What Types of Fishing Lures can be Used for Freshwater Fishing?

Ken Black

Freshwater fishing lures run the gambit and are made from many different materials to act in many different fashions. In general, the goal of a freshwater fishing lure is simple: Entice the fish to strike. The more aggressive the strike is, the better the chance the fish will be hooked and landed. Freshwater fishing lures can be broken down into three major subtypes: top waters, suspended lures and bottom lures.

Largemouth bass are prized sport fish in North America.
Largemouth bass are prized sport fish in North America.

Choosing which freshwater fishing lure to use, or even which subtype to use, depends on the situation and the target species. Figuring this out may take a great deal of time and experience, mainly learned through a process of trial and error. Determining fish patterns also depends a lot on the water conditions. Being successful with fishing lures means understanding these patterns, as well as the presentation and speed of the lure itself. A number of things must come together properly for good lure fishing.

Largemouth bass frequently lurk in shallow waters during dusk and dawn.
Largemouth bass frequently lurk in shallow waters during dusk and dawn.

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For example, those targeting largemouth bass would do well to understand they tend to feed in shallower water, near the surface, near dusk and dawn. In the summer, they tend to retreat to deeper waters during the heat of the day. This will definitely impact which fishing lures are used.

Top water fishing lures tend to include straight lures that look like fish, or fly lures used in fly fishing. These fishing lures are usually hard, but do not necessarily have to be. They also are used to catch a wide variety of species such as bass, walleye, crappie and others. They can either be retrieved slow or fast, depending on the situation.

Suspended fishing lures also include a number of different hard and soft baits, the most common of which are crank baits, spoons, and spinner baits. Each are good baits to use for schooling fish which are found suspended between the top and bottom in water of 10 feet or more. They are meant to be retrieved at a relatively fast rate.

Bottom fishing lures tend to be soft baits, such as plastic worms or other types of soft plastic baits meant to simulate life that fish may find an attractive prey species along the bottom. They are generally retrieved relatively slow. They are designed to move in such a way that triggers on instinctual response to strike. They are often very effective when used in shallower waters, but lose some of their effectiveness in water more than 20 feet deep.

There are numerous types of lures that freshwater fishermen can use to attract fish.
There are numerous types of lures that freshwater fishermen can use to attract fish.

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Discussion Comments


I think natural bait trumps new artificial fishing lures almost any time. Those soft plastic fishing lures might be able to emulate the look of a worm, but they can't get the smell right, in my opinion. Although they can be fun to make with your kids.

The best natural bait is almost always roe, or fish eggs. You'll catch a lot of fresh water fish with that.

If you can't get your hands on any, you might try a bit of cheese as well. Especially strong smelling cheese. That can work really well.


I knew an old fisherman once who spent hours making his own salt water fishing lures from feathers and shiny things he found around the place. He liked using the tags from soda cans.

I think he enjoyed the challenge of trying to find the perfect lure for each kind of fish. He would note down how to make each one and variations, and would also try to compare how successful it was with each kind of fish.

Even when he found a lure that seemed really successful, he never just stopped innovating and using that one exclusively. He always thought he could make a better one.

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