Best 12 Spotted Sea Trout Fishing Lures

Sarasota fishing report

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.

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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 12 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

bass assassin

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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.

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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

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speckled trout

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


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fishing for spotted sea trout

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


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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

sprite spoon

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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 speckled 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

skitter prop

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The Rapala Skitter Prop is a topwater 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

bucktail jig

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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

mirrolure 52

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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.

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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

gulp jerk shad

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spotted sea trout fishing

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.

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

silver minnow

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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

redfish magic

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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

saltwater spook

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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!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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