Lures are designed to utilize movement, vibrations and color to catch the attention of a fish and get it to strike. They’ve been around as long as baits, with no known earliest date. Although we do know that the Chinese were the first to make fishing line which was spun from fine silk.


There’s a large choice of lures, but essentially there are 7 major varieties.

  1. Jigs:   This is a weighted hook that’s covered with a bait like minnows, crawfish or even plastic worms to get the fish’s attention. The rod movement is key to getting the jig to move.
  2. Surface Lures: They float and resemble surface water prey such as insects.
  3. Spoon lures: Simple enough, these resemble the inside of a diner spoon. Their purpose is to flash in order to cause fish to strike at the lure.
  4. Plugs/crankbaits: They move through the water like a dart in a back and forth pattern.
  5. Artificial Flies: Created commercially or by anglers, they are designed to resemble insects and small surface baits as well as some small prey that enter the water.
  6. Bass Worms: They are made out of plastic or rubber and resemble real worms.
  7. Spinnerbait: They are made from pieces of wire bent at a 90 degree angle to the hook.

And here are the qualities you’ll be looking for. We’ve explanations below as to what they all mean and why it’s important to understand these.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-running-depth” unsan=”lure running depth” /]Lure Running Depth

Assuming you’ve appealed to each of the fish’s senses and are offering up the perfect lure, depth then becomes the number one most important lure attribute.


Fish are cold blooded so they are very sensitive to changes in the water temperature. Each species has it’s preferred thermal range. The use of a temperature probe can be a great aid, especially in large lakes where temperature variances are large in the summer and early fall. Also in other watersheds where there are active currents churning water from the deep.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-speed” unsan=”lure speed” /]Lure Speed

As Einstein would say, speed is relative. For lures like jigs and jerk baits, speed matters less as they require rod movement for their action and are virtually independent of speed.


For lures like worms, or those that are dependent on speed, know your fish well. A worm at one speed may work very well for all species in a given watershed, but at higher speeds species of bass will not touch the worm.


As a general rule, in warm water, increase the speed in which you fish. As the water heats up further to the point where the fish become lethargic, cut down your speed. In fast moving waterways, match the speed of the water.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-action” unsan=”lure action” /]Lure Action

Action is all about how the lure moves or dances through the water in a way that appeals to the fish. Different lures react differently under the same conditions.


Crank baits are engineered to move at a specific speed while jigs and jerk baits must be jerked to create action.


Regardless of the lure, some rod-induced action can help you land the lunker. However check with locals to understand what works best as it varies from watershed to watershed.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-size” unsan=”lure size” /]Lure Size

The young do not always behave as they should and will often go after food bigger than they can digest. However, this varies from species to species with each one having different food preferences and habits.


Fish are similar to people in that they are attracted to larger portions. In general, fish will go after the largest lure or bait that they can eat.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-contrast” unsan=”lure contrast” /]Lure Contrast

For many fish, like bass, flashy lures work well on bright sunny days, but prefer dull colored lures without any shine when the skies are overcast.


While each species is different, high contrast as a general rule works better than low contrast or dull lures.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-shape” unsan=”lure shape” /]Lure Shape

Fish, like most species, know very well what their food looks like and stay away from anything that appears different. Understanding a fish’s habitat, and what it likes is important.


Fish like small mouth bass are so distributed across North America that there are often micro differences between one fishing hole to another. A lure in one lake may not work well for the same bass in another. Be sure that the lure matches the local watering hole in terms of color and it’s shape. Proportional differences can throw the fish right off.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-color” unsan=”lure color” /]Lure Color

Color correlates directly to, and is governed by, depth.


Red has a short wavelength, which means that when it dives a few feet under water, it appears grey. Other colors like blue maintain their color much deeper.


Let’s look at color a different way.

The density of color affects the intensity of the color. In essence, how light or dark a color appears. This explains why red is so popular at depths where it appears grey.


Now let’s go a little further down the rabbit hole.

Selecting the right color depends a lot on the time of day.

  • Before 18h00 and after 8h00 until dusk, blue, green, white and silver work well while black works best after dark.
  • After 08h00, yellow, orange, fluorescent red and then red in that order up to noon and then in reverse order towards dusk.

We recommend a cheat-sheet be kept in your tackle box.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-finish” unsan=”lure finish” /]Lure Finish

Lure finish is the least important attribute for lure selection. So much more than the lure finish needs to be correct before we can focus on this minor attribute. Get everything else right and it’s likely you won’t need to worry about the finish.


There’s a lot of debate over which works best and which scares the fish off.


One thing is certain: lures that replicate the finish of a fish’s prey will work best.


Where anglers get into trouble is trying to get that extra advantage by adding bright dots, lines or colors.

  • We recommend the conservative approach and sticking with traditional prey patterns and finishes.

[sta_anchor id=”lure-photo-contrast” unsan=”lure photo contrast” /]Lure Photo Contrast

Light-emitting lures have been around for a long time. Not a lot is known about which species take to these lures, but what is known is exciting.


For one, not every fish takes to light emitting lures but the ones that do, do so best at night. It makes for an exciting way to spend a moonlit evening.


Commercially-made lures are based on the same ideas from the individual craftsmen but the technology has changed a lot of the 100 years. Lures are now designed with computers with the help of highly skilled professionals.

Tip:  Salmon and bass are known to take to night angling with salmon trolling flies and plastic worms for bass.