a variety of situations. Also known as plugs, crankbaits are artificial lures made of hard plastic. They are so named because they are designed to be cast out and retrieved, with some versions intended to be retrieved rapidly to trigger fish to strike them aggressively. Although some are weedless, they are usually not intended to be fished around weeds, brush, or timber. Crankbaits come in several varieties, as described below:
- Topwater lures are designed to be fished on the surface. These include poppers, which feature a vertical concave surface that makes a popping noise when jerked with the rod tip; wobblers, which feature plates that cause the lure to move from side to side when retrieved; and stick baits, which are thin lures without any special attachments that are given their action solely by the fisherman.
- Thin minnow lures are shaped and usually colored like minnows. They feature a small lip at the front, differentiating them from stick baits; otherwise, they may be fished on the surface or underwater, usually with a twitching motion. Normark's Rapala is the best known lure of this type.
- Swimming crankbaits, or swim baits, are artificial lures designed to move from side to side as they are pulled through the water. One style of this type of lure is curved with a flat or concave surface at the head, which functions similarly to the lip on a thin minnow in causing the lure to swim. The Lazy Ike and Helin Flatfish are 2 examples of this type of lure.
- Diving lures feature a larger lip than thin minnows, enabling them to dive deeper when retrieved or trolled; the larger the lip, the deeper it dives. These lures may have either long, thin bodies, or short, stocky bodies. The faster the lure is retrieved, the deeper it will dive; if the retrieve is stopped, the lure, being hollow, will usually rise to the surface, although some crankbaits will remain suspended at the depth they reached.
3. Use spinnerbaits in situations where other lures would get hung up. Sometimes called safety-pin spinners for their resemblance to an open safety pin, spinnerbaits feature a weighted end with a single hook and skirt and an end with 1 or more spinners. Spinnerbaits can be fished by being rapidly retrieved across the surface so that the blades flash and splash, bumped off standing timber, or let fall to the bottom around drop-offs and other vertical structures.4. Use jigs any time during the year. Jigs consist of a hook with a weighted head and either feature a hair or feather skirt or a plastic grub. Most jigs have round heads, but some jigs feature flat or triangular heads that either impart a swimming motion or keep the hook upright and out of rocks and weeds. Jigs are normally retrieved in an up-and-down motion and can be fished in warm or cold water situations, usually by slowing the retrieve as the water gets colder. Some jigs feature stiff brush or wire guards to keep them weedless, while most feature only a bare hook. Nonetheless, the best places to fish jigs are usually those places where they can get hung up, near weeds, brush, or rocks. (Jigs are the cheapest type of artificial lure, however, so the loss of a few jigs is usually not as consequential as the loss of a crank bait.)5. Use spoons for a number of different species. One of the oldest lures, the spoon was developed in 1850 by Julio T. Buel of New York, supposedly by cutting the handle off a teaspoon and putting a hook on it. The resemblance to the bowl of a spoon causes spoons to wobble from side to side as they are retrieved, which is what draws fish to them. Smaller spoons have been used to fish for trout and panfish, while larger spoons have been used to fish for bass, pike, walleye, and other large fish.6. Use flies when fishing for trout. Flies consist of a single hook with either a hair or feather skirt. They are the smallest and lightest fishing lure and are usually used when stream fishing for trout, using special rods that cast weighted line with the fly attached with a monofilament leader. Flies are available in a number of patterns to match fly species trout feed on; many anglers tie their own flies, sometimes even at stream side to "match the hatch." Flies are available in 5 types, described below:
Use spinnerbaits in situations where other lures would get hung up. Sometimes called safety-pin spinners for their resemblance to an open safety pin, spinnerbaits feature a weighted end with a single hook and skirt and an end with 1 or more spinners. Spinnerbaits can be fished by being rapidly retrieved across the surface so that the blades flash and splash, bumped off standing timber, or let fall to the bottom around drop-offs and other vertical structures.
Part 2. Choosing the Right Lure
- A notable exception to this rule is the use of 2-toned plastic worms that feature a darker head color and a fluorescent pink or yellow tail color. Many anglers use plastic worms colored like this when fishing in cloudy water conditions
- Lure size can also be dictated by weather conditions and how fish react to them. In early spring, or when cold front conditions clear the skies and cool the water to make fish lethargic, smaller lures are usually better choices than larger lures. (Lures used for ice fishing are exceptionally tiny, usually grub jigs or small spoons.) In high-wind conditions, you may need to use a larger lure simply to have enough resistance on the end of the line to keep the wind from bowing it so that you can't detect if fish are hitting the lure. Also try casting out a spinner and just keep casting and retrieving the lure.
- If you fish with a number of artificial lures, it helps to have more than 1 rod rigged up, so that you can switch between lures. You can also tie a snap or snap swivel to the end of your line to make it easier to change lures, although this is best suited for fishing with crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and spoons. Most fishermen prefer to tie jigs and self-weedless rigged plastic worms directly to their lines, and fly fishermen normally tie their flies directly to their leaders.
- For fishing lures that run below the surface, such as crankbaits, spoons, and jigs, the lighter test or class the line you use, the deeper your lure will dive because lighter lines are thinner than heavier lines. Keep in mind water conditions and the cover you're fishing in, however; you'll want a heavier line around weeds, timber, or rocks. If you use spinning or spincasting tackle, you can carry several reel spools filled with different weights of line and switch between them to adjust to conditions.
- There is no one artificial lure or presentation that will work in all conditions for a particular species, nor is there a lure that will be equally attractive to all fish species at all times. Try several fishing methods and then concentrate on those methods that you are most comfortable with and choose those lures that you have the most confidence in.
- If you fish with both plastic worms and crankbaits, keep the plastic worms separate from the plugs, as the soft plastic will react with the hard plastic used to make crankbaits. You can either keep them in separate trays or use a special plastic case or resealable bags to keep the worms in.