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Saltwater Lures and Baits
Live Saltwater Fishing Bait
An array of small fish, crustaceans, invertebrates and worms are used as live bait for saltwater fishing. Popular baitfish are menhaden, mullet, herring, anchovies, ballyhoo, pigfish, pinfish, sardines and eels. Other live baits saltwater anglers hang on a hook include shrimp, crabs, squid, clams, sand fleas, squid, bloodworms and clamworms.
Many of the baitfish and crustaceans anglers use for live bait can also be cut up into chunks for cut bait. A freshly cut bait chunk works best since it gives off more scent, but frozen baits will also entice bites from a variety of saltwater species.
Scented Saltwater Fishing Baits
Spray-on scents and soft-plastic lures impregnated with scents improve catch rates for saltwater anglers using artificial baits. Some of the most popular scents for masking human odors are garlic, coffee and anise. Chemical formula scents stimulate a feeding response from fish and natural-bait flavors mimic the scent of prey.
Probably the most versatile lure in saltwater fishing, a lead head jig and its trailer can imitate nearly any saltwater creature. The jig is adorned with a skirt ether made of animal hair or bird feathers. The jighead itself can be combined with a soft plastic body or a live baitfish.
A thin metal lure with a treble hook used for vertical jigging over wrecks, reefs and rock piles or in suspended schools of bait. The jig can also be cast out and retrieved at various speeds. It is an effective lure for rockfish, tuna, grouper, king mackerel, wahoo and snapper.
The two types of popping plugs are cupped face and pencil poppers. The cup-faced model creates a popping sound with the twitch of the rod while the pencil popper makes more of a splash than a pop. Poppers draw strikes from stripers, bluefish and tuna.
Plug Fishing Lure
Made from wood or molded out of plastic, plugs are designed to mimic the shape and swimming action of baitfish. Plugs can be cast out and retrieved or trolled at specific speeds. Some plugs are designed with lips to dive deeper and others have built-in rattles to produce fish-attracting sounds.
Spoon Fishing Lure
Usually called simply “spoons” or “spoon,” these oblong-shaped metal lures are made for casting or trolling. Casting versions are heavier for throwing long distances. A trolling spoon is categorized by its wobble. Slim types have a tighter wobble and can be trolled fast; broader spoons have a wider wobble and work better at slower speeds.
Equipped with a lead head, L- or V-shaped wire arm and metal blades, a spinnerbait produces flash and vibration to trigger reaction strikes. A spinnerbait can be retrieved at high speeds so the blades wake the surface or slow-rolled along bottom to catch redfish, trout and other inshore species.
Soft Plastic Lure
Designed in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors with built-in scent, these artificial lures can imitate baitfish, shrimp and eels. Different tail shapes such as twister or paddle tails create lifelike action to trigger strikes from tuna, stripers, snook, tarpon, redfish and trout.