How To Fish with Lures

The Tips & Tricks of The Trade

Lure fishing is uniquely one of the most exciting ways to catch fish, as it’s not so much about luck but knowledge of where the fish are and what type of fishing lure to use to convince them to bite. For those who have never lure fished before, lures are a great way to cover extra ground when searching for fish. They are also known as artificial baits, which come in a vast range of different colours, sizes, and materials. 

Having the knowledge of what lure should be used in what water conditions can play a huge role in either having a good day on the water or having a day with no luck. In this article, we will be showing you a variety of the most common and effective lures on the market, how to tie the lure to your line, and most importantly, how to catch fish with them! Unfortunately, 1 lure doesn’t work for all fish, so we are going to go in-depth about what lure should be used for which fish so you have the best chance when out of your next fishing trip. 

Picking a Lure 

Here in Australia, we are incredibly spoilt for choice when it comes to either Freshwater fish and Saltwater fish, and with that vast range of fish comes an even bigger range of lures to catch them with! Here, we will be running through the specifics of which lure to use for all different types of lure fishing, focusing on the different depths of water, the sizes and the weight of your lure, as well as what lure works best for the species of fish you’re chasing. 

By Depth:

Knowing the different types of lures for depth is crucial. Knowing the different types of lures (such as Surface, Sub-Surface and Deep Diving) can be the difference between a good and bad day. Choosing what type of lure to use is all based on the depth of the fish you are chasing, the time of year you’re chasing the fish and what lures will be the most effective for specific fish. For example, casting a 150g jig in the 3m deep river while chasing Tailor in summer compared to casting a diving blade in the 3m deep river while chasing Tailor in Winter would be a different story. 

Surface lures, also known as ‘Topwater Poppers’, are a fantastic lure for surface hunting predators, such as Bass, Bream, Giant Trevally, Saratoga etc., as they mimic an injured fish or insect. In most instances, surface lures are mainly used in the early morning or afternoon, which is when you would usually see fish hitting the surface. It is for this reason, you generally would have greater success with these lures in the Spring and Summer months. 

Sub-Surface lures are fantastic lures used to mimic an injured or fleeing baitfish and are designed to sit just under the water's surface. Sinking Sub-Surface lures are great to drop down and quickly retrieved from deep water. Floating Sub-Surface lures are great for the “Walking the Dog” action, luring in big fish with its smooth motion across the surface. 

Deep Diving lures, also known as “Crankbaits”, are the go-to lure when it comes to getting the bottom-dwelling fish. Deep diving lures are generally used for bass in the winter when fish are schooled up together in deeper waters or trolling behind a boat in the ocean. These lures are great for diving down to 5m+ for Mackerel, Kingfish and Mahi Mahi.

Most Common Classic Fishing Lures:

Spinnerbaits – 

Spinnerbaits are a classic lure used to attract the predatory fish with either their flashy skirt and spinner sequins at the front or the bullet-shaped lure with a singular sequin attached. Spinnerbaits initially emerged from the US Bass scene, where they are primarily a freshwater lure perfect for Sooty Grunters, Bass, Murray Cod, Perch etc. However, spinnerbaits can be used in the saltwater as well, perfect for targeting Flathead, Estuary Cod and at times, Mulloway. Spinnerbaits have been designed to avoid snags with their hook hidden in the skirt pointed upwards, which is perfect for getting into those snaggy areas where the fish hide. 

Crankbaits – 

Crankbaits, also known as ‘Plugs’ in America, are hard-bodied plastic lures that come in a range of different styles, such as deep diving, shallow diving, wobblers and sometimes minnow crankbaits. The size and shape of the bill on the crankbait are what differentiates the lures from being either deep diving or shallow diving. For example, a large downward pointing bill usually means the lures can dive quite deep, meaning it’s a deep diving crankbait, whereas if you have a short stubby downward pointing bill, it usually indicates it is a shallow diving crankbait. Most crankbaits can be trolled, with the deep diving crankbaits getting down to 5 metres of depth, which is excellent for bass in winter or any low-lying fish. 

Soft Plastic Lures – 

Soft plastic lures are some of the most versatile and favourable lures in the fishing game, with an endless variety in shapes, colours, and sizes, meaning there is a soft plastic for almost every fish. Being made from plastic allows the lure to have a more natural bait presence, with a life-like motion in the water, which attracts a lot more fish. Soft plastic lures are usually matched with weighted jig heads or weightless hooks, allowing the angler to adjust the lure to however they need. For example, if the fish is a bottom-dwelling fish, it would be ideal to put a weighted jig head on, so the soft plastic lure can get to the bottom.

Vibes and Blades – 

Blade and vibe fishing lures are great for catching Bream, Flathead, deep water Barra and other well-known Australian fish species. Blades & vibes are deadly on tropical estuarine species such as barramundi, mangrove jacks, queenfish and threadfin salmon. Small vibes work in drains and can lure juvenile barra one after the other. When cast to cruising threadfin, a small vibe can result in incredible catches of this beautiful fish. Vibing has been a go-to fishing technique in Australia for over 15 years, and it's one of the most widely used and effective techniques for many Australian species. Whether you are casting and rolling it back in or even trolling around 3-4 knots, these lures will get the job done.

Jigs – 

Large Metal Jigs
40g to 400g Deep water jigs are an excellent choice for fishing in open water with a fast-running current when you need to get the jig down to the bottom as vertical and quickly as possible. The colour patterns and styles are becoming endless. However, the longer streamlined knife patterns are a popular choice for their fluttering falling motion during the retrieve. This type of wounded baitfish action is irresistible to Yellowtail Kingfish and similar species, as well as many other favourite reef dwelling fish.

Small Metal Jigs
Small metal Jigs are like the larger jigs cousins, with their shape, colour patterns and action in the water. With the lighter weight, these jigs can also be cast at feeding fish or around rock ledges and worked back in a similar erratic action an injured baitfish would display. This style of jigging accounts for many excellent captures of Australian Salmon, Bass and Tailor each year.

Attaching the Lure

Attaching the lure with a knot:

Fishing with lures is all fun and games until you’ve lost your fourth $10 lure from not having a strong enough knot. Many people swear black and blue about some knots being the best and most robust, but we’re not going to be biased; we are going to tell you the strongest knots we think are out there in no order.

Loop Knot: 

The Loop Knot is one of the most favourable of knots in the fishing scene and is highly suggested for its strength and ability to let the lure move more freely, as the loop connection to a lure can give the lure a more natural action. Here are some tips on how to tie a Loop Knot:

  • Make an overhand knot in the line about 25cm from the end. Pass the tag end through the hook eye and back through the overhand knot loop.
  • Wrap the tag end around the standing part 4 or 5 times. Bring tag end back through overhand knot, entering from the same side it exited from before.
  • Moisten the knot, then pull slowly on the tag end to clinch the wraps loosely together. Then pull the loop and the standing line in opposite directions to seat the knot. Trim the tag end.

Improved Clinch Knot:

Many fishermen consider the clinch knot one of the best for fishing with lures. This knot is versatile enough for securing your line to a lure, swivel, or clip, but it retains up to 95% of the original line strength. The key to tying this popular fishing knot for lures is to make five turns of the tag end around the standing end before running the tag end back through the formed loop. Here are some tips on how to tie an Improved Clinch Knot:

  • Thread the line through the eye of the hook or lure, leaving about 15cms of line.
  • Leaving a small space between the line and the hook eye, twist the tag end around the standing line five times.
  • Pass the tag end back through the small space you made near the hook eye.
  • Then run the tag end back through the second loop you created in step 3.
  • Pull both the standing line and the tag end slowly away from the hook.
  • Moisten your lines with saliva or water
  • Pull only the standing line firmly away from the hook

Double Uni-Knot:

This knot is used by anglers in both salt and fresh water for joining lines of similar or different strengths. It works well, and some even find it easier to tie than the Blood Knot when tying in a braided line to mono or fluoro. Here’s some tips on how to tie a Double Uni Knot:

  • Overlap the ends of lines that are to be joined. Take the end of the line from the left and double back, making 3 to 4 wraps around both lines and through the formed loop. Pull the tag end to tighten
  • Repeat with the end of the line on the left, making the same number of wraps, unless tying with a braided line, in which you should double the number of wraps.
  • You have now tied two Uni knots. Pull the standing lines in opposite directions to slide the two knots together.
  • Clip ends close to the knot.

The Palomar Knot:

The Palomar Knot comes close to being a 100% knot when tied properly. Be sure that when the hook or lure is passed through the loop, all parts of the knot cinch together. Many depictions of this knot elsewhere make it look like the loop part of the knot goes up against the bottom of the eye of the hook or lure. The knot can fail if tied in that manner. This is also the best knot to use with a braided fishing line. Here are some tips on how to tie a Palomar Knot:

  • Double 15 cm of line and pass the end of the loop through the eye of the hook. Alternately, for small hook eyes, pass the end of the line through hook eye once, then double back and pass the end of the line through hook eye again from the opposite direction, leaving about fifteen centimetres of doubled line outside the hook eye. 
  • Tie a loose overhand knot with a hook hanging from the bottom.
  • Holding the overhand knot between the thumb and forefinger, pass a loop of line over the hook. Slide loop above the eye of the hook.
  • Pull on both the standing line and tag end to tighten the knot down onto the eye. Clip tag end closed.

Different Lure Fishing Techniques

When fishing with lures, hundreds of techniques are used for different types of lures. Today, we are going to run through the most popular techniques for every kind of lure and how to perfect the technique. 

Walk The Dog:

Anglers using topwater lures such as surface minnows, bent minnows, stickbaits or even some types of poppers use a technique called “Walking the Dog”. This technique is where the lure shakes its head back and forth when you lightly twitch the tip of your rod in a rhythmic manner on retrieval, causing a unique zig-zag gliding motion. This mimics a dying or injured baitfish on the surface. “Walking the Dog” can be performed with a constant retrieval or a “pause, retrieve, pause” motion. 

How to Perform “Walk the Dog”:

With small rod tip movements, after casting the lure out and letting it settle, impart some slack in the line between the lure and the rod tip and then twitch the rod tip. This will start the lure travelling forward. Then drop the rod tip back to the lure to give some slack in the line again. The lure will now begin to turn sideways and glide out and off to the side. The lure is now (hopefully) pointing away from the axis of retrieve.

When the slack forms in the line, (you may impart some of this yourself by moving the rod tip slightly towards the line and, therefore, the lure), you'll feel the reduction in tension, and that's when you twitch again. This time, the lure’s nose will be jerked back in the other direction, and the same rod and line control (to impart some slack in the line) will see the lure glide back at 180 degrees ‘side to side’. Each subsequent stab of the rod tip should be done on a slack line.

Trolling:

Trolling is a technique used to cover a lot of ground when fishing and can only be done in a boat or kayak, usually having more than one fishing line in the water using a lure mimicking a baitfish. Trolling is where you are constantly moving at a slow pace to match the swimming style of your lure. The lures used when trolling are typically Crankbaits, Trolling Slugs, Jerkbaits, or Big Game Trolling lures, which are used for big Tuna and Marlin. 

How to “Troll”:

Firstly, when trolling, it’s critical to know and understand the target species and where they are most likely to be found. If you’re chasing big a Flathead in a river or estuary, you’ll be targeting the gravel and weeds beds or the edges of the channel. But if you’re going for something bigger, such as the mighty Spanish Mackerel, you’ll be searching for reef drop-offs and big bait balls. 

When setting up a trolling spread, make sure to cover as much of the water as you possibly can for your best chance of success. In your spread, it is advised to have 3 different types of lures – Deep-diver, Medium-diver and a Shallow-diving or surface lure. This can all be adjusted to the species of fish targeted. When figuring out how fast to go, the trick is to have the lure next to the boat and alter speeds to see which speed allows the best swimming motion of the lure. 

Cast & Retrieve:

Cast and retrieve is one of the most common techniques used by anglers with many different motions and styles to work the lure on retrieval. The cast and retrieve technique is excellent for covering water, as it is almost a continuous motion, sometimes with small pauses & jerks. The speed of retrieval, the angle you hold your rod, and the lure's design all play a big part in the technique. The best way to figure out how to work the lure on retrieval is to give it a test swim/ cast in front of you to see how fast you must reel for the perfect swimming motion while also checking how quickly the lure dives.

How to Cast & Retrieve:

Cast and Retrieve is quite simple; find your target and cast. Remember, fish love structure or cover. After you’ve cast at your target and let the lure sink to the desired depth, begin your retrieval. While reeling in your lure, use the line and rod to help the lure mimic a swimming baitfish. You might want to vary the speed of your retrieval or the action of your rod to find what speed or action of the lure entices the fish to bite.

Lure Fishing Tips

Use Various Types of Lures:

When lure fishing, it is best to not just stick with one type of particular lure just because it’s been successful in the past. Take a variety of different types of lures, as fish can be pretty picky as they change their feeding behaviours constantly throughout the day and night. Having a wide range of lures gives you the best chance to hook up. You can watch thousands of YouTube videos to find the right lure but don’t be afraid to try something new as it could lead to something big!

Cover a Large Area: 

The great thing about lure fishing compared to bait fishing is the amount of water you’re able to cover. Instead of sitting and waiting for a bite, you’re searching for the fish, and that is exactly what entices many anglers. Walking along the shoreline is a great way to cover large amounts of water, allowing you to cast at an almost 180-degree angle. You could even try drifting in a boat, casting in the waters around you. 

Use the Right Gear: 

When lure fishing, it’s just as important to have the right gear for what species of fish you’re chasing. If you’re chasing smaller fish, for example, Bream, it is better to go with a lighter weight class rod (1-3kg) with a smaller reel (1000) accompanied by lightweight classed line & leader (3lb-6lb). However, if you’re after a big Spanish Mackerel, a heavier weight classed rod (6-15kg) and reel (4000+) followed by a heavy line & leader (40lb+) is a must! If you’re confused about what gear to use, think of how big the fish are, how toothy they are and if they are dirty fighters around the structure and choose your weight classes from there. 

Conclusion

Lure fishing is a fantastic way to begin to learn more about fish and their behaviours, finding out what fish go for certain types of lures and colours, learning more about feeding behaviours and moon cycles to figure out what fish are around and which lure is going to work the best for you in those conditions. Whether you’re a beginner or professional angler, that fantastic feeling of catching a fish on a lure never changes