The 12 Most Classic Lures and Flies for Summer Fishing

Before you hit the water, load your box with these classic lures and flies

It’s easy to walk into a bait shop and get sucked right in by duckling lures that look so real, they do everything but quack. And, sure, I own trout lures that swim more naturally than a wild rainbow, flies with more plastic components than a jointed crankbait, and crawfish so lifelike, you might accidentally sprinkle them with Old Bay. Technology in the lure and fly arena is all well and good, but there are countless patterns and baits that haven’t changed in decades—and for good reason: They’ve never stopped pounding fish. If I had a buck for every time I clipped off a new-school streamer in favor of a white Clouser Minnow on a smallie stream, or switched from a modern propbait to a Hula Popper on a largemouth pond when I needed to get it done, I’d be rich. Those are just a few examples of classic killers on our list of iconic lures and flies you shouldn’t be without. Our picks may not be fancy, but they’ll crank up the heat on the water every time.

Deer-Hair Bass Bug

Deer-Hair Bass Bug
Wild Water Black Deer-Hair Bass BugWild Water

No doubt that foam poppers catch plenty of largemouth bass. But the subtler gurgle and push of a big, bulky hair bug is what’ll often call up the real hogs.

Clouser Minnow

Umpqua Clouser Minnow
Umpqua Clouser MinnowUmpqua

Simple to tie and even easier to fish, let this foolproof pattern jig its way through a run on a smallmouth river and watch the bronze­backs pounce.

Dave’s Hopper

Blue Wing Olive Dave’s Hopper
Blue Wing Olive Dave’s HopperBlue Wing Olive

There are loads of grasshopper patterns, but there’s something nostalgic about watching Dave Whitlock’s classic beauty get sipped on a July evening.

Panfish Popper

South Bend Assorted Poppers
South Bend Assorted PoppersSouth Bend

Summer bluegill fishing is as American as barbecue, and duping one into smacking an old-school mini popper on a glassy pond never grows old.

Woolly Bugger

Flies Direct Woolly Bugger
Flies Direct Woolly BuggerFlies Direct

Whether this fly is stripped or drifted, on a lake or creek, there’s not a rock bass, trout, smallmouth, largemouth, or perch that won’t slurp a fluttering black Bugger.

Lefty’s Deceiver

Feeder Creek Lefty’s Deceiver
Feeder Creek Lefty’s DeceiverFeeder Creek

This simplistic baitfish imitator will trigger strikes from North Woods pike and smallmouths as well as Low Country bull redfish and monster snook.


Arbogast Jitterbug
Arbogast JitterbugArbogast

The rhythmic gurgle of this old-time topwater is an unmistakable sound of summer for a lot of anglers, and the bass smacks that interrupt it sound even sweeter.

Original Rapala Floater

Rapala Original Floater 13 Fishing Lures
Rapala Original Floater 13 Fishing LuresRapala

This balsa jerkbait has been dancing its way into fish mouths for nearly a century, and today’s bass, walleyes, and big browns are just as quick to crush it.

Hula Popper

Arbogast Hula Popper
Arbogast Hula PopperArbogast

Don’t let its smiley, Muppet-like face fool you; this classic from Arbogast has the ability to draw up monster bass when nothing else will.

Mepps Aglia

Mepp's Aglia Spinner
Mepp's Aglia SpinnerMepp's

Stick a few of these in your pack—some dressed, maybe some plain—and you won’t come up short wet-wading any trout or smallmouth stream anywhere.

Zara Spook

Heddon Super Spook
Heddon Super SpookHeddon Lures

The distinct clack of a walking Zara draws in cow striped bass on a salty flat as fast as it does trophy northern pike along a deep-lake weedline.

Dardevle Spoon

Eppinger Original Dardevle Spoon
Eppinger Original Dardevle SpoonEppinger

Arguably the most iconic American lure ever made, this red-and-white beauty still wallops big summer trout, pike, walleyes, bass, and more.