Versatility is always important for any angler and that includes using hard and soft lures. Keeping an open mind allows discovery of what fish will bite and how often they will bite it. Some days fish are inactive meaning: less easy to provoke - even with live bait. The key is finding fish that can be provoked into striking a lure made from manmade materials such as painted lures, wire, soft plastic, hooks, shiny blades, feather or fur tied on a lead jig head, wood and heavy metal lures. The other consideration is lure action which is determined by design and angler manipulation.
Once a specific lure is found to catch quality, quantity of both, it's important to continue using the lure year after year and in different waters. Some lure do far better in certain waters/ other do fine no matter the water or time of year.
As a lure crafter and tester, I'm always in search of new lure designs but also trying lures I haven't used in decades such as crankbaits, the Beetle Spin and hair jigs that I started fishing with this year. Everyone has their tried & true favorites - mine are too numerous to count - but when the fish are less than cooperative I'll start casting them just to make sure fish are even present.
Here are a few I discovered did well this year, some of which caught fish in previous years but were forgotten and stored away or produced again by my own hand.
I noticed a tuft of hair shed from my border collie and thought:
it just maybe might do as well as deer hair or feather used in the past. The second cast caught this 12" plus crappie:
...and a sunfish the size of my hand:
Of course fur and feather would most like do as well, but the pulsating action of the thin hair fibers seem to do as well if not better. I caught more than 10 fish in a short time casting the dog fur jig around the boat in 7' of water.
Another presentation that proved very productive was trolling crankbaits in 7' of water down the middle of a lake and they caught four species: nice crappie and perch, bass and a few sunfish:
One even caught this cat fish:
But one thing became clear fishing in a deeper lake yesterday:
the crankbait should usually run a the depth fish are in. Too shallow running a lure and no go. I used crankbaits that ran too shallow in 15' and caught nothing.
Expanding on a soft plastic design that uses a tapered tail on a light jig was increasing the diameter of the tail's size - one I call a fat ass tail:
It caught just as many fish as the clear tapered tail:
Note: clear soft plastic was discovered to work just as well as colored lures.
Another innovation was to use the claw from a bass lure and connect it to a grub body:
All species attacked it.
Wacky rigged taper tail sticks still catch as many fish as last year: