Most fishermen choose lures like they choose women - they always pick the pretty one wearing their favorite-colored skirt.
Unfortunately, the best-looking lure may not be the one that fits out trolling speed or fills that glaring hole in our pattern with just the right action.
Although many factors can affect the way a lure will run - wake position, skirt size, trolling speed and leader material, just to name a few - the lure head's size and shape determine how it's going to track and swim.
With so many different lure styles out there, I've tried to narrow the playing field to just eight basic categories: tubes, bullets, plungers, Konaheads, jets, pushers, chuggers and those I call "exotics."
The "exotic" category includes nontraditional lures with strange head shapes, flashing lights, rotating turbo fans, water-driven noise makers or some combination of the above. With no hard-and-fast rules for this wide range of lures, they can be made from anything from chromed motorcycle parts to ceramics. Most look like the result of a bad nightmare caused by too much pizza before bedtime, although some - like Area Rule's Doorknob and Chaos Lure's Grander - catch a lot of fish.
As a matter of fact, the Doorknob represents one of the few lure designs resulting from any scientific testing. Brooks Morris, owner of Area Rule Engineering, designed the Doorknob using aeronautical airflow technology to produce its unique hourglass shape. The result: a lure that's able to stay in the water at speeds up to 20 knots.
My take on exotics matches Forrest Gump's box-of-chocolates metaphor: if you see one you like, go ahead and pull it. You never know what you're going to get.
There's no mistaking a bullet lure for any of the other designs; they are, after all, shaped just as their name implies.
Bullets can be run in all sea conditions, but most skippers like to pull them when it gets rough because of their ability to stay down. A bullet lure looks like the weak bait in a school and the least likely to be able to evade a predator.
A bullet lure's conical snout cuts through the water with very little resistance, so it can be run at speeds up to 15 knots, especially if it's weighted.
Bullet lures run and track well with almost any rigging configuration, and their small size - rarely exceeding one-inch in diameter - also make them good tuna and mahi baits.