Buying Guide: Best Types of Fishing Lures Models and Features
When it comes to lures, everybody has a favorite. There really is no “best type”, or you would only ever see a single lure ever being cast, which isn’t the case. Some people swear that certain lures work better than others for all types of fish, and while some may work better on certain species, in many cases people just choose whichever one they fancy and stick with it. Why? Because who knows what lurks beneath? In fishing tournaments, you’ll see many variations, because the type of fish is not important.
However, if you are targeting specific species of fishes, what lure you use does make a difference. What makes the biggest difference though, is the presentation of that particular lure. The presentation is the way that you cast and reel in the lure, and can have a major influence on your success rate, regardless of the lure itself. That being said, here is a list of some of the best fishing lures and what species of fish they are designed to catch. Keep reading for more information on the various types and methods you can use to snag your fish.
Also, people who stick with a single lure will eventually get stuck in a rut, the truth is that you should be very versatile in your lure selection. Whether it be crankbait, crawdads, worms, or spoons, be sure to mix it up. Not just to maximize efficiency, but to keep yourself focused. However if you are asking me which is the best fishing lure, you can’t go wrong with the good old fashioned crankbait, and I always start and finish with it. However, there are a few real advantages and disadvantages to each lure depending on the kind of fish you are targeting, so pay attention. In the end though, like me, you’ll probably end up settling for whichever looks the coolest and then expand from there!
Types of Fishing Lures and their Presentation
The Spoon: Spoons get their name, as you would expect, from their origin. The very first spoon lures were actually kitchen utensils with the handle broken off, and Native Americans fished with this type of lure using mollusk shells as well. However, the spoon fishing lures which you see today vary greatly, coming in many different types of colors and sizes. The major benefit to this lure is that when it moves through the water, it simulates an injured baitfish, which are the meal of choice for gamefish.
Spoon Presentation: The style of presentation can actually vary quite a bit. Some spoons are designed to be trolled, some to be jigged, and some to be trolled. If you are a beginner, try purchasing the a casting spoon, as these are easy to use and are similar to spinners in their action. However, make sure that when you reel in the lure, you include some speed variations. Too much speed will make the lure spin instead of wobble, so a hair below that speed is what you are shooting for.
The Jigs: Even though I love my crankbait, jigs might be my favorite lure due to their versatility. Some people consider them to be the best fishing lure that you can buy. No matter what species of fish you are targeting, a jig can snag it, and they won’t cost you much to purchase either. They are distinguished due to their weighted lead head, and are dressed in just about everything, which gives it the appearance of a hoola dress or tail. This can include hair, plastics, or feathers.
Jig Presentation: Using a jig involves a ton of skill. Unlike other lures such as spinners, all of the action in the water comes from the way that you tug on the line. For experienced Jig fishermen, they may have their own way of tossing the jig, but what I like to do is cast it way out, and wait for it to hit the bottom. Perhaps this is why jigs cost so little, because most anglers are sure to lose the lure from snagging it on the bottom of the lake. You’ll know its touched the lakebed because the fishing line will begin to give some slack. Afterwards, begin tugging on the jig by yanking the rod up and slowly reeling it in, be mindful however, it can be difficult to detect the strike of the fish.
Flies: These are designed specifically for the fly fisherman, but some people will attach bubble floats to them. These fishing lures are very light weight, and are designed to resemble flies or other insects during various stages of their life span, although some flies resemble leaches, hoppers, or frogs. The construction of these lures is done using feathers, but can include fur and other newer materials such as foam and rubber.
Presentation of Flies: Flies are designed to act in two different ways. Dry flies have some type of floatation attached to them, and will sit just above the surface, resembling common insects. Wet flies such as streamers or nymphs you trail below the surface of the water. Fly fishing is the most difficult type of fishing that you can do.
Plasticworms/Soft Baits: Plastic bait can resemble a ton of different objects, but mostly forage critters that you find in the water. Some look like frogs, some look like crawdads, but most of them look like worms. They have scents and shiny bits implanted within them, and are created so that the fish swallows the lure for a longer period of time before they attempt to eject it from its mouth.
Softbait Presentation: These types of lures are mainly used to target bass, yet each fishing lure that you purchase in this style has a distinct presentation which you should stick to. The technique which me and most of my friends use, is a style called the Texas Rig. You create this rig by threading a bullet weight onto the fishing line, and just above the hook. Then you take the hook and pierce the top of your plasticbait (in this case use a worm), and thread the barb throughout the body, burying it deep and covering the entire hook. This creates a “weedless” lure, so you can cast it in areas of the lake or river which are holding areas for fish, without worry of getting it hooked on underwater foliage. The remaining part of the technique involves you twitching on the rod a few times after it hits the bottom of the lake bed.
The Spinner: Spinners are very easy to use, and I highly recommend them to beginners. Basically, they are just a small metal shift which spins around, and some variations include dresses. How spinners work, is as you pull them through the water, the metal spins, creating sounds and vibrations, which attract the fish. In water which is difficult to see such as murky water, this will give you an advantage over other fishing lures.
Spinner Presentation: Very simple to handle, all you really have to do is cast and retrieve. I vary the pace just to see if that makes a difference, but it doesn’t take much skill.
Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits: These look somewhat like spoons, and somewhat like jigs, but are neither and look a bit awkward. They consist of a safety pin-ish type wire which attaches to the head of the fishing lure, and then the rest of the body is then dressed. They also include one or more metallic blades, like those seen on your standard spinners.
Spinner/Buzz Presentation: There are a few methods when using this fishing lure, but the most common way to fish with this and the method which I use is called the “Chck-N-Wind”. Just cast your spinnerbait out, let it sink about 5 feet, and then retrieve it at a modest pace.
Lures versus Bait
There are many advantages to fishing with lures, as well as some disadvantages. When compared with just a bait and hook, I personally just like being cleaner, but I find that lures tend to be more effective as well. I know a few people who are quite successful, who use nothing but bait however, so it is really your choice.
Advantages: First off, lures are a lot less messy. No dead animal, nothing gooey, you can stay cleaner which is a must for me. Lures are also larger than your standard bait and hook, which decreases the chance of “gut hooking” your fish. Gut hooking is when the fish completely swallows the hook.
With lures, you can also zing it out further to cover more water, no matter where you are standing, and they allow you to target specific species of fish. Finally, they are just really simple to use, you can adjust lures and change them out easily.
Disadvantages: Disadvantages all comes down to money. Lures can be quite expensive when first purchased. You will probably save money in the long run if you can keep them longer, but some of the more expensive lures can cost you an arm and a leg. Remember, the best fishing lure available isn’t going to guarantee you a catch. You also risk having your line snag on a branch or somewhere else in the water, or your line may snap due to a poor rod choice. The costs can add up.
Information Guide: How to Read a Fish Finder
I love fish finders, and if you read my short tale as to how life was before finders, you’ll realize that I’d simply be lost today without mine. However, like I mentioned here as well, there are many obstacles that come with the added convenience and additional tech of these units, not to mention a decent sized learning curve. Simply put, if you’ve never had a chance to use one of these before, and you expect to just jump out on the water and catch hordes of fish, your in for a bit of a shock.
Over the years, companies such as Lowrance and Humminbird have gone through great lengths to make the interface of these devices easier to handle and navigate, but there will always have to be a balance between features and ease of use. The fish finders which do the best job, also are the most complicated to use. So to make your life easier, here is a detailed article as to how to read your display and what the different varieties of models include in each of their interfaces. Keep in mind that literally every single model on the market has a different interface which requires you to read the manual, and this is just a general guide.
Side Imaging/Down Imaging Finders with High Frequency
There is quite a bit of information that you can acquire with the best units on the market, they don’t just point you in the direction of the fishies, and some of this information is vital to us anglers. This includes information of little importance, such as temperature, to how deep the water is. Some of these new models will even do the interpretation for you and show you a symbol of a fish on the screen so there is no guesswork involved.
These high frequency models, produce excellent imaging of what lies directly beneath, and to the side of the boat or kayak, although be sure to keep in mind the variation between some transducers which can accurately track deeper waters, versus transducers which don’t. In addition, when looking at a fish finder, you’ll need to understand side imaging versus down imaging. Down imaging gives you an overlay of what lies directly beneath the vessel, where as side imaging will display SONAR images of the water directly to the side which the transducer points Most of the best units today show 360 degree side imaging.
Take a look at this image here to the right, this is what a typical advanced unit will look like with 360 degree imaging. Yeah, these aren’t really 360 degree imaging, but I’ve seen them touted as such. Notice that it shows four different screens, along with the corresponding depth and SONAR imaging. In the top left corner gives the most pertinent information, your vessel is 28 feet above the water floor, and there is an additional 10 foot increment just to show you where the fish or debris are located on the far right. On the left side of the screen is the left side of the boat, on the right side is the right side of the boat. Also notice the “120” on the picture, this indicates how wide the side imaging of the transducer picks up, and the bottom image gives you a display.
The second type of unit that you can purchase, are displays which give you simple down imaging readings, or side image readings. These units are usually much cheaper, as some people find having both displays unnecessary, as they do a specific kind of fishing. For instance, if you plan on jigging, you’ll want a side imaging fish finder. If you plan on dropping your line directly underneath, you won’t care so much for directly underneath your vessel. To the left is what a screen from one of these units will look like.
This is a very nifty display, it does the hard of interpreting the SONAR and displaying the information on the screen. You’ll notice it also shows you the size of the fish. In the center top, is the location of the kayak or boat, to help the angler decide in which direction he should cast.
Lowrance Elite 5 DSI Fish Finder Review
One of the most popular of all the fish finders on the market today is the Lowrance Elite 5 DSI (DownScale imaging). Lowrance is one of the premiere producers of finders on the market today, and this particular unit features several attributes that small fishing vessels such as kayaks can utilize, and make anglers such as myself giddy.
Like almost all of their products, Lowrance equips the Elite 5 with their state of the art Navionics Cartography navigation system, making this a GPS combo that you can take with you to just about any back water or large lake in the country, without fear of getting lost. Its software is always updated, and it has an internal GPS antenna that provides a compact and accurate read of your location. The imaging itself is colored and very clear, with a 480×480 resolution, making the tracking of fish very easy.
Navigation: The Elite 5 DSI features a chartplotter and an extremely accurate GPS navigational system, with an internal antenna which saves space on small vessels such as kayaks.
Imaging: Downscan imaging provides a photo like display of fish and water debris underneath the boat. The imaging has a 4,000 W peak to peak power supply with a high frequency (455/800kHz) transducer signal. This is a state of the art device which provides some of the best looking underwater imaging on the market.
Display: The screen display gives all of the important information, such as depth and temperature, as well as boat speed. Its 480×480 resolution provides high definition viewing, and although it has a small display panel at 5″, this is perfect for kayaks where you need the additional moving room.
Positives of the Model
The presets are fairly easy to set up so if you’re looking for simplicity, this is one of the best fish finders for that.. The on board system itself has a memory system which allows you to save coordinates and “fishing spots” on the map, although this is an upgradable feature. Also, despite the pricey tag that comes with this model, for all the out of the box features it provides, it is still fairly cheap compared to several other similar GPS combo units on the market.
The imaging and underwater display is simply marvelous, and unlike any fish finder on the market. Its unique in that it is more like an underwater camera than a tracker, and is more of a device to help you find a fishing spot and locate targets.
The GPS system is very interactive, you can use it to mark way points or setup future projected fishing locations. There are simply a ton of options and you can tinker around with it all day and customize the viewing, color of the imaging, or the frequency of the scan.
Cons of the Model
The manual which comes with this Lowrance unit is very poor, and your going to be left doing a lot of guess work trying to get everything to stick just right. For instance, trying to find the color settings can leave you wondering if it is even worth the trouble, as there are only two presets. What compounds this issue is the vast number of options! Its kind of like piloting a 747 for the first time and the co-pilot gives you some basic steps to keep the plane in the air.
Another issue with this model, are the frequent burn outs. The imaging and detail are great, and it has a lot of power behind it, but several people have reported blowing fuses because they haven’t properly compensated for the tremendous amount of power in the unit by using a better supply.
Know what you are getting when you purchase this unit, and you might end up enjoying this purchase. Its fairly cheap for a GPS/fish finder combo considering all of the features that you get with it, and it provides the best looking down imaging in the business. However, I personally don’t really care if I can make out the types of fish below my kayak when I’m fishing, I just want to know that they are there. In addition, the system has had so many bugs that Lowrance has had to do more than one recall on the Elite 5, so I’d stay away for now. If you liked this review and want to learn more, check out our main guide here.
Humminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy Review
Like Lowrance and Garmin, Humminbird (not hummingbird) is an extremely popular brand of fish finder that many people have grown to love over the years. What separates them apart from other brands isn’t so much cutting edge technology or uniqueness, or that they are durable. They are on the market primarily for one reason only, they are able to produce the most affordable tracking devices on the market, and nothing speaks for them as loudly in this regard, as the Humminbird 110 Fishin Buddy.
This has been discontinued by the manufacturer Humminbird.
The Fishin’ Buddy stands out for one reason only its extremely affordable price, which allows just about anybody with a motorized water vessel to track fish. The set up is very basic, and definitely isn’t going to blow away anybody with features, however another feature which can serve as both a perk and a detraction is that the transducer is part of the display and goes directly underneath the boat at a 180 degree angle, somewhat limiting where it can be placed, but also taking a lot of the setup out of the installation process. The clamp can be adjusted and placed just about anywhere on the boat itself, however, keep in mind that just like a portable fish finder this means the unit is at risk of falling into the water.
Display: The Fishin’ Buddy have a bare bones 4 inch monochrome display. You can get it in color or gray scale with no price difference. In terms of the quality of the display, its surprisingly good, and you should be able to make out clear pictures using either of the color modes.
Performance: The 24″ transducer can grab signals in as deep as 240 feet. It also includes a temperature reading, although the battery life is pretty short at only 30 hours of operative use. The power used is from AA batteries. Does not Come with a GPS. It is a Portable Model.
Positives About This Model
In a word, PRICE! A lot of people obsess over their fish finders like a movie connoisseur might obsess over the tiniest details of their product, and many an angler will get caught up in having the best products on the market. You don’t really need all of that though in most cases, for instance, if your just renting a boat, this works perfectly fine. Or if you can’t afford a 900 dollar unit, this works great, and should cost less than 150 bucks.
The performance is surprisingly good, all things being relative. You can make out the fish with the down imaging very clearly, and despite the short battery life, the signal rarely waivers. Aside from the performance, you can simply clasp or de-clasp this unit, very easily, not set up required. Fishing novices who don’t want to handle custom installation will love that feature.
A portable unit, yet very light and durable.
Negatives About This Model
This is a stand alone model, and does not include a GPS, which should go without saying with the insane price point. If for whatever reason you are going to need a GPS system to navigate waterways, you should probably try and find a combo for a bit more of an expensive price.
While the installation is simple and easy, you definitely run the risk of accidentally dropping this unit in the water, every time you take it off. The 180 degree transducer also severely limits where you can actually place this fish finder in your boat. For example, if your a kayaker and like to have your tracker directly in front of you, your out of luck. Another issue with clasps, is if your using a trolling motor or something that causes a lot of vibration, the wobbling of the Fishin’ Buddy can cause damage to your vessel, or the unit itself.
The Himminbird 110 Fishin’ Buddy fills a very specific niche, but a very popular niche, and that is for sporadic anglers on a thin budget. Its incredibly cheap for sonar technology, and it provides acceptable imaging that should allow you to find all types of fish, from trout to bass to catfish. It doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of the more expensive GPS units, and like all portable models, you have to weight the good(mobility), with the bad (lack of control). Overall, if your new to angling or only do light fishing, this may be a winner. If you liked this review and wish to learn more about finders, check out our main guide.
Buying Guide: Best Fish Finder Models and Features
When I was growing up, we did all of our fishing the old fashioned way. As a young girl, I fished from the shore with my mom, but even after my dad started bringing me out on the boat, we didn’t have anything fancy like a fish finder. We had our “spots”, and sometimes we just took turns guessing where to fish. It was actually pretty fun. Oh my how things have changed though. Today, EVERYBODY has a fish finder. Even on fishing kayaks! I own a portable one and it’s almost exactly like my cell phone, I can’t leave home without it.
Fish finders range considerably in both price, versatility, and effectiveness. Most of the cheaper kind just measure the small area beneath the boat, but some will even go as far as to create a 3D lake map, or integrate with other electronics such as autopilots and downriggers. The information that these display through their sonar system is vital to where you choose to fish on any given day, as schools of fish tend to migrate depending on a plethora of reasons. You can’t predict it, you just trust the instruments.
The best fish finders today are produced by three major marine electronics companies. Garmin is the most well known, but following in the distance are Humminbird and Lowrance, who have built up huge brand awareness over the years and have a large and fanatical consumer base. Having said that, every fish finder or gps combo system is different, and some units will fill your needs more than others, so I recommend that take your time and read through our reviews and recommendations. Here is a list of the best fish finders on the market, and a list of attributes you should look at in order to make a good purchase.
Stand Alone vs. Networked System vs. GPS Combo
Before you can even begin looking at the models that are available to purchase, you have to decide what exactly your needs are. Well, for most of us anyways who aren’t loaded with money, getting the most value out of every purchase is important to us, but beyond the bottom line, each model has advantages and disadvantages that you have to consider.
Networked Solution: If your finder is network compatible, then you are serious about your fishing. A network fish finder integrates all of the electronics on your kayak or boating system together so that they can speak to each other. This includes your GPS, sonar, radio, video, and if you have digital fuel flow gauges. These can be quite expensive, but they are also relatively convenient as well since you can download apps directly to your phone which control the entire setup, and there is always room to expand.
GPS Combo: You can’t beat this option in terms of value, and this is by far the most popular option amongst yakanglers. With this, you save a bit of cash as both units are integrated together, and you can view either the GPS and your fish on the screen at the same time, or the sonar imaging if you are stationary. These do everything you could possibly ask from fishing electronics, and will get you home safely and identify wrecks to boot. This is the best option if you have a lot of waterway to navigate but you still want to track.
Standalone Sonar: If you are only looking to fish in a lake or are quite familiar with an area, and don’t need a GPS system, this is what you are looking for. Stand alone systems are the cheapest by far, although many fellow anglers replace these as soon as a newer model comes out. My recommendation is to purchase a model that allows you to expand down the road, and add a GPS receiver if you plan on traversing some waterways in the future.
Understanding Transmit Power and Frequency and How Much Should You Have?
Frequency of the Sonar: One of the most important steps that you must take when purchasing your fish finder, is to match the transducer to your application. There are tons of models today that integrate everything from side imaging to down imaging, it’s sometimes hard to understand which is being utilized. Most signals will either give off a 83 kilohertz or 50 kilohertz beam(the signal) and a 200 kilohertz shallow beam. Your transducer will either be 200 kilohertz, or a 50/200 kilohertz combo, and if you are going fishing in deeper waters, you need the combo to see the imaging better.
As it pertains to down and side imaging, the signal utilized is different. Make sure that the transducer that you are purchasing is applicable to the signal(it should be labeled on the model), or else you are making a poor purchase.
Signal Power: The power output of the model has a direct impact on the signal strength that is returned to the transducer, and is the single most important quality when it comes to tracking fish. The power is given in two different formats, RMS which is the maximum wattage that the model can consistently give off, and the (PTP)Peak to Peak measurement, which is necessary for deeper navigation. As a rule, look for an RMS of at least 250 Watts of power with 3000 Watts of power if you plan on fishing in deeper lakes.
What Kind of Display Should You Purchase?
Pixels and Clarity: The very first fish finding units ever created were awkward, hard to read contraptions that frustrated the heck out of everyone. Who knew if that was a fish, or some dead branch submerged under the water? Today, the clarity has improved immensely, just like how your LCD television. Screens are made up of pixels, which are tiny dots which display variations in colors to form an image. The more pixels, generally, the clearer and more defined the image is. A simple recommendation is that you purchase a display which is at least 480 vertical by 480 horizontal, and if your display offers split screen, at least 640 pixels towards the direction of the split. The more expensive, better models are over 720 pixels and are high definition, giving anglers a huge advantage.
Colored versus Gray Scale: This is going to come down to value in terms of making a decision. You can get by with gray scaled systems, however, colored finders offer superior clarity and it is much easier to see the fish. On the other hand, the difference in price might be too steep for some.
Screen Size: The last feature which directly impacts the performance of the model is the size of the display. Just like television sizes, most guys go straight for the biggest model on the block, but that isn’t always the best value decision, but it is however a major factor. 4”-6” models are pretty standard and I suggest that you go with one that size if your plan on installing it permanently(portable models will have smaller displays typically). The size of your display with have a huge impact on the quality of picture that you see, I only advise that they be water proof and you take precautions as too large of a display can be cumbersome and you could have an accident if not careful with your installation.
Other Options to Consider
Down Imaging: Each system will offer varying degrees of quality in terms of its down imaging versus side imaging, because they require different signal frequencies. Down imaging uses a high frequency sonar feature which transmits a signal directly beneath the boat. This allows you to see fish at 180 degrees, if you like to fish near your boat.
Side Imaging: Side imaging allows for an extremely wide, high resolution view of the area around your boat, and is a newer feature in most fish finders. Through the use of a high frequency transducer, they are able to take in a higher array of sound and pick up the higher frequency signals of the sonar. The resulting imaging will show almost directly underneath the boat/kayak, plus the area towards the port side. In your quest to find the best fish finder, its very likely that you will end up choosing one that has side imaging as opposed to down imaging.