Different Types of Fishing Plugs

Over the years, fishing plugs have been a favorite lure among successful anglers. They come in different shapes, colors, and designs depending on the type of manufacturer. These lures also present a lot of flexibility.

You can use them to catch different sizes of fish as well as cast in different fishing dep. What are the different types of fishing plugs in the market, and how do you know what to use?

Here is a detailed discussion of the various types of fishing plugs and what makes them unique;

Surface Plugs

Surface Plugs

Also known as topwater plugs, these giant poppers wriggle and splash on the surface. They are most effective when you troll them slowly in gentle waters.

If your surface plug tumbles around or leaps out of the water, then the chances are that you are trolling quickly. It means that you need to slow down or shift to shallow diving plugs.

Surface plugs have blunt faces and lack vanes. They are the ideal choice when in calm, gentle waters, when the wind has fallen away, otherwise fish would not notice their action.

The best hour to use your Topwater lure is early in the morning or late in the evening, but you can still use them in the middle of the day. These lures are perfect when fish are shallow, and the water temperature is about 60 degrees or higher.

Black is the color when it comes to choosing the color for your surface plug. It is excellent in all waters, whether stained, dark, or clear. The black tint provides a great silhouette against the sky when the fish looks toward the surface.

Other colors such as yellow, orange, green, or white also work well depending on the forage in the water. Common types of surface plugs are;


Chugger lures have an indented cup-like opening on their faces which catches water as your jerk the lure over the water’s surface. This action produces a chugging/popping sound.

Rotating Blades

These plugs come in two different types. The center rotating blade, otherwise known as Globe, is a favorite lure among muskie anglers. It has a center blade that rotates upon retrieval to produce a bubble trail.

The second type, the rotating tail, has a tail section with a blade that rotates to create plopping noises. It is typical for fishing pikes and muskies.

Surface Wobblers

Like rotating blades, surface wobblers have two sections; making clicking sounds as it rocks back and forth as you retrieve it; the tail prop provides additional wake.

Propeller Plugs

Propellers, prop baits, or topper baits have props on their noses and tail. They are one of the most versatile topwater plugs as you can run them slowly with a straight retrieve, pop them with the stop-and-go method or buzz them on the water to rattle aggressive feeding fish.


Crawlers produce a gurgling sound which is excellent in calm water. These come in two types; Creepers, with wings on their sides to help them penetrate the waters. And crawlers with large faceplates on the face that help them move back and forth.

Flap Tail

As the name suggests, these plugs have tail-like brass flaps that slap the water to produce plopping sounds. They have different designs and styles, with hooks situated below their bellies.

Subsurface Plugs

There are two diving plugs, shallow-diving inshore fishing (Floating)and deep-diving offshore fishing plugs.

The former are vane-type trolling lures that operate just below the water surface, about 3m or 10 feet down. Some types are perfect when you troll them slowly in calm waters; some models will surface if trolled too quickly. Some models work best when swiftly retrieved with erratic darting motion.

These lures are very flexible, but you must know the type of retrieve that will trigger a bite. Suspending jerk baits and twitch baits qualify as shallow diving plugs. These flashy work well if you plan to go after inshore saltwater fish like redfish, snook, tarpon, and spotted seatrout.

Deep-diving offshore fishing plugs are ideal when targeting deep-water species such as grouper, dolphinfish, wahoo, tuna, and king mackerel.

Most of these lures are reflective holographic hard baits with large plastic lips, enabling them to reach up to 20 or 40 feet below the surface. They usually feature heavy-duty steel hooks and can withstand aggressive strikes from large game fish.

Diving plugs are different in capabilities, depending on how far they can go below the water surface. Here are some of the popular types;

Gliders & Twitch

These twitch lure actions partly come from the anglers, who retrieve them with short taps on the rods and twitches that provide erratic motions. To retrieve the gliders, you will have to use timed cadence short pulls to cause them to glide and move underwater.


These have weighted bodies that sink them deep into the water. The sinking lures are ideal for catching fish swimming below 10 feet. As the name suggests, the attraction requires an angler to count down at a speed of 1 foot per second to a specific depth and then retrieve the plug.

Trolling Plug

The design of these lures makes them primarily for trolling because they are too light to cast. Typically, most trolling plugs will float at rest and dive depending on the flattened forehead that provides the wide erratic wobble. To achieve the desired depths and for perfect controlled trolling, most anglers use Dipsey Diver.


Larger fish are predatory and optimistic by nature. They will take advantage of any free-hanging food they can get. These prey resembling plugs present such opportunities. Larger fish mistake them for food and rush to strike. The animals they mimic vary from swimming rodents, insects, frogs, and crawfish.

Naturally Buoyant Plugs

Also known as jerk baits or suspending lures, they feature an internal weight system that naturally buoys them. These lures use erratic jerk pause presentation and will remain suspended and motionless when stopped. They are ideal for luring fish that follow but do not bite.

Australian Diving plugs

Australian diving plugs do not have vanes but get their diving ability from their design. These lures have flat upper surfaces with pointed heads to make streamline for perfect nose dive. They also have weighted bodies to keep them below the water’s surface.

Their unique designs draw water toward the upper part of the plug, forcing it downwards and causing them to wriggle energetically.  

How Do You Troll a Fishing Plug?

You must know the ideal speed for your plug, which varies depending on the brand. Some plugs can travel between and mph, so you must match the correct plug to the rate you will be trolling. There is no fixed speed for trolling lures.

You can always troll your plug on the surface with no weight. But you will have to include inline weight or use a downrigger. When doing this, take note that fish tend to swim away from boats, so you should run your surface plug on a side planer or between 250 and 300 feet out the back.

It is also important to note that fish see upwards and not the other way. So it would help if you cast your plug above the fish you are trailing. If using a downrigger, ensure that it won’t dive below the target. For example, when following a fish swimming 100 feet below the surface, drop your downrigger only ten or 20 feet below the water’s surface.

 Most anglers have different theories regarding how far the downrigger ball is from the lure. When caught in this dilemma, just remember that the plug will have more action closer to the boat but not too close. When fishing behind a dummy flasher, have your lure more than 8 feet from the flasher.   

Can I Modify or Tune My Plug?

Theoretically, all plugs can catch fish. Fish will bite them out of anger, hunger, curiosity, or territorial protection. Some species are so private and protective that they will strike any small moving object within their reach.

However, you can always modify your lure to attract a specific species. Your creativity will determine the adjustments you make. Depending on the brand, you can tune your plug to give it better action in the water.

For example, some brands will allow you to turn the eye screws to enhance a darting side-by-side activity. Some also allow you to add elastic bands and bead chains for more action.

It is also possible to add bait to your plug. When doing this, ensure that the bait you are using doesn’t limit any action. For lures that have treble hooks, add a small piece of bait to the front hook.

Dipping your plug-in scents is another way to make them more effective. The best scent to use is garlic or anise, as they have the fragrance to entice fish to bite.

Please note that overdoing these adjustments may interfere with the authenticity and scares fish away. We recommend using the plug as it is unless you are sure of what you are adding.