Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

Spinnerbait Fishing Tips and Techniques

This article will cover spinnerbait fishing tips and techniques. Spinnerbaits are very effective fishing lures. While they really don’t resemble any type of natural forage, they put out flash, vibration, and action. Spinnerbaits consist of a wire arm that is shaped a bit like a safety pin. On the upper arm is a spinner blade or blades. On the lower arm is a hook, usually adorned with a rubber skirt or soft plastic bait. The line is tied in the center.

spinnerbait fishing tips and techniques

Thanks to Kayla for some great pics!  Follow Kayla on Instagram

Spinnerbaits are popular with anglers for several reasons. Due to their design, spinnerbaits are quite weedless. The wire frame allows them to walk over structure and through weeds and grass. Spinnerbaits have a lot of built in action and are very easy to use. This is important for novice and inexperienced anglers. They also allow anglers to cover a lot of water in a short period of time in search of fish.

Spinnerbaits are mostly used by freshwater anglers. They come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, styles, and colors. The tiniest versions will catch bluegill and panfish. The largest spinner baits will fool a trophy pike or musky. Saltwater anglers do use spinnerbaits occasionally as well, mostly for fishing for redfish in shallow water.

spinnerbait fishing tips

Capt Jim Klopfer is a fishing charter captain in Sarasota, Florida. While he mostly runs saltwater charters, he grew up in Maryland fishing rivers and tributaries on Chesapeake Bay. He also does quite a bit of freshwater fishing in Florida. He shares some tips and his favorite spinnerbaits in this article

Rods and reels for fishing with spinnerbaits

Anglers fishing with spinnerbaits use both spinning and bait casting tackle. The primary consideration is the size of the spinnerbait being used. Anglers casting small baits in search of panfish, small bass, and other species usually rely on spinning tackle. This is simply because it is not practical trying to cast a very light lure with bait casting equipment.

spinnerbait fishing for pike

Anglers should match the rod and reel to the size of the spinnerbait being cast as well as the fish being targeted. An ultralight outfit with 4 pound or 6 pound line is excellent for panfish, crappie, bluegill, and small bass. 10 to 12 pounds spinning tackle works well for medium-size fish such as Bass, walleye, small pike, and other species. Anglers casting the largest of spinner baits for big bass, pike, and musky can either use bait casting equipment or heavy spinning outfits. Shakespear Ugly Sticks are available in many sizes at a reasonable price.

Spinnerbait fishing tips and techniques

One of the primary advantages of spinnerbaits is that they are so easy to use. The action is basically built in, anglers really only need to vary the retrieve speed. They can be used in a variety of depths. However, in most instances they are most effective when fished in reasonably shallow water. Also, in many types of fishing, especially using soft plastic baits, bites can be difficult to detect. This is not the case with spinnerbaits!

spinnerbait fishing techniques

Spinnerbaits really shine when fished around cover. The design of the bait makes them relatively weedless. Spinner baits tend to walk over fallen trees as well as rocks and other submerged cover. They will also worked our way through weeds. However, just like most baits, spinner baits will load up on heavy moss.

Spinnerbaits are best when fished near cover

The most effective way to fish a spinnerbait is generally to work shoreline cover. The boat is placed at an angle, 45° or less, to the shoreline. This results in the spinner baits staying in the strike zone longer. The angler then casts the lure out past likely looking structure and then works the spinner bait back to it. If the bait can be bounced off a tree limb or rock, so much the better. This is often when a strike occurs.

best 13 bass lures for pond fishing

As with all fishing, anglers should vary the cover, location, depth, and speed to determine what the fish want that day. In most cases, a fairly brisk and steady retrieve works best. However this is not always the case. Sometimes burning it just under the surface will produce. Other days slow rolling close to the bottom works best. Anglers can even combine the two and reel fast for a bit and then let the spinnerbait flutter to the bottom. Spinnerbaits are very effective when worked just over the top of submerged weed beds.

Spinnerbaits can also be used to work deeper structure such as points and rock piles in water between 10 and 15 feet deep. However, this is a bit more technical. It is a technique that produces when the water is on the cold side and fish have schooled up in these traditional winter locations.

Spinnerbait color and size considerations

As in all fishing, anglers who match the spinner bait to the locally available forage as well as the current conditions will almost always be more successful. Spinnerbaits come in a wide variety of sizes and just about every color pattern imaginable. The species of fish being targeted is also another factor to take into account. Obviously, anglers pursuing pan fish will use tiny spinner baits while those chasing pike will use the largest versions.

spinnerbait fishing

While color combinations are endless, there are a few patterns that have proven themselves to be productive over time. White is an outstanding color in many fishing situations. Lakes with clear water and those with a lot of shad are natural spots to cast a white spinnerbait. In fact, many forage species tend to be light colored or silvery. This makes white with a silver blade or blades an excellent choice for a variety of species.

Conversely, darker colors along with gold blades work very well in stained water conditions and in low light conditions such as morning, evening, and on cloudy days. Tannin stained water and gold just go together very well. Chartreuse spinnerbaits with either silver or gold blades will catch fish in just about any situation.

Spinnerbait blade options

The blades that are used on a spinner bait definitely have an effect on the action of the lure. The three types of spinnerbait blades that are commonly used are willow leaf, Indiana, and Colorado. Willow leaf blades are long and slender. They are an excellent choice in very clear water or and conditions when fish want more of a finesse presentation. Often times they are used in combination with a Colorado or Indiana blade.

fishing with spinnerbaits

Colorado blades are large and round and put out a ton of vibration. They are the best choice in dirty or stained water when used with a slow steady retrieve. The vibration and flash will draw fish into the bait. They are effective in clear water as well. Indiana blades are similar to Colorado blades, but they are just a little bit smaller.

Trailers and trailer hooks

Anglers can tweak their spinnerbaits a bit more if they desire. Most spinner baits come with a skirt with rubber legs. These undulate seductively in the water and look very realistic. However, many anglers enhance this action while adding some bulk to the lure with the addition of a soft plastic trailer.

Basically any paddle or curly tail grub can be added to the hook of a spinnerbait. This adds both bulk in action to the lure. Even larger soft plastic baits such as frogs can be used. Back in the day, anglers used a chunk of pork with undulating legs on. Soft plastic baits have pretty much replaced that now.

Some spinnerbaits come with a trailer or stinger hook. Anglers can add them to the lure as well. This is another hook that slides over the point and then down to the bend of the spinner bait hook. There are many times when bass and other species will short strike a spinner bait. On these days, the stinger hook can make all the difference in the world.

spinnerbait fishing

Top spinnerbaits

There are many different spinnerbaits on the market for anglers to choose from. There really is no right or wrong lure and all of them will produce fish when used correctly in locations were fish are present. Here are some of the best spinnerbaits that Capt. Jim has found to be productive. The list will be given from the smallest spinnerbaits for panfish up to the largest for pike and musky.

Johnson Beetlespin

The Johnson Beetlespin is an unassuming looking little bait. However, it is an extremely effective spinnerbait for bluegill and panfish. The 1/16 ounce size works very well in most situations for panfish. Anglers chasing larger bluegill as well as crappie can bump it up to the 1/8 ounce size. Finally, the one quarter ounce size is extremely effective for bass and ponds and streams.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Beetlespins come in a wide variety of color patterns. Capt. Jim’s favorite is the simple silver blade with a black grub body with either a white or yellow stripe. Green would be his second favorite, followed by white. These lures look very simple in the package, but they really are incredibly effective fishing lures.

Mister Twister spinnerbait

The Mister Twister spinnerbait and they 1/8 ounce size is a terrific lure for panfish and small bass. The flash of the blade and the incredible action of the curly tail are irresistible to many fish. Like most spinner baits, especially when chasing panfish, the slower the retrieve the better. As long as the blades are rotating in flashing, it will produce fish. Chartreuse is by far Capt. Jim’s favorite color.

fishing for panfish with spinnerbaits

Strike King Mini spinnerbait

The Strike King Mini spinnerbait is an excellent “transition” lure. It is an excellent choice when fishing smaller bodies of water such as ponds, streams, and smaller rivers. In situations where larger spinner baits land too loudly or are too large and flashy, these mid sized spinner baits work extremely well. The one quarter ounce size in black with a silver blade is Capt. Jim’s favorite. White can be extremely effective right after a shad spawn when game fish are feeding on fry bait.

Booyah Pond Magic spinnerbait

The Booyah Pond Magic is another spinnerbait designed to fish smaller bodies of water. It is a tandem bladed bait and is a bit larger than the lure listed above. These baits come in some very enticing and unique color combinations that were specifically designed for fishing in small ponds and rivers.

Full sized spinnerbaits

Oklahoma bass fishing women

There are many companies that manufacture quality spinnerbaits. It would be impossible to list them all and no slight is meant for those that are omitted. Most of these larger spinner baits are tandem bladed baits. They are offered and combinations of willow leaf, Colorado, and Indiana blades. The following is a list of larger spinnerbaits that are available in multiple sizes and colors for anglers to use.

Strike King Spinnerbaits

Strike King is a leader in the industry when it comes to spinnerbaits. We have already listed the many spinnerbait above. There are several strike King spinner baits that anglers should consider. The premier plus spinner bait by strike King is an outstanding lure. It is a tandem blades spinner bait, sporting a Colorado and a willow leaf blade.

 

The Strike King Finesse KVD Spinnerbait is a bit smaller in size and profile. It is an excellent choice in very clear water, especially in the cooler months when bait tends to be smaller. It is a tandem blades spinnerbait that has a smaller profile skirt. Like all Strike King spinner baits, it is a stout lure made with quality components.

Terminator spinnerbaits

The Terminator line of spinnerbaits is well-known throughout the industry to be an incredibly tough and durable fishing lure. It is made from quality components and has a frame that bounces back into shape. It uses quality ball bearings swivels on the blades. The head of the jig was specifically designed to be especially weedless. Terminator spinner baits come in a variety of color combinations.

Booyah spinnerbaits

Booyah spinnerbaits have taken the market by storm in a relatively short amount of time. They offer several different spinnerbait models that are both durable and effective. These super shad spinner bait is unique in that it comes with four willow leaf blades. This results in the lure mimicking a small school of fish, similar to the Alabama rigs, but much easier to cast.

Booyah offers a complete line of spinnerbait options for anglers. The choice is endless, single and tandem bladed baits with combinations of Colorado, Indiana, and willow leaf blades are available in a variety of sizes. The Booyah Pikee spinner bait is the best lure on the market for anglers who want to cast a spinner bait for pike or musky.

Z-Man spinnerbaits

Z-Man is another company that offers quality spinnerbaits to anglers. They are all tandem bladed baits that are available in a combination of blades along with skirt color options. These baits are constructed with quality components and are both durable and effective.

Molix spinnerbaits

Molix spinnerbaits are premium lures that use high quality components. They are Kayla’s personal favorite baits. Discerning anglers who want to use the best may choose to use these lures. Like most manufacturers, Molix offers anglers a variety of color combinations in both skirts and blades.

Redfish Magic Spinnerbait

The Redfish Magic is the first spinnerbait designed for saltwater anglers. It is an excellent search bait that can cover a lot of water when fishing expansive flats. While primarily designed for redfish in the shallows, it will catch spotted sea trout, snook, jacks, and other species as well. It comes with a large, single gold blade with a paddle tail grub body.

In conclusion, this article on spinnerbait fishing tips and techniques should encourage anglers to take advantage of these very effective lures which are easy to use!

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!

 

Best Grouper fishing Tackle and Lures

Best Grouper fishing Tackle and Lures

This post will cover the best grouper fishing tackle and lures. Grouper are a highly coveted bottom dwelling species. They are found in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and points south. While they are a powerful fish that puts up a strong battle, grouper are prized by many anglers for their flaky white fillets!

There are many different species of grouper. The most popular species in the United States are gag grouper, red grouper, goliath grouper, and black grouper. There are quite a few other species of grouper that are found in deeper waters and throughout the Bahamas and other locations. For the most part, their habits are very similar and will be treated all the same when it comes to tackle and techniques.

The one thing that all groupers have in common is that they are bottom dwelling, structure oriented fish. Seldom will one be found high up in the water column or on sandy bottom with no structure. Reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, areas of rocky bottom, and ledges are the top spots where anglers catch grouper in open water. They are also caught in inshore waters around the same structure as well as docks and bridges.

Best grouper fishing rods and reels

Spinning tackle can be used for anglers grouper fishing. However, in the vast majority of applications, conventional tackle is a better choice. Grouper fishing is not about finesse. It is about hooking the fish, and getting its head turned before it can get down into the structure and free itself. Therefore, stout tackle is required. The rods and reels need to be durable. However, anglers do not need to spend a ton of money. Also, most outfits can be used in other types of fishing. Penn is THE name in saltwater tackle and makes some excellent equipment at reasonable prices.

Conventional tackle works best for grouper fishing

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A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium heavy rod with a 30 series reel is a good all-around and versatile grouper fishing outfit. This can handle most the bottom fishing situations as well as some light tackle trolling. Most grouper fishing is done bottom fishing. Casting is not required.

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Anglers using conventional tackle for grouper fishing can choose a reel with a level wind or one without. Level winds are nice in that the line is spooled up evenly as it is retrieved. However, some anglers look at that is just one more piece to break or go bad. Many old school grouper fishing reels such as the venerable Penn 4/0 do not have a level wind. The angler uses his or her thumb to evenly dispersed the line on the spool.

Not all grouper fishing is the same. Grouper vary greatly in size. In some locations, a 5 pound grouper is a decent fish. In other places, fish pushing 50 pounds are not uncommon. Goliath grouper grow hundreds of pounds and requires special tackle. Anglers need to tailor the tackle to the size of the fish being sought as well as the depth of the water being fished. Anglers fishing in hundreds of feet of water in the Atlantic Ocean with heavy lead will need a stouter outfit than those fishing in 40 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico.

Spinning tackle options for grouper fishing

While conventional tackle is the best choice in most grouper fishing situations, spinning tackle certainly has its place. Anglers fishing in shallow, clear water sometimes find that lighter spinning tackle makes a more natural presentation. Grouper can be a little bit line shy in very clear water. Some anglers simply prefer the comfort and feel of a spinning outfit.

There are also occasions were anglers can cast to grouper. This mostly occurs in the shallow waters of the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico north of Tampa. In water as shallow as 10 feet, the boat will scare the fish. Therefore, anglers anchor or drift a decent distance from the spot and cast live baits or lures in towards the structure.

The best spinning outfit for grouper fish and is still fairly stout. A 7 foot heavy action rod with a 6000 series real is a good all-around combination. With this outfit, anglers can cast lures and live baits towards structure as well as have a decent chance of landing a big fish that might be hooked when bottom fishing. And water much deeper than 50 feet, conventional outfits are simply a better choice.

Line choices for grouper fishing

Anglers shopping for grouper fishing tackle and lures will have quite a few choices when it comes to fishing line. Line is basically broken down into two categories; monofilament line and braided line. Monofilament line is cheaper. However, it is not as durable, has some stretch, and is of a larger diameter. 50 lb monofilament line and 80 pound braided line are good choices.

Most anglers grouper fishing have gone to braided lines. While the initial cost is higher, braided line last much longer than monofilament. It also has zero stretch and incredible sensitivity. This is very important when grouper fishing as it allows anglers to feel the take as well is get the grouper away from the structure. Braided line is also thinner in diameter, which allows it to sink better when fishing in deep water.

Leaders

Most anglers fishing for grouper use some type of leader. This is certainly true of braided line. Most anglers use a strong black swivel to connect the leader to the mainline. A sliding sinker is often placed on the mainline and then the swivel stops it from going any further. Leader length and strength varies greatly, depending on the fishing situation.

Many anglers fishing in deep water use a very long leader, up to 20 feet and even longer. Generally speaking, the shallower the water, the shorter the leader. Anglers fishing in 50 or 60 feet of water will only need 3 to 4 feet of leader. Fluorocarbon leader is almost always used these days. It is strong, abrasion resistant, and very close to being invisible in the water.

Grouper fishing hooks

Hooks are really a matter of personal choice. Anglers grouper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico are required to use circle hooks. Many anglers use them wherever they are grouper fishing. When properly used, circle hooks almost always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth. This aids in a live release and reduces fish mortality.

It is very important when using circle hooks to not set the hook. Setting the hook will generally result in a missed fish. Instead, when a bite is felt with the rod tip held low near the water surface, the slack is taken up with the reel and then the rod gently lifted. As the hook is being full through the fishes mouth, it rotates and turns almost like a can opener, hooking the fish in the mouth on the way out.

It is important when using circle hooks to use the proper size. The hook may look huge, but the important part is the distance between the tip and the shank. That area needs to be large enough to easily bait the hook as well as for it to work when a fish takes the bait. 8/0 to 10/0 circle hooks are a good all-around size.

Standard short shank live bait hooks are also popular for grouper fishing as well. These hooks need to be stout and strong! Many experienced grouper anglers still prefer these hooks as they allow them to set the hook. In very deep water, just reeling and coming tight as is done with circle hooks works best anyway. 5/0 is a good all-around size live bait hook. Anglers can go up or down in size, depending on the size of the bait being used and the fish being targeted.

Bottom fishing weights

Weights are required to get the bait down to the bottom. The two most popular types of weight used by anglers bottom fishing for grouper and other species are sliding egg sinkers and bank sinkers. Sliding egg sinkers are popular because they allow the grouper to pick up the bait and move off a bit, without feeling the weight of the sinker. The weight is generally placed on the running line ahead of the swivel that attaches the leader.

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However, there is another rig that works very well for grouper fishing, particularly in water shallower than 100 feet. It is called a “knocker rig”. With this rig, the sinker slides on the leader and rest right on the eye of the hook. To some anglers it looks a bit silly, but it actually works very well. One advantage to this rig is that when the sinker is on the bottom, the hook is right on the bottom. Also, when snagged up, the sinker jerking up on the line then banging the eye of the hook will often free it. This is how it gets its name.

Bank sinkers are also used by anglers when bottom fishing. They are most often used with what is termed a high low rig or a chicken rig. With this rig, multiple hooks are tied off of dropper loops on the main line. This allows anglers to present several baits at multiple levels off of the bottom. This is often done when drifting in deeper water. The bank sinker works well as it tends to walk and bounce off of rocks and other snags.

Top grouper fishing lures

While most grouper are caught on live or natural bait, there are a few situations when they can be taken on artificial lures as well. For the most part, this means trolling. Trolling with deep diving plugs is an incredibly effective technique when grouper are in fairly shallow water. It allows anglers to cover a lot of water over a piece of structure in search of fish.

Trolling for grouper

Trolling is effective anywhere that there is submerged structure in the 50 feet deep or shallower range. In very clear water, grouper will come up out of deeper water to hit a plug running above. The maximum depth of even the largest plugs is about 50 feet. The shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, channel edges and large bays such as Tampa Bay, and coral reefs of the Caribbean are prime spots to troll for grouper.

When it comes to deep diving plugs, the Mann’s Stretch series of plugs was the original innovator. They are available in several sizes which allow anglers to troll up to 50 feet deep. The large lips determines the depth that which they will run. They are categorized by size, giving anglers a good idea of how deep they will go. For example, a Stretch 30 will generally run about 30 feet deep. Rapala and several other lure manufacturers also make quality deep diving plugs for grouper fishing.

These plugs are very easy to use. A 6 foot long section of 80 pound to 100 pound leader is used between the running line in the plug. The line is then let out a good distance behind the boat and the rod placed in a rod holder. With the boat idling along at 4 to 5 knots, the plug will dig down to the maximum depth, putting out a lot of flash and vibration. When a grouper hits, there is no mistaking it! This works mostly on gag grouper.

Trolling with downriggers

Anglers can also troll with downriggers as well. This is a bit more complicated. A downrigger is a device with a cable and a heavy ball which takes the lure down deep. A clip secures the line to the ball. When a fish strikes, it pulls the line out of the clip and the angler can fight the fish. Plugs, spoons, and jigs can all be used when trolling for grouper behind downriggers. This technique is used extensively in the Great Lakes region for walleye and salmon.

Casting lures for grouper

Grouper can also be caught by anglers casting artificial lures, though there are limited situations where this can occur. Basically, when grouper are holding over structure in fairly shallow water, usually 10 feet deep or shallower, casting lures over the structure and retrieving them back in can produce jarring strikes from grouper. This is most often done on the West Coast of Florida and over coral reefs in the Bahamas.

The two lures that are most often used for casting to grouper are diving plugs and jigs. Plugs will dive down to a determined depth, while jigs can be worked through the entire water column but are extremely effective when bounced on the bottom right on top of the structure. White buck tail jigs are often used and can be tipped with a strip of squid or cut fish. A jig with a soft plastic grub tail can be effective as well.

Top 4 grouper species

There are basically four types of grouper that are found in good numbers in the United States. They are the gag grouper, red grouper, black grouper, and Goliath grouper. There are other grouper such as yellowfin grouper, Nassau grouper, and scamp that are found in the Bahamas in in deeper water.

Gag grouper

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Gag grouper are perhaps the most abundant of the grouper species found in the United States. They are also found in shallow water around structure more often than the other species. Gag grouper are very aggressive and are the species most often targeted by anglers fishing with artificial lures. They have a tendency to move shallow in the cooler months. This makes them quite accessible to anglers who prefer to troll. In the warmer months, they move back out to deeper water.

Red grouper

Red grouper are quite plentiful, especially in the Gulf of Mexico. While they will occasionally be caught inshore, the vast majority of red grouper are caught in water 50 feet or deeper. They are not quite as aggressive as gag grouper. They are often found on smaller breaks and areas of hard bottom, also known as Swiss cheese bottom. Red grouper often prefer cut bait over live bait, as it is easier to track down.

Black grouper

Many anglers call gag grouper black grouper. When in fact, black grouper are a separate species. They are similar in markings to gag grouper. However, once one is: or when they are laid side-by-side, it is easy to tell the difference. Black grouper are normally found in the deeper waters of the Atlantic Ocean and down around the Florida Keys. They are probably the hardest fighting member of the grouper family. They are not as prevalent as either gag grouper or red grouper.

Goliath grouper

Goliath grouper are by far the largest member of the grouper family that are commonly found in the United States. Surprisingly, they are often encountered in the inshore waters, as shallow as five or 6 feet deep. Many a large Goliath grouper has surprised an angler casting to the mangroves for snook or redfish. Anglers targeting giant Goliath grouper use 5 pound jacks as bait in 200 pound conventional tackle. This is not a game for the meek! They are also found offshore as well. It is not at all uncommon for an angler to lose a 5 pound snapper or grouper to a big, hungry Goliath grouper.

In conclusion, this article on the best trooper fishing tackle and lures should help anglers catch more of these hard fighting and fantastic eating bottom fish!

Best False Albacore fishing Tackle and Lures

Best False Albacore fishing Tackle and Lures

This article will outline the best false albacore fishing tackle and lures. False albacore are a terrific saltwater game fish. They are found in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. They are in the family of tuna fish. False albacore feet and large schools and are an extremely fast fish. They readily hit both artificial lures and flies.

best false albacore fishing tackle and lures

Capt. Jim Klopfer has been a full-time fishing charter captain in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He caters to anglers of all skill levels. One of his favorite ways to fish is to target false albacore in the inshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The following tackle and lure recommendations come from his decades of guiding experience.

The one aspect of false albacore fishing that makes it so popular among anglers is the manner in which they feed. Often times, false albacore are encountered feeding ferociously on the surface. In these feeding frenzies, they are devouring helpless bait fish that they have trapped at the surface. The water literally boils as the fish feed with birds diving and bait fish fleeing.

However, despite this aggressive feeding, there are times when false albacore can be fussy and difficult to hook. The reason for this is that in many instances they have focused on smaller prey. Glass minnows are only and inch or two long and are one of their favorite types of forage. Smaller sardines, herring, finger mullet, menhaden, and sand deals are also favorite foods of false albacore.

Best rods and reels for false albacore fishing

False albacore average 5 to 7 pounds and grow to 15 pounds regularly. They also make a blistering run when hooked. This means that tackle used when false albacore fishing needs to be of good quality and an excellent working condition. This is especially true of the drag system.

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As mentioned above, often times false albacore feed on small bait fish. This results in spinning tackle often times being the best choice to cast these smaller lures. However, the rod needs to be stout enough to handle a big fish in the real has to have plenty of line capacity as well. A 7 foot medium rod with a fast action paired with a 3000 series real is an excellent all round combination. Here is a link to a Penn Conflict combo that will work well.

False albacore are prime candidates for anglers who enjoy casting a fly rod as well. In fact, this is a species that was made for fly fishing. The combination of them feeding visually on the surface along with the small size of the forage results in fly fishing being an effective technique. Anglers use between 7wt and 10wt outfits, depending on the size of the fish being sought. A 9wt is a good all-around outfit.

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Conventional tackle does have its place and false albacore fishing as well. For the most part, this involves trolling and chunking with cut bait. A light conventional outfit is perfect for trolling spoons and small plugs in search of false albacore. They also work well when drifting with cut or live bait. Anglers also anchor up over reefs and other structure and free line baits as well. A medium conventional outfit with a limber tip is perfect for false albacore fishing.

Fishing line options

Most anglers opt for braided line these days. The small diameter of braided line results in much more line capacity on the reel as opposed to monofilament or fluorocarbon line. However, some anglers actually prefer having the stretch in the line that monofilament provides. False albacore strike so hard and make such a fast initial run that the non-stretching of braided line can actually be an issue. Most anglers compensate for this with slightly less drag pressure. 10 pound monofilament and 15 pound braided line are good options.


Leaders for false albacore fishing

False albacore can be fussy when it comes to leaders. In most cases, a 2 foot to 3 foot section of 20 pound fluorocarbon leader works very well. False albacore do not have teeth. However, often times Spanish mackerel are mixed in with the false albacore. It is not at all uncommon for a mackerel to dash in and take a lure or fly meant for false albacore.

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If this becomes a nuisance, anglers can bump up the leader size to 30 pounds or 40 pounds. However, if this results in a decrease in strikes, anglers will have to go back down to 20 edges deal with the mackerel. Many anglers attach the leader to the running line by using a small black swivel. This is an excellent option when using a spoon as it will reduce line twist. Line to line knots can be used as well.

Top artificial lures for false albacore

While live and cut bait produces plenty of false albacore, many anglers prefer to fish with them using artificial lures. It is great fun and sport to cast a lure into a school of feeding false albacore than feeling the bone jarring strikes! All of the most productive false albacore lures mimic bait fish, since this is the primary forage. They all put out flash and vibration, mimicking wounded bait fish.

Sarasota false albacore fishing

Most of these top false albacore fishing lures will catch a lot of other saltwater species as well. Depending on the geographical location, anglers fishing for false albacore may run into striped bass, bluefish, bonito, jacks, king mackerel, and other species. Many anglers are not fussy about what bends their rod. However dedicated false albacore anglers find many of these other species a nuisance!

Plugs

Hard bodied plugs are excellent false albacore fishing lures. They very realistically imitate did bait fish. Capt Jim’s favorite lure when pursuing false albacore is the #8 Rapala Saltwater X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This bait is a little less than 3 inches long and closely mimics in size and action the forage that false albacore most often feed on. This is basically a jerk bait, as the Bass anglers like to call them. It floats on the surface, then dive down several feet upon retrieve. It has a very erratic action with a lot a flash and vibration.

The X-Rap is fairly light, but can still be cast a reasonable distance with the spinning tackle recommended above. It does help considerably to try to put the boat upwind of the fish. X-Raps come in a variety of colors. In most instances, lighter colors which naturally imitate the local bait fish are most effective. Capt. Jim’s to favorite colors are Olive and ghost (white). It is important to by the saltwater version, as it has stronger hooks and hardware.

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This is a versatile lure that can be both cast and trolled. Anglers casting this lure try to place the boat ahead of a school of false albacore in hopes of intercepting it. The lure is then cast out ahead of the fish and worked back with hard, aggressive jerks and a pause in between. Often times, the strike occurs on the pause.

Trolling the X-Rap can save the day during those times when false albacore are difficult to cast a bait in front of. As veteran false albacore anglers are keenly aware, there are days when the fish are on the surface for a very brief period of time before moving on. When this occurs, trolling can save the day in the X rap is an excellent lure to use.

Jig and grub combo

Soft plastic baits will catch plenty of false albacore. Capt. Jim likes the Bass Assassin line of jig heads and soft plastic baits. With all of the variations of jig head size and soft plastic body combinations, anglers can “match the hatch” to the forage that the false albacore are feeding on. A 1/4 ounce jig head with a 4 inch Sea Shad soft plastic grub body is a good and versatile all round combination.

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It is important to go with the quality jig head with a stout hook. The Bass Assassin Pro Jig head fits the bill. It is available and several sizes from 1/16 ounce and heavier. When combined with the 4 inch Sea Shad bait, it is a proven false albacore producer. Just as with most false albacore fishing lures, lighter colors and knows with flash work best. Glow, red gold shiner, silver, and chartreuse are all good colors.


For the most part, these jigs are cast out in front of feeding fish. And aggressive retrieve normally works best. However, sometimes just burning it back in as fast as the handle can be turned will produce. They really are not effective when trolled as they tend to roll at the higher speeds which produce false albacore. However, they are very effective when the fish go down and are marked on the sonar. Anglers can drop the jig down and vertically presented to the fish.

Spoons

Spoons are a natural when it comes to false albacore fishing lures. A spoon is basically a curved, shaped, and polished piece of metal with a hook in it. Acme Kastmaster spoons have been catching just about every species of freshwater and saltwater fish for decades. False albacore are no exception. This lure cast well and puts out a ton of flash and vibration. Anglers should try to match the spoon to the size of the forage. However, sometimes the best approach is just going with a heavy bait as it can be cast a long way.

false albacore fishing

These baits are extremely effective when both cast or trolled. When false albacore are up and down a difficult to get on, the extra casting distance that this heavier bait provides can make the difference between a been rod and not. They are also effective when jig vertically on schools of fish and that have gone deep. Finally, they can trolled using just a spoon, trolling sinkers, or planers to get the bait down a bit.

White bucktail jig

A white buck tail jig has been a staple in most saltwater anglers tackle boxes for decades. They are still effective to this day and will certainly produce false albacore. White is a most popular color, often times with some silver flash tide it. Capt. Jim likes Spro lures when casting a buck tail jig. It is a quality product that is fairly durable with a strong hook.

false albacore fishing tips

Just as with most lures, these work very well when cast in front of feeding fish. Capt. Jim does tend to like to work this bait a bit slower than some of the other lures. The natural buck tail will undulate seductively in the water, usually drawing a strike. 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce jigs will get the job done in most situations. It can certainly be trolled as well, in some anglers at a belly strip or strip of cut squid to sweeten the bait.

Metals

The Hogy Epoxy Jig is an example of what false albacore anglers call a “metal” style bait. These are kind of a combination between a spoon and a jig. They are outstanding lures that closely mimic bait fish. They come in a wide variety of sizes and finishes. The 1 ounce size is an excellent choice, unless the bait fish are running especially small. It is fished a very similarly to a spoon. Epoxy jigs can be cast, trolled, or vertically fished.

Diamond Jig

A Diamond Jig is a fairly plain looking piece of metal with a hook in. However, do not let the looks for you! This unassuming bait has saved the day for Capt. Jim on many occasions. On days when the false albacore are fussy and seemingly refuse everything in the tackle box, they will often hit this tiny jig. This is especially true when false albacore are feeding on very small bait.

Often times, it is difficult to get close enough to the false albacore to cast lighter lures into them. Small Diamond jigs do not weigh very much at all. In most cases, the best approach is to slowly troll around the edge of a school of fish while rhythmically jerking the rod tip. The key to the effectiveness of this bait is its subtlety, do not overdo the action.

Flies

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Anglers who enjoy fly fishing find that false albacore are terrific sport. Fly fishing for false albacore has all of the best elements of fly fishing. Most of the action is visual is anglers primarily cast their flies in front of feeding fish. They grow fairly large, a 10 pound fish on a fly rod is a handful. The strike is jarring and the angler is into the backing in seconds. Finally, false albacore never quit, even up to the end.

While just about any bait fish pattern will fool a false albacore, Capt. Jim finds the Clouser Minnow to be the best all round fly. He likes to tie it on a #1 or #1/0 hook with medium eyes. All white and white over chartreuse are his two favorite color patterns. A D.T. Special is his second choice. When false albacore are feeding on tiny bait fish, it is not at all uncommon for flies to outproduce artificial lures.

Fishing for false albacore with bait

Anglers can certainly catch false albacore using live and cut bait as well. This is fairly uncomplicated fishing. Instead of tying on and artificial lure, and angler simply uses a # 1 or #1/0 short shank live bait hook. In most instances, the angler is fishing from a drifting or anchored boat. The live or cut bait is allowed to free line back behind the boat. This is a very natural presentation and is extremely effective, especially when fishing over a specific piece of structure.

Just about any live bait or cut bait can be used to catch false albacore in this situation. Anglers can cut fish into strips or into chunks and float them back. Often times, chum is used to get the false albacore right up behind the boat and in a feeding mood. When this occurs, the angler can actually watch the fish take the bait.

In conclusion, this article on the best false albacore fishing tackle and lures will help anglers catch more of these terrific inshore saltwater game fish!

 

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

Best Live Baits for Saltwater Fishing in Florida

This article will cover the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida. While artificial lures certainly produce plenty of fish, many anglers saltwater fishing in Florida do so using live bait. This is understandable, why use an imitation when you can use the real thing? The top live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida are shrimp, shiners, pin fish and grunts, mullet, crabs, and sand fleas.

live bait fishing in Florida

Some of these live baits are available for purchase at Florida bait and tackle shops. Live shrimp are a good example of this. Other baits such as shiners need to be caught by the angler. There are even “bait boats” which will go out and catch live bait fish and sell them to anglers right from their boat. Anglers can keep up to date on Florida recreational fishing regulations on the FWC site.

Live shrimp is the #1 Florida fishing bait

A live shrimp is undoubtedly the number one saltwater fishing bait in Florida. Shrimp are available at every bait and tackle shop along the coast. They are the “nightcrawler” of saltwater; every species that swims will eat one. Shrimp can be caught by anglers using a cast net. However, the vast majority of shrimp used for bait are purchased at shops.

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Shrimp are fairly easy to keep alive. In the cooler months, they are very easy to keep alive. Often times, an angler can keep a couple dozen in a bucket of cool water without even using an aerator. However, in the warmer months with the water much over 70°, shrimp will become listless without some aeration. Anglers with boats usually have some type of bait well with either an aerator or a pump that recirculates the water and aerates it. Anglers without a boat use small battery-powered aerators to keep their shrimp alive.

Check out this video for Capt Jim’s tackle recommendations

Using live shrimp for bait in Florida

Shrimp can be hooked in a variety of fashions and fished using multiple rigs. A live shrimp under a popping cork is an extremely effective combination for catching speckled trout and other species on the grass flats. The cork not only suspends the shrimp at the desired depth, it actually helps attract the fish when twitched sharply. Shrimp can be free lined on the flats as well. This involves simply hooking the shrimp and letting it swim naturally in the current.

fishing with live bait in florida

Shrimp are also the number one choice for anglers bottom fishing. Many of the species in Florida are found around submerged structure such as docks, rocks, seawalls, bridges, and wrecks. A live shrimp fished on the bottom will fool sheepshead, snapper, grouper, flounder, and just about every other inshore species. This is very basic fishing. Anglers use various rigs and some type of weight to keep the bait on the bottom near the structure.

Live shiners are a terrific live bait for Florida saltwater anglers

Shiners is a generic Florida term for several families of small silvery baitfish. These include scaled sardines, also known as pilchards, threadfin herring, and Spanish sardines. Shiners, or white bait, are a terrific bait for a wide variety of species. These bait fish are found in large schools either on the flats or just offshore around markers and other structure. Anglers seeking a lot of bait catch them with a cast net. Those who only need a few baits can jig them up using a Sibiki rig.

Florida Spanish mackerel fishing

In most cases, anglers catch their own shiners. There is a technique called “live bait chumming” were anglers use these live fish to attract game fish to the boat. This requires a lot of bait, and purchasing it would not be practical. Therefore, anglers catch their own. Shiners will die quickly if not properly taken care of. They need a constant re-changing of the water supply. This makes it impractical to fish with large numbers of shiners from the shoreline, though a dozen or two can be kept in a bucket for a little while.

When the bait is easy, anglers can put close to 1000 baits in the well in fairly short order. In some parts of Florida, guys go out early and catch a bunch of bait and sell them right from the boat. Prices and availability vary by location. Most sell the bait by the scoop. Considering the time saved, this can be a viable option.

Shiner fishing techniques

Shiners are most often free lined. This means that they are allowed to swim with just a hook in them and no other weight to hinder their movements. A split shot or two can be used to get them down in current. They are terrific baits for catching snook, redfish, jacks, trout, Spanish mackerel, and other species along mangrove shorelines and on the inshore grass flats.

mangrove snapper fishing in Florida

Shiners are very productive on bottom species such as grouper and snapper as well. Offshore anglers use them to chum up tuna and other species off of area reefs and wrecks. In this application, they are generally fished on basic Carolina rig style bottom rigs.

Fishing with live pinfish and grunts

Pinfish and grunts will be covered in one section, as they are quite similar. Both are small baitfish that kind of resemble freshwater sunfish. Pinfish are a bit rounder while grunts are a tad more elongated. Pin fish have a row of needle sharp dorsal fins, this is how they get their name. Grunts are aptly named as they make a grunting sound when in distress. Of the two, grunts are generally more desirable and pin fish are more readily available.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Some bait shops sell live pin fish and grunts, it just depends upon the area and the demand. Both pinfish and grunts do need some type of aeration or water exchanged in order to stay a live and active. Pinfish and grunts can be caught on the shallow grass flats using small hooks and pieces of shrimp or squid. They can also be caught and cast nets using canned cat food to chum them up behind the boat.

Smaller pinfish and grunts from the size of a quarter up to about 3 inches along are excellent when used in the inshore waters. They can be free lined or fished under a cork and will catch speckled trout in a variety of species. Larger pinfish and grunts are used when targeting larger fish. Snook, grouper, cobia, amberjack, tarpon, sharks, and other species will take a hand sized bait.

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Live mullet are productive live baits in Florida

Mullet are a very popular live bait for anglers fishing in Florida. Like other bait fish, they are sometimes available at local bait and tackle shops but in most instances anglers catch their own. Most often, anglers use a cast net to procure them. Small mullet are called “finger mullet” and are terrific baits when fishing for inshore species such as trout, redfish, flounder, snook, and more. Larger mullet are used for big snook, tarpon, and even billfish offshore.

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Mullet are not always easy to catch or keep alive. They are bit of a specialty bait for some serious anglers. However, there are times when finger mullet are relatively easy to find and catch. They are seen scurrying about in the shallows most often. The East Coast of Florida experiences a unique phenomenon called the “mullet run”. Huge numbers of finger mullet will hang up into bait balls and migrate down the coast. Game fish will be found ravaging the schools of bait.

Live crabs produce permit and tarpon

Live crabs are another popular live bait used by saltwater anglers in Florida. There are several types of crabs that are used, and all are effective. Once again, in some areas anglers can purchase these at bait shops while in some cases anglers catch their own. In most cases, crabs are fairly easy to keep alive as most only really need to be In a little bit of water.

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3” blue crabs are used extensively as live bait for tarpon on both coasts of Florida. With the pictures usually removed, the bait is hooked through the corner of the shell and cast out towards schools of rolling fish. They are certainly the number one bait on the West Coast of Florida from Naples to Tampa. Pass crabs are caught by anglers on the outgoing tide and used as tarpon baits as well.

Blue crabs are also used by inshore anglers fishing for redfish and black drum. In most cases, the crabs should be fresh but are not used as live bait. Instead, they are cut in half’s or quarters depending on the size and fished on the bottom. This technique is used extensively in the mosquito Lagoon and banana River areas for trophy redfish.

Jacksonville Florida fishing tips

Crabs are a top bait in the Florida Keys

Anglers fishing in the Florida Keys are quite familiar with crabs. Small crabs are used for anglers chasing permit on both the flats and the offshore wrecks. They are by far the number one bait for permit. Larger crabs are used for tarpon and other game fish.

Anglers bottom fishing for sheepshead and snapper will catch oyster crabs around the rocks on low tide. Bait shops seldom sell these crabs. However, anglers who use them swear by their effectiveness.

Sand fleas produce in the surf

Sand fleas are a bit of a specialized bait. They are most often used by anglers surf fishing sand fleas, also known as mole crabs. Are caught in the surf line. Using special rakes, anglers dredge the sand right at the surf line and sift through hoping to catch some sand fleas. They are mostly associated with Pompano, however they will fool snook, sheepshead and many other species as well. Some bait shops sell them frozen, though very few sell them as live baits.

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Sand fleas are terrific bait for sheepshead as well. Anglers bottom fish with them around the normal structure such as docks, bridges, rock piles, jetties, and more. Sand fleas are most often hooked by running the hook from the underside and out through the shell. The shell is delicate. Therefore, anglers should use a thin hook if possible.

Live bait fishing techniques

The three main techniques when fishing with live bait in Florida are freelining the bait, fishing the bait under a float, and bottom fishing. These three presentations will cover most angling situations. In all presentations, the hook should match the size of the bait being used, but the fish being pursued.

Freelining baits

Freelining a bait is simply hooking it and allowing it to swim naturally. The bait is relatively free to swim about. However, the hook will cause it to swim in distress and erratically. A small split shot can be used if required. This technique can be used in any water depth, from the inshore flats to offshore reefs.

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Inshore, anglers cast the freelined bait toward structure such as mangrove shorelines, oyster bars, docks, sea walls, and bridges. To some degree, anglers can control or even “swim” the bait, sort of like an artificial lure. Usually, the bait fighting against the hook will trigger a strike.

Fishing baits under a float or cork

Floats, also termed corks or bobbers are simple devices. They suspend a bait at a desired depth. This is usually done on the flats, but is used offshore as well. The float supplies casting weight as well. Finally, the float gives anglers a visual reference for when a fish takes the bait.

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In Florida, anglers use “popping corks”. These are floats that not only suspend the bait, they are part of the system that attracts fish. The corks have a concave face that when twitched sharply, “produces a “popping” sound. This simulates feeding fish and attracts other fish to the bait. A live shrimp under a popping cork has resulted in countless speckled trout being caught. Noisy floats such as the “Cajun Thunder” with rattles are used the same way.

Bottom fishing with live bait

Many anglers fish with live bait on the bottom and near structure. This is a very basic form of fishing that will always be productive. Many fish species feed on the bottom, especially if some type of structure is present. This can be done from a boat, pier, bridge, or shore. There are several different rigs that anglers use to present their baits on the bottom.

The Carolina Rig is very popular and effective. With this rig the line runs through a hole in an egg sinker. A swivel stops it from going further. A leader runs between the swivel and the hook. This allows fish to pick up a bait and move off with it without feeling any resistance.

High low rigs or chicken rigs are usually used for bottom fish. It is usually used in a vertical presentation. This rig allows anglers to present several baits at different depths. It is very effective for fish such as grouper, snapper, sheepshead, drum, flounder, and other species.

In conclusion, this article on the best live baits for saltwater fishing in Florida will help anglers catch more fish using bait!