Fishing Articles

Fishing Articles from Capt Jim Klopfer

This post is the list of fishing articles written by Capt Jim Klopfer. These articles will be broken down into several categories. These include Sarasota fishing articles, Florida fishing articles, freshwater fishing articles, and miscellaneous fishing articles. Simply click on the article title to read the article.

fishing articles

Saltwater fishing articles

Inshore Saltwater Fishing, a Complete Guide

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Angler’s Guide

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and lures

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Best Grouper Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best False Albacore Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best 7 Fishing Lures for Redfish

Top 9 speckled trout fishing lures

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Jack Crevalle Fishing, a Complete Guide

Light Tackle Bottom Fishing Tips

What is the Best Saltwater Fishing Fly

How to Catch Saltwater Fish with Jigs

Spotted Sea Trout Fishing, Tips to Succeed

Spanish Mackerel and False Albacore Fishing Tips

Fishing for Redfish and Speckled Trout

Fishing for Bluefish, Tips and Techniques

Top 15 Sheepshead Fishing Tips

Best 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing for Jack Crevalle

Top 6 Spanish mackerel fishing lures

Florida fishing articles

Fishing for Snook, a Complete Guide

Florida Inshore Fishing Tips

Florida Offshore Fishing Tips

Florida Pompano Fishing

Florida Bluefish

Freshwater Fly Fishing in Florida

Fly Fishing in Florida, Gulf Coast Tips

Tarpon Fishing in Florida, an Anglers Guide

Light Tackle Trolling in Saltwater

Jacksonville Florida Fishing Tips

Best Snook Fishing Tackle and Lures

Florida King Mackerel Fishing, Tips and Techniques

Top 21 Florida Saltwater Game Fish

What is the Best Bait for Shark Fishing?

Fishing for Florida Panfish and Crappie

Top 25 Florida Game Fish

Florida Saltwater Fishing in Winter

Fishing for Ladyfish in Florida

Freshwater fishing articles

Top 13 Freshwater Fishing Plugs

Best 11 topwater plugs for freshwater fishing

Top 11 Freshwater Fishing Spoons

Largemouth Bass Fishing in Creeks

Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

Best Catfish Fishing Tackle and Gear

Best 13 Brown Trout Fishing Lures

Freshwater Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Beginners Guide

Ice Fishing Tackle and Gear

Top 10 Northern Pike Fishing Lures

Top 11 Musky Fishing Lures

What is the best Northern Pike Fishing Lure

Best 13 Largemouth Bass Fishing Lures for Beginners

Best River Trout Fishing Lure

What is the best live bait for freshwater fishing?

Fly Fishing for Bluegill and Panfish

Fishing with Spinners in Rivers and Streams

Top 13 Rainbow Trout Fishing Lures

What is the best live bait for smallmouth bass?

Best 9 Fishing Lures for Streams and Small Rivers

Ice Fishing for Crappie, a Beginners Guide

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

Best 9 fishing lures for bluegill and panfish

How to Catch Catfish, a Comprehensive Guide

Walleye Fishing, a Beginners Guide

Fishing for River Catfish, Tips and Techniques

Smallmouth Bass Fishing for Beginners

Best 7 River Smallmouth Fishing Lures

Fishing Franklin North Carolina

Top 27 Freshwater Game Fish Species

Minnesota Walleye and Pike Fishing

Trout Fishing in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Manitoba and Alberta Fishing Tips

Women Bass Fishing, Tournament Tips

Fishing Texas Lakes and Rivers

River Fishing Tips and Techniques

Fishing the North Shore of Minnesota

Sarasota fishing articles

Fishing Sarasota Bay, Pro Tips!

Fishing Siesta Key

Sarasota Fishing Calendar

Sarasota Bottom Fishing

Best 11 Sarasota Fishing Reefs

Sarasota Offshore Fishing

Sarasota Redfish

Sarasota Chumming Techniques

River Snook Fishing Charters

Sarasota Bass Fishing

Sarasota Snook Fishing

Sarasota False Albacore

Sarasota Fishing Forecast

Sarasota Crappie Fishing

Sarasota Sheepshead Fishing

Sarasota Mangrove Snapper Fishing

Sarasota Speckled Trout Fishing

Longboat Key Fishing Charters

Sarasota Freshwater Fishing

Best 6 Sarasota Fishing Lures

Fly Fishing Sarasota Rivers

Best Sarasota Fishing Charter

35 Best Sarasota Fishing Spots

Sarasota Jig Fishing

Sarasota Trolling Techniques

Siesta Key Snook Fishing

Best 7 Lido Key Fishing Spots

17 Best Bradenton Fishing Spots

Fishing Charters in Sarasota

Miscellaneous Fishing Articles

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Top 12 Texas Game Fish

Striped Bass Fishing Tips and Spots

A Guide to Kayak Fishing for Beginners

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

11 Valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

This article will feature 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips. Tampa Bay is a large Bay and estuary system on the West Coast of Florida, pretty much in the center of the state. It consists of a large, open bay which still gets significant commercial traffic. It has miles of mangrove shorelines, acres of pristine grass flats, and many tributary creeks and rivers. These are combined to make Tampa Bay an outstanding fishery for a variety of species.

11 fantastic Tampa Bay fishing tips

Special thanks to Paige for the great photos!  Follow Paige on IG

One of the advantages of fishing in this part of Florida is the variety that anglers can experience. Tampa Bay offers those casting artificial lures, live baits, and flies the opportunity to catch a myriad of saltwater species. These include tarpon, redfish, spotted sea trout, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish, sharks, cobia, pompano, permit, snapper, grouper, sheepshead, flounder, drum, jack crevelle, and more.

Just as with the abundant species, anglers have a choice as to how they want to pursue their quarry. Spinning tackle is the primary choice and is most often used to cast artificial lures or live bait. Anglers can use heavier tackle to bottom fish near the shipping channel and around the Skyway Bridge. Fly anglers have many opportunities as well.

11 valuable Tampa Bay Fishing Tips

Tampa Bay redfish

 

The list of 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips is a guide to get anglers unfamiliar with the area or the tactics a place to get started. However, even the most seasoned angler may pick up a tip or two

1)  Medium action spinning outfit is the best rod and reel choice

Number one on the list of Tampa Bay fishing spots is choosing the best rod and reel combination. For most anglers, a medium spinning outfit is the best choice. Most of the fish landed will be between 1 pound and 10 pounds. This makes a medium action spinning outfit an excellent choice which will handle virtually all of the situations that an angler fishing Tampa Bay will encounter. Of course, anglers targeting very large species such as big grouper or tarpon especially around heavy cover will have to bump up the tackle a notch or two.

fishing in Tampa Bay

A 7 foot medium action rod with a fast action is an excellent all round choice. Fast action refers to the design of the rod. It will be stout at the lower half to enable fighting a big fish while being limber at the tip to make casting lighter lures and live baits easier. A 3000 series reel spooled up with either 20 pound braided line or 10 pound monofilament line completes the rig. Below is a quality Penn Conflict combo at a reasonable price.

2)  Chumming with live bait is extremely effective in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay has become a bit of a live bait fishery. This is especially true in the warmer months. Many guides as well as experienced recreational anglers use a technique called “live bait chumming”. This is an incredibly effective technique that produces a lot a fish and is easy for even the novice angler to succeed with. It is a bit complicated and require some special gear, but the efforts are worth it.

snook fishing in Tampa Bay

In the warmer months, the flats are inundated with millions of small a bait fish. These are locally called white bait or shiners. For the most part, they include scaled sardines, threadfin herring, and Spanish sardines. Large rounded live wells with high-volume pumps are required to keep the bait alive.

Using a cast net, the angler loads up the bait well with between several hundred and a thousand or more frisky live baits. Then, the boat is anchored up current from a productive spot and this live bait is used as chum to lure in snook, redfish, trout, jack crevalle and other species. It can get very exciting seeing the game fish viciously attack the freebies that are tossed out behind the boat. Of course, it is even more exciting when one takes a bait with a hook in!

3)  Live shrimp is the best all round bait in Tampa Bay

Live shrimp are the most versatile and widely available live bait for anglers fishing in Tampa Bay and throughout the southeast part of the United States. Every species in saltwater will happily devour a live shrimp. They are available at every bait and tackle store and are fairly easy to keep alive, especially in the cooler weather. A simple aerator and stone will keep them alive and frisky all day.

Tampa Bay fishing tips

Live shrimp can be fished a variety of ways. Anglers bottom fishing around docks, bridges, submerged rocks, and other structures do well using a live bait hook and just enough weight to get to the bottom. Snapper, sheepshead, grouper, drum, and a variety of other species can be taken. Anglers fish them either under a float or free lined on the grass flats as well for speckled trout, snook, redfish, and more.

4)  Frozen shrimp produces as well

Frozen shrimp can be quite effective as well. There are times both in the summer and in the winter where live shrimp are not available. This usually happens in the winter when several days of rough weather prohibit the shrimp boats from going out. However, anglers who prefer to fish with live or natural bait can do very well using frozen shrimp. In some cases, it is actually preferred.

Anglers will get more bait for their money when purchasing frozen shrimp over live shrimp. While live shrimp are much preferred on the flats, frozen shrimp work very well for anglers bottom fishing. Again, in some cases they actually work better. Frozen shrimp are easier to dice up into smaller pieces. There are many days when sheepshead, drum, and snapper will take a piece of frozen shrimp eagerly.

5)  The jig and grub combo is the top artificial lure

The number one artificial lure for anglers fishing Tampa Bay is the jig and grub combo. In fact, this bait is the most popular lure for anglers fishing the inshore salt waters from Texas all the way up to New England. There are several reasons for both the popularity and effectiveness of the jig and grub combination.

fishing for sea trout

These lures are very cost effective. They consist of a jig head and then a plastic body of some type. The jig head is simply a hook of lead molded near the eye. This molded material is available and several different shapes and designs as well as multiple colors. The grub bodies are available and countless sizes, shapes, and colors. Most are designed to imitate either a shrimp or a bait fish. All of them will catch fish when properly presented.

The weight of the jig had will be determined by the depth of the water being fished and the amount of current that is present. Anglers fishing the deeper grass flats for speckled trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species will do well with a 1/4 ounce jig head and a 3 inch to 4 inch grub body. Those plying the shallow flats will go down as light as 1/16 of an ounce to avoid snagging in the grass.

6)  Understanding seasonal migrations when fishing Tampa Bay

One key to having fishing success is understanding the seasonal migrations that the local fish exhibit. Understanding these migrations is number six on the list of 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips. Basically, at the temperature extremes, both hot and cold, fish will go deep. Then, as the water either warms up or cools off, fish will move to the mid depth areas and feed heavily.

In the winter, many fish species will move up into area rivers in creeks as well as residential canals. This is especially true for temperature sensitive species such as snook, jack crevalle, and juvenile tarpon. Other species such as spotted sea trout and redfish will often move into deeper holes near the flats as well as deeper residential canals.

Tampa Bay tarpon

As it warms up, fish will move out of these winter hunts and scatter out over the flats. This is an excellent time to fish for a variety of species! As the water temperature reaches the mid 70s, baitfish will show up in huge numbers. This action will continue all summer and into the fall. During times of very warm weather, fish may become a little sluggish and once again seek out deeper water. As winter approaches, the pattern will reverse itself and fish will begin moving back into their winter areas.

7)  Noisy popping corks are productive and easy to use

Popping corks have been used in Florida for a long time on the grass flats. A popping cork is basically a float that makes some noise which attracts fish. In times past, these corks had a slit and the side and a stem which held him in place along with a concave face. These corks are handy and that they are easily added, removed, as well is the depth being fished can be easily changed.

Some newer designs are very popular as well. The Cajun Thunder is an example of this. These were designed in Louisiana where the water is much murkier than here in Tampa Bay. A 2 to 3 foot leader is used under the float with a hook attached. This rig is most often fished with a live shrimp. However, anglers can use a jig or artificial shrimp under the popping cork as well.

fishing for snook in Tampa Bay

The concept with either float is that the rod is twitched sharply in the cork either pops or makes a bunch of noise. This noise simulates fish feeding and in turn attracts game fish such as spotted sea trout to investigate. Once in the area, the fish spots the live shrimp or artificial offering dangling below and hopefully takes. This is a great rig to fish children and novice anglers as it is easy to cast as well as easy to see the bite.

8)  Trolling is a very productive fishing technique in Tampa Bay

Trolling is an excellent technique that anglers can use to locate and catch fish. It is simply the act of idling the boat around while pulling artificial lures behind. It can be done in a variety of depths to catch multiple species.

Many anglers overlook trolling on the flats. However, this is a very effective technique, especially when there is little wind which inhibits drifting. The best lures to troll are plugs and spoons. The #8 Rapala X-Rap in olive or white is an excellent bait for this application. It closely matches the size of the locally available forage. The lure also dives down to to 3 feet, which will keep it from snagging in the submerged grass. 1/2 ounce silver spoons are excellent as well. Anglers need to make sure they use a swivel when using a spoon or line twist will ensue.

Light tackle trolling in Saltwater

Experienced anglers have learned that trolling the open waters of Tampa Bay can be extremely effective as well. This is particularly true around the channel edges of the main shipping channel. The steep drop-offs along with abundant structure make this a natural fish holding area. Anglers in the winter troll large deep diving plugs and catch some very large gag grouper. In the spring and the fall, silver spoons trolled behind number one and number two planers produce king mackerel and Spanish mackerel.

9)  Best time of day to fish varies with seasons

Anglers who are successful fishing and Tampa Bay will also adjust the time of day that they fish to the time of year. In the warmer months, the best action is almost always in the morning. Water temperatures will cool slightly on the flats before heating up during the middle of the day. Also, from an angler comfort level, warnings are the way to go in the summer time. The exception to this is anglers who fish at night around the lighted docks and bridges.

fishing for redfish

Conversely, anglers fishing in the wintertime will often do better by going out in the afternoon. Winter tides can be extremely low in the morning, making fishing difficult. Also, the water will be quite chilly. The best bite on the flats in the cooler months is in the afternoon when the tide comes in and the water warms up a tad. The same is true for anglers chasing snook and area creeks and rivers.

In the spring time, action can be good all day long as the water temperature is in the optimal zone and anglers will be comfortable for most of the day. During this time of year, tides are the prevailing factor as opposed to weather.

10)  Understanding how tides affect fishing in Tampa Bay

Understanding tides and their effect on fish is crucial to angling success in Tampa Bay and really anywhere in saltwater fishing. While there is no one perfect tide, it is more about understanding where fish will feed on certain tide stages. There are two things to consider when dealing with tides; the strength of the tide and the height of the water.

The level of the water is crucial when fishing the shallow flats. On extreme low tides, fish will have no choice but to gang up in the holes. As the tide comes in, they will move up out of these holes and scatter out over the flats to feed. By high tide, many of the fish will be up under the mangroves and difficult to reach. Most anglers prefer the low, incoming tide when fishing the shallow flats.

Tampa Bay fishing tips

Tides affect fish on the deeper flats as well. Most anglers fishing for spotted sea trout and other species on the deeper flats prefer two hours before and after the high tide. While fish can certainly be taken at other times, this is an excellent time to fish in those locations.

Tides will affect anglers fishing in deeper water as well, especially when bottom fishing. While the height of the tide matters very little, the strength of the current is a significant factor. While fish like to feed during strong current, fishing can be difficult both anchoring and getting the bait down to the fish. Many anglers choose to bottom fish and the deeper areas during periods of slack tide were controlling the bait and the boat is much easier.

11)  Leaders are important when fishing in Tampa Bay

Anglers will almost always have to use a leader of some sort. That is tip number x on the list of xx fantastic Tampa Bay fishing tips. Most saltwater fish species either have teeth, raspy lips, or a sharp gill plates. This means that tying the hook or lure straight to the running line will result in a lot of lost fish. For that reason, anglers almost always opt for a shock leader of some sort.

In the vast majority of fishing applications, a 2 foot section of 30 pound fluorocarbon leader is an excellent choice. Anglers can bump it up to 40 pound leader or even higher when targeting large snook and jacks around mangrove shorelines and other structure. Conversely, when the water is very clear and trout or snapper are the quarry, anglers can reduce the leader down to 20 pound test. The leader can be attached to the running line by using a line to line not or a small swivel.

Some anglers opt for wire leader’s when targeting king mackerel and Spanish mackerel. However, this can be a trade-off as wire will almost certainly reduce the number of bites in the clear water. It can be necessary though at times, if constant cutoffs become an issue. Anglers targeting king mackerel in particular when using large live bait fish almost always use a wire leader.

In conclusion, this article on 11 valuable Tampa Bay fishing tips will help anglers catch more fish. Check the FWC site for current Florida fishing regulations.

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

Best 6 Topwater Plugs for Saltwater Fishing

This post will list the best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing. Most anglers enjoy catching fish on top water plugs. Being able to visually see the strike is very exciting! Top water plugs float on the surface. They are designed to imitate a wounded bait fish that is struggling on top of the water. For the most part, they are most effective in fairly shallow water.

best 6 topwater plugs for saltwater fishing

There are several varieties of saltwater top water plugs. These include poppers, propeller baits, and “walk the dog” baits. While they are similar in that they float on the surface and put out some type of commotion, there are differences as well. All three are designed to imitate struggling bait fish on the surface of the water.

Sacramento River striped bass

The best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing are the Rapala Saltwater Skitter Prop, MirrOlure 5M, Heddon Saltwater Super Spook, Rapala Skitter Walk, Atom Popper, and Storm Rattlin” Chug Bug. These 6 saltwater topwater plugs will cover every angling situation.

  • Rapala Skitter Prop
  • Heddon Salatwater Super Spook
  • Atom popper
  • Storm Chug Bug
  • Rapala Saltwater Skitter walk
  • MirrOlure 5M

Topwater Poppers

fishing for bluefish

Poppers are top water plugs that have a concave face. The I let for the line tie is in the center of the bait in most cases. When twitched sharply, the face digs into the water emitting a popping sound as well as producing some splash. These type of lures can call fish up from a long distance and a fairly significant depth. They are very popular on a wide variety of species and many saltwater fishing applications.

Atom Popper

The Atom Popper is a very popular top water lure that is in the Popper family. It is fairly long and slender, making it aerodynamic which increases casting distance. It comes in several different sizes from 7/8 of an ounce to 3 ounces. It is a durable plug and is a very popular choice among striped bass anglers in the Northeast. It is a versatile bait that is used by anglers fishing from the surf, jetties, peers, and boats.

Chug Bug


The Storm Rattlin’ Chug Bug is another popular saltwater popper. It is used more often by anglers fishing the inshore waters. It is a bit smaller at 3 1/4″, which is better suited for inshore fishing. The rattle helps call game fish in to the bait. This lure will take a variety of species including striped bass, bluefish, spotted sea trout, redfish, and more. It is available and many different color patterns and several different sizes.

Propeller Topwater Baits

fishing for snook

Propeller baits or prop baits are another type of surface plug that has been around for a very long time. Some baits have propellers at both ends while many only have one at the rear of the lure. When twitched sharply, the propeller digs into the water and puts out a loud and distinctive churning sound. These baits can put out a lot of noise and commotion without moving very far.

Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is a popular saltwater top water bait that falls into the propeller family. It has one propeller on the rear of the bait with a conical shaped nose. This bait puts out a lot of commotion while moving a very short distance. This lore is a good choice for anglers fishing inshore waters, especially on calm days. The bait will call fish up from quite a distance away.

MirrOlure 5M

The MirrOlure 5M is a more aggressive propeller style bait. It has a propeller on both the front and rear of the lure. It puts out quite a commotion and is an excellent choice when there is a bit of chop on the water or when fish are especially aggressive. It is a durable bait that comes with saltwater hardware. The 5M comes in a couple different sizes and many color variations.

Topwater Fishing with Walk the Dog Baits

The last type of top water plug for saltwater fishing is the walk the dog bait. Unlike the previous two lures, these have very little built in action. Instead, the angler must work the bait in a way that elicits a strike. These baits are long and slender and tapered at the front and rear. When worked properly, the lore zigzags back and forth as it moves across the water. This type of lure is better for anglers who need to cover a fair amount of distance.

Heddon Super Spook

The Zara Spook is one of the most famous and recognizable top water fishing plugs. It is one of the original top water lures that is in the walk the dog family of baits. Their saltwater version in the Super Spook. It is a long and slender lore that is tapered at both ends. It comes with very sturdy saltwater hooks and hardware. The bait is available in several different sizes and multiple finishes.

Rapala Skitter Walk

The Rapala Saltwater Skitter Walk is very similar to the Super Spook. It is a bit smaller in size and profile, making it a better choice on very calm days. It is available and a couple different sizes and several color patterns. Like all lures in the walk the dog family, the action on this bait must be imparted by the angler.

Best Tackle for Fishing Topwater Plugs

In most saltwater fishing applications, spinning tackle is the best choice. However, while spinning tackle can certainly be used, and most situations conventional, or bait casting tackle is best. There are a couple of reasons for this. Due to the manner in which these top water plugs are worked, anglers will invariably get slack in the line. Bait casting outfits are better suited to handle this while spinning outfits will often create loops.

best redfish lures

Furthermore, most of these top water plugs are fairly heavy. While spinning outfits have the advantage when casting light lures, bait casting rigs are often better when throwing heavier baits. Bait casting rods offer anglers the ability to cast towards shoreline cover then stop the bait exactly where needed using the angler’s thumb. This results in a fairly subtle presentation given the weight of the lure.

Best Baitcasting outfit


While there is no one best conventional or bait casting outfit, a 7 foot to 7 1/2 foot medium heavy rod with a matching reel is an excellent all round combination. While anglers targeting larger species such as trophy striped bass will need to bump it up a bit, this rig will cover the vast majority of angling situations involving top water plugs.

Top Spinning Rig

Anglers can certainly use spinning outfits when casting top water plugs as well. Just as with bait casting outfits, there is no one combination that will cover every situation. However, a 7 foot medium heavy spinning rod with a 3002 4000 series real will get the job done in most situations.

Fishing Line Choices

Anglers have a couple different choices when it comes to fishing line. Braided line is very thin in diameter and will allow anglers some extra casting distance. However, many anglers actually prefer the stretch of monofilament line when using top water plugs. The stretch and the line can result in more fish being hooked and landed. Florocarbon lines are a bit of a combination, but are quite expensive. It really just is a matter of personal choice. 20 pound braided line and 12 to 15 pound monofilament line are good all-around choices.


Topwater Lure Fishing Techniques for Saltwater Anglers

Anglers saltwater fishing with surface plugs can find success in a variety of situations. While for the most part these types of baits are most effective in fairly shallow water, they can be used in deeper water as well. This is especially true when the water is clear. Top water baits will catch fish on shallow flats over bars and grass. They are also effective when cast towards shoreline cover such as docks, seawalls, riprap, fallen timber, oyster bars, and more.

fishing for striped bass

The best approach is to cast the lure out and allow it to settle for a few moments. Once the rings have dissipated, the retrieve can begin. Anglers using poppers and propeller baits will do best to twitch the lure sharply, then allow it to set a few moments again. This is repeated several times then the lure is reeled back in and cast out to another spot. These lures work best around structure as a can be worked multiple times without the lure being moved very far.

Walk the dog baits are a better choice for anglers looking to cover a larger area of water such as an expansive flats. Once again, the lure is cast out and allowed to settle. Then, with the rod tip held low towards the surface, the angler begins reeling it in while twitching the rod tip in a rhythmic pattern. When done properly, the lore will dance side-to-side as it comes back in towards the angler.

Proper technique for setting the hook

It is very important when fishing with top water plugs in saltwater to not set the hook when visually seeing the strike. This can be difficult as the take is often quite explosive. However, anglers who do so will most often miss the fish while sending the lure with multiple treble hooks back towards the angler.

Instead, the technique that works best when setting the hook with a top water plug is to wait until the fish is actually felt on the end of the line. This may seem like a long time, but it is not only more effective, it is much safer as well. Also, instead of an aggressive hook set, the best approach is usually a sideways sweep of the rod while reeling tight to get all the slack out of the line.

In conclusion, this article on the best 6 top water plugs for saltwater fishing will help anglers catch more fish using this exciting and productive technique!

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

Best 7 Saltwater Fishing Spoons

This post will list the top 9 saltwater fishing spoons. Spoons are simple yet very effective artificial lures that catch a wide variety of species. For the most part, they mimic bait fish as they put out a lot a flash and vibration in the water. Spoons come in many sizes to match the locally available forage. They are very versatile lures which are effective when cast, trolled, and vertically presented.

Spanish mackerel fishing in Florida

A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in. The shape of the spoon along with the design will determine how it works in the water. Spoons that are wider tend to wobble more and are best when worked at a slower pace. Long slender spoons can be worked or trolled much faster as they incorporate a tighter wiggle. Most spoons have a single treble hook, though some do come with a large single hook as well.

Most of the baits in this list of the top 9 saltwater fishing spoons are available in a wide variety of colors and finishes. However, most anglers tend to lean towards either a silver or gold finish. In clear water where silvery and light-colored bait fish are present, silver is just a natural finish which closely mimics the local prey. Conversely, gold is the choice in water that is a bit darker and on overcast days as well.

saltwater fishing spoons

Top 9 saltwater fishing spoons

This is Capt. Jim Klopfer’s top 9 saltwater fishing spoons. Capt. Jim runs fishing charters and Sarasota Florida and has over 30 years experience on the water. These spoons will produce for anglers and just about any fishing situation.

  • Acme Kastmaster
  • Sea Striker
  • Hopkins
  • Johnson silver minnow
  • crocodile
  • Johnson Sprite
  • Clark spoon
  • drone spoon

Spoon fishing tackle

The tackle required for fishing with spoons and saltwater will vary greatly depending on the application. Anglers casting spoons to mackerel, bluefish, striped bass, and other species will do well with a medium spinning outfit. A 7 foot medium action rod with a 3000 or 4000 series reel will get the job done.

top 9 saltwater fishing spoons

Anglers fishing with spoons and saltwater can certainly use bait casting tackle as well. Again, a medium action outfit that is about 7 foot long works best in most applications.

Anglers who prefer to troll with spoons will do best with a light conventional outfit. These are versatile rigs that most saltwater anglers already own. A 20 series or 30 series rod and reel combination will work fine for trolling spoons with sinkers and small planers.

Using swivels with spoons

inshore saltwater fishing

It is always recommended to use some type of swivel when fishing with spoons. Due to their design, spoons will twist and roll in the water. This is part of what makes them effective as they flash and vibration. Anglers can place a swivel between the running line and the leader or have the swivel right at the top of the spoon. Many anglers use a snap swivel to facilitate lure changing.

Spoon fishing techniques

Spoons are used by anglers fishing and saltwater in three different ways; casting, jigging, and trolling. Several spoons on this list of top 9 saltwater fishing spoons can do all three. Most can do two different things and some are specifically designed to do one, mostly troll.

Casting spoons

Casting spoons are meant to be cast out with the rod and reel and retrieved back in. Anglers can use them in a variety of applications. It is great sport to cast a spoon into a school of breaking fish. These are fish that are feeding on the surface as they have trapped baitfish. In this situation, fish are very aggressive and will often take any lure that is cast into the fray.

inshore saltwater fishing

Anglers can also blind cast with spoons to cover an area in search of fish. This is often done over a flat, sandbar, or near some type of structure such as jetties, rocks, bridges, docks, and any other spots that will hold fish.

Jigging spoons

Vertically jigging is a very effective technique when fish are schooled up over deep water structure. Casting is not practical as the fish are holding in such deep water. With this technique, the boat is placed above the fish and the spoon lower down to the bottom. The bait is then worked back towards the surface using hard jerks in an erratic manner.

Trolling spoons

Spoons are very effective lures when trolled as well. Trolling is simply the technique were anglers put lures out behind the boat and drive around in search of fish. While there are many nuances to it, that is basically the approach. Certain spoons are designed to be specifically trolled and not fished in any other manner. The spoons are light and some method must be used to get them down to the desired depth.

Florida king mackerel fishing

The two most common methods used when trolling with spoons are sinkers and planers. Trolling sinkers are just sinkers that are tied in line between the running line and the leader. The weight of the sinker will be determined by the depth of the water to be fished as well as the trolling speed. 2 to 4 ounces is a good all-around size, but anglers can certainly go heavier if needed.

Planers are clever devices that are similar to the lip on the diving plug. When set, the angle of the planer will cause the planer and spoon to dive down to a certain depth. A number one planer will dive down 5 to 7 feet. A number two planer will dive down 12 to 15 feet. A leader connects the spoon to the planer, 20 feet is a good length. When a fish strikes, the planer trips, allowing the angler to fight the fish without the drag of the planer.

Top 9 saltwater fishing spoons

Here is a description and a link for shopping for each of Capt. Jim’s top 9 saltwater fishing spoons.

Acme Kastmaster

The Acme Kastmaster spoon has been around a long time and is a proven lure. It has a unique shape that is different from other spoons. While primarily a casting spoon, it is very effective when jigs and trolled as well. It is one of those versatile spoons that can be used for all three techniques. The silver and gold finish is are most popular, with the silver and neon blue becoming more popular of late.

Sea Striker

The Sea Striker spoon is a very popular casting spoon. It has the traditional teardrop shaped where it is narrower with the top and wider at the bottom. It puts out a very enticing wobble and vibration along with flash. It comes in a variety of sizes and can be matched to the available forage. In most cases, a slow steady retrieve works best.

Hopkins

Hopkins spoons are most often thought of as jigging spoons, and for good reason. They basically invented the technique. These spoons are very heavy and dense, which allows them to sing quickly when fishing deep water and in heavy current. They come in a variety of sizes to match most fishing conditions. The silver spoon with a hammered finish and the hook dressed with white is the most popular Hopkins spoon.

Johnson Silver Minnow

The Johnson Silver Minnow spoon is a bit of a specialty bait. This is a weedless spoon that rides with the body of the spoon down in the hook up. It also has a weed guard. This design results in it be in very weedless. The spoon is most often fished in shallow water when weeds are present. It is a great search bait when trying to locate fish on expansive shallow flats. Many anglers associate it with redfish, however it will catch a wide variety of species.

Krocodile

The Krocodile spoon is another bait that can be used when casting, trolling, and vertically jigging. It is a bit of a hybrid spoon as it is long in fairly slender, but still has a bit of girth in the middle. The spoons are available in a very wide variety of colors and finishes along with alterable sizes.

Johnson Sprite

The Johnson Sprite spoon is a casting spoon. It has the traditional teardrop shape and is quite wide at the base. Gold and silver are the most popular finishes by far. This is a great spoon to use when fish are in water less than 10 feet deep. A slow steady retrieve works best.

Clark

Clark spoons are the number one trolling spoons used by saltwater anglers. They have a unique long slender design which realistically mimics the many species of similarly shaped bait fish. Their design also allows anglers to troll quite fast, up to 8 knots. This allows anglers to cover much more water in search of speedy game fish such as king mackerel and Spanish mackerel and false albacore. The spoons are almost always fish behind planers or sinkers. Silver is the most popular finish and the size varies depending on the size of the bait fish in the area.

Crippled Herring

The Crippled Herring is most often used as a vertically jigging lure. However, it can be cast out and retrieved as well. It is not terribly heavy for its size. Therefore, it works best when fish are feeding on smaller bait and reasonably shallow water. It can also be trolled when schools of glass minnows and other small bait fish are on the surface.

Drone

The Drone spoon is a wide bodied trolling spoon. Many anglers put it in the family of a bunker spoon. It was designed to mimic large, wider bait fish such as bunker and threadfin herring. It is an excellent trolling lure when these larger bait fish are present. It can be fish behind a sinker but is most often fish behind planers. Despite the size, anglers can troll this lure fairly quickly.

In conclusion, this list of Capt. Jim’s top 9 saltwater fishing spoons will help anglers understand which spoons work better and a particular application, and most importantly, catch more fish!

 

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

Best Sheepshead Fishing Tackle and Baits

This post is all about the best sheepshead fishing tackle and baits. Sheepshead are a hard fighting and great tasting member of the porgy family. They are found near structure in inshore saltwater bays, inlets, and near shore waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They feed primarily on crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. Sheepshead range from Texas all along the coast up to new England.

best sheepshead fishing tackle and baits

Anglers fishing for sheepshead will do well using standard bottom fishing techniques. Sheepshead are almost always found either on bottom structure or close to vertical structure such as bridge pilings and piers. Sheepshead have an unusual set of teeth that they use to cross shells of mollusks and barnacles. They then devour the animal living inside the shell. Sheepshead are very seldom caught by anglers using artificial lures.

One of the great things about fishing for sheepshead is that they are one of the less finicky fish species. They have saved the day for many an angler when the water was cool and dirty. Another great attribute of sheepshead is that anglers do not need a ton of skill to have a successful day. Once again, this is very basic bottom fishing with a few nuances.

Capt. Jim Klopfer has been running fishing charters in Sarasota Florida since 1991. He targets a wide variety of species throughout the year. Many of his clients include children and novice anglers. Also, conditions are often less than ideal in the winter. Add to these factors the excellent eating quality, and you have several reasons why he targets sheepshead throughout the winter and early spring.

Best sheepshead fishing tackle

Fortunately, anglers seeking the best sheepshead fishing tackle can keep it quite simple. In fact, most anglers who do any inshore saltwater fishing most likely already own a suitable rod and reel combination. Sheepshead average from 2 pounds to 5 pounds and are normally found around structure. For this application, a medium spinning outfit works best. It allows anglers to enjoy the fight of the fish while still being able to handle it around structure.

Best 15 sheepshead fishing tips

The best all round spinning outfit is a 7 foot medium or medium light action rod with a fairly limber tip. While sheepshead pull hard, they bite very lightly. A soft tip will allow anglers to feel the bite while a stout butt section enables the angler to horse the fish away from structure. The rod should be matched with a 3000 series real spooled up with 12 pound monofilament or 20 pound braided line.

Anglers can use a light conventional outfit as well. These are known to some as bait casting rigs. These are more appropriate for anglers vertically fishing over racks and other submerged structure. They are a bit more difficult to cast. However, they work very well when pursuing larger fish.

Sheepshead fishing rigs

bottom fishing rigs

There are several standard bottom rigs that work well for anglers sheepshead fishing. These include a dropper, or chicken rig, sliding sinker or Carolina rig, knocker rig, or a simple free line rig. Each has advantages and situations where they work best.

Freeline rig

The easiest and simplest fishing rig for sheepshead is to free line a live bait back to the fish. This rig simply consist of a leader, a hook, and a split shot or two if required. The advantages of this rig are that the bait land softly, resulting in a more delicate presentation. Also, with no weight, the fish can pick up the bait and move off without any resistance.

Florida saltwater fishing in winter

This rig is used primarily around structure such as docks and oyster bars in fairly shallow water. In deeper water, especially with any current present, the bait will not usually get down deep enough. It is extremely effective around oyster bars in the mouths of feeder creeks.

Carolina rig

The sliding sinker rig, known to many as a Carolina rig, is perhaps the most commonly used in versatile rig for sheepshead fishing. It consists of an egg sinker, which has a hole through the center. The running line goes through this whole and then a swivel is attached. The swivel both stops the sinker from moving any further as well as giving a place to attach a leader. A 2 foot to 3 foot leader followed by a hook completes the rig.

top texas game fish

The beauty of the Carolina rig is that the sliding sinker allows a sheepshead to pick up the bait and move off with it without feeling any resistance. This can be crucial on days when the bite is very light and delicate. The sinker weight can be changed and adjusted to match the current fishing situation. Water depth and current speed are the most important factors. Anglers should use the lightest weight possible to reach and hold the bottom.

Knocker rig

The knocker rig is similar to a Carolina rig with one big exception. The sinker slides onto the leader just above the hook. When lower down to the bottom, the sinker actually sits right on top of the eye of the hook. The main advantage to this rig is that anglers will know exactly where the bait is; when the sinker is on the bottom, the bait is on the bottom.

saltwater fishing in Florida with live bait

The knocker rig is most often used around fairly heavy structure where other rigs will snag the bottom. By keeping the hook in sinker and one location, hangups are limited. When the hook does snag, a sharp jerk of the rod tip will send the sinker up the leader and and sliding back down to the eye of the hook, knocking it free. This is how it got the name.

Dropper rig

Dropper rigs, also known as chicken rakes, are very effective for sheepshead as well. They consist of a sinker at the bottom, with hooks tied off on short droppers at different intervals. This allows anglers to present multiple baits at multiple levels at the same time. This is a standard bottom fishing rig which has been producing for many, many years.

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This is the rig to choose for anglers vertically fishing and drifting. Normally, a bank sinker is used. The sinker tends to bounce off of and rollover rocks and other obstructions. This does not work well on reefs and wrecks where snags are really bad. At some point, the rig will hang up on the bottom. This rig will catch a variety of other species for anglers bottom fishing off of structure.

Best hooks for sheepshead fishing

Obviously, what piece of sheepshead fishing tackle that anglers will need is a hook. Hooks come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and strengths. For most sheepshead fishing situations, a #1 or #1/0 short shank live bait hook works well. Sheepshead have a very strong by and a stout hook is required. Many anglers have gone to circle hooks as well. When used properly, the hookup ratio is high in the fish are almost always hooked in the corner of the mouth. They are required in many parts of the Gulf of Mexico. #4/0 is a good all-around hook size.

Sinkers

Sinkers are another item that sheepshead anglers will need in their tackle boxes. However, only a few sizes and styles are really needed. A selection of egg sinkers from 1/2 ounce to 2 ounce, bank sinkers from 1 ounce to 4 ounce, and a couple bags of split shot will get the job done.

Leaders and swivels

Most sheepshead anglers tie their own rigs. Those do will need leader material and swivels. The leader strength is determined by the clarity of the water, the size of the fish being pursued, and the structure being fished. In most cases, 30 pound fluorocarbon leader is all that an angler needs. #10 black swivels are a good all-around choice. Most local bait shops to sell pre-made rigs for anglers who do not want to tie their own.

Best sheepshead fishing baits

As mentioned above, the vast majority of sheepshead are landed by anglers using natural bait. Occasionally, sheepshead will take it artificial lore, but this is the exception and not the role. Top sheepshead baits, either live or frozen, include shrimp, fiddler crabs, sand fleas, oyster crabs, oysters, and clams.

  • Shrimp
  • Fiddler crabs
  • Sand fleas
  • Oyster crabs
  • Oysters and Clams

Shrimp

The number one bait for anglers fishing inshore salt waters from the Carolinas south and around the Gulf Coast is shrimp. They are available at every bait store in that area. Live shrimp are very effective sheepshead baits. While some anglers consider some other baits more productive, it is hard to beat the convenience with which fresh or frozen shrimp can be obtained. Fresh dead shrimp works well, as does frozen shrimp.

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Fiddler crabs

Fiddler crabs are available at some coastal bait shops. However, they are much less prevalent than are shrimp and other baits. Serious sheepshead anglers catch them on the title flats at low tide. There are easy to see as a mass of them scurries about with their one claw shaking angrily up in the air. These are fantastic sheepshead fishing baits, perhaps the best of them all.

Sand fleas

Sand fleas, whose proper name is more crab, are a popular bait for anglers surf fishing for a variety of species. Live sand fleas are hardly ever sold at bait shops, though some do carry frozen ones. Most anglers catch them in the surf is a fish using special sand flea rakes. As the surf comes in, angler scoop out a bunch of sand and shell, sifting out the sand and hoping there’s a few sand fleas left.

Oyster crabs

Oyster crabs and other small crabs are also very good sheepshead fishing baits. However, anglers using these almost always have to catch them themselves. They are mostly found around rocks and oysters that are submerged at high tide but exposed at low tide. While quite a bit of effort to procure them, many sheepshead anglers consider it worth the trouble.

Oysters and clams

Oysters and clams are a very good an underutilized sheepshead fishing bait. They are easy to obtain and use. They can be purchased at grocery stores, fish markets and bait shops. Razor clams are favored in some areas. Clams are tough baits would stay on the hook well. Most anglers cut them into bite-sized pieces for the sheepshead.

Hooking sheepshead

Many anglers new to the sport of sheepshead fishing have a lot of difficulty hooking them. There are a couple mistakes that many novice anglers make. Capt. Jim will share a few tips and techniques which will help these anglers hook more of these feisty saltwater panfish.

What mistake many anglers make when sheepshead fishing is moving the bait too much. Capt. Jim likes to cast the lure out towards likely structure, or drop it to the bottom when fishing vertically in deeper water. Once the bait comes to rest on the bottom, the slack is reeled out of the line. The angler then holds the rod tip low and keeps the bait motionless while waiting for a bite.

Sarasota fishing report

The bite usually begins with a fairly distinct “tap”. This is where many anglers make their first mistake, they want to move or gently lift the bait. That is a mistake! The best approach is to keep the bait motionless. Many times there will be a series of taps. However, at some point the sheepshead will either get the bait or picking up and move off with it.

This is where the other mistake comes into play. Once that slow steady pull is felt, many anglers want to set the hook. Again, this is a mistake and is especially true with anglers using circle hooks. Instead, the technique that works best for Capt. Jim is to real fast and hard while slowly lifting the rod tip up high. This will remove all the slack from the line and start the hook in the sheepshead’s mouth.

Sheepshead fishing spots

Just about any structure can hold sheepshead when they are in the area. Oyster bars are extremely productive and backwater areas were title creeks and rivers are prevalent. The same holds true for shallow water bays between the mainland and the barrier islands. The best approach when fishing oyster bars for sheepshead is to free line a bait out where the oyster bar drops off into slightly deeper water.

Docks and bridges are prime spots for sheepshead as well. These provide both overhead cover and shade as well as vertical cover in the form of pilings. Bridges and docks and water 10 feet or shallower should be fished a distance away and cast towards. Anglers fishing deeper bridges and docks can do so with a vertical presentation both knocker rigs and sliding sinker rigs work well.

Inlets and passes are prime spots to target sheepshead as well. Most have abundant structure in the form of docks, seawalls, bridges, and submerged rock piles. In many areas, these are the spots that sheepshead school up in big numbers to spawn. The best time to fish these areas is usually on the turn of the tide when the water slacks up. It is just too difficult, and sometimes dangerous, to anchor in the swift current. Knocker rigs and spreader rigs work well.

Reefs and wrecks in the inshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico will also hold plenty of sheepshead as well. Also, in some areas these tend to be the largest fish. Anglers can anchor or drift in most cases a vertical presentation with a spreader rig is the best choice.

In conclusion, this article on the best sheepshead fishing tackle and baits should help anglers catch more of these hard fighting and great tasting saltwater panfish!

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Anglers Guide

Tarpon Fishing Tackle and Gear, an Anglers Guide

This article will cover the best tarpon fishing tackle and gear. Tarpon are perhaps the premier game fish in the world. They earned their nick name, “the silver king”. There are few opportunities for anglers to sight cast to a fish well over one hundred pounds using spinning or fly tackle. This often occurs in clear shallow, water. Tarpon are famous for leaping over six feet out of the water!

best tarpon fishing tackle and gear

Tarpon are found in warm tropical and sub tropical waters. In the United States, they are primarily found in Florida. However, they can be caught in the summer in Gulf Coast waters and along the east coast up to North Carolina. Tarpon are plentiful throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Africa has some tarpon as well. The world record is 286 pounds!

Tarpon are found in a variety of environments. Most anglers associate them with clear, shallow, tropical waters. Often times, they are caught by sight casting live baits, lures, and flies to fish. They are found in deeper waters as well, especially at the mouths of rivers and bays. Both juvenile and trophy sizes tarpon are caught up in rivers as well.

tarpon fishing in Florida

Best tarpon fishing tackle and gear

For the most part, anglers seeking tarpon tackle will need pretty stout equipment. Tarpon grow over a hundred pounds and heavy gear is required to land them. Also, it is not fair for the fish to battle it for hours on tackle that is too light. Anglers fishing for tarpon will need heavy spinning tackle and perhaps conventional outfits as well.

Spinning tackle for tarpon fishing

Anglers chasing giant tarpon will need stout gear. A 7 foot to 8 foot rod with a fast action is a good all-around choice. The term “fast” action means that the rod is quite stout at the butt section and then up through the center of the rod, then tapering to a more limber tip. This combination gives anglers a flexible tip which facilitates casting baits and lures along with a stout butt section to handle a heavy fish.

Basically, spinning reels are very similar to what are used for other types of fishing. However, they are larger with quality drag systems and multiple bearings. There are many different manufacturers who may quality spinning reels that are suitable for tarpon fishing. Penn is a brand that is been around a long time and still makes quality products today.

Shimano manufactures several reels as well. The Shimano Baitrunner is very popular among tarpon anglers. It has a feature which allows a fish to take a live bait and run off with it under a light drag pressure and not the full pressure of the real used when fighting the fish.

Fishing line options

Sarasota tarpon fishing

Most anglers have gone to braided line when fishing for tarpon these days. It has several advantages over monofilament line. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that the thinner line offers anglers much more line capacity on the reel as well as more casting distance. It is more expensive, however last a very long time. Anglers do need to take care when tying knots as it is a bit different than with monofilament. Most anglers opt for 40 pound or 60 pound braided line.

Some anglers still prefer monofilament line when tarpon fishing. The argument can be made that the stretch of monofilament is actually a benefit when fighting a fish is largest tarpon that leap and make violent head shakes. It is also much less expensive and knots are easier to tie. It really is just a matter of preference. Most anglers use 25 to 30 pound line when choosing monofilament.

Lighter spinning combinations for smaller tarpon

There are certainly instances where anglers will have the opportunity to catch smaller tarpon. This occurs in many of the backwater areas of the Florida Keys and 10,000 islands as well as areas in the Caribbean. In this application, a medium spinning outfit works fine. Many anglers already own a suitable combination. The same tackle that works well for snook and redfish as well as smaller bluefish and striped bass be more than adequate.

Conventional gear for tarpon fishing

There is a place tarpon fishing for conventional outfits as well. There are many situations where anglers do not need to cast. This includes vertically fishing with either artificial lures such as jigs or live bait as well as anchoring up and bottom fishing with live or cut bait. Tarpon are opportunistic feeders and are certainly not above taking advantage of an easy meal lying on the bottom. Medium conventional outfits that can be cast a short distance when needed are the best choice.

Conventional tackle for smaller tarpon

Just as with spinning tackle, there are situations where anglers will be fishing for smaller tarpon. This is a situation where medium light conventional tackle works very well. Anglers casting heavier lures such as plugs or larger live baits can easily cast the offering far enough while having the advantage of conventional tackle when fighting the fish. The Shimano Calcutta line of reels is highly thought of by many saltwater anglers.

Fly fishing tackle for tarpon

fly fishing for tarpon

Many anglers who enjoy fly fishing consider tarpon to be the ultimate challenge, and for good reason! Hooking and landing a 150 pound tarpon is an incredible feat for any angler. Just as with spinning tackle, fly tackle for tarpon fishing is basically the same, just heavier. Most anglers chasing giant fish opt for an 11wt or 12wt outfit. A quality real with a lot of backing is a must. Most anglers do well with an intermediate sink tip line or full sinking line, depending on the situation.


Tarpon fishing leaders

Some type of leader is almost always used when fishing for tarpon. The length and strength of the leader depends on a variety of factors. The primary factor is the size of the fish being pursued. Most anglers chasing giant tarpon will use 60 pound to 80 pound fluorocarbon leader. Lengths vary by preference. Some anglers use very long leaders, up to 10 foot. Others prefer to 66 feet of line and then use a 30 inch leader. The latter selection usually makes casting easier.

Hooks for tarpon fishing

There are certainly a wide variety of choices when it comes to hooks for tarpon fishing. Many anglers have gone over to using circle hooks. These hooks have a clever rotating motion when coming out of the fishes mouth, usually resulting in the hook being placed right in the corner. This achieves both a good hookup ratio while allowing for an easier live release. It is important when using circle hooks to not set the hook, but instead just come tight and lifting the rod tip. 8/0 is a good size for most baits.

J” hooks still have their place in tarpon fishing as well. These hooks are less bulky and cumbersome than circle hooks. This can make a difference when presentation is critical, especially in very clear water. Most anglers using them use a snell knot for added strength. 5/0 is a good all round size. Owner both offer quality “J” hooks and circle hooks for anglers tarpon fishing.

Other tarpon fishing gear

There are a few other items of gear that anglers will need when tarpon fishing. These include gloves, a cloth tape measure, a lip landing device for smaller tarpon, a long billed the, and quality sunglasses.

Gloves

Gloves are a very good idea to have on board when trying to land a trophy tarpon. These fish are incredibly strong in grabbing the leader with bare hands can be difficult and even dangerous. The same goes for lipping a tarpon once it is alongside the boat. Gloves are inexpensive and necessary item that every tarpon angler should have.

Tape measure

Anglers documenting their catch, whether it’s for a tarpon released tournament or just for their own personal knowledge, will want to be able to take a length and girth of the fish. The best way to do this is with a cloth tape measure such as a tailor would use. Charts are available which will give anglers a very accurate estimate of the fishes weight based on the length and girth.

Lip grip

Anglers pursuing smaller tarpon or even those who prefer them when handling a large tarpon may want to have some type of lip landing device on the boat. The Boca Grip is a very popular example of this. These devices make lifting smaller fish up out of the water much easier and safer for the fish and the angler. Anglers using them to assist in landing larger fish need to be careful.

Hat

It sounds very basic, but a quality hat can really make a difference when tarpon fishing. In many tarpon fishing situations, the fish must be perceived before it is cast to. A quality hat with a long bill will keep the sun out of an angler’s eyes. Many of these types of caps also have flaps which protect the ears and the back of the neck from son damage.

Sunglasses

Equality pair of sunglasses is crucial for many types of fishing and tarpon fishing is no exception. They can literally make the difference between catching fish and not. Often times, tarpon are seen cruising in the water. Conditions for site fishing are often less than ideal. Equality pair of sunglasses will aid greatly and seeing the fish and being able to present the lure, bait, or fly to the fish.

Tarpon fishing techniques

There are several different ways that anglers can catch a giant tarpon. To keep it simple, these include Beach fishing, pass fishing, and flats fishing. There are both similarities and differences between the three which will be outlined below.

Beach fishing for tarpon

Fishing for tarpon off of the beaches is great sport! Anglers sit in boats generally between 100 yards and a mile or two offshore while scanning the water for signs of fish. Most often, tarpon off of the beaches will be found in schools or pods. Fish can number from a half dozen to over 200, depending on the size of the school.

The general technique when fishing for tarpon off the beach is to locate a school then position the boat so that it intercepts the fish. The best opportunities are slow-moving schools of tarpon that are gently milling on the surface. Schools that are running hard and fast are termed Greyhound in fish and are very difficult to catch. Also, anglers will encounter schools of milling fish or daisy chaining fish. This is a unique behavior the tarpon exhibit where they mill about from head to tail on the surface in a circle.

Once an opportunity presents itself, the angler cast a live bait, artificial lore, or fly in front of the fish. It is important to judge the movements to get the offering a bit ahead of the fish. Tossing right on top of them will usually spook them and ruin that chance. Top live baits include crabs, mullet, pin fish, sardines, and threadfin herring. The best Lors are large suspending plugs and large shrimp imitations.

Anglers fishing for tarpon on the beach can also anchor and present both live and cut baits out to passing fish. What advantage of this is that anglers can cover the entire water column while also putting out a nice spread of baits. Several cut bait such as fresh cut threadfin herring are placed strategically behind into the side of the boat. Live bait such as crabs and bait fish can be tossed out behind the boat under a cork.

Tarpon fishing in inlets and river mouths

Passes, inlets, and river mouths are prime spots to catch tarpon. Boca Grande Pass on the West Coast of Florida is a world-famous example. Thousands of tarpon congregate in a fairly small area as part of their spawning process. Most inlets and passes in Florida and throughout the Caribbean have decent numbers of tarpon in the spring and early summer.

The best approach when fishing for tarpon in this situation is usually a vertical presentation. Strong currents and boat traffic make this the most practical approach. Also, often times the fish are encountered fairly deep. Casting to them is just really not a practical option. However, there will be occasions when the fish will be seen milling about on the surface.

Conventional tackle is usually used in this situation as anglers do not need to cast. Jigs wing several ounces are often used. Anglers fishing with live bait will often also use fairly heavy weights that are rigged to come loose when a tarpon takes the bait. This heavier tackle allows anglers to control a big tarpon better. This is especially important in areas where boat traffic is heavy.

Tarpon on the flats

To many anglers, tarpon and Flats fishing go together. The Florida Keys made this style of fishing legendary. Tarpon migrate through many square miles of pristine flats with crystal clear water. Tarpon are easily seen, however not easily hooked in most cases. Anglers need to use patients and stealth in order to achieve a hook up.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this type of fishing is that anglers are actually casting to the fish. The ability to cite cast to a 150 pound fish with spinning tackle is an opportunity that does not occur in very many places. The added elements of a beautiful environment make this a world-class experience.

In conclusion, this article on the best tarpon fishing tackle and gear will hopefully help anglers new to the sport of tarpon fishing achieve success!

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Redfish Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will feature the best redfish fishing tackle and lures. The proper name is “red drum, but they are known as redfish, reds, puppy drum, and channel bass. Redfish are an extremely popular inshore saltwater species. They are found all along the Gulf Coast up to the mid Atlantic states. Redfish average 5 pounds but grow close to 10 pounds!

best redfish fishing tackle

This article will feature the best redfish fishing tackle and lures. The proper name is “red drum, but they are known as redfish, reds, puppy drum, and channel bass. Redfish are an extremely popular inshore saltwater species. They are found all along the Gulf Coast up to the mid Atlantic states. Redfish average 5 pounds but grow close to 10 pounds!

Redfish have an “inferior” mouth. That means that the nose extends out over the mouth. This gives anglers an insight into the manner in which they feed. Reds mostly use their hard nose to root around in the bottom. However, they are not scavengers, though they are opportunistic. Crabs, shrimp, and other crustaceans are their primary forage.

Sarasota fishing calendar

Redfish do most certainly feed on live bait fish as well! Depending on the location, these include mullet, pinfish, grunts, sardines, herring, mud minnows, pogies, and any juvenile game fish. Fresh fish are used effectively as cut bait in many instances, especially for anglers surf fishing.

Best redfish rods and reels

The vast majority of anglers that fish for redfish are targeting fish in the 3 to 10 pound range. Therefore, medium spinning and light conventional outfits work best. However, those fishing for large reds in inlets and around bridges will require stout conventional gear. Surf anglers use the same outfits that do well for larger bluefish and striped bass.

best redfish lures

Spinning rods and reels for redfish

Medium spinning rods with a fast action and a 3000 or 4000 series reel work very well for anglers fishing for redfish. “Fast action” means that the rod is stout at the butt and middle section, but tapers to a limber tip. This allows for casting of light lures and baits, but enough muscle to handle a decent fish.

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Spinning rods are used a lot by anglers who fish with lighter lures and live baits. This rig works great for those casting ¼ ounce jigs and spoons as well as free lining live shrimp and bait fish. Also, many areas have reds that are mostly 30” and under. These outfits are fine for those fish, especially in open water.

Light conventional rods and reels for redfish

redfish fishing tackle

Light conventional, or bait casting, outfits are well suited to anglers chasing redfish as well. They are especially popular in the Gulf Coast states where larger fish are more often caught. Also, these rigs work well for anglers casting larger lures and live baits. These conventional outfits are also great as casting heavier popping cork rigs, which are extremely popular in that region.

Heavy conventional redfish tackle

best redfish tackle

Heavy conventional outfits are used by anglers chasing the largest redfish. This often occurs in inlets and passes whee strong current is an additional factor. The same applies to fishing near bridges and docks, stout tackle is required to land a big, strong fish in these conditions. Heavy conventional gear is best for this application.

Surf fishing tackle for reds

Anglers catch redfish in the surf as well. This is particularly true in the Atlantic from Georgia to Maryland. The Outer Banks is a famous surf fishing destination. Reds vary greatly in size, from 18” puppy drum to 50 pound monsters. Anglers need to match the surf fishing tackle to the size of the fish being pursued.

Fishing line options for redfish anglers

fishing for reedfish and speckled trout

Anglers fishing for redfish have two basic choices when it comes to fishing line, braided line and monofilament line. Most anglers now use braided line. It costs more, but lasts longer, have zero stretch, great sensitivity, and is thinner in diameter so it casts further. Knots are a bit trickier. Some anglers still prefer the stretch and feel of monofilament. There is not a wrong choice, it is just a matter of individual preference.


Leaders

fishing in Carolina

Anglers will need leader material as well when fishing for redfish. Flourocarbon leader is the best choice in most applications. 30 lb leader is good for inshore fishing. Anglers can bump up the strength as the fish get larger or the water gets less clear.

Best artificial lures for redfish

plug fishing Sarasota

Anglers fish for redfish with both live bait and artificial lures. The main advantage with lures is the ability to cover water in search of fish. This is especially true when they are scattered out on large, expansive flats. Here is a selection of proven artificial lures for reds.

Gold Johnson Silver Minnow

It would be hard to argue that the gold Johnson Silver minnow spoon is not the top redfish artificial lure of all time. To this day, gold weedless spoons produce many redfish. They are terrific search baits. Spoons can be cast a long distance. This allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Florida fishing tips

The Johnson Silver minnow spoon started out as a largemouth bass lure, as did many saltwater baits. While it does come in silver and other finishes, gold is the more productive color for redfish. The Silver Minnow is relatively weedless as it rides hook up and also has a weed guard. Spoons have an enticing wiggle and put out a lot a flash and vibration. They can be fished in water as shallow as a foot deep effectively.

The technique when fishing with weedless spoons is fairly simple. Anglers make a long cast and reel the spoon back in using a slow, steady retrieve. It is extremely effective when used overlarge expansive shallow grass flats. The Johnson Silver Minnow can also be used along oyster bars and shorelines. The 1/2 ounce size is most popular.

Bass Assassin Sea Shad

Second on the list of Capt. Jim’s best seven fishing lures for redfish is the 4 inch Bass Assassin Sea Shad soft plastic swim bait. These types of lures have been around for a long time. They are still very effective for catching a wide variety of fish species, and redfish are no exception.

redfish lures

These soft plastic swim baits are simple, economical, and very effective. The bait is 4 inches long and has a shad style tail which produces a lot a vibration and a natural swimming action. Bass Assassin offers a myriad of color options for anglers to choose from. Lighter colors work well in clear water while darker colors perform best in stained water. Hot pink and chartreuse work best when the water is muddy.

Anglers have several choices when it comes to reading these baits. Most often, a jig head is used. The jig head provides both weight and hook. The lure rides with the hookup, making it relatively weedless. However, the jig had will pick up grass. Special shallow water jig heads have a tapered head which helps reduce this. Anglers can also rig this bait on a weighted swim bait hook.

One of the keys to this baits effectiveness is its versatility. The bait can be rigged on a very light jig head and fish and extremely shallow water. Anglers will swim it over the grass than allow it to sink down into potholes. It can also be bounced down the edges of oyster bars. When used with a heavier jig head, this lore can be used when redfish are found in deeper water such as and inlets and passes.

Rapala X-Rap

Number three on the list of best redfish lures that Capt. Jim likes is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This is a shallow diving jerk bait that is very effective on redfish as well as other species. The bait floats at rest that dives down several feet upon retrieve. The best retrieve is usually an erratic one with a pause in between. The bait has a lot of flash and vibration.

redfish fishing lures

X-Raps are available in several sizes and multiple colors. In the waters of Sarasota were Capt. Jim fishes, the 08 X-Rap is often the best choice. It realistically mimics the smaller forage such as finger mullet, glass minnows, and sardines that are available. Olive is a great all round color with white being his second choice. Gold works great in rivers and tannin stained waters.

As in all fishing applications, anglers should match the size and color of the bait to the locally available forage. If redfish are feeding on larger pogies, pin fish, mullet, and grunts, stepping up to the #10 X-Rap is probably a good decision. Again, lighter colors in clear water and darker colors in dark water is a good rule of thumb.

Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The strike King Redfish Magic spinnerbait is number four on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Once again, this is basically a converted largemouth bass fishing lure. Spinner baits are really a combination of two very effective baits; a jig and a spinner. The lure has a wire frame with a jig and grub combination at the bottom and a flashing spinner blade at the top.

fishing for edfish and speckled trout

Like the spoon, this is an excellent search bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water. The best approach is usually to cast it out, allow it to sink a second or two, then reel it back in using a slow, steady retrieve. This bait puts out a ton of vibration and is an excellent choice when the water is murky. It is also an excellent lure for novice anglers to use as it has a lot of built in action.

This bait really shines in conditions of limited visibility regarding water clarity. The Redfish Magic spinner bait puts out a lot a vibration and flash. This will help fish locate the bait when visibility is poor. The swim bait tail can be easily replaced when anglers want to make a change in color. Gold is the preferred blade finish.

Gulp! Baits


The Gulp! line of baits made by Berkeley work extremely well for anglers fishing for redfish. Soft plastic baits have been scented for many years. However, these are a whole step above that. The lure is actually manufactured from scented material. On days when the bite is tough, this added advantage of the scent can make a huge difference.

The two Gulp! baits that Capt. Jim likes to use are the 3 inch Gulp! Shrimp in the 5 inch Gulp! Jerk Shad. Both will fool redfish as well as just about every other saltwater species. The Gulp! Shrimp works best on a jig head and water depth from 2 feet and deeper. The jig had is matched to the depth and current. White with a chartreuse tail and new penny are his favorite colors.

The Gulp! 5 inch Jerk Shad is a tremendous bait in shallow water. It can be rigged with a very light jig head. However, it really shines when rigged up weedless on a light swim bait hook. These are specially designed hooks that have a weight near the bend of the hook. This allows for the lure to be presented and a horizontal manner. This rig can be worked through the shallowest of grass effectively without hanging up.

Rapala Skitter walk

The Rapala Skitterwalk is six on Capt. Jim’s list of the best seven fishing lures for redfish. Redfish have an inferior mouth. This means that the nose of the fish protrudes forward with the mouth being behind and underneath. However this does not prohibit redfish from taking a top water plug!

Since redfish are often times found in very shallow water, top water baits are often a logical choice to use. These baits will ride over top of submerge grass and not get hung up. They will also call fish up to the surface. The Skitterwalk is a “walk the dog bait”. This means that it does not have a lot of built in action, the angler must provide.

The lure is cast out and allowed to set motionless for several moments. With the rod tip held low near the surface of the water, the bait is retrieved back in while the rod tip is twitched. When the proper rhythm is found, the lure will dance seductively from left to right on the surface. It is important to wait until the weight of the fishes fell before setting the hook. Otherwise, most fish will be missed and the plug will come flying back to the boat.

D.O.A. Deadly Combo

Last, but certainly not least, on the list of top redfish lures is the DOA deadly combo. This is really a system that consists of a noisy cork, a short leader, and then and artificial shrimp. This is a very productive bait, particularly in stained or muddy water. It is also a great choice for novice anglers as it is fairly easy to use.

The idea of the bait is fairly simple. The noisy float is twitched sharply, causing it to pop and rattle. This simulates feeding fish. This will attract game fish in the area to the sound of the cork. Once there, they will see the shrimp dangling underneath and devour it. It really does work quite well! It really is just and artificial lore version of the venerable popping cork and live shrimp combination, which has been catching fish for many decades.

This is a great lure choice for children. The more they jerk and clack and make noise, often times the better it works. The bite is also visual as when a fish takes the court just disappears. For these reasons, this makes the DOA deadly combo a good lower for both kids and novice anglers. It will catch plenty of speckled trout as well.

In conclusion, this article on the best 7 fishing lures for redfish will help simplify the lures and techniques for catching reds! 

 

 

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

This article will list the best 12 spotted sea trout fishing lures. Spotted sea trout, also known as speckled trout, are a very popular inshore saltwater species. They are found in coastal waters from Texas up to the mid Atlantic. While spotted sea trout will take a live bait, especially a nice live shrimp, many are caught on artificial lures as well.

best 12 spotted sea trout fishing lures

Spotted sea trout are opportunistic feeders. They prey on a wide variety of forage, including most bait fish and crustaceans. Depending on the environment that they live in, spotted sea trout eat pin fish, grunts, finger mullet, sardines, threadfin herring, shrimp, and crabs. Artificial lures that mimic the natural prey will fool spotted sea trout.

Spotted sea trout are found in a variety of locations. In southern waters, they are most often encountered on the flats, usually when submerged grass beds are present. Along the Gulf Coast waters and in Texas, many spotted sea trout are caught along oyster bars. Further north, spotted sea trout are found in deeper water, in channels, and holes. Unlike some other fish species, spotted sea trout do not hold as tight to cover. They are found in schools and in individual fish roaming the flats and open waters.

Spotted sea trout fishing tips

Best 12 spotted sea trout fishing lures

There are several families of artificial lures that are productive for anglers fishing for spotted sea trout. These include top water plugs, subsurface plugs, jigs, soft plastic baits, and spoons. All of these lures are effective as they imitate bait fish and crustaceans. Here is a list of the best 10 spotted sea trout fishing lures

  • Bass Assassin Sea Shad
  • Gulp Shrimp
  • Rapala X-rap Extreme Action Slash Bait
  • MirrOlure MirrOdine
  • Johnson Sprite spoon
  • Rapal Skitter Prop
  • Spro buck tail jig
  • MirrOlure 52 series
  • 5 inch Gulp Jerk Shad
  • Johnson Silver Minnow
  • Strike King Redfish Magic spinner bait
  • Heddon Zara Spook

Capt. Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota Florida. He has been catching spotted sea trout since 1986 and has been guiding since 1991. These are the artificial lures that he uses to catch spotted sea trout on his Sarasota fishing charters.

1) Bass Assassin Sea Shad


The Bass Assassin 4” Sea Shad is a soft plastic bait. It is almost always fished on a jig head. 1/4 ounce and 1/2 ounce are the most popular sizes. It has a paddle tail with excellent action that puts out vibration as well. These baits come in a wide variety of color combinations to match every water condition.

This is a versatile bait that can be fish in a variety of ways. The most common presentation, as with most jigs, is a jig and fall retrieve. The bait is cast out, allowed to sink to the desired depth, then the rod tip is sharply twitched. The bait will jerk up and then flutter down erratically. This very realistically simulates a wounded bait fish or a crab or shrimp scurrying away.

Sarasota speckled trout fishing

The bait can be worked over submerged grass beds, along sandy bottoms, along the edges of oyster bars, and over channel edges. When fish are seen feeding on the surface, it can even be reeled in quickly just under the surface. Capt. Jim’s top colors are glow chartreuse, red gold shiner, and new penny.

2) Gulp Shrimp

Gulp Shrimp are a terrific bait. While they seemingly are just another plastic shrimp, this is far from the truth. These baits are embedded with a very effective scent. This scent is what sets them apart from other soft plastic baits. Spotted sea trout will pick them up right off the bottom even if they aren’t moving. It really is as close to using live bait as you can with and artificial lure.

The Gulp Shrimp is fished much in the same way as the Bass Assassin. It is most often fished on a jig head and worked in a manner similar to other jigs. Capt. Jim goes to this bait when the bite is tough, and especially with and experience clients. Spotted sea trout will definitely hold onto this lure a little bit longer, giving anglers a better chance to hook them. White/chartreuse in the 3″ size is Capt Jim’s favorite Gulp Shrimp.

Best Speckled trout fishing lures

This bait is also very effective when fished under a noisy float. There are several varieties of these, with the Cajun Thunder being a notable example. When twitched sharply, these floats put out a lot of noise. This attracts spotted sea trout to come over and investigate. A Gulp Shrimp is tied on a 2 foot long leader under the cork, using a 1/16 ounce jig head.

3) Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slash Bait

The Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait is Capt. Jim’s favorite hard body plug when fishing for spotted sea trout. He prefers the 08 size as it matches the locally available forage in Sarasota Bay where he fishes. In waters where spotted sea trout feed on larger bait fish such as larger pin fish, sardines, and mullet, the 10 size is a better choice.

This bait floats on the surface at rest and then dives down several feet upon retrieve. It has an erratic side-to-side motion which puts out a lot of flash and vibration. It is extremely effective when fished over flats and bars when bait fish are present. The best presentation is a hard jerk with a pause in between. On the pause, the lure just hangs there motionless, like a crippled bait fish. Spotted sea trout find this irresistible!

fishing with live bait in Florida

The X-Rap is also very effective when trolled. This is a very simple technique and is a good way to locate fish when they are scattered about over a large area. The lure is simply let out 100 feet behind the boat, and at a tad above idle speed it is trolled over the area to be fished. Capt. Jim’s to favorite color patterns are ghost (white) and olive.

4) MirrOlure MirrOdine

The MirrOlure Mirrodine is relatively unassuming in the package. However, it is a terrific spotted sea trout fishing lure. As the name implies, it was built to mimic a sardine. When placed up against a scaled sardine, also known as a pilchard, anglers can see how realistic this lure is. Capt. Jim’s favorite color pattern is olive and silver.

best spotted sea trout lures

This is a suspending plug. It sinks through the water column at about a foot per second. Once it has reached the desired depth, the angler starts working it back in using an erratic retrieve with pauses. When paused, the bait suspends at that same depth. Again, this is a behavior that spotted sea trout just can’t resist. This is a very effective lure when fishing in water between 1 feet deep and 8 feet deep.

5) Johnson Sprite spoon

The Johnson Sprite spoon is an effective bait for anglers fishing for spotted sea trout. It is a time proven lure with an excellent reputation. Spoons are simply curved pieces of metal with hooks in them. The width and the design of the spoon will determine the action and the water. This spoon has a nice gentle wobble and works well at relatively slow speeds. It puts out a ton of flash and vibration. Gold is a most popular finish for spotted sea trout, though silver will produce especially when the water is clear.

fishing for spotted sea trout

This is a very versatile lure that can be cast or trolled. Anglers should always use a snap swivel or a swivel when using a spoon, otherwise line twist will result. It works very well when cast out over submerged grass beds, especially if bait fish are present. It can also be trolled over larger flats in areas to locate fish. 1/2 ounce is the most popular size.

6) Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is a top water plug. That means it spends its entire time on the surface of the water. Top water plugs come in several varieties, this one is a prop bait. It has a conical shaped nose and a propeller on the rear. When twitched sharply, it puts out a bunch of commotion. This simulates a wounded mullet or other type of larger bait fish. Top water plugs tend to catch larger spotted sea trout.

spotted sea trout fishing

Top water baits generally work best in low light conditions. This includes early and late in the day as well as on overcast days also, for the most part, they are most productive in fairly shallow water. The Skitter Prop works very well on spotted sea trout when fished over shallow grass flats and bars on the high tide. It is very important to wait until the fish is felt on the line and not set the hook on the visual strike. Otherwise, many fish will be missed.

7) Spro Buck Tail Jig

Buck tail jigs have been around a long time, and they continue to catch spotted sea trout to this day. They are very effective on a wide variety of other species as well. This is a simple lure that consists of a hook, a weight at the front, and some type of synthetic or natural hair dressing. Some anglers prefer synthetic, considering it more durable. Capt. Jim still prefers the old school white buck tail jig.

Spotted sea trout lures

This lure can be cast out and retrieved while drifting over flats. It is also very effective when spotted sea trout school up in deeper water in the winter. A vertical presentation can be very productive when fish are ganged up in one spot. In most cases, the lure is dropped to the bottom and then jigged fairly subtly on or near the bottom. Some anglers add a strip of cut squid or a belly strip from the fish to sweeten up the lure. This is a good practice when fishing in stained or dirty water.

8) 52 M Series MirrOlure

The MirrOlure 52 series line of plugs have put many spotted sea trout in the net for anglers over the years. Like the MirrOdine, it is a suspending lure. It sinks slowly and when twitched suspends enticingly in the water column. It is a bit larger bait and works very well in areas where fish are feeding on larger forage such as pin fish, grunts, and mullet.

Sarasota anglers

This is a very effective bait when used over submerged grass beds in water between four and 6 feet deep. These are the waters where pinfish and grunts are thick. It comes in many different color patterns. Capt. Jim likes the green back with the gold sides.

9) 5″ Gulp Jerk Shad

The 5 inch Gulp Jerk Shad is an extremely effective soft plastic bait for spotted sea trout and just about every other species. It is a versatile lure that can be used in water as shallow as a foot and as deep as 15 feet. It is usually fished on a jig head. However, in shallow water anglers can fish it with a swim bait hook or even a plastic worm hook. There is a pocket in the bait which will allow anglers to rig it weedless.

fishing for speckled trout

Like other Gulp products, the scent is a major factor in its effectiveness. This bait is long and slender and has more of a finesse type action. It really produces best with a subtle action, the bait will do the rest. Pearl white and root beer gold are Capt Jim’s two favorite colors.

10) Gold Johnson Silver Minnow spoon

The Johnson Silver Minnow is well known to saltwater anglers, mostly as a top lure for redfish. However, it is a very effective bait for spotted sea trout as well. Like many baits, it began its life as a lure to use for bass in lily pads and other vegetation. This spoon has a single hook which rides upright, along with a weed guard. These factors combine to make it a very weedless lure. It is an excellent search bait, particularly over shallow grass flats.

Best 12 sea trout lures

While termed “Silver Minnow”, most anglers prefer the gold finish. It puts out a lot a flash and some vibration. These lures can be cast a long way, allowing anglers to cover a lot of water in a reasonable amount of time. It works well when cast towards the edges of oyster bars and over and through weeds. In most instances, a slow, steady retrieve works best.

Strike King Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The Strike King Redfish Magic is another artificial lure that many anglers associate with redfish. After all, it is in the name. However, once again, it is an excellent search bait when fishing for spotted sea trout. It is fairly heavy and cast a long way. The big Colorado blade puts out a ton of thump and flash. The lure also comes with a jig head and a soft plastic grub body. Anglers can easily change the grub if needed.

Top saltwater species in Florida

This bait really shines when fishing and shallow, off-color water. A steady retrieve will put out a very strong vibration, which will draw fish to the bait. Gold is almost always the best color finish for the blade. Darker colors work fine for the grub body, though some anglers change it out for a brighter color such as chartreuse.

Heddon Zara Spook

The Heddon Zara Spook is a legendary topwater plug. It has been around for a very long time, once again starting out as a largemouth bass lure. It is a large bait and tends to catch larger spotted sea trout. This is not the lure to use for anglers looking for numbers. However, if targeting a trophy trout in shallow water is your game, this is an excellent lure to choose.

guide to inshore saltwater fishing

Unlike prop baits and poppers, this is a “walk the dog” style lure. It has very little built in action, the angler must impart. The most effective retrieve is the walk the dog. To do this, the angler cast the lure out, and then with the rod tip low near the water begins a steady retrieve with rhythmic twitches of the rod tip. When done correctly, the bait will zigzag back and forth on the surface of the water. As with all top water lures, angler should wait until the fish is felt on the end of the line before setting the hook.

In conclusion, this article on the best 12 spotted sea trout fishing lures will help anglers catch more of these popular inshore saltwater game fish!

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

Best Flounder and Fluke Fishing Tackle and Techniques

This article will cover flounder and fluke fishing tackle and techniques. Flounder and fluke are extremely popular inshore game fish. They are found along the coast from Texas to New England. Fluke and flounder are ambush predators, burying themselves in the sand to hide. Their markings are perfect camouflage. Anglers prize them for their tough fight, but more so for their tasty fillets!

Special thanks to Melissa Toro for the pics and fluke expertise. Follow her on Instagram

There is a bit of confusion about the differences in flounder and fluke. They are all in the “flatfish” family. In the south, southern gulf flounder are the predominant species. They have large mouths and are true predators. Up north, fluke are very similar. Same goes for Chesapeake Bay summer flounder. These all have both eyes on the left side. However, there is a winter flounder that has a small mouth and not nearly as aggressive. It has eyes on the right side.

No matter whether the southern gulf flounder or northern fluke is being sought, the techniques, baits, lures, and locations are quite similar. Flounder and fluke lie in the sand to ambush prey. However, they often relate to structure. This includes docks, bridges, rock piles, jetties, ledges, and more. Often times, the transition area where the sand meets the structure is a prime flounder and fluke holding spot.

Capt. Jim Klopfer is a fishing guide in Sarasota Florida. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay ends tributaries. Capt. Jim has always loved surf fishing on the barrier island beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. He is sharing his tackle recommendations and fishing tips and this article with fellow anglers.

Best rods and reels for fluke and flounder fishing

Anglers fishing for flounder and fluke need two fishing rod and reel outfits. The first would be a medium spinning outfit and the second a medium light conventional rig. These two combos will cover virtually every flounder and fluke fishing situation. Anglers who surf fish can add a third rod and reel combination.

Medium spinning outfit

A medium spinning outfit is a versatile rod and reel combination. In fact, most anglers already own several. The same tackle used for schoolie striped bass or redfish will work fine. These lighter spinning outfits allow anglers to cast artificial lures in search of flounder and fluke. They can also be used for bottom fishing for average sized fish in shallow water.

A 7 foot medium rod with a “fast” action is the best choice. “Fast” action means a stout butt with a fairly limber tip. This allows for easy casting and detecting bites, but the strength to move a decent sized fish. It can be paired with a 3000 or 4000 series reel.

Here is a link to a good Penn Battle combo.

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Medium light conventional outfit

The second rod and reel combination that every flounder and fluke angler needs is a light conventional outfit. These are used when fishing around heavy structure. Anglers will often times be fishing in heavy current and deeper water, which requires heavier sinkers. These light conventional outfits are much better for that application that spinning rigs are.

These types of conventional boat rods are generally a bit shorter. A 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot medium action rod with a 30 series reel is ideal for most inshore fluke and flounder fishing applications. This same outfit can be used for many other species such as blackfish, striped bass, bluefish, and more. It is a very versatile outfit and many experienced saltwater anglers already own several of these type rods.

Surf fishing rod and reel

Surf fishing for flounder and fluke is very popular as well. Again, many anglers who surf fish for other species will already have an outfit that is fine for chasing flounder and fluke off of the beaches. These rods vary in length from 8 feet to 15 feet long. 10 to 12 feet is a good all-around size, matched with a 6000 to 8000 series reel.

Fishing line choices

There are three choices available to anglers when it comes to choosing fishing line for their reels. These are monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided lines. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Monofilament line is an expensive but has stretch and a thicker diameter. Fluorocarbon line is better than monofilament but much more expensive.

Braided line is fairly expensive, yet lasts a long time, has zero stretch, has a thin diameter relative to strength, and is very sensitive. Most anglers today have gone to braided line. 20 pound test is a good size for inshore waters while anglers fishing heavier structure for larger fish offshore will bump it up to 40 pound or 50 pound test

Fluke and flounder fishing techniques

If there is one golden rule when it comes to fluke and flounder fishing, it is that the bait or lure needs to be presented on or very close to the bottom. As mentioned earlier, the species like to bury in the sand, then ambush bait fish and crustaceans as the tide washes them by. There are certainly times when flounder and fluke become very active and will feed quite a ways up off the bottom. However, this is the exception and not the norm.

Fluke and flounder are opportunistic feeders. They dine on a wide variety of forage. In fact, the list of things they won’t eat is much shorter than the list of things that they do. Small bait fish, shrimp, and crabs are fluke and flounder favorites. While they prefer their meals live, they are certainly not above scavenging off the bottom as well.

Flounder and fluke fishing with live and cut bait

Many anglers fish for flounder and fluke using natural bait, either live, frozen, or fresh cut. The top live bait in the Northeast is a live minnow. Somewhere near the South Carolina coast, live shrimp become equal in preference along with live minnows. The type of minnow that is productive varies depending on the geographic location. Anglers can buy minnows at local bait shops, though many anglers catch their own mud minnows and other minnows in traps. Every bait shop in the south carries live shrimp.

Strips of fresh cut bait work extremely well for fluke and flounder. The white, underside belly of just about any freshly caught fish (anglers should check their local regulations) cut into a long, 1 inch wide strip will catch fluke and flounder anywhere. Squid is very productive as well and is available at just about every bait shop. These strips of bait flutter seductively and look very natural in the water, while also providing scent and taste. Many anglers prefer cut bait over live minnows and situations where crabs are abundant and can become a nuisance.

Best flounder and fluke fishing baits

Frozen bait also works well for anglers fishing for fluke and flounder. It is a little less productive then either fresh cut or live bait. However, it is certainly much more convenient. The exception to this might be frozen shrimp, which will often catch as many fish as live shrimp. Surf anglers in particular tend to use frozen bait if for no other reason than the convenience factor.

Local bait and tackle shops are the best source for anglers fishing for fluke and flounder with live bait. They appreciate the business and are usually forthcoming with some good local information for anglers who make a purchase. Top baits include live minnows, frozen minnows, squid, live and frozen shrimp, clams, crabs, and frozen locally available fish such as mullet or mackerel.

Artificial lures catch fluke and flounder

There are a few artificial lures that are productive for flounder and fluke fishing as well. By far the most effective lure for the species is a jig. The reason for this is the manner in which a jig is presented. Jigs can be bounced right off of the bottom, kicking up little puff of sand as they move along. This very realistically mimics a wounded baitfish, crab, or shrimp.

White buck tail jigs have been catching flounder and fluke for many decades. This is the artificial lure that most anglers use when targeting flounder and fluke. These are versatile lures that can be worked in both shallow and deep water and are excellent when used drift fishing. Melissa uses S&S Bucktails, a local company. they manufacture an excellent lure of high quality with a strong hook.

Many anglers take the “best of both worlds” approach and combine the jig with live or cut bait. This is an extremely effective combination! The jig allows anglers precise presentation while the strip of cut bait or squid as well as a live minnow adds taste and scent.

Jig and grub combo produces

Anglers fishing the shallow inshore bays do well with the jig and grub combo. This is a lead head jig, usually around 1/2 ounce, with a soft plastic grub body trailer. The grub body can be of any length, with 4 inches being a good all-around size. The grub tails are manufactured to mimic both bait fish and crustaceans. They come in just about every color and shape imaginable! The Gulp line of baits is heavily scented and works extremely well on a jig head for fluke and flounder.

Fluke and flounder fishing locations

As with most fishing, locating fish is of the utmost importance. The best bait or lure has no chance if not presented in front of the fish. As mentioned above, flounder and fluke love the combination of structure and sand. The transition area where the rock or other cover turns into sand is a prime spot. This is true for artificial reefs, ledges, bridges, docks, and other structure.

Tides are crucial when it comes to fluke and flounder fishing, just as they are in most saltwater applications. While experience and local knowledge are indispensable, there are a few guidelines that anglers can adhere to. In the shallow backwater bays, high tides are usually best. In many cases, there simply is not enough water for the flounder and fluke to get up on the flats and feet. Flats adjacent to channels and deeper areas are generally best.

Many veteran fluke and flounder anglers prefer an outgoing tide. Flounder and fluke will stage on the edges of flats and drop-offs and ambush prey as the tide brings it to them. This is basically a conveyor belt of food! Tributaries and title creeks that enter larger rivers are prime spots. Passes and inlets are almost always more productive on the outgoing tide as well. The same holds true for bridges, where the points of land usually narrow a bit, increasing the current speed.

Anglers can either anchor or drift fish, depending on the situation. Large flats are almost always drifted, it is just more efficient. Smaller spots such as ledges and rock piles are best anchored. The best approach is to place the boat so that the bait can be presented just up-tide of the spot to be fished.

Terminal tackle and rigs

Anglers fishing for fluke and flounder will need some terminal tackle as well. These items include hooks, sinkers, leaders, and swivels. Most of veteran anglers tie up their own bottom fishing rigs. However, commercially available flounder rigs are available for those who do not want to tie their own.

bottom fishing rigs

There are many different flounder and fluke rigs. However, they really break down into two different types; fish finder or Carolina rigs, and high low or chicken rigs. While there are many variations, these are the two most popular ineffective rigs to present live and natural bait to fluke and flounder.

While most seasoned fluke and flounder anglers tie their own rigs, some prefer the convenience of commercially prepared rigs. There is nothing wrong with this! They can certainly save time and are quite convenient. Prepared rigs are available in a wide variety of hook sizes and leader lengths.

Sinkers

Anglers purchasing the best fluke and flounder fishing tackle have a surprising selection available to them when it comes to sinkers. Some have a unique design which allows them to walk over rocks and other structure without snagging. Anglers just starting out will do fine with a selection of egg sinkers and bank sinkers from 1 to 4 ounces. Heavy currents, deep water, and surf fishing may require even heavier weights.

Anglers will have to vary the weight of the sinker to match the local conditions. Tide strengths are constantly changing, and successful anglers adjust their sinker weights as well. The general rule of thumb is to use just the amount of weight to get to the bottom, and no more. Anglers who drift fish want the weight to be hitting the bottom but easily bouncing off.

Carolina rig and high/low rigs work well

The Carolina, or fish finder rig is a very popular and versatile rig. It consists of a sinker, usually X-shaped, with a hole through the center. The main line passes through this whole then a swivel is tied on. The swivel stops the sinker from moving any further and allows angler a place to attach the leader. A leader is then tied onto the other end of the swivel. It is usually between 3 feet and 5 feet long, followed by a hook.

This rig has several advantages. The hole in the sinker allows for a flounder or other fish to pick up the bait and move off with it, without feeling the resistance of the sinker. This can be important when fish are biting in a finicky manner. Also, the longer leader allows the sinker to sit on the bottom and the bait to undulate back in the current. This is attractive and will help elicit strikes. When drifting, the sinker will bounce off the bottom, kicking up puffs of sand, which attracts fish.

High/low rig

The high low or chicken rig is a very simple bottom fishing rig that works on fluke and flounder as a well as just about every bottom species. With this rig, the sinker is tied at the bottom and then several hooks are tied off of droppers at varying depths. This allows anglers to present multiple baits at multiple depths, to see what the fish want that day.

Both of these rigs can be used in just about any fluke or flounder fishing application. Each angler will certainly develop his or her favorite. However, these two rigs can be used when surf fishing, fishing from jetties or docks, bottom fishing from an anchored boat, and bottom fishing from a drifting boat.

Flounder fishing hooks

There are many different styles and sizes of hooks that anglers can choose when fishing for fluke and flounder. Once again, local bait shops are excellent sources of information and resources. Some anglers prefer long shank hooks. Many have recently gone to circle hooks, is a reduce fish mortality, almost always hooking the fish in the corner of the mouth. Some states actually require the use of circle hooks when bottom fishing. The standard live bait hooks that of been around forever work fine as well.

It is important to match the size of the hook to the size of the bait, not the size of the fish being targeted. Otherwise, using two small a hook in a large piece of bait will result in the bait blocking the hook, resulting in no hook set. Conversely, too large a hook with a smaller bait is an unnatural looking presentation, and may scare off a fish. Some flounder anglers put an in-line spinner in front of the hook to add some flash to the bait.

Leaders

Leaders are used between the mainline and the hook or jig and are an important piece of flounder and fluke fishing tackle. Fluorocarbon leader material is mostly used these days. Anglers using live or natural bait usually go with longer leaders, between 3 feet long and 5 feet long. Those who are casting jigs shorten up the leader to 24 inches or so as the longer leaders make casting difficult. The leader can be attached to the mainline using a small swivel or a line to line knot such as a double Uni-knot

Swivels

Swivels are basic pieces of terminal tackle that serves couple of purposes. They are used as weight stops on Carolina rigs. Swivels allow for easy attachment of leaders. They also help reduce significantly line twist. Anglers should purchase quality ball bearing swivels, this really is not the place to save a couple of dollars. A selection of #6, #8, and #10 black swivels is all that is required.

In conclusion, this article on the best flounder and fluke fishing tackle and techniques will help anglers catch more of these delicious fish!

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Striped Bass Fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will cover the best striped bass fishing tackle and lures. Striped bass are arguably the most popular inshore saltwater species in the northeast part of the United States. They grow very large, with the world record being a tad over 80 pounds. They are a terrific game fish that hits artificial lures and flies as well as live and cut bait. As an added bonus, most anglers consider striped bass very good eating.

best striped bass fishing tackle and lures

Striped bass are a unique species. They thrive in both absolute salt water and absolute freshwater. In the spring, striped bass migrate up into tributary rivers to spawn. For the most part, these include the Hudson River and larger tributaries of Chesapeake Bay. There is a healthy striped bass population on the West Coast in California as well. The Sacramento River sees a good striped bass spawning run

The transplanting of striped bass into freshwater lakes has been a monumental fish management success! With the addition of herring and shad as forage, striped bass have thrived throughout the country. This is particularly true in the southern half of the country in the TVA lakes as well as many reservoirs out west.

striped bass fishing tips

In most of these lakes, striped bass are not able to spawn. The reason for this is that dams often block their route up the river. However, there are a few free-flowing rivers that do see a striped bass spawning migration. In addition, many lakes offer anglers the chance to catch a hybrid striped bass. This is a striped bass and white bass mix. While smaller than striped bass, their habits are very similar and they put up an excellent fight on light tackle. The same lures, and smaller sizes will work well for them.

best striped bass lures

Similarities when striped bass fishing in freshwater and saltwater

For the most part, the tackle, lures, baits, and tactics used to catch striped bass are very similar in both freshwater and saltwater. The one exception would be surf fishing, which really does not exist in lakes. Obviously, the live bait fish that are used will be different as well. For the most part, the same artificial lures that produce and saltwater will produce in freshwater as well.

striped bass fishing tips and spots

The main consideration for anglers choosing striped bass fishing tackle really is the size of the fish being sought. This is true in both freshwater and saltwater. There are times when anglers will be chasing smaller schooling fish on the surface. This is great fun and will require medium light spinning tackle. Conversely, anglers trolling in deep water or free lining large live baits or chunks will certainly require heavier tackle. Angler surf fishing have their own specialized rods and reels.

Striped bass fishing rods and reels

top freshwater fish species

As mentioned above, the tackle that an angler requires when striped bass fishing depends greatly on the environment that he or she is fishing as well as the size of the fish being pursued. Serious striped bass anglers will have a medium light spinning outfit, heavier spinning outfit, as well as light and medium conventional outfits. Surf fisherman, for the most part choose heavy spinning surf fishing outfits.

Light spinning outfit for striped bass

A medium light spinning outfit is a very versatile combination that every striped bass fishing angler should own. A 7 foot medium rod with a fast action works best. Fast action means that the rod is fairly stout at the butt section but limber at the tip. This allows for casting a fairly light lures while having the ability to handle a larger fish. In reality, many anglers already own and outfit similar to this which will work fine.

Oklahome striped bass

These are very versatile outfits that can cover a lot of fishing situations. Anglers can catch striped bass casting lures and bait from jetties, docks, piers, beaches, and boats. When fishing open water, anglers can land a large fish on fairly light spinning tackle.

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Chesapeake Bay Bridge striped bass

Heavy spinning outfit for striped bass

A heavy spinning outfit is used in several applications when fishing for striped bass. Anglers can use these to drift chunks of cut bait or large live baits back into the current. They can also be used for vertically jigging with heavy spoons and jigs over submerged structure. For the most part, these rigs are too heavy to effectively cast all but the largest artificial lures. However, there are times when schools of very large fish will be encountered and anglers will be glad to have this heavier tackle.

fishing inlets

Light conventional striped bass outfit

A light conventional, or bait casting, and outfit is a very versatile rig. Most experienced saltwater anglers and even many freshwater anglers already own such an outfit. A 6 foot to 6 1/2 foot rod with a medium action and a matching real is a great all round combination. Anglers can use these for trolling, live and cut bait fishing, bottom fishing, and vertically fishing lures.

striped bass fishing tackle

Heavy conventional outfits

A heavy conventional outfit is really only required by serious striped bass anglers doing heavy duty trolling or fishing with very large live baits. For the most part, they are mostly used and saltwater fishing. However, some trophy hunters and larger lakes we use them as well.

Surf fishing combo

Anglers surf fishing for striped bass use special rods that are quite long. They range in length from 8 to 14 feet. Longer, heavier rods are usually used to cast heavy sinkers and but bait a long way. Anglers casting lures use a shorter rod, with ten feet beoing a good length.

Fishing line

Anglers have two choices when it comes to fishing line, monofilament and braided line. Most anglers opt for braid. It is thinner, stronger, more sensitive, and has no stretch. It is a bit more expensive. Some anglers still prefer to use monofilament line, and it works fine. It really is just a personal choice.


Leaders for striped bass fishing

Leaders are usually used when fishing for striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater. Just about all anglers these days use fluorocarbon leader. 50 pound test is a good all-around size. However, anglers may need to go lighter in clear water and bump it up heavier when fishing for larger fish around structure.

Susquehanna River striped bass

Best striped bass fishing lures

Many anglers fish for striped bass using artificial lures. Most are made to imitate bait fish, which is the primary forage of striped bass. However, others do mimic crabs and crustaceans. The top striped bass fishing lures fall into four basic categories; top water plugs, diving plugs, jigs, and spoons. These four families of lures will cover most fishing situations.

Sacramento River striped bass

The size of the lure being used by anglers will vary greatly depending on several conditions. The primary factor when choosing a plug is to hopefully match the locally available forage. This includes shad, herring, pogies, sand eels, and other bait fish. Generally speaking, anglers fishing in freshwater will use slightly smaller size baits than those fishing in saltwater. But, this is not always the case.

There are endless color patterns to choose from. However, generally speaking, lighter colors such as white and silver are generally the best bet, especially when the water is clear. Chartreuse is a popular color that works well in a variety of conditions. Darker colors often produce better when the water is stained or a bit murky.

inshore saltwater fishing

Topwater plugs for striped bass fishing

Topwater lures float on the surface. They are designed to mimic a bait fish which is dying or wounded up on the surface of the water. Topwater plugs come in several variations including poppers, propeller baits, and surface swimmers. They are great fun to fish as anglers get to visually see the strike.

Cordell Pencil Popper

The pencil popper is a popular surface plug. It is long and slender and casts very well into the wind. This makes it a favorite of surf casters in search of striped bass. The lure has a concave face. When twitched sharply, it puts out a lot of commotion and splash, simulating a wounded bait fish. Pencil poppers are mostly used in saltwater.

Atom Popper

The Atom Popper is another top water popper style hard body plug. It is similar to a pencil popper, however has a wider profile. They are worked the same as other poppers. It is a good choice when cast around jetties and other structure. It can be used from the beach on days with less wind. These baits are effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow

The Rebel Jumpin’ Minnow is a topwater bait. Unlike poppers, these lures have very little built in action. The angler must impart the action using the rod tip. This is what is termed a “walk the dog” type lure. The angler keeps the rod tip low and rhythmically reels while twitch and the rod tip. This makes the bait dance from side to side. It is effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter Prop is another effective top water plug for catching striped bass. It has a conical nose with a propeller on the rear. When twitched sharply, it puts out a lot of commotion while sitting relatively still. For the most part, this lure is used by anglers fishing in freshwater lakes. It is extremely effective when shad are working near the surface.

Gibb’s Surface Swimmer

The Gibbs Surface Swimmer is a unique top water plug. It has a bill which causes the lure to swim erratically from side to side on the surface. It works best using a slow steady retrieve. Striped bass will rise up from the depths to take this lure. It is mainly used in salt water, but will catch them trophies in lakes as well.

Subsurface plugs

There are also many effective plugs that dive down below the surface. Freshwater anglers term these as “jerk baits” in many instances. In most cases, the lure floats on the surface and that dives down to a determined depth when retrieved. The size and shape of the lip on the plug for the most part determines the depth that which it will run. These are extremely effective lures for both casting and trolling in fresh and saltwater.

Striper fishing in California

Saltwater Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

The Rapala X-Rap family of lures are excellent striped bass fishing baits. They come in a handful of sizes and just about every color pattern imaginable. The shallow diving X-Raps dive down between six and 10 feet. These are most often used by anglers casting to striped bass. They are also available as deeper diving baits, which can be cast as well. However, many anglers use these to troll with. They are very effective for catching stripers in both freshwater and saltwater. Anglers should always buy the saltwater versions as they have stronger hooks and hardware.

Bomber Long A

The Bomber Long A is another long slender jerk bait. It has been around a long time and has a great reputation among striped bass anglers. The Saltwater grade Magnum Long A is 7 inches long and is a durable and productive bait. It is a shallow diving bait that only goes down three or 4 feet. Due to its long slender design, it has a very enticing and unique action in the water. It produces well in both saltwater and freshwater applications.

Rapala Shad Rap

The Rapala Shad Rap is a favored bait among freshwater striped bass anglers. Shad are a primary forage in most lakes, along with herring. The wide profile of this bait mimics these forage species closely. This bait comes in a variety of sizes and finishes. Again, lighter colors with the dark back are generally preferred. They are also available and models that dive from near the surface to 20 feet or more. They are excellent when cast and are terrific baits to troll when trying to locate scattered schools of fish.

Yo-Zuri mag Darter

The Yo-Zuri Mag Darter is another excellent striped bass fishing lure. It has a unique weight transfer system which allows for long casts. This makes it a favorite among surf casting anglers. At first glance, it appears to be a top water bait. However it is not. The design of the face gives it a unique darting and rolling action striped bass find irresistible at times. It dives down a bit deeper than he shallow diving jerk baits, making it an excellent choice when fish are a bit deeper. It is effective in both fresh and saltwater.

Spoons

Spoons are outstanding lures for catching striped bass! A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. This simple design is incredibly effective. Spoons put out a ton of flash and vibration as they wobble through the water. This will call striped bass in from a long way as they realistically mimic a wounded bait fish. Spoons come in a variety of sizes and colors which can be used to match the locally available forage. Most anglers opt for silver finishes. However, gold can be an excellent choice in stained water and it very low light conditions.

striped bass fishing tackle

Acme Kastmaster Spoon

The Acme Kastmaster is a legendary spoon which is caught just about every freshwater and saltwater species on the planet. They cast well, making them in excellent choice for anglers fishing from the surf, as well as from jetties and boats. The combination of silver and blue or chartreuse prism finish is very popular among striped bass anglers. Anglers should keep a few gold Kastmaster spoons in the box as well.

Tailwater fishing for bass and catfish

They are extremely effective when both cast and trolled and freshwater and saltwater. The many sizes available make it very easy to match the lure to the size of the bait. There are times when striped bass are feeding on very small fry and can be fussy and difficult to hook. When this happens, the smaller sized Kastmaster spoons can save the day.

Hopkins Spoon

Hopkins spoons have been around a long time as well. They are productive when cast out towards striped bass that are working on the surface. However, they are most known for being incredibly productive when vertically jigged over schools of fish or structure. This lure is quite heavy and sinks quickly. Once down to the desired depth, the rod tip is jerked sharply and then the bait is allowed to flutter down. Most strikes occur on the fall. This is a fantastic bait to use in both fresh and saltwater striped bass are schooled up over deeper structure.

Drone Spoon

Drone spoons are very effective lures used for trolling for striped bass. Seldom are they used as casting lures. They come in several sizes, up to 6 inches long. They work well when trolled around and through schools of bunker in saltwater. Anglers fishing in lakes catch them around pods of shad as well. The long, cylindrical design gives it a very tight wiggle. These lures can be trolled fairly quickly. They are used behind sinkers, planers, and downriggers.

Deadly Dick

The Deadly Dick is a spoon-like lure that is quite effective on striped bass as well as other species. It is similar to a Kastmaster, though more slender. The heavier versions of these lures can be cast out towards feeding fish. Smaller, lighter versions are generally vertically jigged or trolled. These slender, low-profile baits can save the day and striped bass are feeding on sand deals and other small forage.

Tony Maja Bunker Spoon

These spoons are wider than most other trolling spoons. They were designed to mimic butter fish, bunker, and herring. Anglers must troll a bit slower with these or they will roll in the water. For the most part, this is a New England saltwater fishing lure.

Jigs

Jigs were probably the first ever artificial lures designed to fool a fish. These are very simple baits, consisting of a hook with a weight, usually lead, molded in near the eye. Either a natural or synthetic hair dressing is tied on or a soft plastic grub body attached. Jigs are extremely versatile and effective lures for striped bass and just about every other fish that swims. They mimic both bait fish and crustaceans.

light tackle trolling in saltwater

Spro Jigs

White buck tail jigs have been catching striped bass for many decades. Spro makes a fine product that is durable and effective. While they are available in many colors, white is the standard. Second choice would be white with chartreuse mixed in. Spro jigs are available in different sizes, water depth and current and bait fish size should determine which one is used. Jigs can be cast, trolled, and vertically jigged. They are effective in both fresh and saltwater

Bass Assassin Sea Shad

The jig and grub combination is another extremely effective striped bass fishing lure. This basically consists of a jig head with a soft plastic grub body. Bass Assassin Sea Shad Bates are 4 inches long and come in a myriad of color patterns. They work best when cast out towards feeding fish or worked over submerge structure. The jig and grub can also be trolled, but anglers must go slowly or they will spin and roll. They are equally effective in both fresh and saltwater.


Gulp SwimmingMullet

Gulp baits changed the fishing world when they hit the scene. They really are like fishing with both live bait and artificial lures at the same time. The Gulp Swimming Mullet has a tail that puts out great action and vibration and realistically mimics many of the forage species that striped bass feed on. Combined with the scent, this makes a deadly combination! It is fished on a jig head and is effective when cast towards feeding fish or bounced on the bottom in fresh and saltwater.

Parachute lures

The parachute lure is an odd looking bait that we will put into the jig family. For the most part, it is a specialized lure that is fished in conjunction with and umbrella rig. It is very popular in the Chesapeake Bay region and is also used extensively in lakes as well. It is almost always used when trolling.

Storm Wild Eye Swim Shad

The Storm WildEye Swim Shad is a favorite among striped bass anglers. It is a soft bodied swim bait that has excellent action in the water. A slow, steady retrieve usually works best. It does an excellent job of imitating shad, herring, pogies, and other forage species. It is a fairly durable bait with a razor-sharp hook. Storm Shad Bates are also manufactured with a built-in salt impregnated scent.

Umbrella rig

Umbrella rigs are very popular among anglers who troll for striped bass in both freshwater and saltwater. They consist of a wire frame with several arms, resembling and umbrella a short leader followed by a lure is tied off of each arm. In most instances, anglers use a jig and grub combination. This makes it easier to avoid tangles. Smaller versions called “Alabama rigs” have become popular among bass anglers who cast to fish.

trolling for striped bass

The idea behind umbrella rigs is fairly simple. They are designed to mimic a small school of bait fish that is swimming by. They do work very well. However, it does take a bit of practice to learn how to troll several of these without fouling the lines. A medium conventional outfit works best when trolling with umbrella rigs for striped bass.

In conclusion, this article on the best striped bass fishing tackle and lures will help anglers catch more fish!