How do we define what the best lure for fresh water fishing is? Is it the one that can be relied upon to take the broadest spectrum of fish under the widest variety of conditions? Is it the one lure we would like to have in our possession if we were to be abandoned in the wilderness with a rod and reel among our gear, but only one kind of lure? Presumably, if a lure were to deserve the title of "Best Freshwater Fishing Lure" it would have to live up to both requirements.
Is there such a lure? There may well be, subject to a few caveats. No one lure is going to catch every common fresh water fish from bullhead through carp to brook trout. But we can use the feeding preferences of game fish like large and small mouth bass, landlocked striped bass, lake trout, perch, walleye, crappie, and all of the various members of the pike family to our advantage by serving up a lure that is likely to push their feeding buttons.
These fish all include smaller fishes in their diet and are aggressive hunters. This gives us a clue that our optimum lure should closely imitate the fish that these predators are likely to feed upon. Ideally it should be a lure that can be fished both on the surface and also underwater at the anglers discretion. It should feature flash for maximum visibility and a lively action to provoke strikes.
As the description suggests, the lure will float on the surface of the water when initially cast, and in the calm of early morning, late evening or when dropped next to cover may tempt a strike with little further involvement by the angler. Starting the retrieval process causes the lure to dip beneath the surface under the influence of a dive "lip" fixed to the front of the lure. This also generates a furious wiggling action that duplicates the motion of an injured bait fish. Many, many fresh water fish find this type of lure virtually irresistible.
Stop the retrieve, and the lure will bob to the surface, where you can twitch it several times before drawing it under water again. This is an extremely productive fishing technique.
The previously mentioned L & S Mirrolure has an advantage over the Rebel and Rapala in that it can be set to run deeper than the others, penetrating a different environment. It is also closer to neutral buoyancy than are the other two, and rises slowly to the surface once the retrieve has been discontinued rather than popping up suddenly. This also seems to provoke vicious strikes, particularly from members of the pike family.
Floating - diving minnow style lures can be effective even during the dog days of summer because most fish, even when lurking deep during the daytime seeking cooler water will prowl the weed beds and lily pad shallows during nighttime hours as well as at dusk and at dawn. They are unlikely to pass up what appears to be a crippled herring or other bait fish.
If I had to select just one lure to use, my choice would be the segmented L & S Mirrolure. Unfortunately, if you want to equip yourself with these fine lunker killers you will have to work the on line auctions; where they are still available in limited numbers. The manufacturer no longer offers this model. Given the variety of fish this lure can take, it may well be worth it to go the extra mile to find a few.