I know that many remember the classics fondly, proving that any good lure design works when used the way appropriate for the moment. My challenge is to match design - to presentation - to-fish temperament which I believe can be categorized by the design/presentation combination that many similar lures can fulfill.
My finesse plastics are example.
1. Thin quivering tails
2. The slow presentation when used on a light jig head to utilize the lure's finesse action that fish are sensitive to and irritated by, and the presentation:
3. Rather than jig the bait vertically (like a spoon), the lure travels horizontally, slowly, and if under a float with long pauses that keep that quivering tail in position long enough to test a fish's patience.
Many lures fit into the design/presentation category specific to a fish's general activity level (inactive but always wary), but not chasing or instantly striking a lure upon splashdown ( such as a Zara Spook swishing back and forth over a hole or along a weed line). In fact, top water lures are in their own category and depend on a territorial, ultra-sensitive senses condition.
The above when broken down applies to all of the effective lures we always carry with us that we can depend on to provoke fish somewhere on the scale of : wary in reverie to how dare you enter my space! In all likelihood fish at one end of the scale may not be interested in a lure design/presentation combination located at the other end. How dare you mode only usually allows one or two chances whereas the slower combo has a few more chances to piss a fish off.
For example, if I start catching bass on a skirted jig and trailer( (jigging bottom rather than swimming the lure), I pretty much have ruled out small finesse lures and slower mid depth presentations. More important is the quivering skirt and trailer action used slowly on the bottom.
If I find that a deep dive 4" crankbait worked at a moderate retrieve is getting some nice bass to hit in 10', there's no point in using a much slower skirted jig and trailer on bottom. The fish feel the waddle and sense the clicks of the crankbait's hardware (by design) - the combination in my opinion key in provoking the attack.
Again, lures with similar traits that fit particular presentations, can be substituted for another anytime fish are prone to attack that lure coupled with an appropriate presentation. I wouldn't say all crankbaits are equal, but that I own at least five I can count on when interchanged. At least I no longer feel sad at not being able to buy certain lures that worked well in the past because other lures can be substituted that fit a presentation moment just as well. .
I still shake my head while reading different articles in Bass Master where pro anglers tout this or that lure in a certain color for the big'ns they caught in an outing or that won a tournament. Barnum said it : A sucker is born every minute - and I'm not talking fish.