Basic Lure Types and Techniques

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Fishing with lures is a great way to catch your favourite species. You don’t have to worry about dealing with bait, and you can easily throw a few lures in with the rest of your tackle and go fish without a further thought.

There are many types of lures on the market, but having a few of the following in your tackle box is the first step to lure fishing success.

Surface Lures

Surface luring is arguably one of the most exciting forms of fishing – full stop. Being able to watch the lure during the retrieve, and see a fish attack it (usually spectacularly), is about as addictive as things can get in a fishing sense!

Poppers have a cupped face (where the line attaches) that pushes water during the retrieve, causing a blooping or popping commotion on the surface. This alerts fish to the lure’s presence and encourages them to investigate. The noise also mimics the sounds of fish feeding on the surface, getting your target into a feeding mood.

It’s best to tie line tight to a popper so that there is no extra movement imparted through loop attachments. By jerking the rod down and back the angler causes the popper to jump forward, digging into the water and causing the bloop. Some fish like bass prefer slow retrieves so allow the lure to sit between bloops. Other fish like trevally and mackerel attack fleeing prey, so retrieve the lure at a fast pace allowing it to create a bubble trail as it goes.

Stickbaits are a firm favourite in all sorts of surface fishing situations. The most common shape of these lures is like a cigar – a cylindrical body tapering to a dull point at either end. These lures are extremely versatile and can be retrieved to mimic all sorts of prey. Some stickbaits float while others suspend or sink slowly, allowing the angler to work on or just under the surface.

A great retrieve for stickbaits is known as ‘walking the dog’. It takes a little practice, but by constantly winding the reel and bouncing the rod tip so that the lure gets a rhythmical cycle of tight then slack line, the lure will ‘walk’ first one way then the other. This floundering action mimics a wounded baitfish and is dynamite on most big predators!

Walkers come in various shapes but all have a large flat or cupped face or ‘wings’ that protrude beyond the body on either side. When retrieved slowly by a constant wind of the reel, these wings catch the surface of the water and cause the lure to wobble from one side to the other. This action is great for a lot of freshwater fish with a taste for terrestrial animals. These lures are fantastic at night as their noisy waddling and surface commotion attract nocturnal hunters.

Diving Lures

Diving lures come in all shapes and sizes to suit everything that swims. These are made from wood or plastic, and all have some sort of bib or lip extending from the face which pushes against the water causing the lure to dive down and ‘swim’ during the retrieve.

Divers with small bibs are designed to swim at a shallow depth while those with large bibs dive deeper during the retrieve. These are very versatile lures in that a small selection can work many depths of the water column.

Some divers float, others suspend and some sink. Floating lures are good in snaggy water as they can be floated up and over obstructions. Suspending lures really hang in a fish’s face making them hard to resist. Sinking lures can be worked deep and can mimic a dying baitfish as they sink.

It is important to vary the retrieve when using these lures. Fish will hit a lure retrieved without any action imparted, but to really attract fish include some pauses and/or jerks of the rod. These combine to make the lure sit, hop, swim and apparently flee – behaviours that make a predatory fish want to eat the escaping bait!

Another important tip for diving lures is to attach them to the line using a loop knot like a Perfection Loop or a loose Uni knot. The loop adds the little extra freedom for the lure to swim correctly.

Related Article: 12 Best Bass Lures


Spoons are highly varied in design but the general principle is that the lure roughly resembles a fish in shape, wiggles and flutters through the water and shows colour and/or flash. Many spoons are metal but plastic is also used.

These lures are cast and retrieved or trolled behind boats; the wobble and flash imparted through their shape and colour is a great attractant for fish like salmon, trout and pike. Allowing spoons to sink enables them to be worked at different depths, and most can be jigged effectively also.

Saltwater spoons or slices are most commonly metal, are heavy and slim in profile so as to be retrieved at a fast rate to excite saltwater predators like mackerel, tuna and trevally.

To get the best action from spoons and slices always use a split ring in the tow point and attach using a loop knot.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are a world unto themselves and the range is staggering. Soft plastic imitations of everything from fish to frogs and everything in between are available. Some are pre-rigged; others come just as the plastic allowing the angler the ultimate in versatility of presentation. Hooks and jigs designed for soft plastics are also too varied to list here.

What makes soft plastics so appealing to fish are that most smell/taste like food, and there are many fishy flavours on the market. Another important fact is that they are soft. When a fish bites a soft plastic it feels like a real animal – not hard plastic or wood – so the fish want to hold on!

Lure fishing is an exciting and rewarding way to catch fish. With a selection of those types mentioned above, you should be able to hook most things that swim.

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