A little extra flash, plus vibration, may help attract reds, sea trout and flounder.
By Gibbs Milliken
Many artificial lure designs used for freshwater bass are also effective in saltwater for reds, sea trout and flounder. The only difference is that saltwater baits need to be built stronger, of non-corrosive components like titanium and stainless steel to take the brine and grind over oyster reefs, barnacle-covered rocks and abrasive sand bars.
Spinnerbaits add the distinctive flash of a spoon to an already-attractive soft plastic or skirted lure. These are particularly effective when working along shorelines, on jetties and in the surf. The weedless design of some baits allow presentations into the shallow-water grass flats where game fish are feeding. The heavier lures drop fast and work well in the strong channel currents and deeper holes.
One of the best fast-sinkers we tested is the 5/8-ounce Hildebrandt Saltwater Sally with a chartreuse glitter Curley Tail Assassin soft plastic body and red bleeding-bait hook imbedded to prevent snags. It is designed with a quick-change feature that allows replacement of the body style and hook without retying the rig. This in-line unit has a 24-karat gold plated spinner and weight for maximum durability and flash. ($4.99, Saltwater Sally, #9060, Hildebrandt Co., 509-854-1311, www.hildebrandt.net)
Another premium spinnerbait is the 1/4-ounce Terminator Watts Brothers Series, mounted on a titanium-wire frame with a swivel head that allows more action as you jerk and pause the bait. This lure can take multiple strikes from bull reds and big sow trout only to pop right back into alignment for the next cast. It sports a #4 copper-colored spinner for flash and thumper-tail jig body with red holographic eyes. ($5.69, Watts Brothers, #TRS14211C, 800-944-4766, Outdoor Innovations, www.terminatorlures.com)
The performance of these lures is enhanced by their high visibility, and the underwater vibrations they produce are readily picked up by predatory fish. This is an advantage over “sight-only” presentations. Among the best all-around designs is the 3/8-ounce Terminator Snagless In-Line Spinner. A favorite is the Electric Chicken in a curly tail soft body. This lure is a consistent producer when working thin waters. ($6.79, Snagless Spinner, #TSI-03378-G, Outdoor Innovations, www.terminatorlures.com)
Along the Texas coast, a popular color for the spinner blades is gold. Professional guides prefer the golden or copper flash to that of silver. A good example is the Bayou Buck’s ZZ Spot Spinner with a gold, Colorado-style blade, bright red head and wide flipping tail. This design is attractive in off-color waters where a brighter hue gets attention under near-sighted conditions. ($4.49, ZZ Spot, #183, Bayou Buck’s, 225-291-8023, www.bayoubucklures.com)
Also available is a slim baitfish pattern from well-known Texas lure maker Lonnie Stanley. This Stanley Red-Spin Jig is designed to pull easier through sea grasses and weeds because of its unique twist in the wire and sleek wedge-head taper. It comes with an extra soft body in each package. ($3.49, Red-Spin Jig, #SRS 18-141, Stanley Jigs, 800-290-9293, www.fishstanley.com)
The bait-of-choice in recent Redfish Tour competitions along our Gulf Coast is the Strike King Redfish Magic. This 1/8-ounce, super-strong, soft plastic Glass Minnow style with a #4 gold Colorado blade is downsized with a thumper-tail providing rapid swimming action on the retrieve. It comes in a wide range of colors and has inset reflective eyes for increased realism. ($2.99, Redfish Magic, #RMG18-844, Strike King, 800-467-5873, www.strikeking.com)
At the end of each day, to keep your saltwater spinners working like new, it is a good idea to wash and dry the baits and then give them a spritz of a lubricant like silicone to prevent the blades from tarnishing.