Best Fishing Lures of All Time


Fishing ? Instructor!
Sitting here as I go through my last few orders of fishing gear has made me think what do you REALLY need all this different stuff for anyway? The novelty and hype of the next big thing and the newest shiniest bait on the market that everyone promises will make all your angling dreams a reality seems to be a common occurrence in the fishing industry, and they fill the tackle boxes of millions of anglers, young and old and have caught tens of thousands of fish. The senko, the whopper plopper, the chatterbait, the rat-l-trap and many others have become household names.

But what about the best fishing lures ever made? If you had to bet your life on your ability to catch fish on one lure at ANY given time, what would it be? What about the tried and true baits of yesterday that are all but forgotten? I have decided to compile a list of not only the best lures for bass or this or that species, but the greatest all time fishing lures period ever produced! If you've never caught a fish on an artificial bait, you're having a bad day on the water and need to hit the fishing tackle panic button, your life depends on your ability to catch dinner, or you're simply interested in the top picks of all the lures in the world, this is your list! Here they are, the baits that have proven themselves to be effective over several decades regardless of season, temperature, clarity, depth, or time! These 12 lures are some stone cold fish catching machines anytime, anywhere, under any conditions, in any part of the world.

#12) Crankbait
The wiggle and wobble of a diving plug is a world renowned method of catching fish. Everything eats them and they're easy to fish. Just throw it out and wind it in. Almost anything will eat one, provided you can get it deep enough to the fish to see it. Tiny panfish and trout crankbaits up to 40ft+ diving plugs for trolling offshore fish get bit. Among one of the more user friendly baits, these lures can be put in the hands of almost anyone, anywhere and they'll catch something on it.

#11) Jerkbait

Jerkbaits, both hard and soft catch fish after fish, though they are limited in diving depth most of the time. Being one of only a handful of lures that get reaction bites from inactive fish who really don't want to strike anything at all, this bait puts fish in the live well or in the ice chest when most others fail. The trade-off is the difficulty in mastering the technique. Great jerkbait fishermen are hard to come by. Both saltwater and freshwater fish will gladly have a crack at a hard or soft jerkbait almost any day.

#10) Clouser Minnow

This fly is the best streamer pattern ever tied. The brainchild of Bob Clouser, this pattern has taken hundreds of species all over the world and no self respecting fly fisherman doesn't have at least one. It's like an Adams or blue winged olive, or elk hair caddis fly. You simply have to have it! Legendary fly fisherman Lefty Kreh before his passing, caught over 87 species across the world on this fly. Really just a fly fisherman's bucktail jig, it is a staple addition to any fly box and a perfect starting point for any long rod fishermen looking to get into streamer patterns. In the same vein as the Clouser deep minnow, Lefty Kreh created his own legendary fly, Lefty's deceiver which caught several dozen species as well. And now we have the newer pattern where the two join forces in a pattern called the "half n' half". Literally half Clouser, half Deceiver....a new chapter has begun!

#9) Popper
The heart stopping excitement of a sudden explosion on the surface as a big fish grabs one of these surface plugs is one of the highlights of fishing. Just about every predator species will grab a popper. Tiny ultralight poppers and fly fishing "bream bugs" are a favorite of many anglers, and huge versions that weigh several ounces and some so big they can only be trolled for pelagic saltwater fish are all effective producers of exhilarating surface blow ups. Tuna and Marlin poppers, GT poppers, and even the humble rebel pop-r will get bit with the only limiting factor being fish activity and temperature. Otherwise, cast one out and prepare to be detonated!

#8) Spinnerbait/Safety Pin Spinner
Fished with or without a trailer, a spinnerbait is a lethal bait to have in the hands of an experienced angler. Not just limited to bass fishing, plenty of panfish, trout, saltwater fish and international species are taken on spinners annually. The flashing, vibrating, thump of a spinnerbait is irresistible to hundreds of species of fish.

#7) Plastic Worm
You'll never catch any bass fisherman without at least a few packages of his favorite plastic worm. Simply the best bass lure ever made. All the rigs in bass fishing stem from this lure. The original creme worms that used to come on a spinner harness were the first ones made and bass fishing hasn't been the same since. Carolina rig, Texas rig, flipping rig, drop shot, shaky head, wacky rig, neko rig, Damiki rig, tokyo rig, split shot rig, mojo rig etc, take your pick, rig up and catch some fish. Not only effective on bass species, many other fish have been caught on bass worms, even some saltwater species.

#6) Inline Spinner

Arguably the best lure ever for fishing moving water, the inline spinner such as a mepps, rooster tail or blue fox is a deadly lure for any stream, river or creek fisherman. Not limited to moving water, they've proven effective for decades on lake and pond fish too all over the world. Saltwater fish for whatever reason seem to prefer spoons to spinners however.

#5) Jigging Spoon
A slab of lead with a hook in it. Pretty much all it is, and yet such a deadly bait for all species. The limiting factors of being a snag prone lure and mostly having to be fished vertically put it lower on the list, but you'd have a hard time trying to find somewhere that a jigging spoon doesn't catch fish. Tiny 1/10 oz kastmaster spoons for bluegills to 6oz+ diamond spoons and speed jigging spoons for deep sea fishing and anywhere in between always have and will continue to take fish after fish

#4)Casting Spoon

Such a great baitfish imitation! Fresh and saltwater species alike love a good spoon. I'm sure if they came big enough you could even catch offshore pelagic fish on them. Troll them, cast them or jig them and they catch fish just about anywhere. The iconic red and white Daredevil spoon is a bait recognizable even to people who don't fish!

#3) Paddle Tail Swimbait
Any predatory fish will eat this lure. Right up there with the #2 bait in terms of sheer effectiveness! You just about can't beat it! Almost every manufacture that produces soft plastic baits has to have a swimbait. They just catch tons of fish. All over the world, big fish eat little fish and this is just one of the best imitations of a smaller prey fish ever made. Use it as a trailer, put it on a swimbait hook, put it in a jig head, it doesn't matter, it'll fill your freezer with fillets any time.

#2) Curly Tail Grub
Ever since Mister Twister lure company introduced the twister tail grub, this thing has racked up numbers of fish the world over. EVERYTHING eats this bait. You'd be hard pressed to find a lure that can out produce this bait on most days. Most don't fish them as a stand alone bait anymore and opt to use them for trailers on other baits but a plain lead head jig and a curly tail grub is one of the deadliest baits ever made. Freshwater and saltwater fish regardless of size or location will eat these on almost any given day. From 1 inch sizes for panfish to over 8 inches for saltwater species, they flat get bit

#1) Bucktail/Hair Jig

This is it. THIS is the single greatest fishing lure ever invented! The humble bucktail jig. Also being one of the oldest lures ever produced, A white bucktail is without question the deadliest fishing lure EVER. Doesn't have a water temperature it doesn't work at, doesn't have a water clarity it won't produce in, and ALL fish, predatory species, rough fish, saltwater, freshwater, bottom feeders and herbivores alike and even some baitfish will eat or show interest in a white hair jig.
Doesn't matter if you're fishing 90 degree water or through 18 inches of ice, subsurface to hundreds and even thousands of feet deep, these things will forever get bit! All you have to do is scale the size of the equipment and bait itself to the species. From Trout to Bluegill, Bass, Striper, Redfish, Tarpon, Tuna, Marlin, Muskie, Flounder, Snapper, Grouper, Perch, Salmon and anything else in between whether it be a Rooster fish in Costa Rica, a Masheer in India, a Barramundi in Australia, Arctic char in the north pacific, Taimen in Mongolia, or legit any other fish on earth period, odds are you can catch it with this lure anywhere, anytime.
Even fish that don't even eat 90% of other artificial baits like sheepshead or grass carp will attack a hair jig. It's simply a must have for any fisherman whether you're a day one weekend beginner or a die hard seasoned angler.

Different cultures all over the world have crafted and fished their own version of a hair jig for hundreds of years. It simply can't be beaten by any other lure. Go look up "best fishing lures for (insert species here)" and see if a jig doesn't come up, I'll wait.
What's better is there's no wrong way to fish this thing. Swim it, jig it, drag it, hop it, fish it under a float, deadstick it, even just throw it out and reel it in and it gets bites. You can use a plastic trailer and even tip it with live or dead bait to coax inactive fish that won't eat anything else into striking. So deadly is the hair jig that they're included in military survival kits. This bait is where most other baits got their start and it changed the pastime of fishing forever since it's inception hundreds of years ago. You can never say enough about the effectiveness of this bait, and it will forever be an absolute staple and has earned the #1 spot for greatest fishing lure EVER!


Staff member
I’m a plastic worm guy as well. Sizing and color adapted to the water.

Crank bait is a close second, consistently caught fish on them in a variety of water.

Thunder Head

Gone but not forgotten
Bass fishing?

When I used to bass fish. If all else fails. Id pull out the 2 hook floating rapala. I never caught a real big fish on it. But I could always catch fish on it.


Senior Member
1/4oz silver Little Cleo spoon. I've caught fish on them across the USA Salmon and Trout in Alaska all the way to Snook and Tarpon in Florida. I've caught fish everywhere in between on it and yes I really caught a small tarpon on one once but have had a ton of tarpon hits on them but they don't stay hooked up long or break the line.


The Recluse
Staff member
In freshwater, a couple from my youth, yellow Shyster, and a Johnson Silver Minnow.

In saltwater, again from my youth, a yellow bucktail jig, and a Seahawk.


The Recluse
Staff member
I remember you talking about a Dalton Special was one of your favs.

I still have several of the old ones. One I know is older than I am. Caught a nice shoal bass on it last year. Those and the Heddon Dying Flutter were some good topwaters.


Senior Member
mann's jelly worm....foot long....


Staff member
For a variety of species, if I had to pick just a handful of lures:

Mepps inline spinner.
Original floating Rapala.
Curly-tail grub on a jighead.
Rapala Ice Jig.
Hopkins Shorty 3/4 oz spoon.
Marabou or bucktail jig.