Tips For Choosing The Fishing Lures And Bait


Fishing bait is the lifeblood of any angler, but there is no singular perfect bait, although one should have their favorite on hand. A good place to start is with a high-quality lure or bait, and by that I mean one that is very effective, and at a fair price. The idea is to fish with what you like to catch the most. If you're a bass fisherman, a lure for largemouths would be just fine, but if you're fishing for striper, your choice should be slightly more specific. If you're looking for the perfect baitfish lure, pick one specific to your waters, currents, and bottom types. Here are my favorite combinations for these purposes.



1. Scissortail

This is one of the most popular smallmouth flies used by smallmouths on salt, yet most fishing guides refuse to use it due to the likelihood that it will "eat itself." on salt, does just that, to the point that the only viable way to get it on the hook is to bait the sinking lead head with fathead minnows and let it sink to the bottom. In other regions, the Scissortail is a favorite of stripers and is a must-have when diving in deep water for bass.

2. Minnows

When the lakes or rivers you're fishing are polluted with heavy metals like copper, lead or mercury, it can be wise to use minnows that are less contaminated. In addition to being cheap, they provide a lot of flavor to the bait, which can also be a good idea. One of my favorites is rainbow perch minnows, which are a little bit stronger than the smaller Perch minnow, but not by much.

3. Rubber legs

As a direct result of hearing so many times that "bait fish have no feeling," I decided to get some plastic legs and throw them in the bag. Most of these cheap rubber legs that you can buy at your local sporting goods store are not any better than a rubber eel and if the fish get past the tail and into the body, they're going to feel every fish. To keep the weight down and lessen the chances of getting a nasty surprise, try some dark-colored hooks and tops, both of which won't show up in the hook light of the cast.

4. Drop Kastmasters

These baits will change the odds in your favor for fishing at night by allowing you to throw a shallow-diving lure on the end of a light line. They are super light and soft, which will make the lure much easier to sink on the braid without the tip bouncing all over the place. It's also easy to see what size fish you're catching when you're using these, and because they are so light, they don't break line or slack off as they sink. They are relatively easy to fish and allow you to avoid having to take the swim bait in and out of the water as often. I often set mine up with single hook blades.

5. Baits from trolled lines

These baits are excellent for fast action fishing and will pull your line right through the water, just like trolled flies. The best baits in my bag are very large soft baits, such as sassy shad or wigglers, which can get messy in the wrong conditions. Stay away from woolly buggers and other flash baits as they are too slow and noisy.

6. Soft Rods

Soft rods make a huge difference in fishing for different species. I fish for stripers with what is commonly referred to as "stink bait" rods, which have a much softer feel, and allow the bait to float right off the hook as opposed to an open spool. They're also much softer and cheaper than heavier carbon or alloy rods. For freshwater fishing, I usually use a medium to light action rod, and although I can make a rod that casts decently, the rod tip is usually too heavy. I opt for a lightweight 10 or 12-weight rod, which makes my light tackle rigs much easier to handle.



7. Bucktails

Bucktails are great for very deep water trolling and are excellent for catching large, predatory fish that like to take advantage of the downward bite. These baits are especially effective when fishing for striped bass on trolled lines, or when using heavy weights for trolling light tackle. When baiting a swimbait hook, I use a short length of stinger hook, which is also the perfect size to strip the edge off of a stinger jellyfish to secure the bait.

Bait Traps

8. Bucktail jigs

Bucktails are excellent bait when fishing for stripers on trolled lines, and can be effective when using braid or 10-pound test monofilament on light tackle. Any hard body bait will work, including jigs such as the Heddon Flashback, scented soft plastic worms, or even cigar minnows.

9. Gulp! Flakes

Gulp! flake baits are one of the best freshwater baits available, because they are cheap and easy to handle, but also provide a lot of flavor and aroma to the bait, which makes it an ideal choice for attracting larger predatory fish.

10. "Pan" Fishes

There are many different species of Panfish that have excellent flavor and aroma. They are excellent options for bait fishing, as they sink straight to the bottom, giving you plenty of fishing opportunities, and are easy to target.

11. Fireworm

Fireworms, or Photinus Carolinus, are a great bait for when fishing for Musky. The highly modified body that contains a heavy propylene pellet makes these baits extremely efficient at feeding, and they often last through several rods of the slack line before sinking.

12. Bucktails with Dumptrucks

Two pieces of Dumptrucks that are at least 7 feet long are perfect for suspending a soft bait like a bucktail or a live eel. They have a flexible front end that bends and attaches to the rig easily, and they look nice when stacked together.

13. Cotton

Cotton gets a bad reputation for being "stinky," but it's not that bad, and is a great choice if you want the lightest line and softest feel.

14. Kastmasters

The Kastmaster is my favorite bait for offshore fishing, because of the great action it offers, especially when cast at the top of the water column. If you want a lightweight bait for night fishing, this is a great option. They have a very long cast and will sink like a stone, which means they won't cause any turbulence when cast and are a great choice for trolling light tackle. They're usually extremely inexpensive but are often recommended by other fishermen.


15. Baits

When fishing for striper, you don't need lures at all. If you're using a fly rod, I typically use single hooks on a 14-pound test monofilament line, which allows for plenty of line length and also provides a bit of casting confidence for anyone new to fishing. Lures are usually much less expensive than fly rods and have more effective action. They also provide a great option for soft plastic jigs or weedless flies.

16. Fly Fishing

18. The Perch Rap

The Perch Rap is great for light fly fishing, where you don't need to worry about getting the fly where you want it, but rather trying to capture your quarry's attention. I mainly fish these baits with yellow perch flies that are chartreuse with orange wings, but they also work very well with trout flies.


19. The Natural Vibe

The natural vibe can be fished with a variety of flies, but most typically you use this bait for casting lures or spinning gear. It's a little on the small side, but perfect for fishing light line with spinners, spoons, and shaky heads.

20. The Justified Jumbo

I use this as my go-to fly when using heavier, fast-action equipment. A few extras, like the No-Cut jumbo tippet, help make it an even better option.

21. Two Fish Hollow

The Two Fish Hollow is a great fly with a high lift and a draw. I like this fly for casting my glass minnow, and also use it on the light line when fishing for fly fishing.

22. "Sight"

The sight is an excellent float for speckled trout and other shallow water fish. It's often preferred for undersized fish because the vibration makes it hard for a fish to grab on. I use a 3-inch silver noodle for this bait, but any white or yellow noodle should work.

Flying Anglers

23. The Dark Fiber

The Dark Fiber has a very good spin for light lines, especially when fishing for fly fishing. It's not as easy to cast, but it's a great, inexpensive way to get some spin on a fly. You'll only need one size of fly for casting this fly, so it's ideal for fishing with a light fly rod.

24. The Rainbow Skitter Skatter

The Rainbow Skitter Skitter is a great fly for fly fishing on warm summer days when you want to cast a soft fly with a bit of action. I fish this fly with some slower sinking flies for trout.

25. Twister

The Twister is an excellent fly for angling fly rods with a simple fast action. This is a fly that is also used for fly fishing, but I prefer casting it using light spinning gear.

26. Jumping Head

27. Skinny Dip Rap

28. Ice Crawlers

Ice fishing is a great way to catch some big fish with the limited gear that's necessary for success. A little bit of fishing tackle will make the ice fishing season go much faster, and you'll be well prepared to fish longer and harder on the ice. Check out this guide to choosing the right rod for ice fishing.

29. The Quill-Wand

30. Twin Eagles

31. Spins

One of the best things about fishing fly fishing is the number of flies that can be used to catch big fish. In addition to the easy casting, there are hundreds of choices when it comes to baits, flies, and more. There's no telling what the next fun and novel technique may be.

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