How to Choose the Best Fishing Tackle

Whether you are just learning how to fish or want to catch a few more fish, there are several things to consider when deciding on the type of fishing tackle you want to use

Walking into a tackle shop or even the fishing department of your local outdoor or sporting goods store can be an exciting experience when learning how to fish – new things and so many choices! You'll see that there are literally dozens of types of bait and lures to choose from. Meanwhile, your mind is buzzing with questions. What is fishing tackle? What kind of bait do I need? Should I purchase fishing lures? What on earth is a jig?

Whether you are just learning how to fish or want to catch a few more fish, there are several things to consider when deciding on the type of fishing tackle you want to use. The following chart lists the most common types of fishing tackle and lures used in freshwater (FW) and saltwater (SW) fishing. Please check first with your state to get more information about fishing rules and regulations.

Type of Tackle
  Examples What to Know FW SW
Natural Bait
  Clams and Mussels Allow the fishing tackle to harden slightly before use so that it stays on the hook. X X
  Crayfish Dead crawfish can be used to bait catfish and carp. X  
  Cut Fishing Bait Scaled, cut up fish can be used to bait fish attracted by scent. X X
  Dough Balls Can be made from scratch or purchased in prepared formulas. X X
  Grubs and Meal Worms Harvest from areas with dead vegetation or purchase from tackle shop. X  
  Insects Including, but not limited to: ants, bee moths, beetles, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, mayflies, stoneflies, and larvae. X  
  Leeches Leeches have suckers at both ends. Hook the larger tail end for best results. X  
  Live Bait Whole, live baitfish used to entice other larger prey, especially in deep sea venues.   X
  Minnows Hook the minnow upside down on a jig to ensure continuous movement. X  
Artificial Bait (Lures)
  Jigs As a general rule of thumb, use 1/8 ounce of weight for every 10 feet of water. X X
  Poppers One of the more difficult fishing lures to master; named for the way it pops as it is moved across the surface of the water. X X
  Plastics A form of surface (top water) bait, plastic analogs of popular bait include, but are not limited to: worms, lizards, mice, insects and injured fish. X X
  Plugs These fishing lures are designed to float on top of the water or just below the surface if weighted to allow “diving.” X X
Spinners and Spinner Fishing Bait  Used to bait predatory fish, these lures are designed with blades on one end to create both light and vibration. X X
  Spoons These metal-covered lures are designed to mimic small bait fish and should be used in water that light can penetrate to make them visible. X X

In addition to the types of fishing lures listed above, there are also a variety of artificial versions of organic fishing bait to choose from. From worms and crayfish to grasshoppers and minnows, you can usually find plastic forms of organic bait at most fishing tackle shops. At the other end of that spectrum are technological advances like vibrating lures, which use motors controlled by microprocessors to create sound-producing vibrations to attract fish.

So whether you want to go “old school” or embrace the latest technology, you should be able to easily find bait and other tackle for your fishing needs now that some of the mystery of the lingo has been revealed.


These are some of the things you will need for a successful day on the water. You just need a few supplies to get started. Follow along as Take Me Fishing walks you through the essential gear you will need for a fishing adventure. You'll find everything you need at your local sporting goods store or fishing tackle shop. While you're in the store, make sure to ask about a fishing license.


Visit our next section to learn more about Tackle Boxes and Fishing Tools.