Understanding Artificial Lures and How to Use Them

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Artificial lures are some of the most trustworthy ways to fish for any species in a waterway!

Unlike live bait, artificial lures can be reused and purchased beforehand.

artificial lures for fishing
These crank can be effective on the water in the right hands. Source: Rik Ruff

In this article, I am going to cover some of the considerations you should think about before buying your next batch of lures. This might help you find the best artificial lure for your next outing!

Recommended Artificial Lures

  • Artificial Shrimp Lures: Wanby Artificial Silicone Soft Bait Set
  • Best Artificial Lures for Snook: Spro Bucktail Jig
  • Artificial Lures for Trout: Tailored Tackle Trout Fishing Kit

What Are Artificial Lures?

Artificial lures come in a variety of designs, shapes, materials, and colors.

These lures are all attempting to match the natural forage of any species you are targeting.

These lures can be used in any method of fishing you can think of. Especially if the fish you are targeting happens to be feeding hard on the forage you are representing.

The colors can vary when it comes to specific lures, they can range from very natural to some of the wildest color combinations you can think of.

Lures Mimicking Live Bait

Lures tend to mimic forage such as minnows, crawfish, shrimp, squid, crabs, worms, bugs, frogs, and even small turtles!

These lures can be made out of wood, which tends to float which would be good for a topwater style bait but also works very well with a bill attached to the front. This makes the lure go deeper as you retrieve.

Plastic is also a very good material for hard artificial baits which tend to float as well but are easier to add some weight in order to make them sink.

What is Plastisol?

Plastisol is the key ingredient to your soft baits.

This material comes as a very thin white liquid and once heated to the specified temperature it turns clear and is shaped in molds to the specific shape you are attempting to make.

Plastisol turns into a solid once cooled but keeps its clear pigment unless a colorant dye is added.

What Kinds of Fish Can You Catch with Artificial Lures?

There are TONS of different sized, shaped, and rigging methods for lures which adds a very heavy amount of versatility to the many names of fishing lures.

Artificial Shrimp Lures

With artificial shrimp lures, you can catch almost any inshore and offshore saltwater fish. Most times, the bigger the lure the bigger the fish you will catch!

These shrimp lures will catch anything from Red Drum (AKA Red Fish.) to Snook.

Shrimp are widespread bait that almost everything that eats. Artificial squid lures are another great choice for offshore saltwater fishing!

These lures have been known to even catch Marlin and sailfish!

Freshwater Lures

Artificial crawfish lures are some of the best baits to catch freshwater bass.

These lures tend to work better when worked a lot more slowly and will almost always produce bass no matter where you throw them!

Now when it comes to fishing with artificial worms, there are hundreds of different styles and sizes which will attract most anything and everything in the immediate area.

best artificial lures for bass
Luke catching this beautiful bass! Source: Luke Pickard

Bass, crappie, and bluegill are very easy to catch with artificial worms.

Most of the time it is just a simple cast out and on the drop, the fish will engulf the worm.

The best bluegill artificial lures are the small 1-2 inch soft plastic bug lures.

Bluegill will go crazy for soft plastic bugs, they absolutely engulf them.

Artificial frog lures are specifically designed to target large bass, these lures work great for this and will more often than not catch the biggest fish in the area you are fishing.


Now that we are on minnow/fish lures, this is a very large subject.

There are a very high number of different kinds of lures when it comes to presenting a minnow or fish to your target.

There are paddle tail swimbaits, straight tail flukes, forked tail flukes, curly tail minnows, and many other varieties when soft plastics are involved.

Hard Baits

For hard baits, you have jerk baits, crankbaits, poppers, wake baits, swimbaits, glide baits, and many many other types of hard baits.

If you are throwing a minnow imitating lures, you will catch anything and everything that eats minnows or other fish normally.

Minnow imitations are the most versatile methods to fish due to the fact that everything worth catching eats smaller fish!

Another method for fishing with lures are spinner lures, whether it be spinnerbaits, inline spinners, or spoons.

These lures flash and vibrate, causing the predatory fish to want to strike thinking they have injured baitfish.

Spinner lures are the best trout artificial lures.

How to Fish with Artificial Lures

There are many different methods to fish with artificial lures, ranging from dragging on the bottom to straight retrieving.

Let us begin with straight retrieve baits, this method is very simple and anyone can catch fish on them.

With spinnerbaits, inline spinners, spoons, crankbaits, paddle tails, wakebaits, and many more types of lures, all you have to do is a simple retrieve,

These baits rely on a predatory fish either feeding on baitfish or a reaction strike, both very effective situations for triggering a fish to attack.

Fishing Plastic Lures

Most of your soft plastic lures that are not minnow presentations have got to be worked at a slower presentation.

Whether you are dragging or hopping your lures on a jig, or pitching your lure into a section of cover relying on the fish to hit on the fall.

Use this method with bugs, crayfish, shrimp, worms, and other creature-type baits.

They can be rigged in many different ways. Try them with Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, shaky heads, jigs, as well as smaller plastics rigged with small jig heads.


Q: Are artificial lures better than live bait?

A: In some cases, yes. There are times when the live bait you may need is not available. Another reason artificial lures can produce better results than live bait is the action they produce by the angler.

Q: Are artificial lures expensive?

A: In most cases, no. Many artificial baits are comparable in price to live baits. This is especially true in the case of soft plastics.

Q: Are artificial lures biodegradable?

A: It all depends on what material they are made from. If they are made from plastic then they will break down over time but will take ages to fully break down. You can, however, purchase lures that biodegrade naturally and rapidly.

Insider Advice

Fishing with artificial lures has its benefits.

  • No need to worry about keeping bait alive
  • Finding live bait
  • Paying a hefty price at the bait dock

Using these lures instead of live bait can be very challenging compared to live bait. However, it can also be one of the best ways to catch some of the bigger fish!

With so many brands of artificial lures on the market, it is up to you to try several to see what works best for you and the area and type of fish you are going after.

I hope this article has helped you decide to take another look at artificial lures vs live bait. Let us know what your favorite artificial lure is.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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