At a Glance: Lures & Bait
Lures and baits are imitations and preserved forms of baitfish and invertebrates designed to attract predatory fish to a specific location to be caught by the hooks attached to the lures. This is the largest, most varied category of all fishing tackle. The word lure typically refers to the imitations made for casting and trolling. Baits refer to the preserved baitfish and fish parts, along with artificial baits, which may contain natural and synthetic substances to closely imitate smaller creatures and their scents. Some lures and baits can be combined to increase their effectiveness, and many anglers will modify them to create unique actions and profiles to fool heavily pressured fish.
Most lures are designed for specific tactics, water conditions, depths, speeds and predatory fish species. Lures range in weight from 1/124 oz. to several ounces, and are designed to float, suspend, sink or dive at controlled depths and increments as needed. Lures can be finished in multitudes of surface designs and colors including neons, metallics, glow, ultra-violet, and transparent finishes. The type of finish is dependent on the species they are imitating and the effect intended. They can also have different mechanical designs such as jointed sections, internal rattles, and trailer hooks. The different subcategories of lures and baits available at FishUSA include hard baits, soft baits, jigs and jig heads, spoons, spinners, spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, artificial baits, prepared and cured baits, attractants and cures, worm harnesses, trolling rigs and flies, lure components and flies.
Most hard baits were originally carved from wood, which has been mostly replaced by plastics in modern lure-making, while metals are used for others. Specific types of hard baits are stickbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, jigging lures and blade baits and topwater lures. Soft baits are rubber, silicone or other soft plastics molded into swimbaits, grubs, worms, tubes and other baitfish patterns. Jigs and jig heads are lead, tungsten, or tin weights molded onto specially designed hooks with long shanks to accept soft baits or materials to imitate various creatures. Spoons are metallic “blades” with shapes and bends similar to the eating utensil, and most often imitate swimming or injured baitfish for casting, jigging and trolling. Spinners feature metal blades which spin freely on a weighted or unweighted stiff-wire shaft and create wide-reaching vibrations to trigger fish to chase and strike. Spinnerbaits are combinations of jigs and spinners creating larger profiles and tremendous vibration and motion.
Artificial baits are products designed to specifically imitate the look and scent of live bait without the expense and difficulty of storing live bait. These include hard and soft plastic eggs and roe, paste and dough, nuggets made of similar compounds to dough but hold their shape better, larvae and waxies, and baitfish. Prepared and cured baits are natural eggs and roe, baitfish and cutbait, and worms. All of these have been preserved to prevent rot and decay. Attractants and cures are liquids and pastes to coat and spray scent onto lures, preserve and cure your own eggs and baitfish, and to attract fish to specific areas in the water.
Worm harnesses are similar to spinners but are pre-made bait rigs with blades, weights, and typically two hooks to hold nightcrawler worms for moderately-sized predatory fish. Some trolling rigs and flies function as large versions of worm harnesses to hold cutbait, while others are designed to have trolling flies or other small profile lures attached for large freshwater and saltwater species. Lure components are offered for the anglers wishing to build their own custom trolling rigs or to modify commercial harnesses.
Flies make up the final category of Lures and Bait and are specifically designed for fly fishing anglers targeting both saltwater and freshwater species. Dry flies are very light flies designed to float on the water’s surface, imitating flying insects in their adult stage. Nymphs, emergers and wet flies are tied to imitate the early and middle stages of an insect’s life below the surface. Streamers and muddlers are typically larger flies imitating baitfish, crayfish, leeches and other swimming creatures. Worms, sowbugs and scuds are imitations of bugs and worms which often fall from trees overhanging the streambanks. Poppers imitate frogs, mice and large bugs moving and splashing on the surface. Terrestrials imitate grasshoppers, crickets and ants that feed hungry fish when they miss the next blade of grass and end up in the water. Crayfish are wide-profile wet flies imitating the crab-like crayfish that are food for fish in streams, rivers and ponds. Egg patterns imitate single eggs and egg clusters primarily used for trout and salmon.
The top five lure and bait brands at FishUSA are Rapala, Yo-Zuri, Berkley, Reef Runner and Smithwick.