Lists are always a contentious form of editorial, but that’s what makes them fun and interesting. Some of the first magazines to start putting lists together like this were music magazines, where they rated things like the 50 best albums or artists of all time. They’re often lists based on tradition and with a caveat of ‘greatest of all-time’. When it comes to fishing lures, however, so many lures that could be considered the greatest ever no longer exist. We thought, if we’re going to put a list of amazing lures together, let’s keep it to lures you can walk into a tackle store and buy today. That way, the list is something that will lead to you catching fish and potentially finding some new favourites.
So as an example, the Mister Twister was the first curl-tail grub on the market and can be considered a pioneer, but you can’t readily buy them anymore so they can’t be included. The same goes for lures steeped in tradition and innovation; there’s some you may think should be on this list, but all the anglers involved have found other products that have superseded them. It’s not about firsts, or even the original designer, it’s about effectiveness, affordability, durability and accessibility. There are also some great lures out there made in other countries, but they’re not much good if they’re never in stock here, or cost too much where a cheaper alternative is available.
Having said that, this list is sure to have many thinking we left key lures out and included some we shouldn’t have. However, we strongly believe that should you buy any of these 50 lures, you won’t be disappointed in their performance. We had to have a good spread of lure styles that span a range of species and applications. We covered almost all bases except for a knife jig that never made the cut.
We put together an initial list of 50 proven lures spanning many species and fishing styles, which was sent to 15 contributors who fish fresh, salt and estuary regularly. Those anglers then added their own lists, we compared them all and put it all together. Some lures entered the initial list with overwhelming entries, many were unanimous and for several it was very close, with 12 lures that came down to a vote to get to a final 50.
The biggest caveats for each lure submission were lures that each angler had caught many fish on, knew of anglers catching many fish on and they had to be lures that were easily accessible at a tackle store. Essentially, you should be able to walk into most stores and get all 50 lures on the list. There are some great lures out there you can find at select online sellers or some you can buy from overseas, but these weren’t included.
The range spans trout through to marlin and covers most locations around Australia. Enjoy the list, have fun shopping for them and we sincerely hope you catch a heap of fish on them.
Arbogast Jitterbug 625
It’s one of the oldest lures in the list at 84 years of age and it’s a testament to how this little surface walker got it right the first time. It casts well, walks along the surface with great sonic attributes via a simple slow roll and, to this day, is still highly effective at catching bass, EPs, cod, toga, barra and jacks. It’s available in three colours as that’s all you need but every angler should own a black Jitterbug.
The name Mumbler has become the colloquial name for a chatterbait here in Australia thanks to Bassman’s highly effective take on this lure. The Mumbler is largely a cod lure but works well on other species. It has high-quality components, a great range of colours and is one of the most versatile lures you can throw for cod as you can work it at any depth in any location cod inhabit.
Bassman make a huge array of spinnerbait designs and It’s hard to narrow down one model. Choices should be based on species and location but if you’re looking for a great spinnerbait, it’s hard to go past Bassman. While they’re most likely responsible for more Murray cod captures than any other spinnerbait in the world, they work on a huge array of species. They’re built very well with high-quality components.
Berkley Gulp! Jerkshad
Every saltwater angler should always have a pack of Gulp! Jerkshads on hand. They’re undeniably one of the most effective soft plastics on saltwater species from Melbourne to Darwin. A versatile size range, huge colour range and that Gulp! scent has been the undoing of so many species – and created personal bests for many anglers. Standout colours are Nuclear Chicken, Pearl White and Satay Chicken.
Berkley Gulp! Minnow Grub
This little grub is renowned as the number one soft plastic for yellowbelly, so if you’re a yella angler get a few packets in black. It’s also highly effective on flathead, bream and most other species in southern estuaries. Its robust shape and curl tail have the perfect mix of action and a highly visible target that just works when coupled with Gulp! scent. Standout colours are Black, Watermelon and Camo.
Berkley Gulp! Shrimp
This lure possesses almost no action and even with angler input it still doesn’t do much, but that very basic prawn profile has been responsible for more captures of fish than one could imagine. Rigged on a light or weightless jig head, it’s a presentation that many estuary species can’t resist. Standout colours are Glow, Glitter Pink, Pearl White and Garlic Prawn.
Berkley Gulp! Turtleback Worm
Snapper, bream, trout, flathead and many other species have fallen for the Turtleback Worm. It perfectly imitates earthworms, sandworms, fish and other grub-like creatures that make up a fish’s diet. It amazingly doesn’t have a lot of hook exposure across the bait yet still has great strike to hook-up ratio. Standout colours are Camo and Pumpkin Seed.
Berkley PowerBait T Tail
The T Tail, like many successful Berkley plastics, is nothing special to look at, but its original cylindrical shape with a thin jointed paddle tail provides a visible target with a strong tail action that fish love, especially trout. Few would argue it’s one of the most consistent trout soft plastics ever and will take fish sitting on the bottom, nose down with the little tail moving in the current.
It’s consistently one of the best-selling lures in Australia. Made by a Texan, it’s been adopted by Aussies for its consistent ability to catch barra, threadies, jacks and pretty much anything else it swims past. It’s a jerkbait with a responsive action that allows experienced anglers full control but can be slow rolled and twitched by novices and find success. Do not enter the NT without one. Standout colours: Gold, XM7.
There are quite a few great inline spinner brands out there, but Celta has consistently provided a quality and effective product thanks to its quality hooks, and a body and blade that consistently spins. For a time it was the colloquial name for an inline spinner in Australia and in some pockets it still might be. Every freshwater angler should own a few; they work on the cast and troll.
Classic Lures 120
Maybe the only lure that can rival the Bomber 14A for barra is the Classic 120. An Australian design that blends jerkbait and crankbait, it’s a highly versatile lure that offers barra anglers a heap of control when both trolling and casting. A huge colour range provides unlimited options and the triple hook configuration offers an outstanding strike to hook-up ratio. Standout colours: Guns N Roses, Banana Fish.
A truly innovative, original and masterful design. The Cranka Crab is an Australian lure that changed how we could target fish in an estuary. The crab had been attempted unsuccessfully as a lure so many times and then Cranka got it right. It’s an extremely lifelike crab imitation with floating claws adorned with treble hooks that is extremely effective on anything that eats crabs. It’s a must-have for southern Australian waters.
Daiwa Double Clutch 75
The Daiwa Double Clutch is one of the greatest jerkbaits on the market thanks to its versatility and great action. It can be slow rolled, jerked or twitched and suspends beautifully. There isn’t a species that it won’t catch and while there are multiple sizes, the 75 can handle almost any task. It’s a go-to lure for many and one that every angler must own. Standout colours: Ghost Perch, Laser Ayu.
Duo Realis Minnow 80SP
A newer lure from 2013 that quickly established itself as one of the best suspending jerkbaits on the market. It’s ultra-responsive to rod movement, tracks beautifully against current and has a unique slender profile that fish love. It has an amazing colour range and detailed engraved patterns. It’s dynamite on bream, bass, EPs and trout. Standout colours: Prism Gill, Komochi Wakasagi, Ghost Minnow.
Ecogear Grass Minnow
This lure became famous on the bream scene, where it is used unweighted as a topwater lure in the pink colour for what is known as the ‘pink grubbing’ technique. It’s also a great plastic rigged on a jig head and worked along the bottom. It’s versatile and at times can be a game-changer when things are quiet.
It spent many years as the No.1 bream lure on the market but due to lack of effective marketing has not captured younger anglers. The SX40 is still a great lure offering a highly versatile blend of crankbait and jerkbait in a small shad profile that fish love. It has a great action, multiple weights and buoyancy, a huge range of colours and is a master around structure. Standout colours: 302, 540, 343.
A uniquely shaped metal blade with an even more unique assist hook system that is equally revered by yellowbelly and bream anglers. It’s an original design with a great vibration that fish love, and those assist hooks have become more famous than the lure itself thanks to their excellent hook-up rate. Standout colours: 416, 418.
Evergreen Timberflash Noisy Dachs
Japanese-made timber lures are never cheap, but anglers continually pay the $150+ asking price for the Noisy Dachs as it’s such an effective topwater lure for Murray cod. It’s commonly copied in cheap plastic but it’s never as good – you can’t beat the natural sonic attributes of the timber and the unique action it provides. A highly effective lure every cod angler should own.
Gan Craft Jointed Claw 178
There aren’t many lures that can boast of their ability to catch big cod, jacks, barra and flathead but the Jointed Claw can. Available in a huge range of sizes, the 178 was the first and the most versatile. It’s the glidebait that put glidebaits on the map in Australia thanks to its unique world-class aesthetics and action. It’s available in a huge range of colours and two different weights. Standout colours: Ma Aji, Moonshine Green.
Halco Laser Pro 190
While probably best known for its XDD Crazy Deep in the 190 range, the shining star is the STD 1 Metre – a unique bib design that possibly tracks better on the troll at speed than any other diving minnow. It has a unique action and is ready to go straight from the packet. It will catch anything that sees it and will keep doing so long after all the paint has come off. Standout colours: White Redhead, Pilchard.
Halco Roosta Popper
When it comes to a no-frills popper that’s easy to use and deadly effective from the 60 through to the 195 Haymaker, the Roosta has no peer. Straight out of the packet, even novice anglers can easily get a great chug and bloop action from this popper and fish love it. An outstanding Australian design that is highly effective on any species feeding topwater. Standout colours: H51, H78
Whether you’re chasing Australian salmon or kingfish the Halco Twisty is a reliable slug that took the basic principles of heavy and flashy to a new level. The Twisty offers effective action, great tracking at speed and great casting ability. Standout colour: Twisty Gold, which is actually 24k gold-plated.
The Gantia is an ultra-reliable swimbait that has proved itself on the impoundment barra and cod scene but is also great for big flathead. It can be worked ultra-slow or at speed and respond with an action fish love. You can add a chin weight without negatively affecting the action and it comes in a great range of colours. It’s a great starting point for those new to swimbaits. Standout colours: RT Trout, Copeton Magic.
The Gigantarel was the first big bait many anglers started throwing here in Australia. At 200mm and 5.4oz it changed the way anglers target cod and its popularity soared as it was so effective. It’s a glidebait with a wide S action and features a bearing swivel tow point, an eyelet for a chin weight and a tail eyelet for attractants. Standout colours: King of the Night, Copeton Magic.
The Pompadour is a Swiss Army knife of a topwater lure. A cupped face, big eyes, a buzz blade prop at the back, internal rattles in the body and two big wings that provide an outstanding walking motion. All this makes for a topwater lure that bass, cod and toga love. It’s an amazing lure in the hands of experienced anglers and still highly effective for those new to topwater fishing. Standout colours: Goodang, Kermit.
It’s the king of lipless crankbaits and possibly the most copied lure in existence, but no one has managed to quite get it as good as the TN60. It’s the one percenters that separate Jackall from the pack and the TN60 is better on the drop, ultra-responsive on the retrieve and has a vibration that fish just love. Standout colours: Matt Black, Black Market.
When the Transam hit the barra scene in the NT it took off like a rocket ship and became the go-to lure. It then spread to the impoundment scene and found a place among offshore anglers working reefs. It features an outstanding vibration that is ultra-responsive to rod movement and a tough wire-through construction that can handle big drag pressures. Standout colours: Pink Eye, Vision Black.
There is probably no more iconic cod lure than the Stump Jumper. A big fat crankbait that, as the name implies, jumps over stumps allowing you to retrieve through thick timber where cod reside without losing your lure. They still catch just as many huge cod today as ever and are one of the most effective cod lures ever made. Standout colours: Frog, Red Scale.
Keitech Easy Shiner 4in
One of the newer soft plastics in the list is the Keitech Easy Shiner, an outstanding paddle tail with a wide wobbling action that works at the slowest of speeds and on the drop. The material used isn’t overly durable and they’re not cheap, but it’s all about that action, which is dynamite on flathead and snapper. It offers great rigging options and a highly original and effective colour range. Standout colours: 400, 401, 414
A simple and highly effective slug that was made by Australian John Nowak, son of John Nowak Sr, designer of the Wonder Wobbler. Whether it’s salmon in the south or mackerel up north, the Lazer consistently does it very well without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro there is a place for a Lazer in every Aussie tackle box.
Lucky Craft Pointer
Everyone had a different idea about which size Pointer should be featured but it came down to the 78SP and the 100XD. Whether it’s bream, EPs and flathead down south or barra up north, the Pointer is a versatile, dependable and highly effective deep-diving jerkbait/crankbait hybrid that fish love. You can troll them or cast and retrieve, where you have great control over a great range of action. Standout colours: 270, 228, 829.
Lucky Craft Sammy 65
The Sammy is an ingenious little topwater design that’s loved all around the country thanks to its outstanding ‘walk the dog’ action and tail-down pause posture that increases the strike to hook-up ratio. The action is quite easy to achieve with a little practice and fish respond accordingly. A great option for those new to topwater wanting to move on from the humble popper. Standout colours: 0960, 1628.
Lunker City Slug-Go 12
The lure that started a revolution and a new category in fishing lures known as soft stick baits. The slender profile and erratic darting action of this lure broke boundaries and was the first to expose the effectiveness of imparting random action and movement into a lure. Originally developed as a bass lure, it has cemented its place as a highly effective kingfish plastic. Standout colour: Albino shad.
Megabass Magdraft 10
Only a few years ago the 10inMagdraft became one of the hottest cod lures on the market thanks to its ability to consistently catch fish in big, deep dams such as Lake Eildon. It’s since gone on to be a popular and effective lure for big barra and work in various impoundments for cod. The Magdraft has a big presence and a wide, enticing tail action that fish can’t resist. Standout colour: Any.
Nomad Madscad 115
There were quite a few stickbaits thrown in the mix and it came down to the wire with the Madscad on top. First off, it’s highly effective on a range of species, it casts very well, it offers an easy-to-use versatile action and has a great range of colours. As a sinking stickbait, it’s also versatile as it can be used in all water conditions and comes with quality hardware straight from the packet. Standout colours: MT, FUS, PM.
Nories Laydown Minnow Chigyo
It’s undoubtedly one of, if not the, finest small jerkbait ever made. The body shape and design is highly original, as are the highly effective colours. It is one of the most responsive lures in existence and can make a bad rod seem good. It can handle fast currents and is a lure that can turn on a shut-down session. Whether it’s trout, bass, EPs or bream, they all love a Laydown. Standout colour: BR74.
OSP Bent Minnow 76F
One of the most unique topwater lures ever made; in fact, one of the most unique lures ever made, full stop. In an era where we thought everything had been done, the Bent Minnow changed everything by offering a highly effective lure that at times will be the only thing a fish will touch. Its unique topwater action isn’t easy to achieve but if you spend the time getting it right, it’s a great skill to have. Standout colour: P74.
OSP Dunk 48
The Dunk came along and offered anglers something they’d been yearning for – a bite-sized snack that could quickly get down deep where fish were holding. Whether working structure, open flats or wind-swept banks, this crash-diving crankbait with a shad/minnow hybrid shape is dynamite on bass, EPs, bream and flathead. They’re not cheap but they work. Standout colour: P-45, H-23.
Pakula Lumo Sprocket
Developed back in the mid to late 1980s, its success was immediate and has continued to this day. The Lumo Sprocket has always been designed to work off the long rigger position in a pattern of lures where it has dominated the spread when targeting tuna and billfish. Over the years the colour Lumo has evolved as better luminescent and UV additives have become available. Standout colour: Lumo, duh.
Palms Slow Blatt Slim
In a world filled with jigs that are somewhat mundane in design and action, the Slow Blatt Slimm stands out from the pack. It’s centre-weighted for a slow fall and packed with action. It doesn’t require the angler to be proficient in slow-pitch jigging to get it working and catching fish. The hooks may need upgrades for larger species but it’s still a great value jig that fish love. Standout colours: 530, 531.
Smith Cherry Blood
The Smith Cherry Blood is one of the greatest jerkbaits ever made. From trout on the 70mm to jacks, threadies and barra on the 90mm, it’s a highly effective lure thanks to its outstanding cast weight transfer system, amazing action that will hold in, and track through, any current or stream and its excellent response to any rod movement. Standout colours: 01, 04, 05, 16.
Squidgies Slick Rig
A lure has perhaps never been so affordable and easy to use. The Slick Rig is rigged and ready to go straight out of the pack and all you need to do is cast and slowly retrieve.It’s a deadly barra lure but also works on snapper and flathead. The hardware is outstanding, so is the colour range and you get a tube of S-Factor. Standout colours: Drop Bear, Lorikeet.
A shad shape with a pounding T-Tail action and a great body roll with those classic belly flaps makes the Squidgies Fish one of the most effective Australian plastics ever. Whether it’s bream, flathead, barra or snapper, there is a size and colour to suit all species. It’s one of the original Squidgies designs and is still going strong today. Standout colours: Silver Fox, Gold Glitter.
Kaj ‘Bushy’ Busch’s legendary design was hugely influential in introducing and cementing soft plastic fishing in Australia. The Wriggler is an evolution of the original curl-tail grub featuring a fish profile, a finer tail for more action and small leg-like appendages. It’s a highly effective plastic that’s responsible for countless personal bests and tournament wins. It’s a plastic every estuary angler should own. Standout colour: Bloodworm.
Strike Pro Micro Vibe
A highly original design, the Micro Vibe is a one-of-a-kind miniature vibe with a single treble that’s earned its place by consistently performing when targeting bream around manmade structure. It’s perfectly balanced on the drop and has an enticing action on the lift and can sit head-down, tail-up on the bottom. It will out-fish almost anything in canal systems and is a must-have for bream anglers. Standout colours: 883G, 985G.
Tackle House Contact Feed Popper 135
A technically advanced popper that changed the game on its release around 12 years ago. The Feed Popper has a world-wide following but earned its reputation in Australia on yellowtail kingfish. It’s a slim design with a separate moulded cup that creates a loud bloop. It’s rear weighted for outstanding casting distance and sits tail-down on the pause for an outstanding hook-up rate. Standout colours: 08, 13.
It retails for $6 and consistently catches fish. It’s highly versatile as it can be trolled, cast and retrieved with a variety of rod work, tuned to have a differing action via bending the lure and it can pretty much catch anything – but it’s most famous for its trout captures. It’s extremely durable with a lead core and a strong plastic coating that make it virtually indestructible. Standout colours: 04, 55, Y82.
Tiemco Soft Shell Cicada
Summer is cricket, beers, barbecues and Tiemco Soft Shells. This 40mm cicada imitation is the best in the world at what it does and trout, bass and EPs love them. Its soft, buoyant body keeps fish striking if the hooks don’t set on the first strike. The wings are life-like in appearance and action, sending off the right vibration and water movement to entice fish to strike.
Yamashita Live Search
It’s the squid jig that has it all – a great action, effective sonic rattle, tuned luminescence and a colour, size and weight range to suit almost any depth and location. It’s a highly effective squid jig that changed the game when it comes to egi. They’re not the cheapest but are worth every cent.
Z-Man GrubZ 2.5
The curl-tail grub has been around a long time and is effective at catching fish world-wide. Z-Man took it to a new level with its 2.5in version. It was buoyant for its size, ultra-durable and its success can largely be attributed to its Motor Oil colour. While there are some other great colours in the range, just that one model alone is so effective, it makes the list.