Top 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures
Top 6 Saltwater Fishing Lures
Artificial lures have been used by anglers to catch fish for a very long time. Lures are designed to mimic the forage that fish feed on. And saltwater, that is primarily bait fish and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. In this article on the top 6 saltwater fishing lures we will cover each lure type and depth.
Anglers are often surprised to find that lures commonly out fish live bait. While live bait is effective when fish are hungry, lures have other advantages. They will trigger reaction strikes from fish that are perhaps not feeding but can’t resist the chance for an easy meal. Artificial lures also allow anglers to cover a lot more water than those fishing with live bait. Finally, there is a convenience factor of not having to purchase, catch, and keep bait alive.
Jig and grub combo
Follow Candice on IG
The jig and grub combination is arguably the most popular saltwater fishing lure. It is #1 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures. It is economical, versatile, and will produce anywhere on the planet. This lure basically consists of a hook with a lead head molded into it near the eye. This weight at the front causes the lure to hop and fall in a jigging fashion. That is how the lure got its name. Jig heads come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. However, they all work the same.
The jig head is chosen based on the conditions the angler is facing. Depth of the water, speed of the current, and size of the forage are the primary considerations. Anglers fishing and water shallower than 10 feet deep will find a quarter ounce jig to be a good all-around size. Anglers fishing deeper water and in current will need to bump up the jig head size accordingly.
Some type of soft plastic grub body is added to the jig head. These tales come in a myriad of styles, sizes, and colors. The goal is for the grub body to match the forage. The most popular tail shapes are shrimp tales, shad tails, and curly tails. All three designs are effective, however the latter two have more built in action. A 1/4 ounce jig head with a 4 inch Shad tail body is a great all round saltwater fishing lure. However, it is not uncommon for anglers seeking large fish such as striped bass to go much larger.
Jigs are economical and versatile
Versatility is one of the key components to the popularity of the jig and grub combo. They can be retrieved in a variety of ways throughout the entire water column. A jig with a shrimp tail can be bounced off the bottom, imitating a shrimp or crab. Jigs with a bait style tail can be retrieve steadily through the water. They can be cast to fish that are breaking on the surface and worked quickly. Trolling with these lures can be quite productive.
The most common and productive retrieve for most anglers is the “jig and fall”retrieve. The lure is cast out and allowed to sink several seconds. The rod tip is then jerked sharply upwards, causing the lore to shoot up through the water column. The rod tip is then lowered, allowing the lure to flutter helplessly through the water. Most strikes occur on the fall as the jig resembles a helpless or wounded bait fish.
The jig and grub combo is a fantastic lure for anglers targeting breaking fish. These are fish that are actively feeding on the surface such as bluefish, striped bass, and Spanish mackerel. As long as the grub remotely resembles the size of the forage, they will usually draw a strike. The jig and grub is also very effective when trolled. Striped bass in particular fall prey to a shad tail jig trolled along a channel edge.
Bucktail jigs are extremely productive for anglers fishing saltwater. In fact, they are one of the first saltwater fishing lures. White is a most popular color. They are very effective and are fished in the same manner as the jig and grub combo. As with the jig and grub, sizes determined by the water being fished and the available forage. Anglers can combine the two and add a soft plastic tail to add even more action. This is deadly on striped bass. There are a couple of factors that put them slightly behind these lures.
Follow Jacki on IG
Bucktail jigs are a bit more expensive and less versatile than the jig and grub combo. Anglers catching toothy species such as mackerel and bluefish can spend a lot of money quickly as these fish will tear up a buck tail jig. Plastic grub tails are inexpensive and easily replaced. Also, bucktail jigs are less versatile. While it is very easy to change the color or shape of a plastic tailed lure, this is not the case with bucktail. However, bucktail and synthetic care jigs have great action and the water and you catch a lot of fish. They are #2 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures
While they may seem to just be another soft plastic bait, that is not the case. The gulp line of baits are extremely productive. They have a built-in sent that makes fishing them almost like using live bait. In Florida, the 3 inch gulp shrimp is a deadly bait on the shallow grass flats. Anglers all over the country use them with success. As with all lures, the key is to match the color and size of the bait to the available forage.
Anglers fishing shallow water can fish the gulp shrimp under a cork. This is an extremely productive technique for speckled trout and redfish on the grass flats between 2 feet deep and 6 feet deep. The cork makes a pop or rattle which attracts game fish. When they come to investigate, they see the shrimp below the cork and eat it. Gulp! baits are #3 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.
Shallow diving plugs
These lures are extremely effective for anglers saltwater fishing. They imitate bait fish. Plugs vibrate and wobble, mimicking a wounded or injured bait. This triggers the natural instinct and fish to attack. Rapala X-Raps and Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows are examples of popular shallow diving plugs. Some anglers refer to these as twitch baits or jerk baits due to their action and the water. They are #4 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.
Shallow diving plugs can be cast or trolled effectively. Anglers working shoreline cover or casting open flats catch a variety of species. The best retrieve is generally an erratic one. The lure will float on the surface at rest, then dive down when retrieved. Several cranks of the real handle followed by a twitch and a pause is a very effective retrieve. At other times a steady retrieve, either slow or quite fast, will produce. Once again, it is important to match the size and color of the lure to the bait fish that are prevalent in the area. Local tackle shops will have a good selection of baits that work well in their area.
These plugs really come into their own when fish are working on the surface. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, stripers, false albacore, and other species will devour them. Plugs come in many sizes and colors, making it easy to “match the hatch”.
Spoons are a very simple looking artificial lure, yet one of the most productive. A spoon is basically a curved piece of metal with a hook in it. It resembles a wounded bait fish. Metallic finishes such as silver, copper, brass, and gold are popular. Spoons can also be painted or have reflective material on them. Casting and trolling both produce a lot a fish. They are #5 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.
Spoons cast a long way. They are relatively heavy and aerodynamic. 1/2 ounce to 3/4 ounce spoons are very popular as they mimic small shiny fish such as sardines. The spoon is cast out, allowed to sink, then worked back using either a steady or erratic retrieve. As with all lure fishing, it is best to experiment with retrieves until a productive pattern emerges.
Follow Kirsten on IG
Anglers fishing very shallow water do well with a weedless spoon. The Johnson Silver Minnow is an example of this. It is an established lure that has been around for decades, starting out in freshwater for anglers targeting largemouth bass. The weedless spoon is a staple of flats anglers in the south targeting redfish on shallow grass flats. It has a single hook that rides up, resulting in less snags on the bottom.
Swivels required when fishing with spoons
Anglers using spoons will need to use some type of swivel. Spoon will spin in the water, causing line twist. There are two options when choosing a swivel. Anglers can tie a barrel swivel onto the end of the running line, then use a short section of leader between the spoon and the other end of the swivel. Another option is the snap swivel right at the lure. This allows for easy changing of the spoon. Either method will work fine in eliminate line twist.
Spoons can also be used for vertical jigging. The Hopkins Jigging Spoon is an example of this lure. This is an extremely effective technique when fish are schooled up in deep water over structure such as a wreck or a channel edge. Just about any game fish can be caught on these lures.
There is a special type of spoon designed specifically for trolling. These are long and slender and have a very tight wobble, allowing anglers to troll at speeds approaching 10 knots. They are extremely productive for striped bass, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, false albacore, bluefish, and other species.
Trolling spoons generally need some type of device to get them down in the water column. The three methods used most often are downriggers, trolling weights, and planers. All three methods work and have their advantages and disadvantages.
Trolling sinkers are the easiest method to get a spoon down in the water column. The specially designed sinker is tied to the running line and then a leader is used between the sinker and the spoon. Leader lengths vary, but are generally fairly long, around 20 feet. As the angler real sufficient, they must stop when the sinker hits the rod tip and the fishes in hand lined in the rest of the way.
Trolling with planers
Planers are a clever device that will take the spoon down to a specific depth. A #1 planer will go down 5 to 7 feet, a #2 planer down to 12 to 15 feet, and a #3 planer will go down to 25 feet. The larger the planer, the more stout the tackle is required as the planer puts quite a strain on the rod. When a fish hits, the planer “trips”allowing the angler to fight the fish without the drag. As with the sinker, the fish must be hand lined in the last 20 feet or so.
Downrigger’s are expensive, complicated devices that will take the lure down to the desired depth. However, fast trolling speeds will result in the ball swinging up, reducing the depth. Downriggers are expensive and complicated and are generally only used by fairly serious anglers.
Topwater plugs are lures that float on the surface and stay there when being retrieved. Most are made of plastic though a few are manufactured out of balsa wood. There are several different styles; poppers, prop baits, and walk-the-dog baits. Top water plugs can be very effective at times and will draw some explosive strikes. Many anglers prefer using top water plugs just for the sheer fun of it. they are # 6 on the list of top 6 saltwater fishing lures.
Poppers have been around a long time and are very effective. They also have the most built in action. They have a concave face which results in a loud “pop” when the lure is twitched sharply. Many fish find this action irresistible. Surf casters targeting striped bass and bluefish on the East Coast beaches will use very large versions of these. They are effective and saltwater all over the world.
Prop baits have propellers on them, either for, after, or both. They put out a lot of commotion when twitched sharply. Prop eight seem to work best when fished along shorelines and other structure. They have been catching largemouth bass in freshwater for many years.
Walk-the-dog baits are cylindrical with a tapered nose. They do not have a lot of built in action. The angler must impart the action in order to draw strike. The retrieve is a bit more difficult to master than other top water baits. The rod tip is held low and twitched gently as the reel handle is turned. This results in the lure moving a few inches and darting side-to-side. This action is deadly, particularly over shallow flats.
In conclusion, this article on the top 6 saltwater fishing lures will help anglers become more versatile and more importantly, catch more fish!