There is a huge, often overwhelming selection of lure choices on the market. A freshwater lure guide will try to explain what lure(s) to choose and why. A good way to select freshwater lures is do some research and begin asking the right questions. Here are some examples.
What is your target species?
A common freshwater lure guide format is to group lures by species, such as bass, walleye, or trout. Although there is some lure crossover, for the most part, the best trout lures are not going to be the best lures for bass, and vice versa.
Where are you fishing?
Lake, river, or pond? This can affect the size, action, or depth that freshwater lures may need to reach. Is it rocky or weedy? This may influence if your lure has a single or set of treble hooks. How much fishing pressure or boat traffic is on this water? Anglers may need to consider lures that are more in the “finesse” category, such as drop shot rigs.
What are the conditions?
Much of learning how to freshwater fish is recognizing and adjusting to water and weather conditions that are continually changing. If the river is turbid from a recent rain event, fish vision is obscured so anglers may need lures with more vibration (ex. spinnerbait) or even sound (rattles). If the vegetation is thick, you may need to consider weedless rigs of soft plastics, or topwater lures. Windy days often seem to activate fish activity near the surface; calm, bright days may require a deeper lure presentation.
When are you fishing?
Some freshwater fishing lures can work all year but there does seem to be a shift seasonal to lure types. For example, the bite tends to be more “reaction” related in colder months than during warmer months when fish are actively feeding. Jerkbaits with long pauses, lipless crankbaits, or fluttering spoons can get reactions from sluggish, cold fish but it almost has to cross right in front of them. However in warmer months, many soft plastics will work if dropped on the bottom and not even moved at all because the fish are actively seeking prey.
A freshwater lure guide should help explain some of the “whys” for lure selection but much of lure selection comes from experience. Personal preference plays a part too, as many anglers eventually learn that they simply enjoy catching fish more with one specific lure type. Often, when you renew your fishing license, a fishing regulations booklet provides lure input or restrictions as well.