Segmented fishing lures are typically made using multiple pieces of soft or hard plastic joined together with metal joints. Segmented lures are more sought after than their non-moving counterparts because they can better mimic a swimming fish and move better in the water.
Many anglers think that segmented lures are better used in freshwater rivers and lakes because saltwater will inevitably get into the joints and corrode the metal. However, quality segmented lures are often up to the task of fishing in briny bodies of water, so it’s worth considering buying mid-range to premium lures if saltwater is your thing.
The natural movement of segmented lures, plus a huge variety of bright colors and sizes, will often attract a great many different species of predatory fish to the tantalizing meal. Read on to find out about the different types of segmented lures, plus our top picks for each category.
History of Segmented Lures
Fishing lures have been used by humans for centuries, and early Egyptians and Chinese anglers made lures from bronze and bone. Artificial baits first appeared around the 17th century when anglers crafted much of their own equipment.
By the 18th century, bait shops became more common and sold bait typically made of tin. As time went on, artificial bait became more advanced and more lifelike – materials including rubber, silk, quill, and celluloid were used and painted to resemble small prey.
As lure-making became more sophisticated, segmented lures became the new fashionable thing as they could move just like a real fish. In 1878 Gregory’s Eclipse Cleopatra bait was developed, a jointed hollow lure made from nickel which may have been inspired by fish-shaped jewelry made by Dutch silversmiths.
Types of Segmented Lures
Segmented Jerk Baits
Segmented jerk baits are typically long, thin lures that move in an erratic, jerky fashion in the water. This movement can simulate a fish in distress which attracts larger predators. Their minnow-like shape allows anglers to fish in shallow waters, creeks, rocky or obstructed areas like ledges and cliffs, dockside, and grass and sand flats. Different jerk baits can feature lips or bills, similar to crankbait but smaller in size.
Created by elite saltwater angler Captain C.A. Richardson, the Z-Man’s soft DarterZ jerk bait features a long, thin segmented body made from durable and non-toxic ElaZtech® to withstand bite after bite, even in saltwater. Hook slots on the dorsal fin and belly allow for easy rigging.
- Long and thin 6in profile with a forked tail that mimics small prey
- Made from super durable ElaZtech® material for long-lasting use
- Infused with salt to neutralize buoyancy and increase weight when casting
With one joint in the middle, Rapala’s Jointed Floating lure can be fished near the surface to mimic a fish in distress. A classic name familiar with anglers, Rapala lures come in a variety of unique designs and are ideally suited to a short retrieve for fussy, non-feeding fish.
- Classic minnow profile with ‘broken back’ design
- Works top to bottom
- Balsa wood body with VMC® black nickel hooks
3D realistic eyes and an 8-part segmented body means the Truscend Jointed Swimmer lure glides effortlessly through the water just like a real fish. A tough and durable lure made with ABS material, it also features a built-in rattle that vibrates in the water to attract predatory fish.
- 3D realistic eyes and powder-coated finish for ultra-realism
- Inbuilt rattle to stimulate predatory feeding habits
- Suitable for use in saltwater and freshwater
Swimbaits are more popular than jerk baits for the advantages they can offer. Made from heated and cooled plastics filled with different scents, dyes, and reflective materials to attract other fish, swimbaits are great for deeper waters and work well with larger predators, including bass, stripers, and pike.
Usually available in multiple colors and available in hollow or solid form, swimbaits are the bait of choice for most fishing enthusiasts. Swimbaits have a less pronounced stop-and-start action than jerk baits. Swimbaits endure as one of the most widely used lures for their versatility and ability to replicate lifelike movement.
If you’re a big fish angler, you’ll love the new Herculez Pre-Rigged swimbait from Z-Man. A robust lure made from ElazTech®, which contains no PVC, plastisol, or phthalates and is non-toxic. Super robust in 4 and 5” sizes, perfect for saltwater game fish. Not strictly segmented, the flexible tail allows the lure to move swiftly through the water without rolling.
- Made from durable and non-toxic ElazTech®
- Great for big fish thanks to heavy-duty Mustad UltraPoint® hooks
- 3D realistic eyes and hand-painted finish
Elite pro-angler Brandon Palaniuk worked alongside lure manufacturer Storm to create the Arashi Glide swimbait which features one joint in the mid-section in a hard plastic body. Designed to glide with ease, it’s great for beginner anglers who want to experiment with different retrieves.
- Specially engineered for super slow sink rate
- Rotating hook hangers for secure catches
- Replaceable elastic tailfin
Savage Gear is a familiar name in the sportfishing world. Their 4D Line Thru swimbaits are designed for ultra-realism thanks to a PhotoChrome skin print finish and added scents that provide exceptional fishing even in difficult conditions.
- 4D PhotoChrome print and embedded scent
- Pre-rigged with Carbon 49 wire modifier rig and Y-Treble
- Slow sink rate (moderate sink also available)
Segmented Topwater Lures
A topwater fishing lure or walker is a type of surface lure that sits on top or just below the water in order to tempt fish to strike.
Topwater lures are often designed to resemble smaller creatures that would normally be considered food for the target game fish species. Some topwater lures, like poppers, feature a concave face that makes a big splash when you make short, sharp flicks with the rod. Like jerk baits and swimbaits, topwater lures are typically fitted with one or more fish hooks (usually treble hooks) to hook the target fish as it strikes.
Seminal lure maker Mike Shaw designed the Slammer back in 1993 and its popularity hasn’t wavered. Blending realistic hand-painted designs with a single-jointed body, the Slammer is an old favorite of anglers thanks to its legendary ability to catch any and all species of game fish including bass, pike, rainbow trout, musky, and even bluefin tuna.
- Available in three different sizes to catch even the biggest predators
- Specially designed lip and profile design for natural swimming action
- Sturdy construction for lasting use
A jointed mid-section and articulated tail ensure realistic movement from Spro’s BBZ®-1 Rat Swimbait, ideal for landing gigantic trophy bass and other large predatory fish.
Designed by Californian pro and swimbait aficionado Bill Siemantel, the BBZ-1 Rat features a foam-injected plastic body that attracts fish using sound. The most life-like rat bait on the market, the BBZ won in the Hard Baits category before winning Best in Show at the 2014 ICAST awards and is still going strong today.
- Features two ultra-sharp Gamakatsu treble hooks
- 10cm life-size body made from durable composite materials
- Realistic movement in the water to attract big predators
This classic topwater lure was created back in 1976 by Don Gentry and has remained a favorite of anglers ever since. Its simple buzzbait design allows for fishing even in densely vegetated areas without the risk of snagging.
- No-frills buzzbait design for snag-free fishing
- Sturdy construction for long-lasting use
- Time-tested topwater lure with an impressive reputation for success
How to Fish Segmented Lures
Different lures can be fished in different ways depending on your preferred fishing style and other factors like the body of water or time of year.
We’ve gathered together some brief hints and tips to help you fish with different types of segmented lures.
Tips on how to fish with segmented jerk baits
Jerk bait can be fished in a variety of ways, but most anglers commonly use a sideways retrieve or a quick-snap downward retrieve. The cast should be brief, and it’s recommended that you keep an eye on the lure to make sure that it’s moving correctly before trying to retrieve it.
- Jerk baits are designed to twitch and jerk in the water, so you have some degree of flexibility in how you fish with them.
- Don’t reel too much line – jerk bait lures require some slack to allow it to dart left and right.
Tips on How to Fish With Segmented Swimbaits
Most swimbaits are fished in the same manner as a crankbait, with a straight retrieve and slow speeds. However, similar to crankbaits, any erratic movement can help entice bites by breaking up the repetitive motion.
Make the most of the swimbait’s floating designs by using them to your advantage. They’re best used as topwater bait, imitating a dead fish that’s drifting and moving around on the surface of the water. For a predatory fish, this is an easy meal that is hard to resist.
- Twitch the tip of the rod every now and again during retrieval to stimulate a fish’s jerky movement in the water.
- Early mornings and evenings, heavy cloud cover, and shady areas provide ideal low-light conditions for swimbaits.
How to Fish With Segmented Topwater Lures
Traditional topwater lures often have a rounded face that hits the water, creating a splash to mimic surface-dwelling prey. Segmented topwater lures act in much the same way, but their jointed section.
- Fish erratically around natural landmarks like rocks, weeds, or edges but be more aggressive in strong winds.
- If you’re fishing for bass, just after the spawning season is the best time to use topwater lures.
Final Thoughts on Segmented Lures
There are so many segmented lures in different shapes, colors, and sizes that it can be difficult to know exactly which one is right for you and your fishing style.
If in doubt, try out a few different types and see how you fare on the water. Fishing is as much about luck as it is about skill, so it’s worth trying out a few different lures to find which one suits you best.