Fishing lures come in all kinds of crazy shapes, sizes, and colors, some scented and some not, some designed to “swim” on their own and some that you need to impart the action. And when you’re headed for a new fishing adventure in uncharted territory, it can be tough to know what lures to use. Really tough.

Fortunately, there are a few lures out there which can work anywhere. If you’re leaving town soon and you plan to wet a line in waters that are completely different, make sure you have one or more of these in your tackle box.

snake river trout

This crankbait proved effective when we Chesapeake -dwellers went 2,000 miles away, to the Snake River. Make sure one's in your tackle-box, too.

1. Crankbaits – These lures, also known as plugs, come in a huge range of shapes, sizes, and actions. Some dive, some float, and some are neutrally buoyant. Some, like the classic Rat-L-Trap, create vibrations to attract fish from afar. But no matter what species of fish you’re going for, if a crankbait swims by its nose there’s a good chance it’ll snap. The trick to having the proper crankbait on-hand is to have a selection of sizes and depth-ranges—you won’t catch surface-feeders if all you can offer them is deep-divers, and you won’t catch fish twenty feet down while casting a topwater lure.

2. Bucktails – The bucktail is one of the oldest lures known to mankind, and with good reason: they can be used in such a wide variety of situations that there’s virtually no predator species in the world that can’t be caught on one. They can be fished with or without bait, with or without teasers; up high in the water column, or down low near the bottom. You can add vibrations to them with clip-on rattles, and you can give them some scent with a spray. They may not be the number-one pick for any specific type of fish, but they’re a good second or third choice for just about anything.

3. Spoons – What fish can resist a good wobbler? Spoons can be trolled, cast and retrieved, jigged, or merely held in place against a current. Best of all, they’re more or less idiot-proof since they impart 100-percent of the action without any help from the angler. That makes them a top pick if you’ll have a fishing newbie along for the ride.

Naturally, when you go somewhere new you have a much better chance of success if you do some research ahead of time, and come armed with the local favorite. But no matter where you travel and what you’re fishing for, if you have these three lures in your tackle-box, you’ve got a shot at those finned critters.