Artificial bait popularity has exploded in recent years
Artificial lures have been used ever since humans have been trying to catch fish. We don't need to carve out bone or hammer out bronze to make a lure anymore. The manufacturing of artificial baits for fishing brings out new inventors and new lures every year. It is hard to keep up with all the new innovations.
Some designs really help catch fish, and some are great at catching fishermen and may not be so great at catching fish. Sticking to some of the basics and long time proven artificial baits is the smart start. You can start to experiment with some of the new products, but buyers beware.
Bait shops don't survive well unless they have the right stuff on the shelf for what works in their area. Start with local bait shops when it comes to shopping for the selection of jigs, crank baits, spoons, spinners, and plastic baits that work on the lakes in the surrounding area.
Jigs are a great foundation to start with when it comes to artificial bait. Bucktail and marabou tail jigs have a long history of proven success and can be fished "as is", tipped with other artificial enhancers, or live bait. All other types of jigs can be tipped with other artificial baits such as plastic crawfish, twister tails, plastic worms, and swim baits.
Bass, northern pike, and musky fisherman have long known the effectiveness of using artificial baits for triggering fish to bite. The use of spinners and spoons started most of the young fishermen on the trail of getting hooked on the fishing game. They are still effective and now come in many colors, styles, sizes, and weights. Pay attention to the ones that are hard to keep in stock at the bait shop. Those are the ones you want, as other anglers have already figured out for you what is working best on the local lakes. Trout fishermen learn the importance of fly tying and the ability to match the hatch to fool their fish.
The explosion of popularity has happened in two areas over the last several years. The first area is the crank bait revolution. It can be overwhelming to walk down the isle of some of the outdoor stores and attempt to make sense of this huge boom in popularity. It takes some trial and error (and yes, some cash) to start to figure this crank bait game out. Some crank baits are better for casting and some are better for trolling. Sizes, colors, shape, action of the lure, bill types, floating, sinking, suspending, all make a difference and all have situations that they perform the best. They can only be mastered by learning about them with practice and experience (sometimes others' practice and experience combined with your own). The experience of others can be helpful in getting started with the effective use of crank baits. Read articles, ask questions, and practice to improve your success with these artificial baits. The latest edition of the publication of "Precision Trolling" can improve your learning curve.
The second area of recent growth in the artificial bait industry has been the plastic and scented baits. New companies have started, old ones have expanded, and many of them copy each other with slight variations to win over the buying public. Some of the original baits like the plastic worms and the twister tails still work and are still around. Now you can buy all the colors of the rainbow, multiple sizes, sent impregnated, and other variations to help you fool the fish. Companies have spent many dollars launching new products "that really, really work" or "works better than live bait." Some companies have even started a product line that is biodegradable. We have all been educated about the need to go green so this is a great idea for the current market. These baits do work, some way better that others, some work better when fished properly, some at certain times over others. This is going to continue to be a practice, practice, and practice with some of these baits to figure out the ones work consistently and in what situations.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)