There are literally thousands of lures available to the lure-fisherman and there is a saying which states that they are as much to catch fishermen as they are fish. Probably true. As a lure fisherman just starting out and getting to know your marks there is a good chance that you will lose some lures. You will find that you lose less and less the more you do it but don't spend mega bucks to begin with. Avoid the Rapalas and the Yo-zuris and find a cheaper alternative which will probably serve you just as well when starting out. There are four points to consider when buying your lures and these are as follows: The size, colour, depth and action. Ask yourself the question - where will you be fishing? Is the water deep or shallow? Are there many snags? What is your target species and what are they feeding on? The answers to these questions will help you decide upon the lure that will serve you the best. Don't forget however that any lure can have its day and if you are having no luck on a certain plug or spinner then why not change to another. The typical rule of thumb is shiny lures for clear water and bright conditions and coloured lures for coloured water and overcast conditions. This may hold some weight but I really am a strong believer in experimentation so keep changing those plugs!
Spinners are a type of lure named so because they spin. Not rocket science. They are usually little pieces of shaped metal which are designed to give off a flash in the water or a wobble that will attract attention from a predator fish. Hooks (usually treble hooks) will be attached to the back and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Because they are metal they will all slowly sink and the depth of your lure depends largely on how deep you let the lure sink before starting your retrieve. Spinners will catch Pike, Perch and Zander and are what I would call a timeless classic. These lures have been catching fish for years and years and they're cheap too. A good place to start.
Here are some of the most popular varieties of spinners available in your local tackle shop.
The dexter wedge is a great spinner and a 20-25g size will cast really well and flash in the water like a wounded baitfish will do. Great starter lure, cheap and effective. You can lose these on snags so try not to cast in to weeds.
The Abu Toby is another classic spinner. Will cast well and I recommend a 10-12g size. Will sink slowly but will wobble and flash on retrieval. Available in many sizes and colours so choose your type carefully with your target species in mind. There are some fantastic Pike and Perch colours available.
A Mepps style spoon is a great spinner for a variety of predatory fish. It has the customary flash of a spinner but it also kicks off one hell of a vibration. This vibration makes it easy for a predator to home in on the lure even in murky waters and can provoke attack from a bass that is defending its territory. These come in a variety of sizes but don't be caught out, the smaller ones will lose their action in choppy waters.
Plugs are a hard-plastic or wooden lure. These are often painted to resemble a particular species of bait-fish and can take many shapes, sizes and forms. The one that you will want to use will depend upon many things. The colour of the water, the weather, the area you are fishing in and of course what you are fishing for should all come in to account when selecting a lure. The idea of a plug is to create the impression that a wounded baitfish is swimming though the water. Some lures have a distinctive wobble to them and others you will have to make more realistic yourself by adding jerks and twitches in to the retrieve. There are loads of different types of plugs. Sinking, floating, deep diving, shallow diving, surface lures and jointed lures all exist and are all worthwhile on their day. Ask yourself; what is the mark like? snaggy? clean? what is the colour of the water? will the bass be active or not? what are they currently eating around here? will they take a lure from the surface or continue to sulk and wait for an easy bite right in front of their noses?
Here are some of the plugs available from your local tackle shop:
These lures tend to be float until you start your retrieve. They will then dive down very deeply due to the action of the large bib at the front. Some will rattle as they wobble through the water. They should slowly rise to the surface if you stop the retrieve. A great choice if your target fish is in a deep spot but not so good on snaggy ground. In my experience they are a right pain for river fishing and should be avoided in many venues. These plugs will often have two sets of trebles attached with one in the middle and a stinger on the end and can get caught up on snags very easily.
These lures are similar to the deep diving plugs but have a shorter bib at a different angle which will not allow them to sink down as low on the retrieve. They will reach a max depth which will be specified on the lure and they will not go any deeper. These lure can be brilliant for the new-to-lures angler as your chances of snagging are dramatically reduced. However, if the fish aren't active or are deep you may not be able to tempt them with a shallow diver.
A jointed diver can be deep or shallow diving and differs from traditional plugs in that it has a hinge in the middle of the lure. This dramatically increases the wobble and vibrations given off in the water and makes for a lure with a really great action. The Rapala J-13 is a favorite amongst lure anglers for this reason but remember, other lures are very similar and perhaps not as expensive either if you're just starting out.
A surface popper is a different kind of plug. The lure has a flat, carved out face and will sit on top of the water. The idea is that you jerk and twitch the rod whilst retrieving and the lure will pop and splash over the surface like a baitfish on the way out. You need active predators for this to work really but my word what a rush when you connect - the fish will literally jump right out of the water to hit your lure. No risks of snagging with this method either. I have heard of active Pike taking a popper but have not had much success myself.
Shads are typically rubber lures designed to look like a fish with a bigger body. These can be used in conjunction with a jig head or long hook to fix on to your lure clip. Some have them built in already. They will sink slowly but have a great action to the tail which kill for predatory fish. Some plugs come in the shad-shape too. These are my absolute favorite types of lure to fish for both Pike and Perch and find the white ones do very well. You can even buy rubber shad type lures designed to look like Pike and Perch and these do well too.
RUBBER EELS & WORMS
Worms and grubs are the staple diet for many predatory freshwater fish and this is what makes them great lures for the lure angler. A soft-plastic worm may already have a hook and weight in-built but if not can be fished with a jighead like the one pictured. Just thread the jighead through the body of the lure and its ready to cast. These lures can be absolutely fantastic on their day and are not to be underestimated when carolina rigged and jerked along the bottom. They will sink depending on the weight and have a great tight action through the water on the retrieve. Easily snagged in weedy waters.
Here's a video showing you how to rig a soft-plastic lure with a jighead: