Guide to Striper Lures
One of the most enjoyable ways to catch striped bass is to tempt them with a cast lure. It is man versus fish in its purest form. We think of plugging or jigging for stripers during spring catch and release season and in fall when they are in a feeding state of mind. These are great times to tie on a jig or topwater plug, but they are not the only times during the season when lures are effective. Many anglers in the light tackle set know lures can be effective all season long. Light tackle fishing in its own right is thought of as targeting shallow water fish. These anglers move out to deeper water as stripers find water temperatures uncomfortable in skinny water.
Things can get a
bit confusing when walking down the aisle of a tackle shop in pursuit
of productive striper lures. For an angler new to light tackle fishing,
any number of questions can arise. What size is best? What about colors?
Which lure is best for a given situation? How many should I buy? This
last question is easy. As a rule, I buy lures in pairs. This way I have
a spare should one be lost in the course of a days fishing. If
it becomes the lure of the day you can offer the second
one, for a slight fee of course, to your fishing partner. Read on and
you will find the best scenarios for when to use which type of lure.
You will also find soft plastics out on the market today with the jig head molded within.
When it comes to being cost-effective, these are best used when you are fishing without the fear of bluefish biting through the lures tail. They, too, come in the three basic body styles. You will find them marketed under names like Calcutta, Storm, and Tsunami. I am partial to the Tsunami brand and the Trout Mauler. It has a slender whip tail, and at 5/16-ounce, is effective in shallow water. The Paddle Tail Minnow in the 4-inch, 1/2-ounce size fits the size of the mullet baits. The shad style bodies in the pre-rigged line-ups are routinely called swim baits.
The best overall
soft jerkbait I have seen is the Bass Assassin. It can be fished in
the skinniest of water to deepest whole in the bay simply by varying
the size of the jig head to which you impale it. The albino color is
the most popular amongst those who cast them. Shad and mullet-style
baits are best used in depths of 1 to 12 feet. The paddle tail slows
the fall of these lures and they do not achieve depths quickly. My favorite
colors include pearl hues, chartreuse glitter, and opaque chartreuse.
Sizes in the 4 to 6-inch range are best.
The best crankbaits
for stripers are the Heddon Swimn Image (formerly marketed under
Excalibur) and the Bomber Speed Shad. When it comes to rattle traps,
I havent found one yet that outperforms the Stillwater Lures Clatter
Shad. For both of these style lures, I carry a selection of chrome,
shad, and clown patterns.
Out of all the subsurface lures, the jerkbait is the one you need to impart action to the most. With every downward twitch of the rod tip, a jerkbait will dart and dive. In many instances, the more erratic you make the lure act, the harder a striper will strike it. Most have an elongated minnow style body, and some have a slightly thicker shad body. They come in floating, suspending, and sinking models. When fish are aggressive I choose floating models. I still cast the Mark Sosin Long A as my number one jerkbait.
fall when water temperatures dip below 55 degrees, I tie on suspending
baits and work them slower than I do the floating bait. I let the lure
sit for a five count between twitches of the rod tip. Often the strikes
come on the initial movement after a pause. The Rapala Husky Jerk and
XRap jerkbaits are my favorites in suspending models. Natural hues, the
clown pattern, and crazy colors like the Sosin plug are what
you will find in my box of jerkbaits.
Walking baits are those that dart side to side with the same downward motion of the rod tip. These lures work best when stripers are aggressively feeding in the shallows. Yet, dont hesitate to cast them into the midst of a feeding frenzy in 40 feet of water in the middle of the bay.
My all time favorite topwater plug is the 3/8-ounce Rebel Pop-R. To my dismay, Rebel stopped producing my prized rainbow trout color in this size. Last year I found the 3/4-ounce Tsunami TS Popper to be productive. For walking baits, I like the original Heddon Zara Spook and Spook Jr. There are times when stripers pass on the cigar bodied Spooks in favor of natural shaped plugs. This is when I cast the Tsunami Walking Minnow or the brands jointed walker.
Colors, colors, colors. Survey my box of topwater plugs and you will find everything from the natural to the absurd. My choice of natural hues includes shad, rainbow trout, and smelt. However, you will also find hot pink/yellow, purple/blue/gold, and citrus shad. I have learned that the obnoxious patterns can often outperform the natural hues.
These are not the only lures for striper fishing. They are but one anglers set of fishing tools that bring fish to the boat. This short introduction to lures and their effective uses can help you evolve your own ways of catching stripers with artificial offerings. Maybe you will find a favorite lure and top colors the way.
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