We’re not telling you to put your favorite fishing lures on the back burner. But sometimes you’ve just got to show those fish something different. The question is, what? To save you some wandering-around time at the tackle shop, here are our picks for the hottest, most innovative, best fishing lures for bass, trout, panfish, walleye, and saltwater fish for the 2021 season.
1. Zoom Magnum Ultra Vibe Speed Craw
Zoom’s Speed Craw, with its compact body and hard-thumping claws, has been a staple for years, whether flipped into a heavy mat, put on the back of a jig, or used as a trailer on a Chatterbait. This new version is nearly 30 percent larger, answering the prayers of anglers who wanted a meatier package with the same action. $4.40 for 10; zoombait.com
2. Rapala OG 6 Slim
Tennessee fishing pro Ott DeFoe, winner of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic, took one of Rapala’s legendary flat-sided balsa crankbaits and melded it to a rounded circuit-board lip to create a tight-wobbling lure that’s still castable and will trigger pressured early-season bass to bite. $11; rapala.com
3. Stanley Vibrashaft Dirty Water Spinnerbaits
Stanley Lures took one of their pulsating Vibrashaft spinnerbaits, featuring a tapered wire frame, and added double-painted blades in a variety of highly visible colors—everything from red to pink to chartreuse to white—to allow bass living in heavily-stained water to locate and bite. $7-$9; www.fishstanley.com
4. SPRO Essential Series Zero Minnow
A wakebait, sashaying seductively across the surface of a clear-water fishery, causes bass to rocket up from the depths and attack, and SPRO’s newest wake not only moves naturally, but has a loud rattle that calls fish from a distance. Three Gamakatsu trebles ensure that even slashing fish get hooked. $9; www.spro.com
5. Strike King Hybrid Hunter
Unlike most other crankbaits, Strike King’s Hybrid Hunter does not feature a straight diving lip, but rather an angled one that allows it to come through cover and deflect erratically.
6. Stanley Ribbit Runt
If you think that only bass and other larger predators eat frogs, think again. Panfish love them and the 1/8-ounce Stanley Ribbit Runt—less than 2 inches long and rigged on a matching safety-pin spinner—will lure the biggest bluegills and crappie around. $12; amazon.com
7. Blakemore Slab Dragger
Blakemore is a name that has long been associated with crappie fishing, but they continue to innovate, as with this multi-ribbed soft plastic with a pulsating tail. The lure comes with a chin-mounted blade, either 1/16 ounce with a No. 2 hook, or 1/8 ounce with a No. 1 hook. $4; www.ttiblakemore.com
8. VMC Tungsten Mustache Jig
If you’re chasing big panfish through a hole in the ice, this jig may be your new best friend, combining the fast fall of tungsten with the wacky worm action of a perpendicular soft plastic. It comes with a razor-sharp VMC hook and a 90-degree hook eye to maximize landing percentages on soft-biting fish. $6; rapala.com
9. Yo-Zuri Vibe Mini Ice
This little rattling bait may be less than 2 inches long and weigh just 3/16 ounce, but it packs a loud voice. Internal rattles call fish from a distance, and the 15 distinct colors represent a wide variety of natural forage fish, whether you’re using it in open water or through the ice. $6; www.yo-zuri.com
These are some of the best fishing lures in 2021.