How to Fish with Lures: Lure Types, Knots, Casting, Catching & Releasing
A fishing lure is one of the most popular ways to catch a fish. Knowing which lure to choose for the day will decide whether you have a great day or not so great a day. There are thousands of lures in different sizes and colors, and they all have a place for catching fish. Each one can be used with different equipment and can be cast and fished in different types of cover. In this article, we talk about a variety of lures, how to tie them on your line, how to cast them, and how to catch fish on them. We will help you choose the best lure for any given situation and teach you to properly fish it.
Classic Fishing Lures
When you are first getting started on fishing with lures, it is important to focus on the classic fishing lures. Using baits that have been successful at catching fish for years is a good way to start. Knowing the lures will work allows for piece of mind. Having confidence in what you are using is empowering and the lures below have stood the test of time. From hard baits like crankbaits or topwater plugs to bottom baits such as jigs or plastic worms, these lures will get bites.
A spoon is a lure that is shaped in many different ways, but commonly known for its “spoon shape.” The spoon offers anglers erratic action that will trigger fish to bite. Spoons are commonly known as a cold-water bait but can be fished year-round with success. The most popular ways to fish the spoon are in a vertical presentation or swimming it along the water. Drop the spoon to the bottom and quickly snap the rod tip up to give the bait a quick jerk. Not many lures can provide the flash and flutter that a spoon can when jigged vertically. Fish simply cannot resist the action of a wounded bait fish. Casting and swimming the spoon provides a similar action, but in a more horizontal presentation across the water. Simply cast the spoon and begin a steady retrieve while alternating between popping the bait or jerking the rod to provide action.
An inline spinner is a forgotten bait that most avid anglers do not utilize enough. Often popular for trout and river fishing, the inline spinner is a more finesse option to a spinnerbait (which we will discuss next). A spinner is a moving technique and works well covering water. Spread your casts along flats when fish are shallow in the spring or fall. Vary the retrieve depending on the depth and cover. In shallower water, work the bait slower to keep it near the bottom to avoid snags. It can be thrown over top of weeds or along the edges. In deeper water, allow the bait to sink before employing a slower retrieve. Spoons and spinners are traditionally cast on a spinning combo.
A crankbait is a hard bait lure that is shaped like a shad and it has a bill on the front that forces the bait to dive and wobble as it is retrieved. The size of the bill dictates how deep the bait will dive and they come in a variety of shapes such as a square or rounded bill. In general, the square bill is great for deflecting off cover like trees and rocks, where the deeper diving bills will get baits down to 20 or more feet of water. Crankbaits work well for making long casts and covering a lot of water. They can also be casted precisely near shallow cover and worked methodically along the bank.
Similar to the inline spinner, spinnerbaits are the power fishing alternative primarily used to target bass. Cast the bait around cover or target open water flats. A spinnerbait works well for bass when they get shallow in the spring and fall, but deeper grass flats in the summer will hold bass willing to bite. A spinnerbait mimics a group of bait fish. When bass are foraging on shad and minnows, spinnerbaits are hard to beat. They can be slow rolled or reeled fast to get a reaction bite. For spinnerbaits and crankbaits, a casting combo is the preferred equipment.
Plastic worms are probably the most popular lure on the market because of large variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. A plastic worm can be rigged and fished anywhere around any cover in any water conditions. They can be worked fast or slow, deep or shallow. Fish bite them. Smaller plastics like grubs are used to jig and swim for panfish and walleye. Larger plastics like finesse worms and wacky worms are used to target bass. These aren’t live worms, so make sure you are working the plastic to mimic lively action. Plastic worms are commonly used on spinning or baitcasting equipment.
A jig is probably the most popular lure to mimic a crayfish. A crawfish just happens to be one of the favorite meals for bass. Like a rubber worm, you can use a small finesse jig on spinning gear or bigger heavier jigs on a casting combo. Jigs excel in shallow cover fished around docks, weeds, or laydown trees. Another thing about jigs is they work well in deeper water dragged over a rocky bottom or fished parallel to weed edges. Football head jigs are designed to be casted in rocks and other cover in deeper water while ball heads or brush heads have weed guards designed to allow the bait to fall through heavy cover. In the summer months, thick weeds or trees often hold bass and a jig is a great way to effectively fish it.
How to Tie On a Lure
Now, it’s time to learn how to tie a fishing lure. There are multiple knots that will work, some easy and some hard. The improved clinch knot is one of the easier knots to learn and it works with any kind of line. It is also referred to as the “fisherman’s knot” and is an all-time favorite, classic knot.
1.) Pass your line through the end of the eye of the lure.
2.) Wrap the tag end of the line 5-7 times.
3.) Bring the tag end down and through the loop between the hook and the first wrap.
4.) Take the tag end and bring it back through the loop newly formed at the top of the series of wraps.
5.) Wet the knot, and while holding the lure, pull on the tag and the main line evenly until the knot clinches down.
6.) Give the main line and lure one good pull to tighten it.
7.) Trim the tag end 1/16th of an inch from the hook.
How to Cast a Fishing Lure
Once the lure is tied on properly, it’s time to rear back and learn how to cast a fishing lure. Where you cast determines how you present the lure to the fish. It may be a specific target such as a dock, weed line, or open water. You can cast and retrieve slowly or cast and cover water quicker by reeling fast. Each casting technique has its place and it is important to learn each.
When casting to cover water, you will likely be making a lot of casts consecutively. Covering water is a technique used to locate fish. It can be a large grass flat or simply walking down the bank making casts while looking for a bite. Use a lure that can retrieve fairly quickly. A roll cast, side cast, or overhand cast will work as long as you are casting to a new spot on each cast. Lures such as crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits and other power fishing baits are optimal for covering water searching for fish. These baits can be fished at a much higher rate of speed than bottom contact lures such as a plastic worm, a jig, or jigging spoon.
Some lures require a long cast especially when fished in open water areas. Lures such as crankbaits need casting distance as it takes time to get the bait down to proper running depth. Without a long cast, the bait may not veer to the desired depth or reach bottom. When fishing specific targets, a long cast is not always necessary. However, the longer the cast, the more time the lure will spend in the strike zone. The correct casting distance is dictated by the target. If you are fishing an edge, you can position yourself horizontally so you cover a longer swath in the strike zone. Do all that you can to position yourself for maximum casting distance.
Catching Fish on Lures
Now that we have chosen the proper gear, lets learn how to catch fish on certain lures. Even though catching a fish seems straight forward, the process is slightly different for different lures. The cast, the retrieve, and the cadence each varies depending on which type of lure you chose to fish with.
A crankbait is a reaction bait which means the fish see the erratic action and react by biting it. The retrieve for a crankbait is pretty simple and changing the cadence slightly will entice more bites. To begin, a simple cast and retrieve is all that is needed. The bait works best when it maintains bottom contact along a transition in structure. By changing up the retrieve slightly you can get different action from the bait until you find what the fish like. Try things such as popping the rod tip or stopping and starting the bait after making bottom contact. Crankbait techniques are best used when searching for fish and covering water.
Jigs are a versatile lure because they can be fished several different ways. The most popular is to flip and pitch vegetation and casting them around cover. Similar to crankbaits, jigs can be fished on spinning or casting tackle. Lighter weight jigs on spinning gear offers a more finesse technique for pressured fish. Likewise, heavier jigs on casting gear can be fished around heavy cover. Flip or pitch the jig next to docks, laydown trees, or boulders along the bank. Make a short cast and work the bait like a yo-yo a few times to try and get a strike. If nothing taps, reel it in and cast again. Football jigs work well on a long cast and slow drag back to the boat. Reel down the slack and pick the rod tip up, slowly feeling the bait on the bottom and watching for a bite.
Plastic Worm Techniques
Plastic worms can produce in almost any scenario because you can work them in a variety of rigs and cadences. Therefore, worms are one of the best lures to mimic live bait and get bites. Plastic worms can be fished on a dropshot, Texas rig, Ned rig, Neko rig, or wacky rig. For lighter weights and weightless presentations, spinning gear is hard to beat. When you need a heavier weight or are fishing near vegetation, a casting combo will work. Senko style worms can be casted around cover or fished in open water. Because of the slow sinking rate, shallow water works best. When you get around grass or laydowns, add a bullet weight to build a Texas rig and cast around. A Texas rig works well off shore in deeper water or along weed edges. Make long casts and slowly drag it around cover.
Removing Treble Hooks
When you get into a group of fish, the action can be fast and furious. Removing the hook from a fish that is hooked deep takes time and the right tools to safely remove. Treble hooks make it more difficult as there are 3 hooks that can hook the fish. Using a pair of pliers while holding the fish’s mouth open is the easiest and safest way to remove the hook and release the fish. If the treble hook is hooked close to the mouth you can hold the lure and use its leverage to pop the hook free. When the hook is down deep, be careful not to pull to hard. Use pliers to pop it free and quickly release the fish. It is important when you catch a fish to safely remove the hooks and get it back into the water quickly, unless you plan to fillet and eat the fish later. Don’t forget to take a quick photo before you release your trophy.