In saltwater, that is primarily baited fish and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. These six lure types are very versatile and will cover every situation than a saltwater angler will encounter.
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. Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, Inshore Saltwater Fishing for $5 by clicking on the title link.
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.
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 in water shallower than 10 feet deep will find a quarter ounce jig to be a good all-around size. Anglers fishing in 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. 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. Versatility is one of the key components to the popularity of the jig and grub combo.
Jigs with a bait style tail can be retrieved steadily through the water. The rod tip is then jerked sharply upwards, causing the lure to shoot up through the water column.
With the rod tip held high, the retrieve is paused, 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. Striped bass in particular fall prey to a shad tail jig trolled along a channel edge.
Capt Jim’s preferred saltwater soft plastic artificial lure is the Bass Assassin 4 Sea Shad. Buck tail jigs are extremely productive for anglers fishing saltwater.
As with the jig and grub, sizes determined by the water being fished and the available forage. 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.
While it is very easy to change the color or shape of a plastic tailed lure, this is not the case with buck tail. However, buck tail and synthetic hair jigs have great action and the water and you catch a lot of fish.
Capt Jim’s preferred saltwater buck tail jig is manufactured by Pro. These are high quality lures that are as durable as a buck tail jig can be.
In Florida, the 3-inch Gulp Shrimp is a deadly bait on the shallow grass flats. As with all lures, the key is to match the color and size of the bait to the available forage.
The cork makes a pop or rattle which attracts game fish. Most anglers fish the Gulp Shrimp on a jig head, just as they would with any soft plastic bait.
It is also very productive for anglers fishing shallow for shook, reds, and jacks. Plugs vibrate and wobble, mimicking a wounded or injured bait.
Anglers working shoreline cover or casting open flats catch a variety of species. Several cranks of the reel handle followed by a twitch and a pause is a very effective retrieve.
Once again, it is important to match the size and color of the lure to the bait fish that are prevalent in the area. Spanish mackerel, bluefish, stripes, false albacore, and other species will devour them.
Plugs come in many sizes and colors, making it easy to “match the hatch”. Capt Jim’s favorite plug is the Papal X-Rap Extreme Action Slash bait.
Metallic finishes such as silver, copper, brass, and gold are popular. 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. It is an established lure that has been around for decades, starting out in freshwater for anglers targeting large mouth bass.
The Sprite is an open water spoon with a treble hook while the Silver Minnow is weedless. This is an extremely effective technique when fish are schooled up in deep water over structure such as a wreck or a channel edge.
These are long and slender and have a very tight wobble, allowing anglers to troll at speeds approaching 10 knots. Leader lengths vary, but are generally fairly long, around 20 feet.
Down riggers 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.
Top water plugs are lures that float on the surface and stay there when being retrieved. 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 have a concave face which results in a loud “pop” when the lure is twitched sharply.
Surf casters targeting striped bass and bluefish on the East Coast beaches will use very large versions of these. 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. Capt Jim’s favorite top water plug is the Papal Skitter Prop.
Jigs are a simple but very effective lure that will catch just about every freshwater and saltwater species. A jig is basically a hook with some type of weight near the eye and a plastic tail or hair dressing.
Jigs can imitate both bait fish and crustaceans such as shrimp and crabs. Heavier jigs allow anglers to fish deeper water.
With this system, anglers purchase the jig head in the plastic body separately. Here on the Gulf Coast of Florida where I fish, the jig and grub is the most popular artificial lure.
While there are many varieties, they all imitate either a bait fish or a crustacean of some sort. Paddle tails and jerk worms require the action to be imparted by the angler.
Buck tail jigs were the original types used and were made from dear hair. The jig is simply dropped to the bottom and then the lure is worked vertically.
Drifting allows anglers to cover a lot of water efficiently. This is the most effective technique when fishing water ten feet deep or less.
However, as with all lure fishing, the retrieve should be varied until a productive pattern emerges. The jig and grub combo is by far the most popular lure along the southeast coastal United States.
Anglers from Virginia to Texas use these baits to fool a variety of species. The low cost and versatility of the jig and grub combo makes them an easy choice.
Jigs cast and retrieved over these grass flats produce trout, reds, and other species. The jig and minnow has been producing fish for freshwater anglers for a long time.
A marabou jig with a small minnow hooked through the lips is a terrific combination. The lure bait combo is deadly when slowly bounced along bottom structure.
Anglers trolling white buck tail jigs for striped bass achieve success. The primary issue when trolling jigs is to make sure the lure does not spin, which will cause line twist.
A small jig trolled over submerged structure is deadly on these largest members of the pan fish family. Anglers use long, specially designed rods to present multiple baits out in a spread.
They make a wide variety of baits and colors that cover every angling application, from pan fish to salt water. Scented soft plastic baits have become very popular, and with good reason.
They do cost a little more money, but on days when the bite is tough, they can make all the difference. This unique little bait not only is a jig, but also has a spinner blade offset on the head.
The extra flash can be deadly in the dark, tannin stained Florida water. It is a great bait when cast out but is a deadly trolling lure, especially for crappie and walleye.
Made primarily from either wood or molded plastic, these saltwater lures look and act like a bait fish when moving through the water. Plug lures are made using corrosion-resistant materials that can hold up to the saltwater marine environment and range in sizes from just a few inches to over a foot.
Top water plugs are a favorite of many saltwater inshore or flats anglers due to the fact that they are worked on the surface of the water, making any strike from a fish visible. Once you learn about the specific type of bait fish that your target species prefers to prey upon, you can choose a minnow-imitating plug that closely matches its appearance.
If you plan to pursue saltwater inshore species such as shook, redfish (red drum), spotted sea trout, or tarpon, these types of flashy lures tend to work well. Many of these offshore plugs are reflective holographic hard baits with large plastic lips that enable them to reach depths of 20 or 40 feet.
Unfortunately, too many of those boats are operating with severely unbalanced battery systems and weak charging solutions, resulting in unnecessary problems that drain both your patience and your wallet. We’re not talking permanent fixtures and appliances that require constant power, rather portable kite fishing outfits, secondary live wells, electric down riggers, power-assist deep drop reels, submersible swordfish lights, blenders, electric barbecues and all the other neat stuff that comes and goes as we need it.
No wait, I think it was the submersible swordfish light with the power cord that was too short to reach the battery box below deck. Whatever the case, some sort of obstacle arose every time I needed to power a portable piece of essential equipment.
Finally, after lugging heavy batteries around and dealing with every issue you can imagine, I said enough is enough and set out on a mission to install the ultimate 12-volt solution aboard my recently splashed 37 Strikes. Before we get ahead of ourselves it’s important to point out that regardless if you fish inshore or offshore, your boat’s battery system must be capable of powering external devices without running dry.
Equally bad as inadequate voltage is draining valuable 12-volt power from a vital starting battery. While I’m confident in my own mechanical abilities and know a fair amount about a lot of different things, I know that I’m not educated enough on the intricacies of marine electrical systems to set up the arrangement I was interested in.
With an adequate battery system finally in place, I went on to install a trio of marine-rated 12-volt receptacles strategically concealed under the gunwale directly in the bow and along each side of the cockpit. With this reliable and convenient plug & play system, our crew can now fish multiple kite outfits anywhere around the boat.
We can plug in power-assist deep drop reels from bow to stern and quickly power a pair of Cannon down riggers. Keep the Juice Flowing 12-volt receptacles and plugs are available in a wide assortment of sizes from numerous manufacturers in both hardened plastic and stainless steel.
While we recently highlighted the most innovative and effective trolling lure designs (The Perfect Hoax May/June 2010), we purposely left out the old faithful cedar plug because it is, in fact, in a league of its own. Known for their proficiency in enticing tuna, cedar plugs are practically indestructible and capable of catching just about any pelagic predator.
While you may have your sights set on yellow fin or black fin, don’t rule out a battle with a dolphin, Yahoo or billfish. And while their irresistible action is what draws in inquisitive predators, their small stature makes them easy targets for unrelenting pelagic.
While simplistic they are there are a few aspects in regard to rigging and running that will greatly enhance your catch ratio, as these classics are prone to pulling hooks. When it comes to rigging, not many blue water offerings compare with a cedar plug’s terminal tackle simplicity.
When it comes to color selection, the natural cedar finish is believed to allow anglers to dip these cigar-shaped offerings in menhaden oil to further promote their “eat-me” attributes. While most professionals prefer the standard 6-inch cedar plug with its natural finish, they are also available in 4 and 8-inch variations with numerous painted color schemes.
Similar to varying sizes, manufacturers are also experimenting with weight distribution in an effort to increase its overall appeal. Whether you’re fishing a single cedar or daisy chain, you’ll want to routinely check for nicks and abrasion in the leader.
One thing is for certain; trolling the perimeter of surface activity with traditional cedar plugs has accounted for more tuna than just about any other lure and will likely continue to do so for decades to come. This means that they spend the majority of their time in the upper portion of the water column.
King mackerel are one of the most popular offshore game fish in Florida. The world record king mackerel is 93 pounds and was caught in Puerto Rico.
Kings are very good to eat when prepared fresh, though they do not freeze well. They feed in schools in open water, foraging on bait fish.
The type of fish they feed on will depend on location and time of year. Scaled sardines, thread fin herring, blue runners, cigar minnows, ponies, and mullet are just a few of the more popular bait fish species that king mackerel feed on.
Bait schools can either be seen dimpling on the surface or located using a bottom machine. Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, Inshore Saltwater Fishing for $5 by clicking on the title link.
The two basic methods for catching bait are cast nets and Sabik rigs. Anglers using cast nets can catch a LOT of bait in short order.
Special heavy nets sink quickly in deeper water. Anglers who prefer to chum with live bait do need a large quantity of it.
Large scaled sardines can be caught on the grass flats and along the beaches. Sabik or gold hook rigs catch bait individually.
Most rigs have a half dozen gold hooks or tiny flies on them. This method works great for anglers looking for several dozen baits for trolling or free lining.
While king mackerel are an open water fish, they will often time relate to some sort of structure. Part of the reason for this is that structure tends to attract the bait fish that they feed upon.
Areas of hard bottom, ledges, reefs, wrecks, and oil rigs will all attract and hold kings. Anglers can easily find the GPS numbers online or at local government websites.
While these spots won’t usually hold the larger schools of kings, they also get less fishing pressure. An added bonus is that anglers can bottom fish for grouper and snapper while waiting for a king to show up in the chum.
Large kings are called “smokers” because of their blistering initial runs that can literally “smoke” the drag. Reels, whether conventional or spinning, need to have a high capacity of line as well is a very smooth drag.
Most kings are caught by anglers trolling or free lining baits. Limber tips will help keep the small treble hooks that are used with stinger rigs in the fish.
A long leader is used between the planer and the spoon, with 20 feet being a good all-around length. Black snap swivels on both ends will help reduce line twist.
The spoon should be matched in size to the type of bait fish that are local to the area. Anglers trolling spoons do well with a 20-foot section of 50 to 80 pound fluorocarbon.
The best rig has 5 feet of doubled line using a Bimini Twist or spider hitch. Anglers slow trolling with live bait fish often use a stinger rig.
It either swings free or is lightly hooked into the back of the bait fish. Plugs come in a myriad of sizes and colors, making it very easy for anglers to mimic the locally available forage.
Anglers Florida king mackerel fishing with plugs will experience a high hookup rate. Blue runners, sardines, herring, cigar minnows, and mullet are the top live bait fish.
Large recirculating live wells are standard on king fish boats. Anglers using live bait for king fish can troll, drift, or anchor.
Slow trolling with a large live bait on a stinger rig accounts for some of the largest king mackerel taken by anglers. Drifting works well when the current and wind will move the bait along at the desired pace.
Anchoring is usually done in shallower water when king mackerel are located over a small piece of structure. Often times they are used in conjunction with some type of natural bait, especially ribbon fish and ballyhoo.
Successful anglers use a networking system to keep abreast of the current king mackerel hot spots. Online fishing forums and social media reports can also be excellent sources of quality information.
Fortunately, king mackerel migrate parallel to the coastlines. Anglers who is a trailer their boats can follow the migrating fish north in the spring and south in the fall.
Larger fish are generally grabbed by the tail and laid along the gunnel of the boat while the hooks are removed. Anglers often times use a rod with just a sinker and make a long cast.