The waters can be murky when it comes to identifying lures. Some lures today have cross-over elements from the various lure families. And sometimes it’s possible to get a little confused. But it’s handy to know the basics when it comes to selecting the right lure for the species you are targeting. Knowing the major features and what they do will put you in a far better position to make the right choice next time you’re buying a lure to catch you that trophy fish.
Please be aware that the following is not a comprehensive look into each lure type and all their features and functions.
Bibbed Lures - Diving:
Probably the biggest family of lures. These are commonly called Crankbaits or Jerkbaits in most countries. They feature a “bib” or “lip” which is a hard plate that provides a barrier to water. This barrier creates pressure on the bib when it is dragged through water. The pressure forces the lure to dive in the water.
The next thing you need to know is how the various size and shape bibs work. The variations are to give the lure different actions and diving depths. The angle of the bib is an indication of how deep a lure will dive. If we imagine holding a fish shaped lure horizontally then generally speaking a bib that is vertical to the lure (90˚ Angle) will make the lure dive to a shallow depth if it dives at all. But a bib that is horizontal with the lure, will make the lure dive to a deeper depth. Another factor that influences depth is the size of the bib, or the surface area. A larger surface area will create more pressure and force the lure deeper and the opposite for a smaller surface area.
But the size of the bib also affects action. As a general rule, a narrow bid gives a tight wiggle and a broad bib gives a wide wobble. A bib that tapers to a point or narrow tip will be more stable at speed, but generally bibbed lures are used as a slow to medium speed lure.
These lures come in all manner of profiles and the variety of shapes, sizes and styles is huge.
Bibless Lures - Sinking:
These lures have become increasingly popular in Australia due to their versatility and the broad range of species that will strike at them. The most common feature of these lures is the “vibrations” they create when retrieved through the water, they are effective on most species because of the vibrations and the strong pulses they send out. A bibless lure usually sinks through the water column and has a tow point on top of the lure. Like the Bibbed lures it uses water resistance to create action. The forces of the water wrap around the body of the lure and make it “swim” through the water as it’s retrieved. Territorial species seem to be aggressive towards these lures possibly because of the strong pulses sent through the water make them easier to detect.
These lures usually float and work on top of the water or just below the surface.
Poppers, Fizzers, Pencils/Stickbaits and Wobblers are the typical style of surface lures. Each one having an action and water disturbance effect of it’s own.
They are a very popular lure type due to the added visual excitement when a fish attacks the lure, and they are extremely effective when you can see fish already feeding from the surface. Casting a surface lure into a visible school of fleeing baitfish is thrilling as you wait for the lure to be smashed.
Soft plastics have been around for a long time but the latest versions that we use today were first introduced to Australia in 1977 with the Mr Twister and Vibrotail brands.
Soft plastics are fun to use and have an enormous appeal to many fish. Generally made from PVC they are flexible, squashy and life-like. Today some brands make soft plastic lures from biodegradable material which is better for the environment.
The variety of ways soft plastics can be used is virtually limitless. They can be rigged and presented in countless different manners but are commonly used with a Jig Head.
Soft plastics come in a massive variety of shapes, sizes and actions and can have scents and flavours added to them.
As the name suggests these lures are made from metal. Usually made as a solid object from polished metal like chrome plated or stainless steel they are a basic but effective lure. Spoons, slugs, blades and deepwater jigs can fall into this category.
Typically great for achieving casting distance due to their weight and profile, they are easy to use. Shaped to look like a bait fish they are durable and can be used to fish the entire water column depending on the speed and method applied. Wounded baitfish often lose their “balance” and this causes them to expose their “shiny” sides. Metal lures are made shiny to give off flash when light hits their polished metal or reflective stickers to signal an easy meal to a predator. Depending on the size these lures will catch everything from small trout to big game.
Spinners and Spinnerbaits:
“Spinners” are an amazingly effective lure. Spinners and spinnerbaits are another lure built with metal using wire and blades. The blades and their shapes, sizes and actions is what really makes these lures notable. Vibrations sent through the water, as well as “flash”, from the blades is how these lures are so successful.
There are four main blade types. Colorado, Willow-Leaf, Concave / Convex and French or Indiana. Each one has a different shape, speed and pulsation through the water.
Spinnerbaits with their outrageous designs, have added features compared to the Spinner. They have weighted heads, skirts, a wire arm that can have up to 3 different blades attached, and some have a propeller device which then categorises them as a Buzzbait or even a Chatterbait.
Spinnerbaits have been very successful on Australian freshwater species and some fishermen are passionate about these weird looking lures.
Flies are wonderful human creations designed to represent an insect or other prey item a fish eats. They are made by dressing a hook with things like feathers, fur, hair, tinsels, nylon and other natural or synthetic materials. There are two main fly types. DRY meaning it floats on the surface and WET meaning it goes under the surface. Other fly classification include where the fly is meant to be used, Freshwater or Saltwater, and by the type of food they are imitating like Nymphs or Terrestrial.
Flies are mostly associated with fishing for Trout but they are effective for a broad range of species including Flathead, Bass, Barramundi and Marlin.
Jigs and Jig Heads:
Jig heads are generally used with soft plastics in Australia. But they can also be dressed up with feathers, hair or plastic to create another type of jig.
Jig Heads are usually a hook which has lead attached. The lead is used to sink the hook through the water column. A technique often applied uses the jig head on or close to the bottom. Jig heads can also have spinner blades added to them for flash and vibration.
Traditionally jigging is a vertical up and down movement. But variations of modern jigging technique for fishing is only limited by your imagination.
Ice jigs also fall into this category. Ice Jigs, which were designed for ice fishing, typically have a single hook at either end and a treble under the belly with a tow point on top in the middle of the lure. They also have a special fin on one end of the lure to make it dart erratically. Ice jigs are great for Bass and Redfin in impoundments.
Sabiki Jigs or Bait Jigs:
Nobody seems to be 100% sure what the word Sabiki means. The Japanese and Huasa people of Africa use it, but most fishermen believe it is Japanese for bait or bait catching.
The Sabiki jig is mostly used for catching small fish, which are usually for bait. A Sabiki jig is basically a paternoster rig with numerous branch lines attached, and a “Artificial Fly” at the end of each branch. Most fish will take the fly on the drop rather than the up-lift of the jigging action. You also need to find out the depth at which the small fish are schooling to be successful.
Squid jigs or Egi jigs are often beautifully coloured and stand out with their designs and luminous paint. They are usually in the shape of a prawn and are made with a cloth covering and a crown of needle like hooks.
They are weighted to fall horizontally through the water column at a slow steady rate and then hopped or jigged slowly at the desired depth. Whether you’re squidding night or day will mostly determine at what depth to use these jigs as this will effect where their prey are. During the day you can find squid just above hunting grounds like weed beds and at night they can be anywhere in the water column including sub-surface.
Skirted Trolling Lures:
These lures are mostly used in the ocean for Pelagic species. Commonly taking the appearance of a squid with a cylindrical resin head and supple plastic skirting, they are usually visually attractive with their bright sparkling colours. The shape of the lures head is how the action is created. The heads can be flat, angled, cup faced or cone faced. These lures are usually trolled at speed.
Teasers are another lure designed specifically for trolling. They are actually used to attract the fish and not directly to hook them. The idea is to get the fishes attention with large splash and vibration. They are used to work fish into a frenzy and draw the fish to the area where you are trolling other lures which are there to hook the fish.