The 10 Types of Fishing Lures (And How to Use Them All)

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Anglers can deploy a wide range of different types of fishing lures to use when targeting their favorite fish. Whether you are searching for bass, trout, walleye, bluegill, pike, or other species, having the right fishing lure for the job can make catching that next trophy fish easier for you.

We will be taking a closer look at 10 of the most commonly used fishing lures, from hard plastic fishing lures (such as crankbaits and jerkbaits) to spinnerbaits and everything in between. We’ll also cover how they can be used and what fish they may be best at catching, so you have a leg up on the competition when it comes to your next fishing trip.

The 10 Basic Types of Fishing Lures

  1. Jigs
  2. Chatterbaits
  3. Crankbaits
  4. Jerkbaits
  5. Swimbaits
  6. Spinnerbaits
  7. Inline Spinners
  8. Blades and Spoons
  9. Topwater lures
  10. Soft plastic baits

Types of Fishing Lures Explained In Full

1. Jigs

Jigs are great for fishing with a lot of movement in your lure. These small to medium-sized lures are soft plastic-covered weight that helps the lure sink while also giving it a realistic up-and-down motion when you work your rod. 

Jigs are a very popular fishing lure and are continuing to be a very commonly used option with both old pros and new beginners. These lures can be fished from a boat, a dock, from the shore, or a dam. They do well in both shallow and deep water since you have full control over how low the lure will sink after being cast.

Jigs come in a wide range of styles, with some looking like insects while others can look like small bait fish, frogs, or other animals. These lures are usable when fishing for most species and should be fished with a stop-and-go method for the best results.

2. Chatterbaits

Chatterbaits are a unique mix of a couple of different lures and can be incredibly successful at getting big fish to strike quickly. These bass fishing lures have a unique vibrating head similar to a spoon but have a jig body for unique motion.

When fishing with a chatterbait, you want to work the fishing lure slowly and not use rapid movements or jerking motions, though you do want to keep the lure active. While you can pop the rod a few times, it’s better to do most of your movements slowly and intentionally.

Movement is the key to making the head on a chatterbait spin and vibrate, which in turn can attract the attention of nearby hungry fish. There are a few different methods you can use when fishing with a chatterbait including:

  • Popping
    This method will get some good sound from the chatterbait, while also creating a realistic movement in the water from the lure. You’ll let the chatterbait sink to the bottom, then pop and reel it in a good distance before letting it sink to the bottom again.
    You can get excellent reactions from a variety of target fish in the area if you use a squid or craw trailer as well.
  • Hopping
    Similar to popping, hopping will be a way to get an abundance of sound from the spinning head on your lure. Your objective is to make it “hop” across the bottom of the lake or river by using short jerk and drop motions with your rod.
    This is a very effective way to fish for bass, especially in the colder months when fish are looking for easy prey delivered into their strike zone. However, hopping can also land fish in any season throughout the year.
  • Steady
    When you want a lot of sounds and a good presentation, steady retrieval is the way to go. Cast your fishing lure out at a full distance, and start reeling it in at a steady speed. If you are able to run this lure through vegetation or around rocks, you’re sure to get some big bass on the line in no time.

3. Crankbaits

As one of the most simple lures to use, crankbaits are very popular with beginners but are versatile enough to be used by professionals. These lures won’t require a lot of rod action and instead will rely on the speed at which you reel them back in.

Crankbaits will regulate their own depth and are made to wiggle through the water, similar to an actual fish when being reeled back in. This lets you set the speed and have full control over how deep or shallow your lure goes, as well as how much movement it gives.

Most of the crankbaits you will find on the market today are made from hard plastic, polymer, metal, or wood. They can be found with different lips or bills, which help determine how deep they may sink when being retrieved. 

Crankbaits are suitable for almost all commonly targeted fish species and can be successfully fished using a steady retrieval speed or a slight stop-and-go method.

4. Jerkbaits

When you want something with a bit more speed, and that can provide more darting motions similar to a fleeing bait fish, jerkbaits are the way to go. These lures are great for anglers that want to target bass, catfish, or pike but can work exceptionally well with almost all commonly targeted fish species.

Jerkbaits are extremely versatile and are normally found in a hard plastic or polymer body, though soft plastic jerkbaits are not uncommon. They can be found in vibrant and unique colorations, as well as realistic colors and patterns to give you the best results on your next fishing trip.

Unlike the previously mentioned crankbaits, jerkbaits normally won’t have a bill to help direct their sink angle. Instead, you will want to cast these bass fishing lures into the water, let it sink for a few seconds, and then start reeling it in at your chosen speed while also working your rod to make it jerk, zip, and scoot through the water.

These bass fishing lures should be fished in a stop-and-go method, allowing the fishing lure to sink for a few seconds in between reeling. This gives the illusion of a sick or injured bait fish that predatory fish in the area will eagerly strike.

5. Swimbaits

Swimbaits are an extremely unique and highly versatile fishing lure, being made to resemble a range of different fish species, including other animals entirely, such as small lizards, insects, rodents, and more.

Swimbaits are normally used for bass fishing and can be found in three styles; paddle tail, hard body, and soft body. The one you choose will depend on the type and depth of water you are fishing in, as well as the target fish you are going for.

  • Paddle Tail
    This style is commonly made in a soft body style and is relatively small in size. These swimbaits are normally not pre-rigged, so you’ll have to choose your own hook and rig yourself.
    Paddle tails can be used with a variety of hooks to suit your needs, including straight hooks, jig heads, and swimbait hooks. These artificial lures are great for different depths of water, and your hook choice will also help determine how this lure sinks and moves.
  • Hard Body
    This style is an excellent choice for open water but does not normally do well in heavy vegetation or weeded areas. You’ll find these swimbaits already have a treble hook attached, which is why you want to avoid weeds and other vegetation as much as possible. Any treble hook is notorious for getting snagged on plants and weeds.
    Hard body swimbaits are a great choice for bass, lake trout, brook trout, walleye, and pike, but a number of other fish species will go for them, too, as long as the treble hook is a reasonable size. It might be a good idea to keep several different colors and shapes of hard-body swimbaits in your tackle box for different situations.
  • Soft Body
    When compared to the other two options, a soft body swimbait is a much more streamlined option that can be the best choice when trying to get a bite from a lethargic or suspicious fish or when deep water fishing.
    These fishing lures are a good option when you need a bit more finesse than the other two swimbaits can offer while still providing a very realistic movement and visual to help entice the most stubborn fish to strike.

6. Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are one of the best choices for anglers trying to land predatory species such as pike, bass, and perch. These fish love chasing after fast-moving prey items and will strike with speed and aggression when they see something tempting. Many bass anglers will specifically use spinner bait when they are targeting smallmouth bass.

Spinnerbaits are made to spin through the water when being reeled in, which is how they got their name. The motion creates a vibration in the water that can draw the biggest fish out from hiding in order to see what’s making the noise.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind with a spinnerbait is that they work best at certain speeds. Too slow and the spinnerbait will not give off the vibrations you want to attract fish; too fast and it could jet up to the surface and away from strike zones.

7. Inline Spinners

Inline spinners are commonly used with anglers that focus on catching trout. These fishing lures can be useful for getting strikes from both lethargic and slow fish, as well as highly aggressive predatory fish.

These artificial lures include a spinning blade that creates a vibration in the water, along with a glistening shine or reflection that mimics the shiny scales on bait fish in the area. This is a very useful lure when fishing in lakes, reservoirs, or rivers where minnows are a common prey item.

If inline spinners are rarely used at your chosen fishing spot, you may find yourself having a full day of catching fish after fish. It’s not uncommon for anglers to have outstanding luck with using an inline spinner one day, but then the fish completely ignores it the next.

Bass anglers swear by inline spinners when it comes to catching bass and other larger game fish. If you’re in search of a new way to start attracting fish to your area, you should always have a spinner in your tackle box.

8. Blades and Spoons

Spoons and blades are equally well suited for catching larger predatory fish such as pike, muskies, salmon, trout, walleye, and bass. Especially if these fish are hiding in heavy vegetation or thick weeds since spoons are normally made to avoid or cut through vegetation with ease.

Spoons and blades are made to be shiny and reflective, which imitates the sun shining off the scales of bait fish in the area. Predatory fish will see this glint of light and think it’s a single prey item. It’s not uncommon for you to get a strike on your spoon or blade within a few minutes of putting it into the water.

The movement created by a spoon or blade lure type will change depending on the thickness and shape of the lure. It’s normally a good choice to grab a variety of sizes and shapes on your spoons and blades in order to see what works best for your technique and fishing location. Regardless of the size, a spoon or blade should be fished in a slow and steady motion when retrieving.

9. Topwater Lures

As their name may suggest, topwater lures are designed to stay on the surface of the water or very near to the surface, similar to fly fishing lures. These artificial lures are used when fly fishing or when targeting fish that actively strike at and jump for insects that land or fall on the surface of the water.

There are a variety of different topwater lure styles, with each one offering better results with different fish species. In general, you’ll use a topwater lure when fishing for tarpon, largemouth bass, or redfish, among other species.

Some of the most common topwater lures for normal and fly fishing include:

  • Buzzbaits
  • Poppers
  • Frogs
  • Walk the Dog Lures

When trying different types of fishing with a topwater lure, you will use a constant or stop-and-go retrieval method. This creates movement that will attract the attention of nearby fish while also giving them a chance to strike at the lure.

Topwater lure types are an outstanding option when fishing among lily pads since, due to their construction, the hook is normally facing upright and away from the vegetation. This helps prevent snags and dragging weeds around on the hook, causing a nuisance when reeling or catching a fish.

10. Soft Plastic Baits

Similar to jigs, soft plastics are an extremely common lure option to use for different types of fishing. They are especially popular among beginners but can be very versatile and viable for more advanced anglers with a specific fish target in mind as well.

Soft plastic lures can be found in countless styles, including different sizes, shapes, colors, and designs. You can find some soft plastic lures that imitate minnows, shad, or shiners, some that look like worms, and even others that look like frogs, crayfish, shrimp, or lizards. Finding the right lure may take some time, so it’s not uncommon for anglers to have dozens of different soft plastic lure types in their kit.

Fishing with a soft plastic lure is useful with almost all fish species, from largemouth bass to northern pike. The best method to use would be to let the lure sink a bit before slightly jerking or reeling it in. This stop-and-go motion helps attract fish into inspecting or striking relatively quickly.

Lure Type Chart

Lure TypeFeaturePhoto
JigsGood for fishing from a boat or fishing vertical structureCrappie fishing gear list jigs
ChatterbaitsA jig with a twistChatterbait image Zman 1
CrankbaitsGreat action and simple to useShallow diving crankbait
JerkbaitsEffective with the right retrievejerkbaitfeatureimage scaled
SwimbaitsVersatile and deadly How to Rig a Swimbait Feature Image
SpinnerbaitsLots of action to attract reaction strikesSpinnerbait trailers soft baits 2
Inline SpinnersExcellent for trout and salmonLure types spinner
Blades and SpoonsGreat for fishing in structure and vegetationBlade bait close up
Topwater LuresAn exciting method to fish for bassTopwater lures for peacock bass
Soft plastic baitsCheap, versatile, and effectiveSome hand made baits for soft plastic lure making article
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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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