6 Saltwater Lures to Try in Fresh Water

By Debbie Hanson

Aug 05, 2016

Have a freshwater fishing trip coming up, but want to use tackle that you already have? Read about saltwater lures you can use to catch freshwater fish here!

What should you do when you have a freshwater fishing trip planned, but quickly realize that your tackle box is primarily stocked with saltwater lures? The answer to this question is simpler than you might think. Just check to see if you have any fishing lures that can be transitioned over for use in freshwater because there are several lures and soft plastic baits that will work in either situation.

Saltwater Lures You Can Use for Freshwater Fishing

If you enjoy fishing for both saltwater and freshwater species, it makes sense to keep lures like these handy. In fact, if you want to get maximum versatility out of your lures, keep in mind that the hooks and split rings on saltwater lures are generally more durable than the ones used on freshwater lures because they are made from a stronger type of stainless steel or metal that won't rust as easily given continued use in saltwater environments.

Artificial Shrimp

Take a minute to think about it. Soft plastic artificial shrimp sure do resemble a crawfish, don't they? Try using artificial shrimp lures in root beer, chartreuse, copper, pink or red colors. Work the artificial shrimp just like you would any other type of freshwater soft plastic creature bait -- bet you'll catch a few nice largemouth bass if you do.

Gold Sp​oon

Red drum (redfish), snook and mackerel are just a few of the saltwater fish species that can be caught on a gold spoon. Spoons are easy to use and are a great saltwater to freshwater transitional lure. Try using a 1/4-ounce or 1/8-ounce weedless gold spoon when fishing in freshwater lakes or rivers for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass or northern pike. Gold spoons work particularly well when fishing for largemouth bass in Florida freshwater lakes where a golden shiner population is present.

Topwater Jerkbait

If you love "walking the dog" for saltwater fish like snook or spotted seatrout, try using those same topwater jerkbaits in 4.5 to 5-inch sizes for largemouth bass. The best time to use these saltwater lures when fishing freshwater spots will be early in the morning or in the evening, during low-light conditions.

Saltwater Spinnerbait

Saltwater spinnerbaits are not only extremely effective when fishing for redfish in states like Louisiana, Texas or Florida, but they can be used for catching largemouth bass in freshwater as well. Most saltwater spinnerbaits consist of a Colorado blade and soft plastic minnow bait in either 1/4-ounce or 1/8-ounce weights.

Bucktail Jig

If you use bucktail jigs for flounder, ladyfish, mackerel, and snook in saltwater situations; don't be reluctant to use them for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and walleye when freshwater fishing. A bucktail jig can just as easily mimic a freshwater baitfish as it can a saltwater baitfish or a shrimp.


Whether they are intended to imitate a saltwater scaled sardine or a freshwater shad, crankbaits can be extremely productive in both saltwater and freshwater fishing scenarios. Use your lipless crankbaits and deep-divers in colors like silver, white or firetiger (green and orange) when targeting largemouth bass.

If you tend to do more saltwater fishing than you do freshwater fishing, don't forget to make sure that your freshwater fishing license is current before you try these lures in a pond, lake, river or stream. You can purchase your fishing license and check the fishing regulations for your state online.

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.