During our fishing life, we will most likely never find a truly complete answer. In reality, there is no one Best Bait and Lure. There are so many factors that can determine the success of your choice, it is nearly impossible to select one and claim it is the best!
Luckily, there is a certain selection of both baits and lures that, generally speaking, will make a difference. Some lure types will produce consistently better results for certain fish species than other lures, and some baits will also give you a big advantage in targeting predatory fish species compared to other available baits.
During my fishing years, I have amassed insane amounts of lures and tried all baits available. As a result, 99% of my lures stay in my boxes, and only 1% go with me. The same situation with baits!
The question each and every angler will keep asking himself; So, What are the Best Bait or Lure to use?
Through numerous fishing sessions, I have managed to find what Baits and Lures are actually needed to catch a certain fish species in ”normal” fishing conditions. Let’s go through these and I will share this experience in the following article.
Fishing for Perch
Targeting these stripey predators can be a great source of fun! But if your lure/bait selection is not specifically made for perch, results may be far from good.
Best Lures for Perch
Without any further discussion, the best lure for perch fishing is a small silicone grub on a jig head.
Why? Simply because this is an absolute all-around lure you can use in any type of water! Furthermore, by adjusting the jig weight you can fish in 5 cm of water or in 20 m of depth.
Grubs have a relatively tight vibration that successfully mimics both small baitfish and other creatures the perch will perceive as food such as worms or crustaceans. They are also available in a huge variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and even scents! You can buy a whole pack for a small amount of money compared to buying a crankbait, for example.
The ideal size depends on the fish you are anticipating. For ultralight gear, when finesse fishing then 25 – 50 mm grubs are a perfect choice for a whole day of fun with perch of all sizes. When going for bigger perch, especially in rivers, don’t be shy about size. Even 75 mm’ grubs will be engulfed by a 20 cm perch without any problem, and 100 mm is a perfect size for catching the big perch.
Best Baits for Perch
An earthworm is considered to be the Holy Grail of perch fishing. It does not matter if you are targeting 10 cm perch or 50 cm perch, they will both take earthworms without even thinking about it!
The downside of using earthworms is their popularity among other fish species. Everything eats earthworms! Although perch tend to be first to take it due to their aggressive instincts, sometimes other fish will make this very hard.
Using Bitterling is a great substitute for earthworms, as this small fish is the favorite prey of perch. It is a lot harder to get them, but having live bitterlings in your bait bucket is a guarantee of a good perch fishing trip!
This aggressive predator is known for attacking anything that moves in the water. But when it comes to fishing for them, it is good to know what will trigger their killing instincts!
Best Lures for Pike
If you are just starting with pike fishing, you have probably encountered a confusing wall full of lures in your local tackle shop. Do not waste your time and money on expensive, colorful lures! For your first fishing steps, you only need metal lures.
The first lure you need to have is a spinner. Mepps makes the most famous and the most effective spinners available. I strongly suggest the Mepps Aglia in sizes from #3 – #5, this is a guarantee of having a strike in water inhabiting pikes.
There are a lot of other spinners available in the market, and most of them will catch pike! When selecting your lures, keep in mind that pike love eating large prey. Even the biggest size 5 spinner will get attacked by a 45 cm pike, so it is better to go with the larger ones!
Besides spinners, spoons are also the ultimate pike weapon. They cover all water layers and can be retrieved in various ways. Classics like Dam Effzet were catching pikes before most modern lures even existed, and will keep landing them as long as they are on the market!
A good-sized live baitfish on the simple paternoster float rig will produce pikes in any water imaginable! Roach is a universal choice, with rudd being the other.
When choosing your bait, do not be afraid of fishing with good-sized fish. Small bait will attract small pikes, while a 100 g roach will get eaten both by a 1 kg pike and a 10 kg pike!
Besides roach and rudd, some people love using crucian carp, chubs, or even perch. Which species that you choose depends on the baitfish population of the water you are fishing in – always use a baitfish that is most abundant in the water that you are fishing!
Finicky zander can give a headache even to the most experienced anglers. He will ignore your whole lure box, and make fun of your baits! But there are always some favorites that will give you good chances of landing a Zander!
Best Lures for Zander
Zander is a close relative of perch, and will therefore keenly attack the same type of lures. This means grubs!
Jigging along the bottom is the technique to go, as zanders are almost always at the bottom. Grubs on jig heads are perfect for jigging! They are very easy to fish with. Grubs on jig heads are available in numerous models designed especially for zander, and with various jig head weights, you can cover a lot of depths.
Although people often use small baits for zander, in my experience everything under 3” is too small for normal fish. 4” to 6” are the sizes I personally use! Kalin’s Mogambo is a excellent and proven grub that will catch zander.
Besides grubs, zander is also a sucker for silicone shads. Especially the modern shads made from plastisols, such as Keitech Easy Shiner or the Pontoon21 Awaruna.
The key to success behind these lures is their incredible softness, which gives them very tight action. This enables them to work well even at the slowest retrieving speed. Apart from jigging, you can use them as swimbaits for mid-water presentation during the night!
There is a general lure saying zander loves bright colors. And indeed, color patterns such as chartreuse are all-time favorites for zander fishing!
Best Baits For Zander
Zander is a predator, no doubt about that. But when it comes to bait fishing, experience shows that dead bait is far more effective than live bait!
Zander usually preys on bleak. (a small silver fish) The bleak is abundant in rivers and lakes. The bleaks small size makes them the perfect flashy silver sides also is why the zander is highly attracted to them. Instead of casting a live bleak, a better option is to cast a bleak fillet or just the tail section.
Being an opportunistic scavenger, zander will rarely resist such temptation.
Fishing for Catfish
This night predator relies almost solely on his strong sense of smell and movement when hunting. Therefore, we must find a way to provoke those senses if we want to land a catfish!
Best Lures For Catfish
Big and loud! These are the factors you need to consider when fishing for catfish.
There are a lot of dedicated catfish lures on the market, and they all share some characteristics. They are either designed to move a lot of water or to be very loud. Or both!
This means big spoons, big soft baits, and big wobblers.
Spoons are my favorite as they can be cast much further and also can be fished from top to bottom. The Dam Double Effzet spoon combines a very strong vibration with lots of noise!
Softbaits are produced as grubs and shads and are great versatile lures capable of covering all water layers, depending on the jighead weight. They can be enhanced by adding rattle chambers. The downside of big soft baits is their weight.
Finally, wobblers. They often combine heavy rattle with strong vibration, especially in the crankbait category – which is also my favorite for catfish! The downside is that they often get stuck underwater., especially the deep diving models.
Best Baits for Catfish
Knowing that catfish have a strong sense of smell, this is the direction to think when choosing the bait!
A bunch of earthworms on a treble are one of the most old-school baits that have and will catch catfish everywhere. But if you want something that will endure the attack of smaller fish, there are some unique baits only catfish will take.
For example – squid! This smelly sea creature is one of the best baits for targeting catfish both in rivers and lakes. Chicken liver is also one of the most productive baits catfish will hardly resist!
There are also special hook baits on the market designed for catfish. Usually, they are made based on blood, shrimp, halibut, clam, or similar bases, and they work great!
When targeting really big fish, nothing beats a really big live bait. A 1kg common carp from the commercial fishery is the most appreciated bait among catfish professionals!
As you can see, the choice of a perfect bait or lure is definitely not easy for predator fish. Use the tips and general rules that I have listed above and this will definitely increase your catch chances.
Making better decisions will improve your results. If you stick to these, your first steps of catching small or big predators are bound to be successful!
Denis is an experienced freelance fishing journalist, with a passion for freshwater and saltwater lure fishing. Zander and seabass are his favorite fish species, but he also enjoys spending some quiet hours enjoying float fishing (both match and bolognese).