Knowing how to choose the right fishing lure is anything but an exact science.
There are a ton of variables that come into play, but there are some basics involved. So here’s a step-by-step guide to you choose the right fishing lure for your next trip on the water.
1. Identify your target species
If you’re looking to catch some panfish for a shore lunch, that 1-ounce spinnerbait probably isn’t the best option.
Determine what you’re fishing for and then size your lure accordingly. Sure, there are times when you’ll want to downsize (or upsize) your bait even when fishing for big (or small) fish. But a general rule is to choose a lure that mimics the size of the prey the fish you’re after are feeding on.
2. Color matters
You’ve probably heard the old mantra about most lure colors being designed to catch anglers and not fish. Well, it’s fairly accurate.
Fish eat things that live in lakes. The things they eat don’t like to be eaten. Fair enough? So while gaudy colors are perfectly good choices under certain conditions, you’re generally better offer to choose lures of more natural hues.
A good role of thumb — particularly when using soft plastic baits — is to match your lure color to the bottom of the lake. If it’s a muddy bottom, choose browns and blacks. Lighter, sandier bottoms call for lighter shades. Weedy/green bottoms are ideal for watermelon and green pumpkin colors.
It’s hard to go wrong with a lure that has a greenish hue. If you’re not sure where to begin, start there.
3. Take their temperature
Water temperature matters a great deal in lure selection. Yes, you can catch fish in cold water using a moving bait such as a crankbait or spinnerbait. But you’ll need to fish it more slowly.
Again, as a starting point, match your lure selection to the temperature of the water. In cold water, use a slow-moving bait: Texas-rigged worms, shaky heads, and the like. In warmer water, faster baits like crankbait, spinnerbaits and top-water baits are best.
There are exceptions to every rule, but this will get you in the ballgame.
4. Consider actions
This step is where things come together. You’ve matched your bait to the size of the fish you’re targeting. You’ve chosen your color. You’ve factored in the water temperature.
Now it’s time to put it all together and experiment a bit with lures of varying actions. Even in warm water, fish may want a slow-moving bait. So go with soft plastics dragged slowly along the bottom. Or they may want a fast-moving bait to trigger a reaction strike.
Choosing the right lure is about making educated decisions and presenting the most likely lure to have success. But never be afraid to tweak and modify until you’ve honed in on what the fish really want. The goal is to start with the “right” lure and experiment until you’ve found the “best” lure for that day.