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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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. Anglers surf fishing have their own specialized rods and reels.
Striped bass fishing rods and reels
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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!