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There's nothing quite like spending the day on a lake, or river, or stream. Hell, give us a pole and any water and it's better than sitting in the office.
Fishing is a great activity to relax and have fun at the same time. We can sit on the water for hours and watch the waves ripple.
But it's always more fun when you're catching fish.
Any experienced angler knows that some fishing bait works better than others. We target salmon with egg sacks during the spawn or bass with a nice crankbait. Elusive walleyes love their minnows.
But what about utility fishing baits? Sometimes we're on the water with no goal in particular, except to catch fish. Trout, musky, it makes no difference to us. Whatever we can pull in the boat and brag about later is good in our book.
So, we're going to turn those aimless days into full bellies and fish stories by letting you in on the best fishing baits out there that can catch any fish.
What follows are the best baits to keep your fridge full and your fillet knife busy.
When we're talking worms, we're really talking nightcrawlers. The ground grubs come to the surface at night after a rainstorm or heavy dew. But they're also available at your local bait shop.
There's a reason these guys are what most people grew up fishing on. Just about anything with a set of gills will snatch them up in a second.
The bait is also versatile in the different ways to rig it up. Most people know the old "bobber and a worm" method, but there are many more rigs depending on what you're fishing for.
A simple split shot below your bobber will keep the worm lower in the water and better able to penetrate weed beds for panfish or bass.
Worms on a jig head are great for (you guessed it!) jigging. Walleye and perch are easy targets for a worm bounced off the bottom.
Our last worm tip is to hook one up and add a lightweight split shot above the hook. This makes a perfect drift bait for the mountain stream trout that call the Rockies home.
The reason minnows work so well for fishing bait is because fish eat other fish. Throwing a fathead on your line is only mimicking nature.
Try rigging up a sinker at the end of your line with a hooked fathead above it. Drift or jig this across some underwater structure for a chance to catch perch or crappies. Bass are also known to take this fishing bait.
If you're shore fishing a stream for walleye, start with a hooked minnow of varying size (depending on how big of a walleye you're targeting). Add a split shot a few feet above the hook, and a bobber a few feet above the split shot. The idea is to have the hook floated around 6 inches off the bottom.
Big largemouth bass will take a nice sized shiner worked around structure or pulled behind your boat. Troll these minnows with a bobber or throw on a split shot and jig away.
Remember, never introduce minnows into waters where their species is not native. It's important to read up on your local regulations before ever fishing with minnows.
The honor of being the first non-live fishing bait on our list goes to the Little Cleo.
The spoon bait is thought to have been designed by fisherman Julio Bruel in the mid-1800s. All you have to do is take a look at its longevity to see that this design works.
The Little Cleo mimics the motion of a wounded minnow in the water. As we said in the previous section, everything eats minnows.
What we love about this lure is that it comes in many sizes. "little" Little Cleos are great for trout streams. Larger Little Cleos can attract monster walleye or a hungry smallmouth. It's all down to the size of fish you'd like to catch.
Cleos also come with a bonus feature. These things are indestructible. Seriously. They come with a florescent paint that might chip, but other than that these guys hold up for years and years.
We debated not including this lure on the list but decided you all deserved to know about the most versatile artificial fishing bait we've ever seen.
The CP Swing is an inline spinner bait. Yeah, we know, you've all seen spinner baits before. But this spinner is a different breed.
It has a beaded body and multiple bumps and ridges on its spinner that create reflections in the water much like a minnow's scales.
We're not exactly sure why, but this thing pounds fish. Name a fish you'd like to catch and we'll hand you a CP Swing. Trout, bass, walleye, perch, pike, crappie, we've seen them all caught on a CP Swing.
The most we can surmise about this lure is that to a fish, it must look like the most delicious minnow in history. Though we're not here to complain about this beauty, just cast her out and reel in fish.
Our fishing methods are tried and tested in the fresh water of the Eastern Rockies. We've spent our entire lives in Eastern Colorado fishing lakes and streams, and know freshwater fish (and the fishing bait that reels 'em in) like the back of our hand.
Stick to our fishing bait recommendations you'll have no problem catching whichever fish swim by. We know we haven't had any problems as of yet. Our freezers are full and our fillet knives are annoyingly dull.
If you're in the market for quality outdoor gear tested under the wild's toughest conditions, check out our products. We don't sell anything that wouldn't stand up to the Rocky Mountain wilderness.