Types of Lures. Simple Tips before you go to the Tackle Shop

They come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colors. Some make noise, others don’t. We’re talking about different types of lures. A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait made to attract the fish’s attention. And they are irresistible for anglers too: I don’t know of any angler capable of walking into a tackle shop without buying a new lure.

There are many types and categories of lures. Lures can be classified whether they are for saltwater or freshwater. The different types of lures can also be classified according to their buoyancy: they can be floating, sinking or suspending. In this article we’ll explain the differences between the types of lures.


Plugs are artificial fishing baits originally carved from wood, but nowadays they are made of hard plastic. In the front they use to have a lip: a metal or plastic sheet to make the lure dive and move. On this lip there’s a ring where you can attach the fishing line. Some plugs like lipless crankbaits (like the Rattlin’ Rapala for example), stickbaits or cedar plugs don’t have this lip and move by other mechanisms.

Crankbaits vs Jerkbaits

Crankbaits are hard plastic fishing lures shaped and colored to resemble small fish. They tend to have a shorter and fatter body. Because they use to have a larger bill or lip, they dive deeper than other plugs. Crankbaits are ideal for medium to deep waters. Crankbaits are great diving plugs when you’re trying to imitate forage such as crawfish, bluegill, perch, tilapia or sea bream for example.

Check out Mike Iaconelli’s video on when to use jerkbait or crankbait:

Jerkbaits on the other hand are long and slender. With these plugs, we’re trying to imitate herring, alewife, shad, shiners, minnows, sardine or mullet for example. These plugs tend to dive less because they normally have a smaller bill. This makes them excellent shallow water lures.

Silver jerkbait

Silver jerkbait

Saltwater plugs and lures

For saltwater there’s a whole range of casting plugs and trolling lures. Saltwater plugs tend to be bigger and made with strong material. They’re made for high speed trolling (like the Rapala magnum or Halco lures for example).

Halco saltwater plug

Halco saltwater plug

Cedar plugs

Another successful saltwater lure is the cedar plug. Originally made of cedar, these tuna killers are available in real natural cedar or a variety of colors. Cedar plugs come rigged with one large single hook.

Topwater lures

There’s a whole range of topwater lures such as poppers, stickbait, prop lures and  walk-the-dog. These fishing lures make quite some noise at the surface. Especially poppers are meant to make big splashes and the typical “popping” noise with their concave or hollowed nose. Poppers and stickbait are effective and proven lures for yellowfin tuna, giant trevally, jack crevalle and also bass.

Top water tuna fishing lure

Top water tuna fishing lure

Fishing with a Plug Lure

Plugs can be retrieved or trolled. Most plugs dive when retrieved and start making a wobbling movement. To imitate an injured fish or to trigger a bite from the predator it’s interesting to bring the plug lure in slowly, then speed it up a little, twitching the tip of the rod making the lure head going left and right, or you can also completely stop the lure for 1-2 seconds… It’s important to bring variety in how you retrieve the lure.


Jigs types of lure

Jigs for bass

Jigs can be soft baits rigged on a hook with a weighted head. Instead of soft plastic, the body on the weighted head and the hook shaft can be wrapped with a range of fly tying materials such as hair, fur, feathers or Flashabou. These jigs are called bucktail jigs. 

Most bass jigs are skirted with a rubber skirt and come equipped with a flexible fiber weed guard that is positioned in front of the hook to prevent snagging. The weed guard enables you to fish in or near weedy areas, always interesting to stalk those big bass.

Speed jigging lures, vertical jigging lures or metal jigs are long metal lures in the shape of a fish or squid. Other types of jigs are inchiku jigs and hayabusa jigs for example.

Fishing with a jigging lure

The difference with other lures is that jigs are fished vertically, whereas other lures are retrieved horizontally. Fishing with a jigging lure with a weighted head can be done both in soft water and in salt water. Vertical speed jigging is typically used on the sea.

Once you’ve dropped your jig to the seabed, you start reeling in the lure while making jerks with the rod. This technique is extremely productive for large predators and sizeable species. The action of these metal jigs is determined by the cross section of the jig: thin, long jigs – also known as “long blades” –  will sink very fast and can be jigged fast; shorter and wider jigs can be worked slower. 

Vertical jigging lures

Longblade jigs for vertical jigging


A spinnerbait is a fishing lure with one or more metal blades that spin or move when the lure is retrieved. These blades create flash and vibration to imitate small fish and to attract the predators. Spinnerbaits are very popular to fish for bass, zander, trout and pike.

Fishing with a Spinnerbait lure

In your favourite tackle store you’ll find a whole range of spinnerbaits and chatterbaits: different colors, different blade sizes & shapes. An important feature of the spinnerbait fishing is that you can retrieve these baits really slow in the strike zone, which will give you bigger chances for a bite.

It’s always interesting to fish with a shorter rod and a reel with a lower gear ratio to be able to work the spinnerbait lure accurately.

The retrieve of the spinner bait is pretty simple. A slow to medium retrieve works great, always good to barely see the blades turning. If you want, you can give it a little pop to give that extra action to the spinner bait lure which will change the vibration of the blades.


Historically speaking, spoons are probably the first lures created by anglers to catch predators such as trout, salmon, pike, bass, zander and catfish. These metal lures have a concave shape that makes it wobble in the water. The movement creates flash and will attract predators. There’s a wide variety of spoons, some are heavy, others are wide but thin. The shapes will give every spoon a different action. 

Fishing with a Spoon Lure

There are trolling spoons which use to be light and thin; they’re often used with a downrigger. This fishing technique is normally done to fish for pike, salmon and trout in large, deep lakes.

Casting spoons use to be a little thicker so they’re easier to cast. The best way to work a spoon is to retrieve it slowly twitching the rod to vary the speed of the spoon. Sometimes you can also change your rod from one side to the other to change the direction of the spoon.

There are also topwater or surface spoons, jigging spoons and weedless spoons.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are fishing lures made with injection moulding technology. Sometimes fish will prefer soft plastic lures over hard lures because they have a soft texture, which will feel more natural to the predator. Soft plastics will imitate the shape, grub, worm, baitfish, crawfish, lizard, frogs, and insects. Some fishing brands started producing a biodegradable range of soft plastics. These lures, if lost, will decompose in the river or lake in a short period of time.


In fly fishing anglers use other types of lures: flies. A fishing fly is manufactured by tying feathers, hair, furs and other artificial materials onto a single hook. These fishing lures can be fished floating on the surface using dry flies, partially submerged using emergers, or below the surface with nymphs, streamers, or wet flies.

Crystal Stimulator

Crystal Stimulator

Sport fishing with Fly Lures

The main difference between spin fishing and fly fishing is that in spin fishing the weight of the lure is used to reach the target, whereas in fly fishing the weight of the line is used to cast the fly lure towards the fish.

Depending on what your targeted fish are feeding on, you’ll adapt your fly choice. For example, when trout are taking insects such as grasshoppers or flies at the surface, you could use dry flies such as the Elk Hair Caddis, the Parachute Adams or the Stimulator. When you’re fishing for bass, pike or when you’re saltwater fly fishing for redfish, striped bass, tarpon or bonefish you’ll want to use streamer flies that replicate shrimp or bait fish. Wet flies and nymphs are fished just below the surface.

Saltwater tuna fly

This tuna fly can be retrieved very slowly

It’s very important to effectively replicate the main food source. Before you start fishing, spending some time observing the water and the behaviour of the fish can make the difference.

Skirted lures

Skirted lures are one of the most popular lures for saltwater fishing and all fishing charters have them on board. These trolling lures consist of a metal or plastic head with skirts made from various types of soft plastics. They are meant to imitate fleeing bait fish as they pop out of the water, making a trail of bubbles in the water. Skirted lures are a no brainer to target pelagic fish such as billfish, tuna, wahoo, dolphin fish, kingfish, trevally, spanish mackerel, etc.

This was our brief guide for types of lures. What’s your favourite technique? Will you try any new lure on your next fishing trip? Leave your comments below.