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15 Types of Fishing Lures for Your Next Freshwater Trip

WriterAubrey McShan
ContributorBrian Latimer
15 min read

Freshwater Fishing Lures & Baits Guide

Using the incorrect type of bait or lure can spoil your fishing trip. But how do you know which is best when there are so many types out there lining the shelves? In the video above, MLF Pro Angler, Brian Latimer, lays out his favorite freshwater fishing baits and lures.

But keep reading this comprehensive guide! We share our favorite insights and tips about the different all-around types of freshwater fishing lures!

What Are the Different Types of Lures?

Check out our freshwater fishing lure types chart to learn more about them and the ideal species each is for. We’ve given a brief overview below. However, we dive deeper into them further in this guide!

Click on each card to learn more about the different types of lures:

Fishing Lures vs. Live Bait

  • Fishing Lures: Fishing lures are less messy than live bait and are easily interchangeable. You can also cast them further and target fish with better accuracy when using a lure over live bait. Using a lure is better for catching and releasing. The fish are more likely to swallow a hook when using live bait.

  • Live Bait: Using live bait is often less expensive and more effective in colder waters than fishing lures. Lures can get snagged on underwater structures. To prevent this from happening, you’ll have to constantly move them to attract the fish.

Breaking Down the Types of Fishing Lures for Freshwater

Explore the different types of freshwater fishing lures with more in-depth explanations of each type below.

Blade Baits

A blade bait is like a metal crankbait. You’ll notice its thicker head and lead weight on the bottom when you handle it. The ideal species for a blade bait lure are bass, crappie, walleye.

  • This weight causes the bait to wiggle quickly as it is pulled through the water.

  • This movement triggers vibrations to attract bass (especially in fall and winter).

Expert Tip:

Blade Baits are ideal for deep-water fishing and are rigged with a treble hook in the front and the back.

Buzz Baits

A buzz bait is a sinking topwater lure that sinks. The ideal species for a buzz bait lure is bass.

  • They are usually molded into a J-shape with a skirted lure and weighted head.

  • The skirt wiggles to create a buzzing noise and bubble trail that attracts bass.

Expert Tip:

Use this lure when you fish in shallow water lush with vegetation and weeds.


A chatterbait is a type of brand-name lure that’s similar to spinnerbaits. They are used mostly for bass & muskie fishing. It’s very similar to a spinnerbait that features the following to vibrate and create life-like movement:

  • A lead jig head

  • A skirt attached off the back end

  • A blade attached to the front

Expert Tip:

Chatterbaits are super versatile. You’ll be able to try different retrieval techniques. If a slow-steady retrieve doesn't work, let it bounce on the bottom. Achieve this with quick rod jerks to produce reaction strikes.


A crankbait is a hard plastic bait that resembles a bait fish. It is generally used under the water’s surface and allows you to control how deep it dives. It can either have a flat lip or be lipless. Both are especially effective when bumped off a structure or the bottom. The ideal species for a crankbait lure are trout, salmon, bass, walleye, & muskie.

With crankbaits, you’ll always want to be as obnoxious (or the center of attention) as you possibly can:

  • Bump the lure into structures like underwater logs, rocks, and piers or docks.

  • Cause a commotion under the water to make as much noise as possible to attract the fish.

  • Alternatively, you could also bounce it along the bottom. This churns up silt and bounces off rocks to create commotion and sound.

Expert Tip:

Many lipless crankbaits dive when retrieved and float to the top when you pause your retrieve. Be on the lookout for strikes when you pause your retrieve!


Fly lures have a single hook and skirt and are used in fly fishing. You’ll find them made with fur, feathers, and thread to look like insects and other prey. Flies are most suitable for fly fishing in areas where fish approach the surface of the water. Catch plenty of steelhead, trout, and salmon with relative ease using flies!

In-Line Spinners

In-line spinner baits have blades that spin with weights behind them. These help the entire lure to rotate rather than just one part. The benefit? Twists in your line minimize, and a natural movement/vibration stimulates the lateral line system of the fish. The ideal species for in-line spinner lures are trout, panfish, & bass.

Jerk Bait

A jerkbait is a hard plastic bait that is shaped like a minnow. As you present it horizontally, this lure attracts your fish because of its ‘jerky’ (or shimmying) movements in the water. The ideal species for a jerkbait lure is bass.

Expert Tip:

More experienced anglers will do well with this lure when hunting the perfect bass! When you vary your retrieval tactics (e.g. jerk, pause, jerk, jerk), you can also personalize it for other species’ patterns or preferences.


Jigs are one of the most popular types of lures for catching crappie, panfish, trout, bass, & walleye. They have a unique weighted head on one side and a hook on the other. Typically, you’ll find them with a plastic grub or feather skirt. They are lightweight and sink easily, so they’re good to use when fishing for bottom feeders.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastic lures are squishy, flexible, and rubbery. They’re designed to resemble aquatic creatures (like minnows, frogs, and even worms). While effective, you should always know which type of soft plastic lures you need. Even the smaller details like colors and size matter to the specific species you can fish for. The best species suited for soft plastic lures are panfish, trout,crappie, bass, & yellow perch.


When you handle a spinnerbait lure, you’ll notice recognizable features like a skirt and a single hook with a weight on the end. Together, these allow it to sink to different depths in the water. Spinnerbaits also have at least one metal blade on the opposite side. These spin to cause a ruckus in the water to attract the fish. The ideal species for a spinnerbait lure are muskie, bass, perch, & pike.


Spoons are metal lures with a curved and concave shape that makes them wobble and shine in the water. These movements resemble an injured baitfish and can attract larger fish (like salmon and trout). Ready to plop your spoon lure in the water? Be ready to catch pike, trout, salmon, & bass.

Expert Tip:

These lures got their name because they were traditionally made from spoons (with the handles cut off).


A swimbait is a lure designed to replicate the swimming motions of bait fishes to attract fish like walleye, trout, bass, muskie, & salmon. The three main types are hard-bodied swimbaits, soft-bodied swimbaits, and glide baits. You’ll see swimbaits come in a variety of materials:

  • Paddle tails

  • Hard plastics

  • Soft plastics

  • Glide baits

Expert Tip:

Using swimbaits requires anglers to know they catch very well! They’re remarkably lifelike representations of the prey fish more predatory species (like largemouth bass) hunt.

Topwater Lures

Topwater lures are a popular choice for bass fishing in the summer. They’ll feed at the surface of the water then! These lures come in a wide range of sizes and shapes. The most common ones are poppers and frogs:


A topwater frog looks like a frog. The majority of models tend to have silicone skirts, which create realistic action in the water. These lures can also have rubber skirts or even soft plastic legs. Topwater frog lures do well in attracting species like bass.


A topwater popper has a flat or concave face often with a baitfish profile. This special profile creates splashes and popping sounds that attract your next catch. They are ideal for shallow water target fishing and catching species like bass & trout.

Twitch Baits

A twitchbait A twitchbait is very similar to a jerkbait lure! Their sole purpose is to mimic the natural movements of wounded minnows. This unique twitching action helps present the lure to the fish you’re after. Use these baits to attract walleye & bass in early spring and in fall!

Expert Tip:

This type of lure is best for experienced anglers because the twitch motion can be difficult to master for beginners.

Have Fun Out There!

Ready to chase your next big catch? We have all the fishing equipment and gear you need. Our wide selection of fishing gear makes it easy to get all the supplies you need for your next epic trip. Have fun out there!