Top 9 Trolling Lures for Inshore Saltwater Fishing!


trolling lures saltwater fishing

Top 9 Trolling Lures for Inshore Saltwater Fishing!

This post will list the top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing. There are a variety of artificial lures that will work well in this application. Trolling is very effective as it allows anglers the opportunity to cover a lot of water quickly in search of aggressive fish.

Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.

My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I am a charter boat captain in Sarasota, Florida. Trolling is a technique that I use often on my trips, especially with novice anglers as clients. It is an east way to enjoy a day on the water while having the chance to catch plenty of fish, without great skill.

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The top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing are;

  • Rapala X-Rap

  • Clark trolling spoon

  • White bucktail jig

  • Diamond jig

  • Mann’s Stretch 30

  • Kastmaster spoon

  • Yo-Zuri 3D plug

  • Tony Maja bunker spoon

  • Trolling skirt

These top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing will cover the vast majority of trolling situations. This should simplify trolling and help anglers choose the best lures for the water that they are fishing. They are my personal favorite trolling lures!

Best tackle for trolling artificial lures

spinning rod and reel

For some of my inshore trolling I use the same spinning tackle that I use when casting jigs and other lures as well as fishing live bait. Currently, I am using the new St Croix Triumph 7′ inshore rod with a Daiwa Black Gold 2500 spinning reel. It is fine for trolling light lures such as spoons and small plugs.

Anglers can shop at Amazon for a Daiwa Black Gold reel and St Croix Triumph 7′ MF rod spinning combo in this link.

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trolling lures saltwater fishing

For most inshore trolling situations, a light conventional outfit is best. Conventional reels hold more line, are stronger, offer better reeling power, and have great drag systems. I use a Penn light conventional outfit when trolling larger plugs along with spoons and planers.

These top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing can be used on their own, without weights or planers. This is true in shallow water as well as when fish are feeding near the surface. Weights and planers are used to get the lure down in the water column. Plugs with large lips will dive down pretty deep on their own.

My top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing

This is my list of the trolling lures that I have used both in Florida and Chesapeake Bay to catch a variety of species!

Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait

best jerkbait for saltwater fishing

My favorite saltwater trolling lure is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. This is a versatile bait that has produced a variety of game fish for me and my clients. The 08 size is perfect for the smaller bait fish that I have in the area that I fish. I use the 10 size when the bait gets larger. Models are available up to 5 1/2” long. Anglers should match the size and color of the lure to the forage that is in the area. White and olive are my favorite colors.

Read my article on trolling in saltwater

I often drift a large flat while my anglers cast jigs. As I idle back around, I often troll a 08 X-Rap. On many trips, trolling produces more fish than casting and drifting. I simply let out 100′ of line and move the boat forward at an idle or just above. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, trout, ladyfish, and other species are caught.

Sarasota false albacore fishing

This works well in the open Gulf of Mexico as well as in the Atlantic open and any large, open body of water. Striped bass will hit them as well as false albacore. It is particularly effective when bait pods are seen or where fish are feeding on the surface.

jerkbait fishing

In the winter, snook and jacks move into rivers and canals. Trolling is an excellent technique to use at this time. I can cover a lot of water in search of fish that tend to move around a lot. I go to darker colors in the stained water, gold is my favorite.

Click to shop Amazon for Rapala X-Rap plugs

Silver Clark trolling spoon

Number two on my list of top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing is a silver Clark trolling spoon. This is a very productive lure for trolling in large, open areas. They are available in a variety of sizes to match the locally available forage. There are times when fish are keyed in on tiny bait and will not hit larger lures. Spoons excel in this situation! They work very well for king and Spanish mackerel, false albacore and bonito, bluefish, striped bass, and more.

Light tackle trolling video

Clark trolling spoons need some additional hardware in order to get down to the desired depths. Inline sinkers work well with a 10′ leader between the spoon and the weight. I use planers quite often. They allow me to troll multiple depths at fairly high speeds, around 6 knots. I use a 20′ leader between the spoon and planer. I wrote a comprehensive article, anglers can read it in the link below.

Read more about trolling with spoons and planers

Click to shop Amazon for Clark spoons

White bucktail jig

Lake Murray striped bass

Next on the list of my favorite inshore trolling lures is a white bucktail jig. These are a staple of striped bass anglers all along the East Coast. They are available in sizes that are quite heavy in order to get down into the water column. Jigs are trolled much slower than spoons and plugs. Anglers can even slow troll/drift them for flounder. The jig can be spruced up with a soft plastic trailer or even cut bait.

There are quire a few lure manufacturers that offer bucktail jigs. I personally like the Spro line. They are quality lures with stout, saltwater components. Anglers fish jigs on umbrella rigs. These are a bit complicated, but resemble a school of bait fish and are very productive.

Click to shop Amazon for Spro jigs

Diamond jig

diamond jig

The Diamond jig is a bit of a “secret weapon” for anglers, especially when chasing false albacore and bonito when they are feeding on tiny bait. Glass minnows will often be found just off the beaches in huge schools. Fish will often be seen crashing in them, yet refuse larger lures. They get locked into the tiny bait and won’t eat anything larger.

I like to troll the Diamond jig on the surface with no weight to begin with. If the fish won’t take it, I will troll it behind a 2 ounce or 3 ounce trolling sinker. This lure does not look like much, but it can be very effective under certain conditions!

Click to shop Amazon for Diamond jigs

Mann’s Stretch 30

trolling for grouper

The Mann’s Stretch 30 basically invented the technique of trolling the bottom for grouper and other species in fairly shallow water. It has a large lip which causes the lure to dive down 30 feet or more. As it ticks bottom structure, it acts erratically, triggering strikes. It is mostly used in Florida and the Caribbean, but will produce striped bass up north as well. It is a great way to hunt new bottom spots and catch fish. A fairly stout rod is required.

Click to shop Amazon for Mann’s Stretch 30 plugs

Acme Kastmaster spoon

lues for surf fishing

The Acme Kastmaster spoon is one of my favorite saltwater fishing lures! I have caught blues in the surf, cast to breaking striped bass, and trolled it here in Florida for mackerel and trout. It is next on my list of top trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing. Chrome with white bucktail trailer is my favorite combination.

fishing for bluefish

The 1 ounce and larger models are best for trolling. Since high speeds are not required (3 knots is about right), the spoon will get down a bit on it’s own. Anglers can certainly troll them behind planers and weights. This is a versatile lure that catches everything and should be in every saltwater anglers tackle box.

Click to shop Amazon for Kastmaster spoons

Yo-Zuri 3D Minnow

top trolling lures saltwater fishing

The Yo-Zuri 3D line of plugs are excellent saltwater trolling lures as well. Similar to the Rapala, it is a long slender bait with a lot of action. They are available up to 7” long. 3D baits are available in models that run shallow or dive as deep as 20 feet. Here in Florida where I fish, they are very effective on king mackerel, closely mimicking threadfin herring. Northern anglers use them for striped bass and bluefish.

Click to shop Amazon for Yo-Zuri 3D plugs

Tony Maja bunker Spoon

bunker spoon

The Bunker spoon is a bit of a specialty lure used by anglers in the northeast for striped bass. I have used them successfully in Chesapeake Bay as well. They resemble bunker, or menhaden, which have a wider profile. They are trolled a bit slower, usually behind a weight. Bunker spoons put out a lot of vibration as they wobble.

Click to shop Amazon for Tony Maja bunker spoons

Trolling skirt

trolling lures

Trolling skirts are often though of as offshore lures, but they catch plenty of fish for anglers trolling the inshore waters as well. Here in Florida, I use them along with ballyhoo, already rigged up. They work great for king mackerel and barracuda on the close in reefs. They will catch kings throughout their range, along with and dolphin that might wander in close. Bonito and albacore will take smaller skirts as well.

Click to shop Amazon for trolling skirts

In conclusion, this article on my top 9 trolling lures for inshore saltwater fishing will simplify trolling and help anglers catch more fish!

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