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Fishing Lure & Fishing Lures Glossary
Read descriptions of the top fishing lures and great "How To's" on when and where to use each of these fishing lures.

Buzzbait

When - Generally, buzzbaits do not become effective until early summer when water temperatures reach the lower seventies. Then they continue to catch fish even during the hottest months. Once largemouth have spawned and begin feeding during low light hours a buzzbait is perhaps the most efficient lure to locate and catch them.

Mornings and evenings are usually best, but overcast conditions can keep fish biting on top all day. White skirts and copper blades are by far the most popular buzzbait combinations.

Where - Parallel fishing the bank or a weedline is the most popular buzzbait technique, as it allows anglers to cover a lot of water quickly. Fish them in shallows around any fish holding structure. Generally they are not fished in water over ten feet.

How – Cast the bait out right up to whatever target structure exists. Begin the retrieve just a second before the lure hits the water so that the blade will start to turn when it does strike the surface. Many anglers make the mistake of ripping the buzzbait back to the boat during the retrieve, this is not correct. The lure should be retrieved just fast enough to keep the blade turning. Remember don’t let it sink when it hits the water.

Tips – New buzzbaits need to be made noisy. Experienced anglers will take a new buzzbait and often tie it to their vehicle antennae on the way to the lake to break it in. While flying down a lake in a bass boat, many anglers will leave place a rod rigged with a buzzbait in an upright position so that the blade turns in the wind. A noisy buzzbait will attract more strikes.

Jig-n-Pig

When- This lure is most effective in cold water from late fall on through the winter into early spring.

Where – Perhaps to start with, where not to use this lure. Do not use it around pads or grass, as the resulting hang up is not worth the effort. Once mastered, it is an effective around any fish holding structure in shallow to very deep water.

How – This lure takes a bit of determination on the part of the angler in order to master its use. It is worth the effort. Always cast this lure beyond the targeted structure. Cast the lure out and immediately reel the slack out of the line. Very often, a strike will occur as the lure sinks. In order to detect these strikes "on the fall", the angler must stay in contact with the lure by keeping a taunt line. If anything feels different, such as a feeling of sudden lightness, or a mushy feeling, set the hook.

Once the lure has settled to the bottom, different retrieves may be used. You might "hop" the lure back by up swinging the rod tip to hop the lure a foot or so while permitting it to settle to the bottom again. This technique kicks up small puffs of sediment, much like a crawfish on the move. A very slow, steady retrieve is another technique, especially in cold water when fish are lethargic. Finally, try several consecutive very short jerks, then let the lure stop for a few seconds before repeating the action.

Tips – For cold water fishing many anglers prefer a jig with a dark color skirt. As for the pig part, use an opposing dark color pork rind, plastic grub or imitation crawfish. The weight of the jig used is a matter of personal preference. Some anglers say the deeper the water, the heavier the jig. Often this is a mistake. Many times in deep water a light- weight jig-n-pig will be more effective. It is only critical to feel what the jig is doing, regardless of water depth.

Flukes & Sluggo's

When – This is a warm water lure. Once the water reaches the seventies it’s time to start tossing them. Work them in the morning and evening on clear days. With over cast skies they can be effective all day long.

Where – Generally these are shallow water baits. Once the water gets over five to six feet, depending upon clarity, they are not effective, with a few exceptions. At times and in some waters largemouth bass and striped bass will surface feed in deep open water. These lures can be deadly during those times.

How – The first part of the "how" needs to address properly rigging these baits. Since these baits are fished as top water baits or just beneath the surface no weight is used. Ideally, an offset shank hook should be used. Perhaps the easiest way to visualize the proper rigging of these baits is to first place the lure down on a flat surface. Now take a 1/0 to 3/0, offset shank hook and place the eyelet of the hook so it hangs just over the nose edge of the lure. Make sure the hook, as it lies, follows the center of the bait body and is parallel to it. Now picture the hook in the same position, only this time positioned inside and down the center of the lure body. Note: the lure body should remain perfectly straight once the hook is rigged, as this is a critical point.

These lures are retrieved in short erratic jerks, causing them to pop up and down and to zigzag across the surface. They imitate the action of a frantic and perhaps wounded baitfish skittering across the surface. Fished in this manner the angler should see all strikes and waste no time in executing a hookset with authority.

There are times when fish will not take these lures when worked top water. In that case, let the lure settle beneath the surface and employ the same retrieve. This time when a strike occurs more than likely the angler, for a split second, will feel nothing at the end of the line, indicating a strike has occurred. Again, immediately set the hook with authority.

Tips – When fish are reacting to top water lures on lakes or rivers they can be deadly. Many times when local fishing reports indicate fish are hitting noisy top water hard baits and you try them with little or not results, switch to one of these two baits. Often fish will respond to noiseless top water while ignoring noisy baits.

When in doubt about what colors to use favor a white body with black, gray or blue top. When water depth gets over five to six feet in clear water response to these lures drops off dramatically with one exception. When fish are observed surface feeding in deep open water. These lures will attract strikes from virtually every game fish when used under the conditions suggested.

Surface Poppers

Examples – Though there are many more on the market, here are some examples of these lures. Rico, the Pop-R, the new Arbogast Blooper, the P.J. Pop from Luhr-Jensen and the Rattlin' Chug Bug from Storm

When – It is usually some time in mid-May that bass will begin to aggressively to strike surface lures. Topwater action will continue throughout the summer in the low light hours and then peak again during late fall, just before the fish head back down to winter time haunts.

Where – Locating good spots to employ poppers is as easy as checking a topographic map. Scan the lake or river for shallow flats, two to four feet deep, split by or nearby a creek channel. Once Iargemouths finish spawning they will drop back into these channels for a week or so, then hit flats, looking for food to help replenish stocks lost during the rigors of spawning and guarding the nest.

Optimum water temperatures will be in the upper sixties to upper seventies with largemouth ganging up in most shallow structure waiting to ambush prey. Weed lines, fallen trees, stumps and just plain creek channels are prime areas to connect with nice bass with surface poppers

How – A basic retrieve is to let the lure sit on the water after the cast until the ripples dissipate. Then with the rod tip pointed down, pull it up and make the lure pop while reeling it in a few feet. Repeat the process back to the boat. Beyond this basic but effective retrieve the pros employ innumerable modifications to suit their personal desires. Some will give it three successive pops before letting it rest momentarily. Others will retrieve it with a rapid series of non-stop popping. However, most pros agree that what color you select makes little difference. It’s a matter of experimenting with the cadence and rhythm of the retrieve that makes the difference.

Tips – Take one of your surface poppers and file down the lip. Experiment with it. By filing down the lip the normal popping sound changes more to a "shushing" noise. Many poppers come with bucktails on the end. Some pros like to tie/glue on feathers of different colors. Some pros like to sand the shine off the belly of the lure to dull it. They all get results from their modifications. Experiment with your own. Like any other fishing lure, poppers are fish catchers when used in the proper place under the right conditions.

Crankbaits

When – There are a vast number of different designs, sizes, shapes and colors on the market. In fact books have been written on their use. While they can be used all year around they are not generally a cold water lure. They are effective from spring through fall. The size of the lip is the key to what maximum depth they will run at which ranges from the surface down to 25 feet.

Where – Most anglers use crankbaits around visible and sunken structure, at the edge of weed, grass and pad lines and along drop-offs. They are perhaps one of the most versatile lures an angler has in his arsenal. Deep running crankbaits are often used while trolling around submerged structure, across points, sandbars and humps.

How – The inherent design of crankbaits makes them the user-friendliest lure any angler can fish with. However, it is often the cadence and rhythm of the retrieve that makes the difference between catching and not catching fish. One crankbait referred to as red fin for example, has a long slender body with three sets of hooks. A shallow runner using a very slow steady retrieve just enough to impart a wiggling action to the lure at the surface will attract strikes from stripers. The same lure retrieved using a series of short jerks and pauses will, on the other hand attract strikes from largemouth bass, while the striper will more than likely pass it up.

Tips – When using shallow or deep running crankbaits always cast beyond the target area. You need to give the lure time to reach its running depth. At times after the lure has reached its maximum depth try stopping the retrieve permitting the lure to float upward a short distance and then continue. Often this pause will attract a strike once the lure starts to move again. With crankbaits that have long lips, permit them to tick across the bottom. By striking bottom they appear to be feeding baitfish, kicking up small clouds of sediment. Crankbaits are also a good way to fish a large area of water of quickly. If you catch one fish on a crankbait in an area, consider switching to a different lure in the same area. Often this will result in taking several fish from the spot in quick order.

Jigging Spoon

When – The jigging spoon, such as the Hopkins or Silver Buddy are weighted spoons designed for vertical jigging and are used all year around. These lures will catch most any species of fish.

Where – Generally this class of lure is used to fish deep water and is often used to catch suspended fish over deep water. Fish it over deep-water structure such as humps, drop-offs, around bridge pilings and deep-water piers.

How – A critical factor is to always stay in touch with lure. As you permit it descend into the depths keep the line just taunt enough so that if a fish strikes on the fall you can detect the bite. Once the lure has hits bottom, raise it up a foot or two and commence vertical jigging. Vary the rate that you jig at from time to time. If you fail to attract a strike near the bottom, raise the lure another foot or so and repeat the process all the up to the surface. Pay attention because often a fish will strike the lure as it falls while jigging. If you locate a school of fish using electronics that are suspended a vertical jig is ideal for this situation. Remember however, that fish will readily strike a lure above them as opposed to one below them.

Tips – These lures are intended to imitate a baitfish, darting about frantically, think in those terms when working these lures. A fish will not hold onto these lures after the strike. Therefore the angler needs to concentrate on the task at hand, be sensitive to any change in "feel" while using the lure in order to catch fish.

Spinnerbait

When – Anytime from spring through fall is good for spinnerbaits.

Where – Use it anyplace you can without getting up in grass, weeds or pads and of course fish holding areas. Work it around docks, piers, bridges or any other structure about. Toss it to breaks in grass and weed lines or opening is a pad field.

How – You need to learn more about this remarkable fish catching lure. The "more" comes into play in learning what type blade design and colors work best under certain conditions. The simplest way to work these lures is to cast it out and simply retrieve it fast enough to set the blades in motion. You can begin the retrieve the second it hits the water and work it shallow or you can count down and work it at a desired depth. Once you’ve decided what depth you want to work at you may vary the retrieve speed or cadence. One variation is to get the lure working along for several feet and let it fall down several feet and begin the retrieve the again. Rolling a spinnerbait is often very effective.

Tips – Hold the lure in a horizontal position so that the blades are pointing down toward the hook. Make sure the blades are not making contact with the hook. If so, bend the wire upward to correct this condition. Some anglers like to bend the wire that holds the hook about one-quarter inch off to one side or the other. They do this because often a fish strikes the lure from the side and fails to get hooked. Another trick is bending the wire that the blades are on to the side. The lure will then run in an arc around pilings. Keep an extra supply of skirts in your tackle box so that you can change a worn one or to change skirt colors.

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