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A Guide to Choosing the Right Fishing Lures

Choosing The Right Lure For Your Fishing

Fishing Lures

A major advantage of lure fishing is that you can stay mobile and cover a lot of ground quickly and easily. A range of lures will allow you to explore the water column from the surface to the bottom and around any features that may hold fish. There are a huge range of lures on the market that can be split into two broad categories, these are hard and soft lures. A typical hard lure would be a plug armed with two or three treble hooks. A soft lure could be a soft, flexible latex or rubber body designed to be used in conjunction with a jig head.   Selection of the correct lure for a particular set of circumstances is important and something I am always pleased to help customers with. You will also need to know how to retrieve the lure to get the best results. Some lures need a little practice to achieve the most attractive action. 

Key questions...

  1. Species - fresh or saltwater?
  2. Season/tide/moon phase?
  3. Will you be fishing night or day fishing for your selected species?
  4. What tackle will you be casting with?  Rods length/weight and the type of reels line weight/capacity?
  5. Location eg. boat - offshore/inshore, lake, river, beach or rock. 

From these simple key questions I can basically get started on the techniques and lures for the destination and target species, and determine the best baitfish or crustacean lure patterns to use to imitate their prey at that particular point in the season. Remember bigger lures don’t always catch bigger fish!

The first couples of steps to success are to fish balanced gear and to use the correct techniques for the correct lures. The next step is to “match the hatch” and to cover the water column top to bottom for the targeted species. Try keep in mind that the basics of most hunting fish are to feed on the highest calorie prey with the least amount of effort.

I find GOOGLE EARTH a vital tool in showing customers the terrain they will be encountering, and we can also plan where to look for the best fishing spots in the area according to tides.

Which lures?

Lure Depths

Top water lures

These are lures that float and fish in the surface of the water column. They may imitate injured or stunned baitfish or even other creatures like birds, frogs or mice to name a few. These lures have a popping/splashing and gurgling effect in the water when retrieved and cause a lot of noise/splashing and visual action that attracts predators.

Fish striking surface lures offer the most exhilarating and visual form of fishing around, you can often see them chasing, eating and hitting the lures. This is heart stopping stuff! Lures suitable for this area of the water column are poppers, stick baits or weightless soft lures.

Subsurface Lures

These lures skim the surface of the water column when retrieved and imitate injured or fleeing baitfish and even animals swimming. Subsurface lures have a great variety of actions like sliding, jerk, splashing, suspending or slash to name a few. Lures suitable for this water column are called skimmers, crank baits, slash baits or weightless soft lures.

Suspending Lures

These lures mimic baitfish and as the name suggests once you stop retrieving the lure doesn’t float to the surface or sink to the bottom, but hovers, flutters and suspends like an injured prey fish. Fast or slow retrieves after a pause can entice great strikes from predators and these lures are especially effective for Sea Bass and Pike. Suitable lures include jerk baits , crank baits , slash baits and soft plastics.

Diving or Sinking Lures

These lures have a vast range of actions, as a general rule of thumb the faster you retrieve the deeper they will dive. These lures may come with or without a lip (or diving vane/bib)and some manufactures like Halco give you a set of interchangeable bibs to adjust the diving depths of the lures yourself accordingly to conditions. Some lures sink with fluttering motion imitating injured fish fleeing a predator or damaged in an attack.

Jigging lures are either heavy solid metal lures or soft lures molded around a jig head. They can be cast long distances or dropped down into wrecks or reefs to get down to feeding fish. They are either wound back fast or jigging up and down at the optimum depth. Lures suitable for this water column are called divers, crank bait, jerk bait, soft plastic lures, jiggs and butterfly jigs.

Guide by Sportfish expert Charl Duvenage

Still need help?

For more help and information on purchasing the right lure contact Sportfish on 01544 327111 or email