Choosing what to fish with can be intimidating, but this guide will be helpful in grabbing the right gear as you head out for a great day of fishing. From live bait to buzzbait, determining what lures to use will depend on a few factors – what species you are targeting, water clarity, and weather conditions. Check out the information below to help you decide what lure is needed for your day on the water.
A jig is great for targeting all types of bass. It can work its way through cover such as brush, rock piles, tree laydowns, and docks because of the weedguard. Anglers often fish slowly with a jig to target fish that are not interested in hitting a fast-moving bait. Though they can be fished a variety of ways, most anglers hop or crawl the jig across the bottom, imitating a crayfish. Use a little heavier line when fishing a jig near heavy cover, as abrasions from timber and rock can snap line and lose a catch!
Crankbaits can be used for nearly any type of fish. Crankbaits have a distinct wobble, vibrations, or rattle that attract fish. With each crankbait having the ability to dive to specific depths, ensure that you choose the correct one for your fishing adventure. This is a great lure for simple "casting and winding” – no special action needed, just cast it out and reel it in! Try varying your retrieval speed when fishing crankbaits. Sometimes it is best moving the crankbait swiftly, and sometimes it is best to slow down. This takes a little experimenting to see what the fish respond to best. Avoid heavy cover with crankbaits as the treble hooks are likely to get caught/result in a lost lure.
Topwater plugs are great for when fish are chasing forage on the surface of the water, usually during early morning and late evening. Also great around cover, topwater plugs are good for targeting all bass, striper, panfish, musky, and trout.
Spinnerbaits are an excellent choice around hard cover or vegetation and work very well in stained water because of its vibration. Great for targeting bass and musky, spinnerbaits attract the attention of fish in low-visibility conditions and the flash makes it a good imitator of schooling baitfish. Like crankbaits, it is best to vary your retrieval speed to determine what the fish are responding to. Spinnerbaits work great when fished quickly, or "slow rolled" near the bottom, so slowly that the blades are barely spinning.
Buzzbaits are great for when fish are chasing forage on the surface, but especially in shallow, heavy-cover water such as in timber or around lily pads. Buzzbaits are mainly used to target bass and musky. Anglers often choose to put a trailer on this lure.
There are many different types of live bait, and they vary based on the type of fish you are targeting. Reference the chart below for choosing the correct live bait.