50 best fishing lures of all time:

Is there any way to estimate how many of the best fishing lures have been invented and brought to market since the beginning of time?

“Impossible,” said Dan Basore, our longtime fishing collectibles columnist. “I have some that were made 6,000 years ago in Wisconsin, and lures were made much earlier than that. I discover makers every year that were unknown, and so do other collectors. With the long history of lures, it becomes a daunting task to select the best fishing lures of all time.

“How many fish have been caught? How many stars are out there?”

Guessing what are the top 50 fishing lures of all time  is only the opinion of the three person’s noted below.

Fishing and the lures being fished with is not and can not ever be an exact science…..When asking the same question of other experts, you will get an entire different list of the best 50 lures of all time!

Our panel includes Fishing Hall of Famer Dave Csanda, MidWest Outdoors Associate Editor; Mark Strand, Editor; and Dave Mull, Digital Editor. All three are lifetime fishermen, and have been covering the fishing scene for around 40 years, giving them firsthand knowledge of the lures in their best fishing lures list.

Each man’s Top 10 Best Fishing Lures was published in the March, 2017 issue of MidWest Outdoors, and is repeated here, along with 40 more to round out the rankings.

Would you have chosen the same lures for your own ’50 Best Fishing Lures’ list? Whose list would come closest to yours? Are there any lures left out that you would put in the 50 best fishing lures of all time?

Dave Csanda, Associate Editor

I agree with Dan Basore that selecting the 50 best fishing lures is sort of an impossible job, because everyone has different opinions based on their own fishing experience. We all don’t live in the same regions, nor do we fish the same waters for the same species of fish. So individual preference comes into play.

For my money, the 50 best fishing lures need to have made significant, long-term contributions to the sport, even if they are no longer in widespread use today.

For determining the top 10 best fishing lures, I think we need to go a step further. The top 10 best fishing lures should have dramatically impacted the sport, revolutionizing the ways anglers fished, with a continuing influence into the modern angling era.

Csanda’s Top 10 best fishing lures, in no particular order…..

Jigs (my pick for best Walleye lure ever)

Jigs dating back to the Upperman Bucktail are unique in that they are fishing’s most universal lure. They can be fished at any depth, and can be jigged vertically, swum or snap-jigged horizontally, lift-dropped on the cast or drift, dangled through a hole in the ice, and dressed with any manner of feathers, hair, soft plastic, mylar or other substance–including many forms of live bait, tipped on plain heads or in combination with dressings. The sheer permutations of potential mix-and-match combos is off the charts. And here’s the kicker: Most combos have little or no action on their own; the angler applies his or her own desired action, motion, speed, direction or cadence to the presentation, like an artist wielding a brush. It’s personalized presentation to the max.

Lindy Rig

The first popularization of finesse live-bait fishing for walleyes and other species. Still a mainstay today.

Beetle Spin by Johnson

The first combo of a jig and spinner, and forerunner of the modern spinnerbait. Now made by Johnson.

Original Floating Rapala (my pick for best Salmon lure ever)

It turned the fishing world on its ear in the late 1950s, and has been going strong ever since. The inspiration for a massive, worldwide tackle company featuring many different shapes and models of crank baits.

Dardevle by Eppinger

The best-known member of the spoon family, with a wide range of models to suit casting and trolling situations. A staple item for Canadian anglers that remains popular with many fishermen in the northern U.S.

Jigging Rapala

A deadly, aggressive ice fishing lure that, in recent years, exploded into open-water popularity for a wide range of species. The fact that it turned winter into summer effectiveness with no re-design ranks it as the comeback lure of the century.

Mepps Spinner (my pick for best Musky lure ever)


The inspiration for a wide range of imitators that catch everything from panfish to bass, trout to muskies. Swirling, whirling magic in rivers and streams, with similar attraction and effectiveness for fishing still waters. Versatile and adjustable depth-wise simply by varying your retrieve.

Spoonplug by Buck Perry

Buck Perry’s original Spoon plug has faded in popularity in the modern era. But it hit the fishing world like a thunderbolt in the late ‘50s, not just as a lure, but as integral to a systematic trolling system that exposed anglers to radical new structure fishing concepts. Fishing took a quantum leap forward as a result.

Texas-rigged plastic worm

Crème Company was the first to put straight-tailed plastic worms into distribution, providing anglers with a new way to penetrate cover for bass with a virtually weedless, snag less presentation.

Big-O by Cordell

Fred Young carved the first square-lipped balsa crank bait in history in 1967.  In effect, he triggered an avalanche of similar lures that revolutionized bass fishing. Today plastic injection molded by the Cordell Company, the Big-O lives on in angling history.

Best Fishing Lure of All Time: Fuzz-E-Grub by Lindy

I chose the Lindy Fuzz-E-Grub, for all of the reasons I mentioned in my generic jig description, and more. It comes in all sizes and color combos, for all species of fish, all year long. The Fuzz-E-Grub combines a soft-plastic body with a seductive marabou tail that breathes at rest, imparting its own lifelike, realistic appearance. I don’t leave home without ‘em, regardless of which species I’m after.

Csanda’s nomination for a fishing accessory that’s not actually a lure:

The slip-float. You can suspend many forms of enticement beneath it at virtually any depth. Awesome!

The rest of Csanda’s 50 Best Fishing Lures of All Time

Mister Twister

Tandem Spinner bait (generic)

Creek Chub Pikie Minnow

Rapala X-Rap

Smithwick Devil’s Horse

Muddler Minnow

Bomber A Series

Suick Musky Thriller

Weedless bass jig (generic) & Uncle Josh Pork Frog

Red Devil Spinner & Bottom Bouncer (generic)

Northland Whistler Jig

Garland Gitzit (tube jig)

Strike King Tandem Spinnerbait

Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap

Slip-Bobber (generic)

Yamamoto Senko

Heddon Zara Spook

Jigworm (aka shakey worm, generic)

Blakemore Road Runner

Lefty’s Deceiver

Helin Flatfish

Smithwick Suspending Rogue

Doctor Spoon

Rebel Pop R

Luhr-Jensen Flasher & Howie Fly

Snagproof Frog

Rapala Shad Rap

Herb Reed Slug-Go

Castaic Swimbait

Dahlberg Diver

Reef Runner

Berkley Powerbait

Caddis fly (generic)

Hopkins NO=EQL jigging spoon

Swedish Pimple

Buzzbait (generic)

Countdown Rapala

Erie Dearie

Heddon Sonar

Johnson Silver Minnow

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